GIG REVIEW: David Baddiel Trolls: Not the Dolls at Portsmouth Guildhall

By Carron Stacey

WHERE?: Portsmouth Guildhall 22/2/20

Never, to my shame, having seen David Baddiel live, this was a Christmas present for Mr Humdrum which, on the morning of the show, almost didn’t transpire when he claimed I’d only bought one ticket. He had, in fact, failed to turn over the print-out.

  • Read on for reasons including why we need more comedy in our lives

I always like to point out what sort of fan I am when I review gigs, but I can’t be that high up having never seen him. We loved The Mary Whitehouse Experience and although we prefer his older comedic couplings to perhaps newer ones, we have very much enjoyed not only reading his children’s books to our 14-year-old son when he was younger, but also introducing him to David Baddiel, via the medium that is Taskmaster, where his partnership with Jo Brand undoubtedly earned him (and them) alternative national treasure status. 

Trolls: Not the Dolls is billed as a collection of David’s ‘stories to tell, of the dark, terrible and hysterically absurd cyber-paths that interacting with trolls has led him down’. Indeed these anecdotes do help categorise and illustrate different genres of online trolls and, although containing only one actual ‘normal’ joke, the show had us all laughing all night (even sometimes when we thought we shouldn’t have been), finally leaving with a sense of purpose in how to continue reacting to and dealing with the sometimes upsetting experiences on social media. 

David tweets. I can’t get Twitter; obviously I can get it, I just don’t know how to use it properly. However my usage has increased exponentially since his show, and has thus resulted in him liking my tweets and answering a question I put to him. During the show, I received a read-out after the interval of something I’d tweeted (no details so as not to give the game away) and then, to my amazement, he referred back to me (admittedly as ‘the 48 year old’) later on when explaining who The Two Ronnies were to a youngster in the audience.

It may appear to some that this sort of “PowerPoint and web pages” show remains the child of the unbeaten master, Dave Gorman. In fact, I happened across a lovely exchange of tweets between the two Daves where there is a delightful mutual respect, ending in Baddiel calling Gorman ‘the Godfather of Audio-Visual Projection in Comedy’. Where Gorman focuses on random issues and mostly comments in the so called bottom of the internet, Baddiel does specify trolling against him. These trolls can be general mickey-takers, people who run with a joke that he’s started, and this type of troll (if they can be called such) are welcomed. They may be ‘headteachers’, full of disappointment in him, or ones that just don’t get the joke. Then there are the actual low-lifes, whose tweets negatively ‘change the energy’ of the conversation, and there are hilarious examples illustrating the range of types.

My takeaway that night was that we can beat trolls with comedy. During this time of #BeKind, surely David’s campaign can be #BeComedic? And I’m not downplaying the #BeKind movement, but with more comedy in our lives, we can and should fight the negativity about our looks, our feelings, ourselves with a carefully curated quip, or a one liner that shuts a troll down.

We know we thankfully have the right to free speech, and I’ve had many a discussion on this subject following this show with my argumentative 14-year-old currently studying Ethics, and we need to use this right properly. However, if people keep disabusing it, it will no doubt provide him with enough material for a follow-up tour in the very near future.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy David Baddiel. Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum



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