Connor Burns: Vertigo at Soho Theatre | Review

Hailed by fellow comedian Daniel Sloss as the “future of Scottish stand-up”, Connor Burns is well on his way to becoming a household name, and his new show Vertigo has just started a six-month tour of the UK after a sell-out run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

2023 Connor Burns by Melody Joy.
2023 Connor Burns by Melody Joy.

First seen in 2017, the charismatic Burns has masterful timing and the ability to turn to his advantage anything and everything that the audience gives him. It is all very impressive yet there is something curiously old-fashioned about this 20-something comedian, which calls back to the 1970s when most of the laughter heard in clubs and on screen was at someone else’s expense. In this way, while many comics (and their audiences) look for nothing more than facile puns, Burns takes the road less travelled, setting out to challenge cancel culture head-on. Discounting a few cheap and dated Jokes – about the late Stephen Hawking, the murderer Oscar Pistorius and the beleaguered parents of Madeleine McCann – Burns is happy to have fun at the expense of other people – or at least other people from “safe” countries like France, the Netherlands and Australia, or from cities like London and Liverpool – even to the extent of mimicking their accents.

At the same time, Burns avoids making jokes about people from countries whose populations are not predominantly white and he is similarly cautious about gender and identity politics – there are jokes about lesbian sex and women’s sports but nothing about gay men or trans people – and, generally, he steers well clear of anyone and anything that might be unconvinced by his ‘get out of jail free card’ response of “I’m just ***king with you”. However, when he moves into the less hazardous arena of his own everyday life, Burns truly comes alive, replacing soft targets and stereotypes with quickfire jokes at his own expense and grounded in his own experiences, in particular Australian tours, his high-achieving girlfriend and his family.

The future of Scottish stand-up? Well, possibly…

4 Stars

Review by Louis Mazzini

A punchline-packed show featuring submarines, relationships and the inevitable family drama. Hilarious, relatable, a bit rude in places of course and all the while served up with superb material, brilliant delivery and proper belly laughs.

Phil McIntyre Live Ltd by arrangement with MZA present:
Connor Burns: Vertigo
Thu 16 – Sat 18 Nov 2023

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