Sunday, 27 April 2008
Dave Fulton, Dan Evans, Niall Browne, Jay Lafferty, compere Joe Heenan - The Stand, Edinburgh, 17/04/2008
After a weekend show where I had seen almost every act in the recent past, it was refreshing to move on to one where, apart from compere Joe Heenan, I had only seen one of the performers previously, and that one nearly four years ago. Heenan as usual won the audience over quickly with his face-splitting grin, laddish charm and bizarre Arnold Schwarznegger impersonations. He has mastered the art of taking whatever the audience throws at him and adapting his material to make it seem completely off the cuff and applicable. And on this evening he was quick to realise that what every comedy show needs is an enormous shaven-headed publican who looks like he’s about to kill you sitting right in the middle of the front row.
Niall Browne is a Northern Irish comedian now resident in Scotland, and is in many ways a bit of an old fashioned gag-smith. Homely and cheery, he is one of those performers whose act sort of breezes over you in a great big waft of good will. His material is good, and ideas like randomly choosing Olympic competitors in the manner of juries were very funny, but the only time he moves towards any kind of edginess is when he talks about what it was like growing up in his homeland. He takes to the stage on this occasion with his arm in a sling, a fact he refers only briefly and that I thought he could have made a lot more of. Overall his was an entertaining performance, but not a terribly memorable one.
Jay Lafferty is one of the up-and-coming young stars of the Scottish scene at the moment, and it doesn’t hurt that she is also a bit of a babe. This isn’t the only thing about her that draws the male attention, however, as she opens her act with a routine which provides a perfect explanation of the offside rule using shopping as a metaphor. Bright and bubbly, she combines a girly style of delivery with a sometimes unexpectedly twisted mind, and on the evidence of this set it won’t be long before she is moving up from the ten minute try-out spot to become a regular support.
Dan Evans is a name I had heard bandied about a lot, he’s a comedian’s comedian, widely known and appreciated by others in the business. I have to say my first impression of him was as Harry Hill without the collar, and for much of the act his mannerisms, and indeed the bald head, did little to dispel that image. But that is not meant in any way as a criticism, because Evans brand of surreal stream of consciousness humour is sharp and original, his jokes never obvious, and his delivery is assured and confident.
Dave Fulton is an American comic who has been resident in the UK for some years, and as with many of his countrymen living over here, his act revolves in a large part around a critique of his home country. With long straggly hair and a laid-back demeanour he comes over as something of a stoner dude, and indeed probably is, but this is belied by his sometimes savage cutting to the point.
That said, as a political comedian, which he would clearly like to be, he is sometimes slightly lacking, and for instance attacks on President Bush would seem slightly lazy and not a bit pointless at this moment in time. It’s not as if there’s anyone in the audience thinking “I thought he was doing a good job.” He’s on safer ground when he sticks to the personal, such as his examination of the difference in attitudes to drinking between his homeland and his adopted country.
But Fulton is an old hand and has plenty of experience and plenty of material to keep an audience entertained for a forty minute set. And if he isn’t necessarily as “cutting edge” as some of his contemporaries, not everybody has to be.