tue 07/07/2020

David Baddiel, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon review - taking on the trolls | reviews, news & interviews

David Baddiel, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon review - taking on the trolls

David Baddiel, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon review - taking on the trolls

Twitter laid bare

David Baddiel delights in taking on his Twitter trollsEllis O'Brien ©Avalon

David Baddiel is a keen Twitter user, commenting on matters of the day, making witty observations about this and that, or simply chatting to his 650,000 followers. But he does seem to attract trolls, whose idiocy he frequently confronts – and his new show, Trolls: Not the Dolls, was inspired by some of those interactions.

In a laugh-filled show that's a PowerPoint presentation cum TED talk, the comic seeks to explain the various types of troll on the social platform – the hard of thinking, those who don't get irony, the soulless killjoys, the out-and-out anti-Semites – and how to avoid them. Baddiel runs through the rules of healthy engagement on Twitter, the first of which is: don't feed the trolls. He breaks it, of course, because he regards trolls as the online equivalent of hecklers and the job of a comic, he says, is to put them down as wittily as possible.

He makes his case by showing various tweets on the onstage screen, and gradually reveals his or others' replies. It's a format that by its nature is repetitive, but the comic varies the pace by teasing out the story behind the Twitter exchanges, or putting down his clicker to tell vaguely connected anecdotes from his professional or domestic life.

The Twitter exchanges, he tells us, often escalate from innocent wit to full-blown pile-on as the perpetually sensitive take offence, either on their own or someone else's behalf – even the dead, such as when Baddiel made a quip about Michael Jackson and incurred the wrath of those deniers who still maintain the singer was not a paedophile.

There are dishonourable mentions for those who punch down rather than up, Donald Trump, Piers Morgan and Julia Hartley-Brewer among them, but Baddiel can take it as well as meting it out. He takes much pleasure in passing on one of the many insults thrown his way on Twitter; he was described by one non-fan as the “Aldi Jeff Goldblum”.

“Anger is the currency of social media,” he says, but there's much positivity here too, as the comic recounts occasions where other Twitter users have jumped to his defence, mostly by taking a gag and running with it – often topping the joke that started a pile-on – and he generously names and acclaims several individuals for trumping him. (Rather sweetly, he describes those occasions as “like conducting a comedy orchestra”.)

Baddiel makes the case for Twitter being a force for good if its users don't allow the hard of thinking to take it over completely. I wish I shared his optimism.

  • David Baddiel is touring until 6 May
There are dishonourable mentions for those who punch down rather than up

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters