Scott Gibson @ Gilded Balloon

Scott Gibson's debut is cerebral comedy in a very literal sense

Review by Ben Venables | 24 Aug 2016
  • Scott Gibson

The cause of Scott Gibson's headache was easy to establish: a colossal drinking expedition to Blackpool on a stag-do had knocked him into the next week and a forty-odd hour sleep. Or so he thought.

The story of Life After Death unfolds from that weekend into a hospital drama, with every scene, character and detail vividly described, from decrepit bus drivers to surgeons who know all the wonders of the brain, but lack all etiquette on what to share with the patient's mum. There are plenty of details with the settings too, from holes in the hotel roof to the most unlikely hub of expertise in neurology in all of Europe. With paper pants and unsolicited erections, every moment is imbued with deft storytelling.

The Fringe is the perfect place to tell such a story. The humour and emotion, the three-act structure; yet we doubt Scott Gibson came with any of that in mind, not in the ambitious sense many come to the Fringe for – he just had a desire to tell a story.

This is a thoroughly unreconstructed hour of stand-up, and for most of the time quite exhilarating for it. There's no dissection of the form, he always plays to the audience: here there's actual crowd work rather than a parody of crowd work. It's a strange thing, but at the Fringe the straightforward can seem avant-garde. With Gibson, it's comedy performed confidently and performed well. 

He reaffirms his down to earth motivations towards the end but if Gibson doesn't want to be noticed by the 'industry' types who would brand him 'the face of Scottish comedy', writing such a spellbinding hour is going exactly the wrong way about it. After all, Claudius never wanted to be Roman Emperor.

Scott Gibson: Life After Death, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Turret), until 29 Aug, 2:45 pm, £5-10.