Review: Darren Harriott: Roadman

A keen observer of Britain's fault lines

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
33971 large
Darren Harriott
Photo by Ray Burmiston
Published 10 Aug 2023

"I'm having a great time at the Fringe," beams Darren Harriott, infectiously. With energy that winning, it's no surprise that Harriott's palmarés are fast incoporating stage, screen and audio. On tonight's performance, that success is both well-deserved and perhaps just the start.

If you thought that there's comic potential to be had from the idea of Harriott's parents leaving a Black country, Jamaica, and arriving in The Black Country in the Midlands, then you'd be quite right. Growing up in the West Midlands also gives Harriott a quite unique voice – literally and figuratively – within the comedy firmament, and a fantastic vantage point from which to poke fun at life in Britain. Who else would notice the lack of a Midlands between the North and the South in Game of Thrones?

There's a serious undertone to many of Harriott's routines, especially relating to the impact, inadequacies and hypocrisies around the 2011 riots. But by and large this gentle stuff – tales of the unexpected told with skill and confidence, drawing a constant rattle of laughter rather than building to any frenzied hilarity. He's an unusually keen observer of the fault lines in Britain, not just around race and class, but urban vs rural, or around the level and type of expectation we might expect from a man of his background. I'd challenge anyone to predict what's so funny about him learning Japanese. There's tighter and more technical joke-writing around at this year's Fringe, but perhaps none delivered with such unimpeachable warmth and energy.