Comedy review: Dan Soder: Son of A Gary, Underbelly, Bristo Square, Edinburgh

Soder has a code to live by and it's simple: life is shitty, so make fun of everything
Soder has a code to live by and it's simple: life is shitty, so make fun of everything
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Comics like Dan Soder risk sounding churlish when they dismiss the artistic pretensions of the Fringe and stand-up in general, more so if they don't deign to adapt their US cultural references.

Dan Soder: Son of A Gary, Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 302) * * * *

But damn it, if it isn't refreshing to hear such dry, caustically delivered cynicism amidst all the festival talk of profound journeys and personal epiphanies.

Born in Colorado, now working out of New York, the way Soder sees it, his path was mapped out the moment his father walked out on his mother and started drinking himself to death. In Soder's messed up, “70% white trash” upbringing, he was still playing with action figures when he embraced smoking and the jaded world-view of a grizzled Vietnam vet.

Still, he's more amused than condemnatory of his father, perhaps because of his own alcohol problems. When he reflects on his brattishly drunk, self-entitled resentment of women in his twenties, he couches the toxic masculinity in a relatively light-hearted way.

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And that's in keeping with his open-minded outlook on just about anything. Having hit rock bottom, but enjoyed a lot of drink and drugs in the process, he's a fun person he reassures us. Even if that's just by contrast to those joyless, suffocating types who can't appreciate music, dark humour or even fart jokes.

Whatever wisdom he's accrued – and at 36, he reiterates that it's not much – thankfully Soder continues to indulge in self-destructive behaviour, owning and damningly reflecting on his stupidity. Yet what he sacrifices in physical health and personal esteem, he gains in world-weary perspective and askew, non-conformist values, entertaining himself and us with his preoccupation with a nonsensical Lil Wayne lyric.

Moreover, he has a code to live by and it's simple: life is shitty, so make fun of everything. And it's something he accomplishes with aplomb.

Until 26 August

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