DVD review: Brendon Burns: Y’Know – Love ‘n’ God ‘n’ Metaphysics ‘n’ Shit
Brendon Burns’ latest DVD release, Y’Know – Love ‘n’ God ‘n’ Metaphysics ‘n’ Shit, adopts quite a scattergun approach to comedy. Australian-born Burns carries you through such a wide variety of subjects in the recording of his 2010 Fringe show – all connected by a story about estranged girlfriend Bean (so called because her mother broke water in the tinned food aisle). Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t quite work.
The first thing that strikes me about this release is that there’s not a lot to look at. The stage is bare and plain, with no special lighting, and to be honest that makes the whole thing seem less professional. When you watch a recording of a show, you want it to be the best run of that show, and at first sight that’s not the impression here. A big sign with Brendon’s name helps a little, and in fairness there’s also a two-piece band on stage with the comic to provide whimsical music at appropriate points – of which more later – but the production values, generally, are a little lacklustre.
Sadly, the same applies to the comedy; it’s just not that well-written. You’re always on side with Burns, and he’s genuinely a likeable bloke – but there’s no verbal wittiness to match up with his aggressive delivery. A case in point is that his material occasionally adopts an unusual approach, and it’s nearly always thoughtful and measured; and this just doesn’t match up with the in-your-face and occasionally foul-mouthed way that he delivers his lines.
And this can really land. Some moments in the act were very moving – particularly the end. But even this was hard to ‘enjoy’, because Brendon’s running theme of his difficult relationship with his girlfriend Bean gets a bit lost at times. The logic behind the show’s narrative is difficult to track, and I doubt I’m the first reviewer to point out that having a two-piece band is an odd decision. I hate to re-use words, but again, it’s awkward. More could have been done to include them; when Brendon turned to them and asked them questions it worked quite nicely, but other than that, what’s the purpose?
The material has a great range to it, though, and is particularly good when it comes to Australian sensibilities when compared to American and European. There’s a lot of fun in these sections, where he seems to have his feet more firmly on the ground – even though the payoffs are still less punchy than I’d like. A combination of vague and throwaway gags, as well as a narrative structure which made the whole show a little hard to follow, makes this a difficult act to actually laugh at.
Caught awkwardly between aggression and thoughtfulness, Y’Know- Love ‘n’ God ‘n’ Metaphysics ‘n’ Shit never quite knows whether it’s coming or going. Burns definitely doesn’t achieve his full potential in this DVD, which makes it a hard thing to recommend. The best praise I can give it is to say that while it wasn’t cohesive, coordinated or contiguous, it was – in quite a vague way – fun to watch.