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2011 Edinburgh Fringe

Danny Pensive review

John Cooper

You could tell from the instant Danny Pensive came into the bar beside his venue, advising the crowd to buy drinks as his room was very warm, that he was a thoroughly likable guy. This impression was only reinforced when, as the audience entered the sweaty venue, they were coaxed by Pensive down to the front row with Drumstick lollies lying on the seats. Despite the heat, Pensive remained in his signature duffle coat throughout the hour long show which sees him recount tales from various places he has visited around the British Isles.

This may well sound like a fairly bland and uninspired premise for a show, but John Cooper's comic creation in Danny Pensive is a well realised character, full of childlike wonder and shot through with a naivety that makes his musings both playful and endearing. He begins with a song about goldfish, which perfectly prepares the crowd for the hour ahead. It is light and slightly fluffy and introduces the character as a bit of a simpleton - but one who has the best intentions.

Pensive explains that his motivation behind travelling was to get away from sitting in front of the telly at his Nana's house. There is no deep explanation for it, just Pensive's innate curiosity. By inviting the audience to dip into his sweetie jar and pick out place names, he regales the crowd with snippets from his diary and snapshots of his travels. His stories have an innocence to them and are sustained by some sharp and clever lines. On the whole, his humour is fairly tame and gentle as is no more evident than when he prefaces a story by saying 'I did actually offend a man once'.

He has many wonderful turns of phrase and his voice flows with a gentle Mackem lilt that makes him instantly endearing. He really has the crowd on side from the beginning, but I did get the feeling that with a different audience it might have been more difficult to engage them and establish the character of Pensive. This audience on the day this review was conducted seemed to be big laughers and very willing to go along with Pensive's ramblings.

As charming and whimsical as the character of Pensive is, there seems to be something lacking from his comedy. The character feels slightly one dimensional and, by its own design, unable to branch out or explore anything outside his simple view on the world. There may not be too many more miles left in Danny Pensive.

Danny Pensive's Map of Britain listing

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