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Review: Brendon Burns and George Zach - The Trimmers Arms, South Shields. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Stubbs   
02 07 2010
ImageI was sat on a Wednesday night trawling through my Facebook feed when I stopped scrolling for a moment to see that new comic George Zach was supporting Burns in two days' time at a comedy club called The Comedy Bunker. Good for him I thought; that'll be somewhere down south - Burnsey would never travel this far North without being on a full solo tour. But where was this gig? South Shields! Could it be true, the mighty Brendon Burns was playing South Shields?

If you don't know Brendon Burns, you're missing out. Blacklisted from television for many years for his outspoken and potentially offensive remarks, he coincidentally makes his TV return tonight on the new Patrick Kielty vehicle: Stand Up For The Week on C4. With two DVDs, countless solo shows and an Edinburgh Comedy Award under his belt, Burns is a true veteran comic and I can honestly say my favourite comedian. The only time I'd seen Burns previously was in Newcastle in 2008 at the Northern Stage, where he played to a room of less than 50 people. It could have been the most cringeworthy and awkward show of all time, but he absolutely stormed it.

I was determined to see him again, and, somehow, a couple of friends and I managed to make it out to deepest, darkest South Shields for a gig that promised a raffle, free food and live music after the gig. The comperes for the evening, Ian Cunningham and Wayne Miller kicked off the gig with a range of noisy trumpets and naff jokes - but these two managed to get Brendon Burns up North and for that they deserve respect. 

ImageThe first act of the night at The Comedy Bunker was ‘local' Greek comic George Zach, who kicked off the evening with witty observations on dating Geordie lasses and confrontations with charvs, resulting in a lukewarm response from the sold-out audience. Zach himself admits that he died on stage. Hopefully he didn't go home after the gig and break every plate in the house.

Quickly moving the night along on without interval to the headlining act - a bladder testing feat of endurance indeed - Cunningham and Miller brought Brendon Burns on stage. I'm not sure how many punters were there to see Burns himself, or are regular supporters of the night, but I'm certain they will be talking of the day they got to see this man in a dinky pub in Shields for a tenner complete with free curry afterwards. The response to Zach was lukewarm, however Brendon received an absolute scorching reception.

ImageHe quickly forced his way into taboo topics, squeezed all the comedy out of them and tossed them to one side. While making valid, intelligent points, Burns never contradicted his views on the subject matter - very important when dealing with subjects like religion, rape, paedophilia and American idiocy. As he put it himself, ‘I've been doing comedy for 20 years now, if you don't find what I say funny then that's your own fault and I feel embarrassed for you' and, while his over the top stance seems ridiculous, he has a valid point. What he says on stage does not glorify such taboo topics but actually highlights the problem and pokes fun at it. Burns' comedy simply tries to topple these words off the pedestal we put them on.

That's not to say Burns' act doesn't have a fair amount of wanking material, but, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who has the balls to embark on a 10 minute wordy and concise routine on atheism, ending their set on a non-comedic but poignant note (and still gets window-rattling round of applause) gets the job of my favourite comedian any day of the week. 


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