sun 26/05/2024

Desiree Burch, Soho Theatre On Demand review - fantastical storytelling | reviews, news & interviews

Desiree Burch, Soho Theatre On Demand review - fantastical storytelling

Desiree Burch, Soho Theatre On Demand review - fantastical storytelling

California comic on Burning Man, sex, race – and LSD

Desiree Burch talks about visiting the Burning Man festival in Nevada

You may have seen Desiree Burch, a Californian now living in London, on The Mash Report on BBC One.

She's an engaging and energetic storyteller and Desiree's Coming Early, her 2019 Edinburgh Fringe show directed by Sarah Chew, is a fantastical tale about her visit to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, when she accidentally took LSD.

But it's not just cheap laughs about expanding her mind, as Burch ruminates on race, men's sexual misbehaviour and identity. And, stepping aside from the stand-up every so often and reading from a lectern, she weaves in some interest facts about eugenics (told through a brief history of IQ tests, which in their original form had a distinct racial bias in favour of white people).

She starts at a blistering pace, recounting her festival experience. She went – during the “great dick drought” she experienced after a long relationship broke down – with her best friend, Dave. While there she bumped into an old acquaintance, a hilariously-described encounter that Burch posits as Moses meeting Jesus. “We’re not even supposed to be in the same testament right now!”

There are other stand-out set pieces, not least Burch's take on what she calls “magical negroes” in Hollywood movies. She describes this cinematic cliché as the barely characterised black best friend or mentor who is in the movie purely to solve the personal dilemma or problem facing the white lead character, as with Michael Clarke Duncan/Tom Hanks in The Green Mile and Whoopi Goldberg/Demi Moore in Ghost.

Despite its frantic start, the show feels a little overstretched, not helped by Burch's digressions into some more standard-fare stand-up territory about her sexual appetite and some overly detailed observations about her fellow festival-goers. These feel tacked on rather than central to her fanciful and funny story, and even the more serious elements, interesting though they are, don't entirely coalesce with the comedy as she draws things to a conclusion. But even if the show doesn't quite hang together, the laughs are plentiful.

There are stand-out set pieces, not least Burch's take on what she calls 'magical negroes'


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


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