Brett Goldstein: What is Love Baby Don’t Hurt Me

What is love? A question posed by all the great philosophers of the day, from Haddaway to an article in the Guardian, and in this show by Derek and Uncle star Brett Goldstein.

 

At least that is what the show purports to do, or at least attempts to do, by telling the story of a failed relationship of Goldstein’s, in which he falls in love for the first time. However, for a show based around this relationship, it takes a bizarrely long time to get there. The first half or so of the show deals instead with the well-worn topics of male stand-ups of masturbation, pornography, and sexual health clinics, and doesn’t really say anything new about them. Much of this early portion feels puerile, or out to gain gasps as much as laughter (see a routine about the Holocaust being a result of a game of ‘yes and…’).

 

Things do pick up once Goldstein gets into the matter at hand, of his tumultuous and ultimately doomed relationship. Dealing with a Hollywood narcissist, this is really fascinating material, and deals with a subject from a unique perspective, which is what the rest of the show is crying out for. Material on the joy of the first steps of a relationship, and the heartbreak and agony that comes with it, as well as some clever material on the counseling this entailed, is wonderful in that it really feels as though the performer is emotionally invested in it, and it leads to a wonderful climax involving crime and Christmas day, without giving too much away.

 

Then however, the structural issues rear their head again, as what feels and is delivered as a climax comes several minutes before the end. Instead of leaving the story where it really feels like it should be left, we instead get his sister’s analysis of the show, as well as an unnecessary and not particularly funny musical number to finish on. This just serves to take the wind out of the sails of the emotional stuff that just came before it, and goes against the character growth that Goldstein seems to suggest he had over the course of the relationship.

 

This show really feels like it has potential, but Goldstein seems reluctant to commit to doing something that truly reveals himself, and instead disappoints by falling back on puerile gags, and hack stand-up premises. This is a shame, because clearly he knows how to write a routine, and get strong laughs when he lets the veneer down.

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