The Stand, Edinburgh 26/10/14
Marcel Lucont’s reputation has evidently preceded him. He’s managed to sell out the Stand Comedy Club, something that better known comedians have sometimes failed to do. Furthermore, he’s achieved this on a rainy Sunday night, no mean feat. He slinks onto the stage, sneer on his lips, glass of red wine in his hand and proceeds to embody every negative stereotype of a Frenchman: rude, vitriolic and distinctly un-PC in his approach to food, drink and matters of sexuality. It’s a clever characterisation, but that’s exactly what it is. Lucont is no more French than I am; he is a creation of comedian Alex Dubus.
Not that it matters. His laid back approach mines plenty of laughs and he intersperses the standup with some witty poems, a couple of novelty songs and some (hilarious) extracts from his upcoming autobiography. There’s even a couple of little videos he’s filmed which run on a screen at the side of the stage. The set is divided into two halves and I have to confess the first of them is stronger and more cohesive than the second, which depends more on audience participation. Perhaps the stormy conditions have battered most of us into submission, but he doesn’t get a lot back from the crowd. Furthermore, our late arrival means that we end up viewing the proceedings standing right at the back of the packed venue and Lucont’s act does depend on a degree of intimacy between him and us.
Nevertheless, Alex Dubus’s sneering, leering ‘Frenchman’ is an interesting and highly original creation that’s worthy of further investigation.
The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh
In Cancel My Subscription, Jo Caulfield doesn’t confound expectations so much as revel in them. She gives exactly what her audience expects: a caustic, bilious and gloriously profane account of the world as she sees it. The humour is largely narrative, and none the worse for it; Caulfield demonstrates with admirable aplomb how it is possible to push the boundaries of taste and decency without ever descending into “look-mum-no-hands-I-just-want-to-shock” territory. But shock she does: acutely timed references to polar opposites Jill Dando and Josef Fritzl leave the audience gasping, but with delight at her chutzpah more than anything else.
I really enjoyed this show. It didn’t surprise me, but then I didn’t go to be surprised. I went because I am a fan, and because I knew I would laugh myself silly.
And because I was born in the same hospital as her.
The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh
We chanced on Gary Little by way of the official Edinburgh Festival Fringe app, which has a handy section called ‘nearby now.’ It was five o’clock; we had a couple of hours to kill; what should we see? It had to be something in the less Fringe-dense New Town, so that we could be sure to make our later – planned – appointment with One Man Breaking Bad in St Andrew’s Square (see review). And, on paper, Gary Little’s show seemed to fit the bill. An hour at our favourite comedy club, The Stand, rarely disappoints, and we were keen to see at least one Scottish performance during our sojourn in the capital.
Little is certainly engaging; he commanded the tiny stage and my attention never wandered. There were inspired moments when he made me snort with laughter, such as his suggested method for breaking Thornton’s toffee, but – over all – this show was not for me. I found Little’s routine too reliant on gender stereotypes (men only agree to cuddle because they’re hoping for sex; it’s a real disappointment to discover that women fart and stop shaving their legs when they’re in a long-term relationship), and his general persona rather too aggressive (I couldn’t relate at all to the idea of chasing down a fellow dog-walker in a park because he failed to say, “All right?”).
That said, the latter section of the set was – for me – markedly better; Little’s routine about visiting Auschwitz was a lot less hackneyed, and his final piece about using Abba Gold as an anti-depressant was genuinely heart-warming. If the rest of his show were as original as this, he might have found himself a new fan.