Review: Desiree Burch: Desiree's Coming Early!

A masterpiece of an hour

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Desiree Burch
Photo by Idil Sukan
Published 09 Aug 2019

“Now that is a fact,” says Desiree Burch, as she closes the book on this show’s scripted, lecture-like introduction, before launching eagerly into the meat. “This is a story.”

And so begins Burch’s breathless tale of a day spent tripping at Nevada’s infamous Burning Man festival, an epic shaggy-dog story that certainly involves some shaggy people. That would be enjoyable enough, but the LA-born comic has more to say. So much more.

Judiciously woven in here are history lessons about education and race, which eventually build to something euphorically personal, an illuminating takedown of the "magical negro" in Hollywood movies, and a heady lament for certain let-us-down heroes. In fact her bit about plausible deniability and Michael Jackson’s oeuvre might be the best routine you’ll hear this Fringe. Beat that.

You would have forgiven Burch for sitting out this Fringe altogether as her TV CV grows, or for preferring one of the longer-established, higher-profile venues. But Heroes is clearly home (and perhaps slightly more relaxed about this show overrunning), and her audience is happy to follow, up Niddry Street, to Nevada and beyond.

It’s one heck of a show. Burch’s background is in experimental theatre, and while the set-up here looks like traditional standup, this is as spectacular as it gets without costumes, props and fireworks. It’s a mesmerizing performance, and somehow those myriad thematic strands all coalesce into one magnificent whole. There are hoots, hollers and, come the end, a very British attempt at a standing ovation. Quite right too.