Juan Vesuvius (Barnie Duncan) has all the makings of an awful wedding, birthday party or cheesy club night DJ – he wears gold tracksuits, has a 70s porn star moustache and talks far too much over the microphone (why don’t they just play the damn songs). But he also gets that all of these things make for a painful, forgettable experience and in performing I Am Your Deejay turns them on their head. Suddenly the painful segues are hilarious, the creepy personality is endearing and the painful electronic covers of well-known pop songs are catchy and upbeat.
I Am Your Deejay is a clever mix of musical absurdity, sampling from sketch comedy, clowning and audience interaction. In the middle of it all, Juan has a story to tell about house music, homosexuality and calypso. OK, the latter is just a genre of choice – who’d have thought it would sample so well into early 90s house music? There’s the tale of the Stonewall riots intelligently wound into this show as well, a quick activist history lesson that surprisingly fits with the overall narrative. It sounds absurd because the story was absurd; but this is a not a made-up tale by Vesuvius, this is the being of one of the most important LGBTQ movements in history. The segues into it are awkward and need revising, but the idea that music can foster such passion is a concept Vesuvius cleverly pervades throughout his entire set. It gets us up and dancing as soon as he asks us too.
But I Am Your Deejay is not all political point-scoring, it’s a surrealist comedy that is at risk of straying into the ridiculous. Many of the jokes run on for slightly too long and wander into the realms of repetitive or uncomfortable, but the most part Vesuvius reigns these back in and links them into new material that gets the audience engaged laughing again. There is a good DJ, bad DJ lesson and a piss-take of how David Guetta dilutes sounds into a bland fusion of thumping electronica pop. The problem is, a number of the songs sound better with Guetta’s mix of generic beats and pounding chords thrown underneath – are we brainwashed into loving his mix of melody-lacking music fodder? Vesuvius is judging us and we are ashamed.
I Am Your Deejay has some hilarious, if slightly off the wall, observations thrown into overly long comedy charades for effect. From sexually squeezing lemons to acid house, to laughing hysterically when ecstasy takes over the 90s Manchester club scene, Vesuvius commits and prepares each gag with dedication – some of this only works because he throws himself into them at full force. I Am Your Deejay is ultimately like the house music Vesuvius promotes – it took a long time to be accepted in music genre, but once it gets under your bones, it makes you get up and dance along. Ultimately, it’s all about having a good time.
I Am your Deejay plays Assembly George Square as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 27 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.