Dave Johns: I, Fillum Star

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Dave Johns
Published 16 Aug 2017

Dave Johns' return to Fringe stand-up after 17 years is a triumphant one, the incredible success of the movie I, Daniel Blake, in which he starred, affording him a second, much higher profile career as a film actor. Prior to director Ken Loach contacting him, he'd been ready to pack in performing to run donkey rides. Screening the film's trailer at the top of the hour, it's an achievement he's justifiably proud of.

Yet it's also gifted him a whole tranche of fresh stand-up material. As a working-class 62-year-old from Byker, suddenly finding himself walking red carpets and scoring free drinks in glitzy after-parties, he's had occasion to meet some of the world's most famous celebrities. The sheer excess of name drops and award mentions featured in I, Fillum Star is overwhelming and might seem gauche or incredibly prideful were it to come from a less charming, self-aware comic. Throughout, Johns plays the cheeky oik at the banquet with aplomb, unsettling and no doubt bewildering Hollywood's finest, but always making himself the daft butt of the anecdote – the audience's clownish surrogate in a world of glamour and privilege they'll never get to see.

True, it does get a little samey, with a coda about his heroes Sean Connery and David Bowie feeling like amusing encounters seemingly tacked on to sustain the theme. These feel gratuitous, especially after some heartfelt points about political issues raised by the film, with Johns aware as anyone of the ironies of this tale about the breadline becoming the toast of the moneyed cultural elite.