Underbelly – Dairy Room

August 1-26th (not 12th) – 7:15pm

⭐⭐ (2 stars)

This is Dan Soder’s debut year here at Edinburgh and I wanted to go in fresh, so purposely did not watch any of his stand-up online before seeing him live.

He strikes me as the “funny guy in a group of friends”. However, in this debut, he doesn’t fully live up to that image.

He introduces himself to the stage as someone who is “more American than monster trucks and food with steroids in it”. An instant turn off. It implies generality, blandness, an overall insipidness that doesn’t get me at all excited for the hour ahead.

Let’s get to the show itself. There are some interesting ideas in Soder’s material. You can tell he’s not new to this game. However, these ideas tend to fall by the wayside in favour of other, more broad gags to please a wider audience. For example, a potentially brilliant routine about ‘levels of dead dad’ is unfortunately not explored as much as hoped.

Soder’s comedy seems to rely on different elements to make the show funny, be that weird noises, strange accents to accentuate the punchlines or drug-related stories. Watching the show, I felt that there were very few times when we really saw Soder’s personality shine through – it would be nice to see something definitively unique about him and his jokes.

It was disappointing that many times throughout the show he kept looking to the audience for validation that he was actually getting laughs. Obviously this is the case for most comedians, but with Soder, it felt a little desperate. Did he even believe his own material at this point? It was hard to tell.

Maybe it’s a cultural difference, maybe it’s just not my type of humour. However, it’s a disappointing debut overall.

James Macfarlane