Doc Brown: Unfamous, Pleasance Courtyard

Zadie's brother proves he's his own man
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The Independent Culture

From a rap star, supporting the likes of Mark Ronson, to a "deadbeat dad" to a comedy hopeful, the amiable Doc Brown has lived a full 32 years so far and his alternative showbiz story is the vessel for his crowd-pleasing and ego-lite debut solo show.

It quickly becomes apparent that Brown didn't really have the stomach for British rap finding the juxtaposition of these two words once as oxymoronic as "Scottish cuisine" nor did he have the appetite for the music industry in general. It's equally swiftly apparent that the reasons for this might be that he is too nice and that slickness isn't his style. That and meeting Johnny Borrell of Razorlight.

These blessings of character are as much curses in comedy as they are in music but the glee of Brown's "show and tell" mockery of his old career (rappers, he says, always go on about their personal details, their name, their home, their car, as if they were in a job interview) suggest that, while he may not be a total comic natural, he has found his voice and is at the heart of where he wants to be.

From the opening ploy of a glossary of street terms through to comedy raps about David Attenborough ("every word he relates punctures through my chest plate" he says afterwards, rhyming when he is not rapping and an example of the morphing of the show in terms of music and spoken word), Brown shows a naivete and vulnerability but underlays this with a sharpness of mind just when you think he might have run out of material or goodwill.

Self-parodied as the "Fresh Prince of Bell-End", there's no boasting about his previous career highs; in fact, he saves his pride for his sister, Zadie Smith, and her career as a best-selling novelist, telling us about her achievements he says, almost sheepishly, "how do you like them apples?"

Tonight, those apples don't upstage the fruits of Doc Brown's work and he receives an incredibly warm reception in what is already one of the warmest venues on the Fringe. Though there is still plenty of room for Brown's technique to develop and for material to be tightened up, this is a show of tremendous charm and heart but not so nice that it won't break your smile into a laugh.

To 29 August (except 16) (0131 556 6550)

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