Comedians and comedy audiences can sometimes grow weary of each other. If you're a regular comedy-goer, you'll find your patience wearing thin with hearing acts that are fundamentally the same, over and over again. So thanks be to Jo Caulfield for riding to the rescue and providing something a bit different with monthly night the Comedy Collective.
Caulfield provides ballast to the proceedings, bringing a bit of that's-her-off-the-telly glamour and warming the crowd up nicely with her considerable MCing skills. She also carefully reminds everyone that tonight is about the audience taking a risk as much as the comedians. Some bits might be shit, but we should keep faith with the spirit of the show. She's really good at this, making the audience feel less like customers and more like conspirators, sitting in a dingy basment and plotting a comedy revolution.
The acts are a nicely chosen selection of reliable pros and enthusiastic up-and-comers. The normal pecking order is abandoned and in tonight's performance we get to see two collaborations between comedians at different levels of experience: Vladimir McTavish and Gareth Waugh line up as Edinburgh's worst improv duo, while JoJo Sutherland appears in a sketch as Eleanor Morton's mum. Further permutations include Keara Murphy doing a lecture-style piece co-written by Spencer Adair, while established duo Jay Lafferty and Dee Custance get to collaborate with some penguin costumes (available in Asda, according to Caulifeld).
The highlight of these experiments is a new panel show called The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, with Keir McAllister, Graeme Thomas and Richard Melvin. The format owes a little to Dave's Argumental series, but like all panel shows it's really the chemistry of the performers that matters, and these three really click. This section is set to take on a life of its own with a series of six podcast recordings scheduled for the start of next year.
There's a unique atmosphere at this gig. Some bits, understandably, don't work very well, but the audience get behind every act, and the comedians seem to thrive on the positivity. Tonight, we're rewarded for our good spirits with an appearance by improv masters Stu & Garry who do a Newsnight-style review of the preceding acts. If Caulfield is the foundation of the Comedy Collective, Stu & Garry are the dollop of cream on top. They're agonisingly funny and the perfect ending to one of the most thrilling comedy experiences available in Scotland.