Dan Nightingale is Trying His Best Not to be a Dick

Wed 30th July – Sun 24th August 2014


David Harris

at 00:02 on 5th Aug 2014



Dan Nightingale superbly succeeds at Trying His Best Not to Be a Dick. In fact, he is one of the nicest and funniest comics I have seen for a long time.

It is a few minutes before he gets going, as he takes the time to explain to the audience that he is a stand-up act, and how his show is going to work, which felt slightly redundant. At times, he also witters slightly, digressing once too often in quick succession. But when the laughs start, he offers hilarious anecdotes, engaging crowd participation, and witty insights into comedy itself.

What is remarkable about Nightingale is the fact that he manages to be so amusing whilst hardly being mean at all. Although he frequently refers to himself as a dick, I found him immediately likeable. Maybe his self-deprecating nature helps with this ingratiation, but nevertheless, his honesty and the very personal nature of his comedy creates a tangible relationship with the audience. Interaction doesn’t feel like a stand-up comedian and a patron; it feels like two friends ribbing each other. This is despite the fact that the show is 17:30; as Nightingale notes, it might be more effective to watch it later in the evening, after “gin and tonic number four”.

He deals with the taboo subject of old-age medical problems, specifically Parkinson’s disease, with remarkable earnestness. He acknowledges its status of being slightly off-limits for comedians, but then talks about it anyway with amiable tact, telling stories about his relationship with his father, who has the illness, but according to Nightingale has “owned it”.

Occasionally, the laughs dry up momentarily, and whilst he holds the audience’s attention through sheer charisma, it disrupts the flow without building suspense for the next punchline. But when he talks quietly, you laugh quietly, just so you make sure you can hear every word. He varies his tone repeatedly, taking off on a comedic rollercoaster, on which you are with him every step of the way.

Nightingale’s style is one of the best I’ve come across, and I will look forward to seeing him again in the future. A little more consistency to his act and a slightly more focused approach will improve his comedy even further.


Lili Thomas

at 02:48 on 5th Aug 2014



Dan Nightingale’s introduction seemed to be addressed directly to me as he explained who he was to all those who didn’t know him. He did so without self-deprecation and without the usual grumpiness which I have come to expect from comedians, particularly those with thinning hair and a slight tummy, and it was undeniably refreshing.

Nightingale assured everyone that he was using new material and we were certainly not disappointed. After the slightly long introduction it took a little time for the stand-up comedian to get the laughs rolling, but he is undeniably funny. The first real laughter was handed to him on a plate when a Scotsman in the front row matter-of-factly stated that he owned ‘Baboon Bottoms’ in answer to the posed question about sports lycra (you really do have to hear this one in Nightingale’s attempted Edinburgh accent).

Instead of attacking his audience, Dan Nightingale’s manner is one of genuine friendliness. His subsequent joking was neither confronting nor pointless but instead the audience observations and interactions were laughably accurate. The comedian flicked between his Preston persona, self-assigning his upper body to that of a builder, and the camp Londoner which, as he pointed out, was more suited to his lower half’s ballet dancer legs. The mixture of the two was performed to hilarious effect and the image of a builder skipping away, liberated, to join a ballet company will have me chuckling for days.

Nightingale’s personal anecdotes ranged from his own embarrassment at 3am in MacDonald’s to a fat squirrel’s embarrassment having fallen off his branch. Describing humour as a coping mechanism, he opened up various aspects of his life to us with both sensitivity and wit. Joking about his father’s diagnosis with Parkinsons, he purposefully stripped back the stigma surrounding illness and whole-heartedly ignored the compulsory tone used to address it. Nightingale’s straight talking ticked all the boxes: happy, entertaining but also full of sense.

This show was certainly one of the best stand-up comedy acts I have so far seen in Edinburgh, and although it was not side-clenchingly funny, the ripples of laughter were unanimous. The comedian himself good-humouredly pointed out that perhaps this show was better suited to an evening performance, and I would strongly agree. However, the self-aware, shiny-headed comedian is not worth missing.


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