Al Porter @ Pleasance Courtyard

Award-nominated Al Porter will surely become the face of popular entertainment

Review by Ben Venables | 29 Aug 2016
  • Al Porter @ Pleasance Courtyard

An audience might be forgiven for thinking Al Porter is a character-comedian. He's perfected the look of a Quarrymen-era John Lennon but with a sharper suit. Also, he conveys the sort of popular innuendo and mock shock of the Carry On films to the point it seems like a parody. Moreover, it's hard to believe anyone could have this much charisma and force-of-nature delivery without channelling it through some sort of heightened caricature.

All this is intended as a compliment but, more impressively, Porter is actually the real deal. If he isn't soon presenting TV shows and riding like a chariot through popular entertainment, it'll only be because people would assume he's doing it already, such is his naturalness on stage.

It's also believable that he had to give up singing in a folk band because he kept 'getting laughs'. Porter is one of those people that stumbles into a room and by sheer presence immediately becomes the unstoppable centre of attention.

However, as fun as his anecdotes of a few drinks turning into an accidental holiday, or of cadging a wheelchair ride at an airport are, his material simply doesn't match up to the drawing power of his delivery. The gusto helps him get away with it and won't impede him becoming the face of Saturday night television, but over a whole hour-long show in Edinburgh, it becomes a little too transparent that he's moved in the furniture before digging the foundations.

That said, his suit isn't the only smart thing about him. The set is peppered with flashes of real insight beneath the skilled entertainer, especially when he talks of terrorist-themed childhood games growing up in South Dublin. That kind of grittier material isn't Porter's schtick – which is fair enough – but it'll be interesting to see if he takes his comedy in other directions later on.

Al Porter At Large, Pleasance Courtyard (Cabaret Bar), run ended.