A Thursday night at The Stand and another five comedians vie for our attention on what must be Edinburgh’s most intimate stage. Tonight our MC is Jonathan Mayor, a gay black comedian from Moss Side, Manchester, with an endearingly camp and bitchy line of patter which soon wins over the audience. This includes 21 year old Jamie, who sitting in the front row, has to endure the brunt of Mayor’s scorn. Occasionally, the put downs and sexual overtures go a little too far for comfort, but Jamie takes it all in his stride and Mayor is consistently funny, even when one of his routines goes spectacularly wrong and he corpses right in the middle of it.
First up is Jay Lafferty, a thirty year old Scottish comic, who is quick to point out that she’s an unusual act here as she’s female. She’s right up to a point (although some of the best acts we saw at last year’s Fringe were women – and we’ve seen more women doing stand-up at The Stand than any of the other comedy clubs we frequent) but I can’t help feeling that building a key joke around reading 50 Shades of Grey on holiday is not doing the cause of feminism any great favours. Her set is intermittently funny but she’d certainly benefit from stronger material.
Rob Kane is another Scottish comic, afforded a short slot here. Once again, he’s occasionally amusing and his account of his holiday in Thailand raises some genuine belly laughs. But it’s all a bit hit and miss and he perhaps needs to establish more confidence if he’s to take a step up to the next level.
Ro Campbell on the other hand, has confidence to spare. He’s an Australian, living in Edinburgh and addicted to chewing gum. He tells us that he’s shortly returned from a tour of Singapore, where unfortunately gum is a banned substance and his subsequent tale of smuggling packets of Wrigley’s through customs, hidden where the sun don’t shine, is absolutely hilarious. He’s good too on audience interaction, managing to put down a potential heckler with one scornful rebuke.
Top of the bill is veteran comic, Kevin Gildea, a softly spoken Irishman who has a relaxed, almost conversational approach to comedy, but it soon becomes clear why he’s top of the bill tonight. He builds the laughs steadily until he has you right in the palm of his hand. Highlights include his trip to the Cork Butter Museum, a note purportedly written by a free range pig on the inside of a pack of bacon and some observations about his children that go beyond the usual run of the mill parental stuff. I thought he was excellent, despite his taking exception to my rather fabulous T shirt and his suggestion that my daughter is a bit mean with the old Father’s day cards.
Once again, a great value night out (there was a two-for-one offer on tonight’s show) and a varied crop of comedians, all of whom managed to evoke genuine laughs. The Stand continues to be Edinburgh’s quintessential comedy venue, so get down there and give your laughing tackle a thorough workout.