Darren Harriott: Visceral (3 stars)

Darren Harriott: Visceral

credit: Steve Ullathorne

A deceptively jovial hour on bereavement and vulnerability

Early on in the hour, Darren Harriott informs the audience that he's not 'good' with emotions. Opportunities for meaningful connection – like discovering a housemate has been using his cans of Diet Coke to smoke crack – are deflected with a blithe comment. Certainly his childhood did not permit many opportunities for weakness. As a young man growing up fatherless and working class, he joined a gang out of a desire for masculine camaraderie, and a story about getting 'Terror Clan Killaz' printed on a hoodie in Times New Roman has the audience in stitches.

More difficult topics, like his father's death, are harder to dredge humour from. But Harriott, in fits and starts, explores how it influenced his risk-taking behaviour and ability to relate with others. Seemingly random anecdotes or half-finished thoughts are later drawn together, like a bouquet, so that their significance reveals themselves in its greater context. The result is brilliantly crafted and incredibly moving.

Despite the strength of the central thread, other trains of thought (like one about masculinity and Mike Tyson) feel integral to the plot but are suddenly abandoned in favour of jokes about Twitter. This sudden veering to and from hefty topics to light-hearted quips feels jarring in an otherwise funny, emotional hour of excellent storytelling craftsmanship.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 15), 9.30pm, £8.50–£10 (£7.50–£9).

Darren Harriott: Visceral

  • 3 stars

Personal and political gags from the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee.

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