Markus Birdman: Grimm Realities

Sat 8th – Sun 30th August 2015


Benjie Beer

at 11:32 on 17th Aug 2015



Markus Birdman makes no hesitation to share with the audience what his comedy is drawn from. He immediately begins by telling us how he is a single father, having divorced two years ago, and how caring for his ten-year-old daughter has become the most important thing in his life. His show is a mixture of storytelling, featuring an overhead projection to show accompanying pictures he has drawn himself, and straight stand-up, which managed to make the audience alternately smile, laugh and look away in sheer embarrassment in equal measure.

Grimm Realities is Birdman’s discussion of how to deal with his daughter growing up and developing a sex life. As he observes, “ten years old is the new thirteen years old”. He will talk to the audience about goings on in his family, drawing laughs from things such as the fact his daughter’s bedroom is covered with Zac Efron and Justin Bieber posters (“It looks like a gay gym from 1972 San Francisco”), and that he had to go and buy her first bra with her.

The intermittent stories he tells, however, are only loosely attached to this theme. They adaptations of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, but he has made them prurient, sexualised and often quite gruesome in order to show his fears for his daughter. This is about the only connection, however: for the most part the stories are unrelated to the rest of the show and a little too x-rated for some.

Aside from the odd nervous wriggle and uncomfortable face in the audience, Birdman’s material was mostly well received. He is affable and comfortable onstage, and maintains good delivery with his jokes. He definitely misread his audience a fair bit, though, most notably in his delivery of a few sexist jokes which he seemed to think he could carry off by showing how caring he is for his daughter. He should be able to think on his feet enough to realise he is performing at the overwhelmingly liberal-minded Edinburgh Fringe. It is even more unfortunate that he chose to end his set with a joke about women being unable to park.

Intolerance and adult themes aside, this show is mostly entertaining, if not for the weak of heart. Although possibly a little bizarrely mixed, there are as many touching and heartwarming moments as there are disgusting moments, and still managed to get plenty of laughs.


Ben Driscoll

at 15:38 on 17th Aug 2015



Markus Birdman writes stand-up shows to deal with the darker episodes of his life. With fatherly anxiety, Birdman brings his latest show, Grimm Realities, to the basement of Canon’s Gait this year as part of the Free Fringe. His show is a dry but daft, bold examination of the relationship between father and daughter that does not hold back on exploring honestly the topic of the eventual loss of a daughter’s innocence.

Grimm Realities involves intervals of Birdman having, essentially, story-time. He brings his audience back to their childhood with a class room projector from which he reads to them his own beautifully illustrated stories. Obviously these stories, of Grimm’s Cinderella and Red Riding Hood, are twisted to modern times and filled to the brim with heavy innuendos and blatantly erotic images. Birdman has fun with pop-ups and movable images in the books but it teeters on becoming obvious and uninspired.

Birdman is a great speaker; his off-hand and disillusioned tone carries the picture book sections and make his most scripted parts seem less so. When not leafing through the books, he is talking about is relationship with his daughter. This is where the show runs more smoothly, using these father-daughter anecdotes to facilitate commentary on more universal topics which bring about reams of excellent images and one-liners, Birdman’s forte.

The show is disjointed, however; Birdman shifts from stand-up to stories incoherently. His stand-up tackles the pressures his innocent daughter will face growing up and will then put on him - and how he will hypothetically and hilariously deal with it - whilst the stories are inappropriate and puerile fun. Though they both involve similar themes, they do not fit and Birdman risks looking tactless.

What Birdman fails to do is read his audience. Unoriginally, he sometimes falls onto sexist jokes. After the first joke, about girls and football, the audience do not laugh. Yet, such jokes return, unimpressively, contradicting his views about his daughter’s self-determination. It cheapens his message and the central inspiration for his show, his relationship with his daughter, sadly becomes contrived.

Birdman’s dilemma is the case of an adept comedian with perfect command of stand-up working with material that is below average and unoriginal. Grimm Realities’ inconsistency was kept afloat by periods of hilarious jokes and Birdman’s droll and blunt delivery.


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