Larry Dean – Fudnut

‘Fudnut’ is Glaswegian slang for ‘idiot’ and in Fudnut Larry Dean attempts to dissect where and how he was a fudnut in his recent string of relationship woes. For Dean, owning his sadness is the key to dissipating it. Personally, I like to use copious amounts of rum, liberally applied as required, to own my sadness, but different strokes and all that.

His most recent meaningful relationship ended in a familiar way; break-up, reconciliation, discovery of infidelity, second break-up, couple of rebounds to take the edge off. Peppered with his trademark observations, Dean tends to go off on tangent after tangent before dragging the story back to the original narrative. It’s all really rather funny, his off-handed comments consistently hitting the mark. His penchant for impressions and accents also regularly enhances the story – it takes it all from routine stand-up to another level, a bloke who’s clearly very good at what he does and very comfortable being on stage telling you stories rather than firing jokes at you and demanding you laugh.

Whilst most of the material lands solidly, there’s a few rough patches where it’s missed the target. Although Dean expertly moves straight on, you can tell that some of the jokes need a bit of work. It doesn’t detract from the overall show though, with plenty of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments.

It’s all part of his very charming, somewhat inoffensive delivery. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it really isn’t – the ability to be funny and make jokes that don’t require punching down or being needlessly controversial is quite a skill than many comics couldn’t locate if they were the AFP raiding a journalist’s house.

Fudnut is critical introspection without being woe-is-me-please-feel-sad-for-me, and his casual but skilful stage presence underlines the overall quality of the show. He’ll regularly get lost in a story, stumble upon something that he finds tremendously amusing and just has to let us in on the joke, and in turn cracks himself up. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about watching a very talented comedian who clearly loves his job.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Larry Dean’s Fudnut is playing until March 15

For more information and tickets click here

Boys Taste Better with Nutella

I can’t recall laughing at having cold Macca’s fries thrown at me, and then instantly being floored by a stark, brutal admission, so a tip of the propeller beanie to you, Caitlin Hill and Peter Wood. I mean, I’ve definitely had fries chucked at me a few times after I’ve said something inappropriate, and on one particular occasion someone lobbed a half-eaten kebab at me, but the 1-2 combination of an amusing dance routine and a rather blunt statement? That’s definitely new.

Boys Taste Better with Nutella is a brief, and at times sharp, examination of Aggy’s (Hill) love life and Frederick’s (Wood) sexuality. For Aggy it’s a revolving door of manipulative scumbags that inevitably break her heart, whilst for Frederick it’s coming to terms with who he actually might be, and what he’s allergic to. Punctuated by silly dance numbers and throwaway pop-culture referencing one-liners, both characters find replacements for their respective struggles: Aggy’s best friend Nutella masks the latest bloke that she’s changed herself completely for, and Frederick takes solace in producing Mukbang videos and McDonald’s fries.

Both are addicted to the instant gratification that they find in each of their vices; Aggy either falls for a guy she believes will love and adore her unconditionally, or she gets to inhale Nutella, and Frederick gets immediate acceptance, likes, and comments on his videos, or he gets to mainline fries like a junkie. Of course, both characters have a genesis for their coping mechanisms, which gets explored through absurd and exaggerated situations, with Wood often playing a range of supporting characters to Hill’s leading role.

Whilst it’s pretty low-hanging fruit – millennials learning to accept and better themselves without having to rely on motivational Instagram posts of profoundly banal quotes over idyllic mountains – Boys Taste Better With Nutella doesn’t pull any punches, and gets pretty confrontational with the topics it brings up. Yeah, it’s ludicrous and stupid but it’s clever and quite poignant at the same time. Wood and Hill ham it up whilst giving serious commentary on the increasing isolation and lack of identity that’s come about with modern hyper-connectivity. Their slick comedic timing means both bounce effectively off each other, and their evident talents create a rather enjoyable show.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Boys Taste Better with Nutella is showing until February 23

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

A Novel Idea

A Novel Idea
Fiona McGregor

Giramondo Publishing 2019


Fiona McGregor’s photo-essay ‘A Novel Idea’ is a witty and honest examination of the often thankless and tedious work of writing a novel. From 2007 to 2010, McGregor documented herself and her workspace through photographs.

The reader follows her from her small home office to Estonia and Germany, from a desk in a secluded hut in the wilderness to sneaky photos taken in a library in Berlin. Alongside images of her workspace, and her old hand-me-down computer, McGregor ruminates on her life. Her relationship with her girlfriend, its breakdown, and her struggle to write when builders are working outside her apartment – made all the worse when they accidentally smash a hole through her wall.

She writes about the ways that her novel and life begin to intertwine, through violent dreams and the grief of loss in her life that mirrors a slow and painful death in her novel.

At times the text is raw, exposing the reader to the intimate details of McGregor’s mind and personal life. Other times her reflections are witty, tongue-in-cheek and relatable to anyone who has ever wrestled with a creative project. We see her seek out new places to work, and watch as the same struggle continues no matter where in the world she sets up her computer. Her narration gives the reader insight into the ways in which writing becomes an act of isolation, yet is still affected by the happenings of the outside world.

‘A Novel Idea’ is an interesting look into the writing process as well as a superb piece of life writing. Perhaps a little unusual, but definitely worth a read if you enjoy life writing with an experimental twist.

 

4 stars


Words by Lisandra Linde

The Truants

The Truants

Kate Weinberg

Bloomsbury 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5266-0012-7


 

Whether it’s as basic as skipping school or smoking a bit of pot in the toilets to theft or worse; doing the wrong thing can be alluring. One of the questions Kate Weinberg asks in her novel The Truants is, “could you be driven to kill someone?”

Following the move to University in Norfolk, Jess discovers a sense of freedom for the first time. Being the middle of five children, she’s always felt as if she were invisible, and has mastered the art of being unseen. Bookish and overshadowed by her siblings, university is Jess’s chance to shine. However, after being booted from Lorna’s class “The Devil has the Best Lines” during fresher’s week, Jess feels her world tumbling around her. After a rather intense enquiry to tutor herself, Jess finds herself enrolled in Lorna’s Agatha Christie course instead and is faced with her first challenge: securing the reading-list without blowing her meagre budget. And is it really theft if you plan on returning it? Drawn in by Lorna’s larger-than-life presence and quickly becoming a favourite, it’s almost as if Jess is being seen for the first time.

Having befriended Georgie, Jess finds a social life-line at uni, someone to force her towards the fun things living on campus has to offer. Georgie is wild-willed and Jess revels in her company, forming close bonds with not only Georgie but her mysterious South African boyfriend Alec, who drives a hearse and always thinks up the greatest schemes. Joined by second year geology student Nick, the group are almost inseparable. That is, until it all goes terribly wrong.

With Georgie’s growing drug problem and the rising tensions in South Africa, it seems the fun is over. Jess’s world is about to come crashing down and with no-one else to turn to but Lorna, will it all have been worth it? And who is Lorna, really? Why did she leave her esteemed position at Cambridge to work at Norfolk?

The thrill of doing wrong – and getting away with it – is ultimately captured in Weinberg’s novel as the reader delves into the increasingly complicated lives of Lorna, Alec, and Jess. With authentic, complex characters guaranteed to draw you in and extraordinary wit Weinberg’s writing is a refreshing look at the Christie mystery and the power a charismatic speaker has to influence the lives of those around them. Filled with secrets and mysteries to be solved, The Truants is enthralling. Dealing with a range of issues facing young people including drug abuse, mental and sexual health, and relationships, The Truants is perfect for anyone fifteen and up.

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell