The Diary of Thomas Pooler

Lewis Dunn tells us at the end of his performance that he set out to create this show after reading a harsh review of a stand-up comedian at last year’s Fringe, so he’s probably not going to like this review much either. ‘This is sort of to show that, while he might not have been very funny, the comedian was still a nice person.’ Yes… but nice does not an interesting show make.

Dunn shows a clear talent for character-writing, but should perhaps have thought a little harder about whether an audience were ever going to be interested in Thomas Pooler and his incredibly boring diary.

Thomas Pooler, Dunn’s character, works as a local planning bureaucrat, and dreams of being a stand-up comedian – he’s even bought himself a little black notebook to write down jokes when he thinks of them. It was £3.99, at WHSmith, where they sell greetings cards and magazines, and folders and staplers, he tells us – it’s details like this that Pooler depends on, because the poor man’s life is horribly mundane.

It’s a clever character piece, and it’s clear that Dunn’s taken a stab at tragicomedy – the problem lies in that the show doesn’t really reach either end of the scale. It’s not funny – it feels too cruel to laugh at Pooler himself, and his jokes certainly don’t cut it, but it’s not quite tragic enough either, only sending Pooler to the cruel spotlit demise of his first comedy gig right at the end. Dunn’s character work is spot-on, but it’s painfully slow and stilted – whether this is due to nerves, a general lack of energy, or whether it is deliberate is hard to tell.

Pooler is so pathetic that it’s hard to warm to him – he’s frustratingly limp and navel-gazing to boot. The repeated set-up of making a bad joke (usually a pun) deliberately and then following it up immediately, unaware, with something genuinely a little funny gets a few laughs to start with but quickly becomes tired – there’s not enough variation in structure or delivery to hold the audience for the entire 50 minutes of the show.

Dunn shows a clear talent for character-writing, but should perhaps have thought a little harder about whether an audience were ever going to be interested in Thomas Pooler and his incredibly boring diary.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Thomas Pooler longs to take to the stage and become the world's next big stand-up sensation. What a shame he's middle-aged, horribly boring and completely oblivious to his own awkwardness. Living in Packington with his long-suffering wife, he decides to start a diary in the hope that his day-to-day life might produce some comedy gold. But as he writes his life down, he begins to notice something besides his comedy career needs more attention... Reviews about other shows by Lewis Dunn: ‘Natural comedic nous; his performance is genuinely memorable’ (EdfringeReview.com). ‘Highly Entertaining’ (OneandOther.com).

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