Set List

Review by Bernard O'Leary | 10 Aug 2012
  • Set List

Set List: where great comedians come to die.

Actually, everyone at this performance of Set List everyone does quite well. This surprise hit of the 2011 Fringe is now a comedy staple and some of the biggest names in the world have had a crack at it. A pre-show montage shows photos of Robin Wiliams and Jimmy Carr doing this gig. No pressure on tonight's acts then.

The concept is simple. A screen behind the performers gives a prompt; they have to then improvise a routine about it. It's great for pushing people out of their comfort zones, like nice guy Stuart Goldsmith who only survives by going for dead baby jokes.

Hannibal Buress deals with it in a typical Buress way: by staying silent for a few seconds after each prompt, having a think, then launching into something astonishing. He truly is the coolest man in comedy. Eddie Pepitone struggles a little until one prompt allows him to do an unforgettable routine about a magician whose party piece is inducing miscarriages. But this particular night belongs to newcomer Trevor Noah who does something astonishing. Not only is he funny, but manages to build every prompt into a single, coherent set with a throughline and smart callbacks.

This, ultimately, is why Set List is so popular. It's a chance for established comedians to die on their arse and laugh at themselves. It's also a chance for people to break away from the constrains of their scripted show and demonstrate what they're really capable of.

An unmissable experience for comedians and audiences alike.

Set List, Just The Tonic, until 25 August (not Mondays or Sundays), 23:59, £11