Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Fifty minutes of superbly entertaining and cleverly structured comedy, featuring storytelling, poetry and song that was “on the money” from the first to the last stanza.
To paraphrase that great Tory patrician, Harold Macmillan, satirists have “never had it so good”, particularly given the current torrent of political incompetence that assails us daily over the news feeds. And the growth of social media has allowed almost anyone to share news of their every move over the ether, resulting in every faux pas becoming forever available to bore or amuse.
So, given that politicians and public are now creating so much material almost by accident, you could argue that the bar for successful satirists to leap over in terms of making us think (and hopefully laugh) is getting higher and higher. They have to be balanced, topical, clever with words, funny, sensitive, present material appropriate to their audience and, above all, entertain.
Eric Davidson, that doyen of the Scottish after dinner and public speaking circuit, ticks all those boxes and more with his Fringe offering, Thunderjab 3, a mix of storytelling, poetry and song.
Never offensive, always funny and “on the money” from his first line, he had a packed audience at theSpaceUK’s cavernous Bedlam Theatre up at Surgeons’ Hall in stitches from start to finish of a fifty minute show packed with both memorable one-liners and intricately woven rhyming sonnets.
Starting with a reflective poem (which, incidentally, he sung a cappella) that neatly summarised events since he last stood before a Fringe audience two years ago, he then brought the house down with a bitingly funny take on the Hancock/Coladangelo relationship to Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman”, providing his own backing with, wait for it, a ukulele.
Jacob Rees-Mogg may have gone into hiding since the Tory landslide back in late 2019 but that just provided Davidson with an excuse to dust off The Kinks “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and set some very clever new words to it. We then moved on to a poetic monologue that centred on life in a midlife crisis in central Scotland, the highlight of which must have been a world-first in terms of finding something humorous that rhymes with Kirkcaldy (check it out – there aren’t a lot of clean options).
Mid-show saw him take a few well-aimed pot shots at the relatively easy targets of Brexit, Boris Johnson and the largely forgotten Jeremy Corbyn before tackling topics that you might argue are rather more challenging to squeeze laughs from, such as the mythical Hector, the Ikea alum key collector.
Davidson’s lexicon is impressive, driving the torrent of words that flow with precision and clarity from his lips, involving tongue twisters, alliteration and complex rhyming patterns that build to a denouement that is inevitably funny and often unexpected, absurd or both.
The eponymous “Thunderjab 3” featured complex and clever stanzas on – you’ve guessed it – vaccination and Davidson concluded with a witty parody setting new words to that Sound of Music classic, “Favourite Things” and a biting rework of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” that harpooned the lampoonable Duke of York’s alleged relationship with Virginia Roberts, sending his appreciative audience out into the Edinburgh night with smiles on their faces.
If laughter is, indeed, the best medicine, then Eric Davidson should be available to all on the NHS. Clever comedy is often hard to find but it was here in abundance. Highly recommended.