Edinburgh 2013 review: David Baddiel - Fame: Not the Musical, Assembly George Square
Given that David Baddiel's first stand up show for 16 years apparently arose out of an educational talk, the George Square Theatre (a lecture hall for the rest of the year), is a venue match made in heaven. It's also a far cry from the comedian's Wembley Arena days of rock n' roll comedy.
That is not to say that this warm and enlightening hour is not funny. Greyer than he once was, the cerebral comic (of late more novelist and filmmaker) still has a ponderous charm that belies a killer gag punch. The difference is that the 49-year-old is not relying on manufactured constructs about other people but largely on true-life anecdotes about how his own fame has been reflected back at him.
Since he left comedy ("partly my own decision, partly by popular demand") Baddiel's off-screen, off-stage renown has allowed him to see this reflection from a different angle. He experienced what it was like to have people come up to him in car parks and express concern for his well-being, as if being off-air was tantamount to extinction.
Around celebrity, his slip down the league table of fame enables him to bathe in bathos, be virtually blanked by Madonna and be confused with Ben Elton by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
"Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face," says Baddiel quoting John Updike, while also freely quoting his own novels to make the point that fame "allows a narrow focus of self." Though Baddiel does not ask us to pity celebrities, he feels that there is a lack of empathy with them because of this narrow focus. No one really knows enough to earn the right to Twitter troll.
Taking in issues of ethnicity as well as celebrity Baddiel's hour is highly engaging. It doesn't seek to make up for lost time by seizing the funny bone but the anecdotes, including one particular caper involving Russell Brand, often have a fact-is-stranger-than fiction value that set-up and punchline would find it hard to compete with.
Will Baddiel return to the stage in future? Well, we have had Baddiel on Fame, why not Baddiel on love, money, politics, religion and sex? It's a themed series waiting to happen.
Until August 11/ 0131 623 3030
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Refugee crisis: Sweden the only European country with a majority favourable towards non-EU immigration
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
'Beasts of No Nation': Netflix releases trailer of first feature film, starring Idris Elba
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees