Around The World In 80 Dates

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Megan Denny

at 08:25 on 19th Aug 2018

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Romantic relationships and lack of success in them are some of the ultimate staple topics of stand-up comedy. As a result, they are very difficult to tackle with originality, even for the most accomplished comedians – and unfortunately, in ‘Around the World in 80 Dates’, it shows.

The ’80 Dates’ element of Chris Henry’s stand-up is probably the most original part of his set: a literal list of eighty dates, around the world, for him to take one person on. Highlights from this list are touched on, such as ‘eat Easter eggs in Easter bunny costumes on Easter Island’. It seems a shame that, despite the title of the show, the list is only used briefly and not in any significant detail, when I feel that the concept has real potential.

Other topics through the show are pretty standard – the trials and tribulations of dating apps are discussed, as Henry suggests that women over forty years old should only match with men under the age of twenty-five. The championing of women here feels a little forced, with a mention of toxic masculinity also crowbarred in between crude humour.

Henry also presents a rundown of his top five favourite romantic films, with punchlines that feel familiar rather than hysterically funny. The musical punchlines are initially amusing, but become somewhat overused towards the end of the sixty minutes.

Nevertheless, Henry’s undeniable strength as a comedian is enough to carry the show through its predictability and maintain engagement levels. This is particularly evident in moments of audience participation; Henry sharply finds points of reference that become highlights of the show, and exploits all the potential of a Saturday night crowd at the Fringe. It is his stage presence and comedic timing that elevate the stand-up set from being overworked to becoming an enjoyable evening.

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Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 17:49 on 19th Aug 2018

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'Around the World in 80 Dates' was good. Chris Henry performed an hour of stand-up comedy recounting his life as a middle-aged single man looking for love. It certainly ticked a lot of boxes. Cheating exes? Tick. Crazy boyfriend behavior? Tick. (Semi) risqué moments? Tick. Lots of rom-com references? Tick, tick, tick.

The room was packed, and you could see why. Throughout the show jokes were well delivered, the timing was always well judged and his interactions with the audience were smooth and effortless. The tech, though minimal, all performed perfectly, and the pacing of the show was just right. Chris never broke a sweat – he made it all look too easy.

But then, maybe it was. Not to say that Chris isn’t a skilled comedian. He is, obviously. From the moment he walks on it’s clear that he knows exactly what he’s doing. The worry is, though, that it begins to feel as though he’s going through the motions. At one point Chris quips about his friends – that they’re “expecting...” (pause for the punch line) “a divorce.” Pull face, cue laughter. I was starting to expect a few things myself.

Chris doesn’t really offer anything new, something fresh and urgent and incisive. What he offers is comfort. I really don’t think anyone could have particularly strong feelings towards his comedy one way or the other. With jokes as innocuous as “I camembert it” dropped in reference to his distaste for cheese, it’s clear he’s not trying to cover new ground. But what he is doing is making a bunch of people laugh, definitely. Maybe not think, but they’re definitely, definitely going to laugh.

It’s a winning formula. Chris has been touring the world with his comedy. He’s cracked it. He’ll probably even find that special someone at one of his gigs one day, someone who’s feeling a bit down and lonely and needs a nice comforting show to cheer them up. But, personally, I think I’ll save my time at the Fringe for the stuff that’s a bit more, well, on the fringes. Because, really, that’s what this is about.

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