views from the gods

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It's All Geek to Me
The Camden Head
29th July 2013


With The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins and Star Trekkin' amongst some of the pre-show tracks - and if the title wasn't enough - the signs were always there that Pete Dillon-Trenchard's one-man comedy gig was going to be packed with all kinds of geekery. The venue itself was also pleasingly packed - in no small part down to a singles group deciding his show It's All Geek To Me was the right place for comedy and romance. And Pete, if you're reading this, the chatter from the ladies' toilets (which is where all the good female gossip always happens) was fairly positive. If you didn't score, you clearly didn't try hard enough.

After weeks of claiming not to have started writing anything, not only did Dillon-Trenchard come up with a show, but a fairly structured one at that. It's All Geek To Me is a masterclass in the nerd, divided into six essential modules, from dating through to how to successfully identify and classify a geek.

Much of the material is fairly safe, jokes about the unattractiveness of nerds - firmly centred on Dillon-Trenchard himself - being the mainstay. It's a nice tactic that gives none of his would-be detractors anywhere to go, his self-awareness cutting a swathe through any potential tedium that may come if you're not a fan of the subject material. Saying that, the subjects covered were typically mainstream and accessible, including both the big Stars (Wars and Trek), Doctor Who and Harry Potter.

Mentions of comic book heroes didn't go beyond the -mans (Spider-Man, Batman, Superman), and there was nothing too obscure there to challenge the audience's frame of reference. There's a fine balance to be struck when writing about a niche subject, but in his admirable attempt to make his show so inclusive, Dillon-Trenchard has missed the opportunity to really show off his geek credentials. I don't doubt he could have ramped up the nerd factor (as seen in his assertion of the number of times the Doctor has used his sonic screwdriver, for example) rather chose to pitch it at this level of referencing.

A few forays into current affairs didn't quite get the reception he was hoping for, perhaps being seen as outside the remit of the show, or perhaps we were all too busy watching our Battlestar Galactica box-sets to notice the outside world. But jokes about fan fiction - in particular the same-sex variety - were very well-received. As the man himself would agree, swings and roundabouts.

In a horribly British and thoroughly predictable fashion, the biggest laughs of the night were reserved for self-deprecating, underdog humour one would hope was exaggerated for comic effect. But that's not to say the audience didn't warm to the comedian, it was an easy crowd to begin with, and one which Dillon-Trenchard managed to keep on side throughout. He's an incredibly likable stage presence, one that will drop a few f-bombs if needed, but certainly not reliant on them. It's his "smiling through the rain" worldview that makes him refreshing, and I'd like to think we were all laughing with him, rather than at him.

Perhaps It's All Geek To Me isn't that edgy or geeky - or worryingly, maybe I'm less normal than I thought. Or maybe the scene has become so acceptable that we're all happily embracing our inner nerd these days, rather than trying to flush its head down the toilet. Whatever the answer, this is a show which will tickle both those who are proud to be known as outcasts, and everyone else too. A solid hour of laughs, It's All Geek To Me may not be controversial, but it's undeniably entertaining.

It's All Geek to Me ran from 29th July to 31st July 2013 at the Camden Head, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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