The tricky away fixture is usually a psychological battle sport teams usually contend with. Obviously in comedy there are home crowds and the Fringe can certainly be a home away from home for a lot of Australian comics. As an Edinburgh native, I remember being a firm foreigner at a Will Anderson performance years ago. On the back of winning the Melbourne comedy award, Damien Power probably feels he should be doing better than a shipping container with more holes than it than a Tory manifesto. Nearly half full, even without knowing what to expect, its evident to see that Damien is not feeling comfortable in his environment.
It’s a slightly bumpy start, it would be hard to not reference the room but its a bit of an Edinburgh cliché to bash the shanty put together rooms so many acts find themselves in. To be fair to him he takes it in good spirits, because giving the cost he’ll be incurring for travel and all the other financial burdens for doing Edinburgh, he’s been let down by having a leaky roof that’s awfully distracting for all. He pulls off an excellent joke about the old chestnut of people who say going to Edinburgh is like going to war, that shows he’s got a very sharp brain and also quite a humble character.
Unlike a lot of his fellow nationals in comedy, his act is slightly low energy by comparison, but picks up in act outs such as describing the American Evangelical he witnessed at a church whilst on a date. It injects some nice energy into the room and the hyperbole behind the parody is almost masterful, yet is guilty of milking it for more than it’s worth. Particularly in its early stages, the show feels like it needs to be edited, sometimes going off tangent in an effort to get people on board but ends up down a cul-de-sac. When we get through some anecdotes about his failed dating exploits, his ex-girlfriend leaving him for a pizza restaurant owner and dating him whilst still living together. He has the audience on board with his life as tragedy that gets the audience on side and being self-depreciating with it, he attracts a lot of empathy. It takes a little while to get to the theme of the show, that being chasing the idea of dreams versus the actuality of attaining them. It’s not quite a metaphysical exploration ready for a Ted Talk, but again, Power wants to demonstrate he’s a cerebral comedian that like a probable idol Bill Hicks, pokes some fun at the less intelligible amongst us. To his credit, he doesn’t quite deliver it with the venom that Hicks does that made his targets look too easy to assassinate.
There’s a nice darkness in his material with a good dose of filth, that certainly erupts some loud cackling. By the final third, he’s found a rhythm and energy he feels comfortable with that finally reveals how good a comedian Power’s is. He’s quite capable of being one’s favourite comedian and maybe when he starts feeling more comfortable in his room, there’s a very good show here, but it’s currently just waiting.
★★★ (and a half)