Fringe Comedy Reviews: Back in the Bearpit

Having already rounded up four Bearpit podcast comedians, we hunted down solo shows from Fin Taylor and Mat Ewins at the Fringe

Feature by Craig Angus | 21 Aug 2015

Although Fin Taylor’s Stink [★★★☆☆] has a 6pm slot, the show is set at midnight, at an all-too-familiar house party – and Taylor is accompanied by a clock, which he manually rotates at various intervals to indicate just how inarticulate his intoxicated eureka moments have become.

He seems to have in mind the mid-20s arts graduate, flannel-shirted and facially unkempt, drinking cheap lager; waxing lyrical about Yanis Varoufakis and 9/11 conspiracy theories, and comparing Birdman to Hamlet. Taylor promises 'a ticket to the truth' at the top, and succeeds in delivering something real.

These troublesome quarter-life crisis shows are in vogue, and ultimately the trouble with Stink is that it doesn’t bring anything particularly memorable or different to the table. It’s an enjoyable show with but lacks range, the initially charming set becomes a constraining force, and come the finale Taylor is yelling and a little like the the guy at the party you try to distance yourself from. But then, don’t say he didn’t warn you.

Over at The Caves, Taylor’s Bearpit Podcast colleague Mat Ewins is in electrifying form, putting down some front row hecklers who appear to have mistaken him for a 'smaller Stephen Merchant', before riffing a resignatory lament about the 'kinds of people' the Free Fringe brings through the door.

Like Bearpit’s character comedian Lolly Adefope, Ewins invites the audience into a talent show, only he competes against variations of himself in a cynical plot to triumph – all so he can quit his work as a pie salesman. With the help of a hat stand, a malfunctioning laptop and an unsuspecting second rower – who, lo and behold, is an actor with a bombastic voice – Day Job [★★★★☆] coaxes unbridled belly laughs, the kind that infect an audience and hum permanently in the air.

It’s a very strange hour that fuses multimedia deception, slapstick humour and some Adam and Joe-esque musical interludes. Ewins repeatedly betrays the trust of his crowd, which gives him the chance to offer surprises at every turn.

Mat Ewins: Day Job, The Caves, until 29 Aug, 9:55pm, £5

Fin Taylor: Stink, Pleasance Courtyard, until 30 Aug, 6pm, £7-9.50