Ned: Ideas You’ll Never Have (2 ½ stars)
Review by Laura Money
Comedian Dylan Cole is all about parody. On the back of his successful parody of workplace training in Safety First, Cole is in familiar territory with Ned. The format is simple, yet effective – the parody of Ted.com combines theatre and stand-up comedy to highlight the ridiculousness of motivational speaking and poke fun at academia and lectures. Cole plays three characters; speakers who are given just fifteen minutes each to share their knowledge.
Cole begins as an American academic talking on the Science of Possibility. The character is clearly a parody of the shy, reclusive and possibly Asperger’s afflicted professor. While what he says in the actual lecture is fairly funny, the preamble and introductory section is too slow paced and relies far too heavily on a funny voice and inflection than actual jokes. (It could just be me, but I’m also over the whole ‘Sheldon Cooper’ I just don’t get people so it’s funny trope.) Cole is highly talented and can mimic pretty much anyone, so it is disappointing to see him lose what had the potential to be a great character.
Next, comes a parody of the Dalai Lama – or at least a highly spiritual person with Eastern philosophies – sponsored by Coca-Cola. This is a great idea and is hilariously alluded to in a way so subtle it’s like being hit over the head by a sledgehammer. It works, though. He talks about choice being bad in such a convincing way that when he turns it all on its head, the audience all but scratches its collective head. There are a few running jokes that get a few polite laughs but not enough to really bring the show together.
Finally, the most redeemable character is that of an English art academic. This is by far the strongest part of the show and demonstrates exactly what the art of parody is and should be. The lecture on what constitutes art is truly hilarious and well thought through. The awkwardness felt by the academic character as he imparts his wisdom is excellent and familiar. There are a few funning jokes that just go too far, however, I understand that they are supposed to tie the show together but none of them are strong enough to carry through. It does feel a little like flogging a dead horse.
Ned: Ideas You’ll Never Have is a strong concept and has so much potential. Cole is a great performer and I’m sure we will see great things from him in the future.
Ned: Ideas You’ll Never Have played in the Pleasure Garden as part of FRINGEWORLD 2015 from the 18th – 22nd February.