Oh yeah. This is Uther Dean. There’s no way I could come out of this and not have my mind appropriately freaked.
Dean takes the tried and tired comedy genre of I Am Fat And Also Sad, Laugh Please™, churns it through a turd-polishing machine, and through magic makes it come out the other end a gourmet pavlova. He talks a big game, remarking on his knack for structure, and follows through. Even the setups’ setups have payoffs. The set-ups begin before the show does. The split in the title is played with in a way I don’t feel at all comfortable spoiling because it was geniuosly handled.
The pre-show music, in particular Y.M.C.A via Time, is simultaneously funny through the juxtaposition of the vocals’ jovial nature against the instrumental’s overly dramatic existential dread, while also being emotionally hollowing and sympathetic. The content of the Village People’s lyrics have been yanked from the subtext it was in when accompanied by a boundy march into the very clear, not subtle text when layered on a track that is remarkably tonally consistent. My Fat/Sad has near exactly the same effect. When you aren’t laughing, you’re emphatically nodding and internally crying. Part of me laments the missed potential Dean had to further his introspections; he seemed to be one emotional gut-punching beat away from leaving me in Capital ‘S’ Sadness. The other part of me is incredibly glad for what it is as a dramatic emotional spiral wouldn’t have read as a truth. My Fat/Sad’s programme opens with Ikari Shinji’s quote: “I hate myself. But I might be able to love myself.” Depression is explored but never wallowed in. It is acknowledged, and we can go and celebrate life anyway.
A standout chunk of the night’s humour was rooted in the act of performing itself, on top of the content - an unexpected and appreciated meta angle which loudly reverberated in the laughter of an audience composed of mostly performers. Even while self-denigrating in the improvised beats, reminding himself to “never do improv again”, Dean flaunted brilliant skill in audience reading and seamless adaptation to the extent where, based on his written material, everything may as well have been part of a single grand design. I wonder what adjustments would be made to accomodate an audience that isn’t nearly as likely to be on stage as they are off. Knowing Dean, they will certainly be the right adjustments.
Comedy shows about how fat and or sad a comedian is are getting harder to effectively do. Uther Dean’s My Fat/Sad has taken the name and the crown, and has gone and made it even harder for others to talk about how fat and or sad they are.