Brendon Burns and Craig Quartermaine in Race Off

Perrier Award-winner, Burns, brings comparative newcomer, Quartermaine, to Edinburgh in an audacious critique of ethnic perceptions.

Brendon Burns and Craig Quartermaine in Race Off

Burns is a white Australian, Quartermaine is a native Aboriginal Australian. Together, they analyse their perceptions of each other's race, exploring how people of each's skin colour is treated by the other and, more controversially, examining the audience's own perception of race.

It's an anecdote-heavy hour, although it's hard to lay the foundations of an entire country/continent's racial politics without being such. They spill out in a non-linear way but essentially plot the timeline from Burns looking for an Aboriginal comedian to feature on his podcast Dumb White Guy, to meeting Quartermaine, to this show.

Some stories are predictable: the one addressing how the police treated the pair of them at a roadside checkpoint either could have been embellished or scrapped because everyone could tell how that one was going to go. Others, such as the one addressing how Burns reacted when he first went to Quartermaine's house were more interesting than funny, but were effective in creating the whole microscope on reactions the show was meant to be – even if the audience were just expecting an hour of ethnic banter.

Mostly, though, it was the use of risky jokes for an overwhelmingly white and, presumably, British crowd that created personal highlights. It'll force you to laugh in that way where you're trying to say a pained 'aww' but you laugh through it so you sound like you're going 'ho ho ho'. Shocking jokes build throughout the show and just when you start getting comfortable with them, the pair unleash hell.

There is plenty of laughter through white guilt, there is also plenty of silence because the jokes are told through a narrow gaze, but it's a show ferociously filled with fodder for thought. Keep an eye on the ones with orange juice.


Brendon Burns and Craig Quartermaine in Race Off is on at 18:45 at the Gilded Balloon Teviot every day for the rest of the Fringe. For tickets and more info, visit the Fringe website.

  • Editor's note: This review was edited on 18 August to eliminate spoilers.

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Bhavesh Jadva

Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team

Former Media Editor on Voice and former Arts Award Editor on AAoV covering film, TV, music and comedy.

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