Stand-up comedy review: Daniel Cook: For Money
James R | On 06, May 2020
Some people can make you laugh just with their voice. Daniel Cook can make you laugh with a single look.
The actor, writer and comedy performer may well be a familiar sight, after appearances in Toast of London, Babylon and even Poldark, but he’s certainly not somewhere you forget seeing: his facial expressions are impossibly funny, with a pointed stare, wide-eyed and frenetic, matched by an ever-growing grin. It’s a face made for stand-up comedy, able to deliver deadpan remarks with a knowing glint, or simply let rip with a manic tirade of rage and insecurity.
Cook’s physical and verbal tics fly past at the rate of knots, never letting you settle into your seat because you’re too busy bracing yourself for whatever unexpected thing is next. But that manic energy and hyperactive rage secretly hide an impeccable sense of timing and storytelling.
From his solo show, Carpet, which relays how he ended up spending several weeks indoors alone with his cat, to For Money, in which he relates a tale about Brian Eno and a watch – it’s easier to watch than explain it – he’s a deft sharer of anecdotes, and stuffs them with exasperated and defeatist observations that never fail to get a giggle.
For Money’s motto is even laid out early to ensure there’s no expectations of something positive and hopeful: Compromise! Struggle! Futility! Those are the three stages of life, he argues, and after 45 minutes of his deranged ramblings, any logic against his philosophy is beaten into irrelevance. Who could fail to identity with a man so annoyed at the impossibility of getting £3.67 out of a cash machine? Or fail to sympathise with someone who gets childishly excited about the idea of winning £100 with a Lotto scratch card?
That scratch forms the climax of the show, and it’s testament to Cook’s unsettling rhythm that the pace doesn’t let up, building to his decidedly low-key stunt with all the ready-made disappointment a grown man can handle. Then, he stares at the audience with wide-eyed glee – and you realise you’re laughing again.
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