There are shows that turn up in the comedy section of the Fringe program that look interesting on paper but turn out to contain only a sprinkling of comedy. “Who Is Dani Cabs?” is such a show in which various tools of comedic performance are employed but the writing lets the show down.
Dani Cabs told a series of stories from his life that were certainly interesting but, aside from a few humorous asides, some “clowning”, mugging to the crowd and plenty of audience embarrassment, these tales contained very little in the way of humorous lines. Perhaps the stories were somewhat amusing to his family and friends who knew the characters he talked about, but they only portrayed him as a self-absorbed and lazy person that wasn’t the wacky guy he obviously wanted to sell.
Cabs is certainly an energetic and vibrant performer but there were issues with his storytelling skills -in particular what he decided to include in or omit from his tales. He glossed over details that would clarify things and seemed to be important as to how we empathised with him but then he went into immense detail about the minutiae of other more mundane scenes. His tales may have related to the point he was building towards but each one trailed off without any comedic payoff. There was also an issue with how he played with status on stage – beginning as an arrogant character he finally painted himself as a flawed human towards the end, but by that stage it was too late as you didn’t particularly care for him or hadn’t been given clear reasons to empathise.
His idea of clowning was to creep around the room wrapped in his orange poncho, shout incoherently or in Spanish, and molest audience members. There were plenty of heavy-handed attempts to get the crowd to participate in chanting and singing sessions that were often like pulling teeth with this stunned audience. He was giving it a red hot go but he lacked the Gaulier skills needed to pull this style of comedy off.
While he changed costumes he screened some bizarre video “commercials” that were meant to be surreal but lacked anything resembling a punchline and were repetitive. The last tied into the theme that he used to conclude the show, but they were not particularly funny.
Cabs should be commended for presenting a frank and personal show but calling it a comedy was a huge stretch. If you’re looking for laughs here, you will probably be left wanting.
Who is Dani Cabs? is on at the Tuxedo Cat until September 22nd