Dwight on the night, Fringe’s slickest purveyors of enjoyable stand-upEdinburgh Fringe Festival 2003 Review
Article originally printed on Thursday, August 21, 2003
Dwight on the night; a mark of how predictably safe comedy on the Fringe has become that Dwight Slade’s first night at the Tron is a sellout.
Hitherto unknown on these shores, his UK debut has been buoyed by a wave of hopeful hype. Slade, you see, was a close friend of the late great Bill Hicks who, even ten years after his death, remains the finest American comedian to hold a mic stand since Woody Allen turned to the movies.
That’s a hell of a burden of expectation for one man to carry—especially when you consider that Slade has been caught out in the power cuts in the United States and has been bounced around airports for the last 72 hours.
The bad news is that anyone expecting a sort of Bill Hicks Mark 2 will be going home< disappointed. The good news is that Slade is his own man and one of the slickest purveyors of purely enjoyable standup to hit town this year.
There are similarities with Hicks, to be sure. Both men grew up on Austin, Texas and there are times when Slade’s voice is eerily similar to his contemporary—particularly when he’s angry—and thankfully Slade has a great deal to get angry about.
"He’s mining universal irritations and hitting his mark every time."
The frustrations of Microsoft products, traffic and, of course, airline travel are all pinpointed with refreshing vitriol.
This is far less revolutionary agenda than Hicks. Slade is, comparatively, playing safe— but he’s winning. He’s mining universal irritations and hitting his mark every time. These gags may look fresh but they’re delivered with all the practiced panache of a man who knows his material inside out.
The great thing, however, is that Slade obviously still takes as much delight in his act as his audience. While Hicks saw himself as a preacher, wanting to change the way people thought, Slade is first and foremost an entertainer.
His primary aim is to gain your laughter. To this end, there’s more than a touch of Jim Carrey’s less punchable mannerisms in Slade’s mimicry but, as with the anger, it’s balanced by a welcome professionalism that always wins the audience’s approval.
Slade may not be remarkably original but he is remarkably enjoyable nonetheless—and proof that “slick” isn’t a dirty word.