“ Pleasance Dome / 1 Bristo Square / Edinburgh / BBC comedy presents a spectacular month of late night comedy with a different line-up each night, showcasing the circuit's finest comedians and exposing the stars of tomorrow. Supported by 2Entertain. „
Despite its title, there are no cameras recording the comedians performances nor the witty hecklings of audience members at this nightly show, I should get that out of the way at the start. Rather, the BBC Stand Up Show Live! is a finely picked batch of comedians playing fifteen-minute sets interspersed with comments and edited material from the compere, who is usually their friend. The first night, and all Wednesdays this month, the show is hosted by Josie Long, who largely told material from her solo show that Id already seen earlier that day, though the four major acts had the liberty of trying new material or relying on their own greatest hits for guaranteed laughs.
Headlining the first night was Richard Herring, one of my favourite comedians celebrating (or bemoaning) his twentieth anniversary of the Fringe, who opened with a taster of new material from his current show Oh F*ck Im 40! a day before the first performance, but fell back on what he felt was safe sexual material about genitals and lezzing up, which admittedly forms a substantial part of all his stand-up shows (and even informed a book spin-off of his show Talking Cock, a book entirely about cocks). I was especially pleased to see this material from his last hit Edinburgh show ménage à un, which was based around his still-unsatiated desire to have a threesome and the sad reality of his lonely nights on tour, as I didnt see the show last year, though the great people at gofasterstripe.com will certainly be releasing the DVD any month now. Richards material received a fairly lukewarm response from the young and admittedly laddish crowd, who may still have been feeling annoyed about the lack of cameras to record their faces drinking beer, but its clear that his initial worries about returning to stand-up are long in the past now and he can confidently squeeze his own breast while licking his own hand on stage in an imitation of his naive idea of female coupling without the embarrassment it would cause a less confident performer.
The three preceding comics all had prior association with compere Josie Long, whether she had toured with them in foreign lands or just known them through the industry, and as such there developed a nice inclusive atmosphere as each new performer would comment on the themes of the previous one, at least serving to make this show a unique event. The subject of taking delight in other humans was the most prominent one to divide response from the cheery compere and some of the more miserable comedians, and there was the expected level of interaction with the audience keeping the performers on their toes and proving that they could handle improvisation. Still, there was nothing in the first three sets that I hadnt seen before from countless forgettable stand-ups on nights such as these, and repeated endlessly on the Paramount channel; evidently the BBC Stand Up Show is a mere gathering of average comedians and an out-of-place headline act designed purely to fill the late night gap in the market and get audiences worked up before the notorious Late N Live show begins at the Gilded Balloon venue opposite, and the drunken heckles are out in full force.
Its not a show Id see again unless there was a performer I was particularly interested in seeing, as was the case on Wednesday, though the preview price of £5 was excellent value for one and a half hours of professional comedy. As with all nights of effectively anonymous stand-up, theres a risk that the performers will either be terrible or merely not your personal thing, but I feel I got quite lucky on this first night, led and perhaps even arranged by Josie Long to guarantee some degree of quality control. The show is hosted by a different comedian each night of the week, and the helpful daily newssheet produced by the Pleasance provides the necessary forewarning in the event that its someone you hate (Thursday is Phil Nichol, Friday is Brendon Burns, Saturdays Rhod Gilbert, Sundays Stephen K Amos and Mondays Tony Law, the latter being recommended by Josie Long on this occasion). As the Fringe continues and more people attend in the later weeks, its likely that the BBC Stand Up Show will be fully sold out in advance, making such preparations impossible, but personally I was glad to spot the show with enough time to spare before all the cheap tickets sold out. Line-ups for the next few days are available throughout the festival at http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/edinburgh/
The Fringe is a gathering of most of the best comedians and some of the weaker ones too, and events like this are an effective way to see several instantly forgettable faces at a time.
BBC Stand Up Show Live! plays at the Acedome in the Pleasance Dome from 1st to 27th August (not 14th or 21st) at 11.00pm, lasting until 1.30am. Prices are £9.50 (£8.00 concessions) and the last tickets are selling fast.
Next review: Touch by Bill Dare.
The Pleasance Dome (located at Potterow, 1 Bristo Square) offers six venues presenting the best in comedy, theatre and live music all under one roof. The legendary Pleasance atmosphere runs late into the night.