Norwegian funnyman Daniel Simonsen is one of several Scandinavian comics making waves at this year’s festival fringe. After a year that’s included slots on Russell Howard’s Good News and Simon Amstell’s tour, it seems hard to believe that this last time year Simonsen was on the free fringe circuit. Champions, his new solo show, lives up to the hype, cementing his reputation as a talented observational gag man with an offbeat delivery.
Simonsen opens the evening in genius fashion - I won’t spoil his party trick here, but it had audience in stitches and very much set the tone for what was to follow. If you like your comedians droll, this is the man for you; he’s drier than a sunburnt prune, but with enough quirkiness to quell the edge. He’s patently thought about his appeal to a British audience; a good chunk of the set is devoted to observations on the way of life and culture in the UK. Look out for the benefits stuff, it’s a riot! By contrast he’s not afraid to play the outsider and does so with a surly irritation that works wonders. With mannerisms this infectious, you’re likely to have assimilated them by the end of the show.
It’s a shame that the adroit material is blighted by a sprinkling of sillier stuff, a cat impression being the most prominent. In the hands of a different comedian this could have worked a lot better, but here it feels like Simonsen is out of his comfort zone; in time, he may hone these elements, but perhaps it would be more fruitful to concentrate on what he does best.
Overall, though Champions is an superb hour of stand up from a rising star, it’s not out and out hilarious. However,you’ll leave feeling satisfied and certain that Simonsen has a lot more to offer and is only just starting out on the path to comic supremacy.