The Thursday Show, Edinburgh Stand, June 22

Tony Law stood out, as an ideal headliner should

Article by R. J. Thomson | 15 Jul 2006
Steve Royle (SSSS) was only on for a short set of fifteen minutes, a length of time any semi-experienced stand-up ought to fill with ease. Royle did not make it look easy, in as much as he had clearly worked hard on what was a technically accomplished physical routine, complete with musical accompaniment from the Gypsy Kings and a guitar-juggling finale. What he achieved for the audience, by contrast, was a spell of effortless laughter.

Michael Manley, in the role of his comic persona Derek Devine (S), made the most effective entrance of the evening, shambling onstage to a full laugh before he had even said a word. The rawness of this moment showed he has natural comic talent, but unfortunately the character Devine was a shallow cliché, as a direct result of which none of the jokes were any good. A rethink is required.

Mark Bratchpiece (SS) was a very likeable performer, and part of his appeal was to turn averagely quirky observations into winning questions. "Why do people with hyphens in their names always seem to want to go to the North Pole?" was his best, and also demonstrated how he was able to make subtle use of the class card. He was inconsistent, though, both in his punchlines and energy levels.

Tony Law (SSS) stood out, as an ideal headliner should, as the most confident, experienced, and, ultimately, talented performer on tonight. Taking clear enjoyment from being in front of the crowd, the balance between excellent established material - "Everyone likes to read books. But what if you're a really bad actor?" - and patchy, if fun, improvised sections, nevertheless gave the overall impression that he wasn't really trying.

[R. J. Thomson]