Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Scott Capurro, Teddy, Juliet Meyers, Jim Park, compere Vladimir McTavish - The Stand, Edinburgh, 10/04/2008

They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but this was a night that proved that old adage wrong. On the bill there was only one comedian that I had not seen before, and of the others, none I had last seen more than six months ago, two of them twice within that time. In all honesty, I might have given the show a miss if I hadn’t had been taking a visitor along. But in the end I’m glad not to have.

Vladimir McTavish, it has to be said, is a funny man, but is no MC. His curmudgeonly style is not exactly the best way to get an audience warmed up, and his interaction with that audience leaves a bit to be desired. Beyond a cursory introduction, he makes no great attempt to get to know any of their stories, instead content for the most part to cherry-pick from his large store of material and get the laughs going that way. He did a competent job, but I would prefer to see him as an act rather than performing this role in the future.

First on for the night was Juliet Meyers, the one new name for me. A middle-aged, Jewish and a bit of an aging hippie, she was a bundle of enthusiasm and energy from the word go. Again, as an opening act I would say she did what was required, but she isn’t someone I would particularly seek out again. It was something of a workmanlike performance. Very much a gag-teller, she was funny, but her material was mostly quite obvious and the punchlines were often slightly telegraphed.

Jim Park I have reviewed here twice before, and on both occasions I have been less than enthusiastic. So I’m actually quite pleased this time to be able to say that he is growing on me. With new material in the set, he had re-jigged the best of his older lines into a snappy opening few minutes that had a great rhythm and delivered the laughs well, and the new jokes, when they arrived, were equally strong. Meanwhile the air of vague bewilderment with which he performs disarms the audience and makes him easy to warm to.

Teddy, who followed, I had been equally dismissive of in my last review, and again I can only report a change of opinion. Even though he performed, for the most part, the same material, centred on a lengthy shaggy-dog story about a sexual encounter with the woman of his dreams which turned into a bit of a nightmare, he has clearly been busy trimming and honing the performance in the meantime. As a result, some of the more gratuitous crudeness had been stripped away, and the more bizarre and surreal moments had been highlighted making for a set that was not merely improved, but actually sounded fresher on this occasion than on first hearing it.

And talking of gratuitous crudeness, Scott Capurro is the master of that particular art-form. Seeming to get taller and skinnier every time I see him, the camp San Franciscan could read the phone book and make it sound pornographic. There’s a famous quote by George Carlin that the job of a comedian is to find out where the line is and then cross it, and this is something Capurro seems to have taken very much to heart. He is not a comedian for the faint hearted, as he gleefully pushes and pushes his audience to see how far he can bend them before they will break.

Nothing is off-limits in one of Capurro’s shows, as he runs the gamut of racial and sexual stereotypes, but always if you listen close enough it becomes clear that the butt of the joke is actually ourselves and our own highly-strung middle-class attitudes to these subjects. The basis of his humour is always that people want to tell you what it is and is not acceptable to joke about, without first stopping to consider what it is that they find offensive about it. That most people just hear the key-word and say “you can’t say that,” without listening to the context in which the word is being said. Capurro makes you listen and he makes you think, and he makes you laugh at the same time, and that’s really what all good comedy should be about.


Anonymous said...

Vlad's an excellent compare.

Juliet Meyers said...

a Middle aged, Jewish and bit of an aging hippy eh? Because i said time was running out to have a child and i was a vegan. Wow. By my reckoning i was the second youngest but within three words of each other my age is mentioned. No mention of perceived age of other acts. I wonder why.