Joel Dommett: Conquer

★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2015

You've got to wonder if Joel Dommett named his show Conquer because he views acquiring a girlfriend, the main thrust of its shaky narrative, as an act of forceful domination. Certainly, such a reading of his gender politics isn't helped by the casual slut-shaming that twice creeps its way into this rapturously received set, the white man with a microphone expressing his unwillingness to take on an experienced female partner because of germs or something.

A pay-what-you-like Jack Whitehall, several queuing fans are turned away from his unticketed performance. Others stand throughout its duration, circling the stage like a Top Gear studio audience or group of scavenging vultures. It's easy to see the appeal. Not only is Dommett young, denim-clad and handsome, but carries himself in the manner of a rock star. “It's gonna be great!” he vainly bellows.

Our hero proves keenly aware of self-deprecation's place in a comedian's arsenal, yet never takes it quite far enough, a tedious narcissism informing his sloppily structured musings. The set piece with which he concludes the show is intended to portray him as a vulnerable creature of love, yet does so only within strictly controlled parameters. He is to remain the alpha male at all times.

This is dull, lifeless comedy, as practised by a man of no originality or integrity. Dommett, however, seems hungry for fame and knows that these shortcomings will serve him well.