Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Award winning Scottish comedian, Stuart McPherson brings his debut show, Mr November to the Edinburgh Fringe. A rising comedy star this show is packed full of comedy. It has a bit of a bite.
The show is in the Monkey Barrel, in a very hot room with a full house. A traditional fringe comedy venue. Physically he looks older than his 26 years, a broad shouldered, bearded figure he exudes confidence. He has a strong voice. a full-on delivery style and some cutting comedy, gentle whimsy this is not.
Many fringe comedians are bringing shows rooted in themselves and their journey. Stuart doesn’t do this. His stories are about things that have happened to him, incidents in his life or events that he has seen. He differs from other comics by not turning these into deep delves into his internal psyche and the resultant lessons learned.
We do learn things about his life, but these are simply facts, name, age, work history, living arrangements, family and so on. They form the basis for the joke, clever stuff indeed. None of the I, I,I material that many new comics fall into.
Stuart tells his stories through turning each sub element of the anecdote into a gag. They come at you quickly. They are sharp, clever, surprising, seldom telegraphed. Most hit their mark. The audience respond with universal laughter, almost like a chorus. Pacing, pausing and timing are handled with ease.
Its difficult to review comedy in detail and avoid giving away any jokes or punchlines. It’s certainly unfair to ruin something that someone has put work into carefully crafting. What Stuart does well is best described as ‘take the piss’ out of the subject of his attention. This may be himself, others or events and observations. As he develops some consideration should be given to the ‘manliness’ of the performance and material. There is a laddish banter to the content, which well received on this occasion could easily stray too far.
I questioned whether using this phrase was appropriate, perhaps ‘take the mickey’ would have been a politer way to say it, but it doesn’t capture what he delivers. ‘Take the mickey’ implies gentle joshing, a friendly cosyness this is more than that. It’s sharper, edgier, a bit more biting, more adult in tone. Some of the lines are memorable, long after the show is over.
This is a well thought through show. The laughs and jokes are almost relentless. There is a patch in the middle third where their impact drops down notch. This may be in part to the hotness of the room making it difficult to maintain the intensity. A show as gag heavy as this is an evolving piece of work, with jokes coming in and going, where the comedian learns how well parts work. These efforts have resulted in the high-quality show we were watching. In short, as these bumps get ironed out it’s going to get better.
The audience clearly enjoyed the show. It’s worth noting that although Stuart is 26, this Monday crowd was mainly constituted by an older audience. Producing comedy that appeals so strongly across the ages is a positive sign.
Its also worth noting that as he thanked each member of the audience as they left, many stopped to talk. This is the more remarkable given the heat of the room. Many, even though they had bought a ticket added generously to the bucket.
This is a talented young comedian on the way up. One we are going to see a lot more of. Popular with his audience, he’s moving from award winning newcomer to a solid headliner. This show is recommended.