★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Through great storytelling, Darren is able to make comments on race, class and masculinity which are both subtle and powerful.
Birmingham-born comedian Darren Harriott took his debut hour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was nominated for Best Newcomer so it's no surprise that he's back for a second hour called Visceral.
There are a couple of upgrades this year. First of all, the room. He was in a 50-seater in 2017 but this year he's managing to fill a room double the size.
He's also upgraded is his material. His debut show Defiant showed plenty of promise and there were definite makings there of a great stand-up. The makings of which are really starting to come to fruition this year as Darren has returned a far more confident and mature performer. Delivering the second show I was hoping for.
The jokes land better. The audience are on his side a lot more. And crucially, the material is stronger. He talks at the start of the show about never being anxious about performing stand-up comedy and I can believe it.
Whether it's last year's nomination or a spot on Live at the Apollo that has contributed to this gear change, I'm not sure. But whatever's spurring Darren on, it's working. And long may it continue.
Through great storytelling, Darren is able to make comments on race, class and modern society which are both subtle and powerful. Throughout the hour, he tells us about his experience living with a crack addict, he talks at great lengths about joining a gang at the age of 13 and carrying a knife at that age, as well as The Power Rangers, an encounter with an audience member in Norwich and the word 'Nigel'.
There's also a definite poignancy to Darren's second show as he talks about never hearing his father's voice again. Not even through memory.
In a world where positive role models are so important, I believe most young people should seek out Darren's latest show and learn from him. They should hear him speaking about carrying a knife at the age of 13, understand that that's wrong and do what Darren did, follow a career path with far better prospects.
A refreshing voice on the comedy circuit, Darren deserves to stick around for a while because with material this good just two shows in, the future is looking very bright for Darren Harriott.
Darren Harriott: Visceral runs until 26th August at 9:30pm at The Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath). Book tickets here.
(This review was based on the performance from Friday 17th August 2018)