The Stand, Edinburgh
We have friends staying for a few days, and of course we want to show off our adopted city. In the daytime, we take them sightseeing in the Old Town, and then walking in Holyrood Park. As night falls, we lead them towards Edinburgh’s iconic comedy club, with the promise of a Thursday show that is sure to entertain.
In all honesty, we’re not au fait with any of the advertised acts, but that’s no bad thing. There are a lot of comedians working the circuit, and they can’t all be household names. We’re always happy to see something new (even if it’s only new to us), and our only fear is arriving too late to secure a seat. We’re just about in time to avert that particular disaster, although we’re perched on high stools at the very back. That’s the only drawback with this venue, really: arriving ninety minutes before the show begins is an irritating necessity.
Our compere is Jellybean Martinez, alter-ego of Matthew Ellis, and as high-octane a character as I’ve ever seen. He’s a tartan-and-frill-clad ball of energy, all bitchy campery and squealing laughs. He works the audience expertly, and – if he’s sometimes a bit much for me – the students on the front row lap up his attention. It’s adroitly done, and sets the tone for an evening we can all enjoy.
The opener is Rachel Fairburn, a Mancunian whose deadpan laconic style is bitingly funny. Her speech is laced with sweetened bile, turning humdrum tales of sibling rivalry into deliciously dark bon mots. I’d like to see what else she can do, and will make a point of seeing her show at the Fringe this year (Her Majesty, Just the Tonic at the Community Project).
Next up is Donald Alexander, a relative newcomer with a twitchy, nerdy persona, talking about being a primary school teacher and having sex with girls. It works: he’s likeable and engaging, and the crowd is on his side.
After the interval, there’s a surprise appearance from Danny Bhoy, who’s clearly working up material for his new show, Make Something Great Again For A Stronger Better Future Tomorrow Together. He is a welcome addition to the line-up, an astute and assured comedian with a lot to say. He’s our favourite of the evening, his political observations being both refreshing and dismaying – as well as funny, of course.
Glaswegian John Ross has the unenviable task of following Danny Bhoy, but he’s up to the job, making us laugh with his witty observations about enemas and railings. Yes, really. Enemas. And railings. He’s a hit with the students too; they’re raucous in their appreciation. Good stuff.
And then, before we know it, it’s already time for the headliner. Imran Yusuf‘s edgy set takes us into uncomfortable territory, but it’s excellent from start to finish. He’s very sharp indeed, making us confront the issues surrounding terrorism, as well as his frustration at always having to discuss this stuff, just because of his ethnicity. He’s certainly a comedian I’d like to see again, and I’ll be looking out for a full-length show.
All in all, we’ve had another great evening at The Stand. Our guests are happy and so are we.