Who: David Brennan
What: David Brennan Exhumed
Where: Staircase Cafe Theatre, Elaine Mae Theatre (27 Dundurn Street North)
When: July 18-28, various dates & times (as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival)
David Brennan is essentially comedy royalty in Hamilton: he grew up here, spent many years performing stand-up and sketch through his group the Imponderables, and returned here after two years away with a built-in audience and a lot of press. So it was no surprise that his Saturday night show at the Elaine Mae Theatre was oversold, almost uncomfortably so, given that 50 seats were originally wadded into a room designed for about 30, and then more seats had to be added to accommodate the standing room only crowd.
David Brennan Exhumed is a horror comedy, in which Brennan plays a grave digger who tells true crime stories by assuming the role of someone connected to the story: a baffled pathologist investigating a woman who dies under mysterious circumstances; the creator of the Hardy Boys mysteries, struggling to come up with his next book; and a sea explorer who meets a grizzly fate. Each of these stories is delivered with a slam poetry-esque rhythm and a vocal style designed to invoke terror, but with enough comedy so as not to frighten too much.
Brennan is a very gifted story teller and performer, and excels at the physical comedy. Being very tall and lanky with a rubbery face like Bill Hader or Michael Richards, he conveys so much effortlessly with just a facial expression or simple movement. He strikes the right balance of terror and laughter, and does so while keeping the material fairly clean. His polish and stage presence definitely mask the fact that this is his first solo, non-stand-up, performance, and Exhumed would definitely make for an excellent Halloween show, should he want to remount it in the future.