The premise here is that the spirit of the late, great US comedian returns and possesses the body of an actor (Chas Early) and comments on the world since he died. The reviews weren't great last year, and I wasn't too bothered, but D wanted to see it, so we did.
And it was... interesting. For a start, it's a very good impression of Hicks. The voice isn't usually right, but the dialogue's often spot-on, and there are facial mannerisms, body language, etc. that all appear to be reproduced faithfully. And his material is quite good - he makes salient points of the kind for which Hicks was famous. Thing is, if you're at all familiar with the genuine article, you keep thinking, "yeah, but you're not actually him, are you?" and that's always taking the edge off. I did laugh out loud, I think, but not a lot. Mostly, it was an amused smile.
I'd like to see him doing his own material, as himself. I think he's got the perception to make a good political commentator, providing he can come up with his own style. Best point in the show: right near the end, he said, approximately, "How many of you would be here now if it just said 'Chas Early' in the programme? There are hundreds of comedians all around you. What is wrong with you people that *you* choose to come to see a dead one?"
He got an uncomfortable silence from that. The best kind: a room full of people re-evaluating themselves, and not particularly liking what they find.
If he can do that, then I'd pay to see him again.
Next, across town (via Burger King) to the Stand, for Best Of Irish. The Stand is a damn small venue. Intimate doesn't cover it. The comic puts his glass on the same table as the front row. If they don't like you, they can poke you, and they don't even have to lean forward.
Anyway, we got a good table (table for two, out of the way, but with a good view) on account of being first in the queue (yet again; we were for the Hicks show too). Then after lots of shuffling, half a pint of beer got spilled all over it. Oh well.
The show was: Brendan Burns (MC), Martin Bigpig, and Jason Byrne. They were all fantastic. Can't really say much about them, since all three were fairly rambling and all-over-the-place, but funny all the way through.
Next was Boothby. We thought it was in the same place, but the tickets said Stand II, but they'd switched, so it *was* in the same place. By the time we'd sussed this, the queue had started, but since we knew the layout, while the other punters were wondering where to sit, I'd grabbed our previous table again, *and* swapped it for a dry one. :-) Alas, D spilled the drinks as he sat down again...
Boothby concerned me, in the run up. He was great when he used to introduce the Fringe on the Beeb programmes. He was fantastic both when I saw him with Forcione, and then a year later, just solo. The third year, I'd noticed that much of the first act was the same material as the previous two shows, and much of the second was, well, not good. So I skipped him last year. Reviews had said there were new songs, though. So I wasn't sure which way it would go.
It was brilliant.
For those who don't know, he does a combination of surreal standup and surreal songs, self-accompanied on guitar. He's a good player, too, although self-mocking, and his songs are good enough tunes so that at least half the time, you're just listening to the song and not the jokes. I've got his CD, and I often listen to it just because I like the music.
He's been practising. With Forciono, we think, because he's playing stuff which is a lot more advanced and showy. And he's doing it well. (It fitted in context; the song was called Once is a mistake; twice it's jazz). The only repeated material was a song called Umbrella-head Boy, which he did with a fiddle player, who was amazing too. They invited country names from the audience, and then played humorous pieces for each. "Afghanistan" was particularly inspired.
Very, very good show, and I'm still gutted that I can't go to see the one-night performance of Boothby and Forcione.
Off to Lucano's for a meal, and then finally over to the Teviot for the last show, where the Guilded Balloon organisation has set up since their long-standing venue burned to the ground along with much of the Old Town.
The place is a bloody rabbit warren, and there's nowhere for queuing, so since the start was running late, there was much anxious "can we go in yet?" and milling. But the show started, eventually.
Jackie Loeb: Limited Social Skills.
Bad. Not good at all.
The good bits: she plays guitar, keyboard and sings, and is obviously quite skilled. She strips down to bra and knickers, and doesn't have a particularly good figure, so kudos for bravery.
The bad bits: just not funny, most of the time. Not timing delivery so that it reacts to the audience. Telling the audience when to applaud. Using the same joke in two variants in sequence (repetition, not building upon it).
I suspect part of the problem was that her personna was annoying and got in the way of the delivery of jokes, rather than being part of them. Alas.
Was glad to leave.
So, a downer at the end, but then, after two excellent performances and one that was certainly though-provoking, that was to be expected. Overall, then, a plus.