Boothby Graffoe review - SkinnyFest 1

Article by Jonathan Liew | 14 Aug 2006
  • Boothby Graffoe

Boothby Graffoe is one of those Fringe staples you can simply rely on to be good. He's never outstanding – he'll never win anything, and you'll never see him on telly – but he entertains reliably and consistently enough to win a considerable following, and his show will always be worth eight quid of anybody's money.

This year it's entitled Release U Wan Tin, a Burmese journalist and pro-democracy campaigner. Yet despite this, and although proceedings start with a topically-themed slideshow, there's little to suggest he's planning the third intifada in The Stand's modestly-lit basement. His style of comedy is whimsical rather than incisive, often losing himself in mumbled but often hilarious tangents. But, as always, it's his gentle, sardonic acoustic guitar songs which are the highlight. Lovingly and tunefully sung, adeptly accompanied by his friend Nick Pynn and quaintly amusing in their way, they're also, you know, really nice. While admiring the quality of the tunesmithery it's easy to forget that these pleasant ditties are actually about stalking, or murdering budgies.

The intimacy of the room complements his round-the-campfire style and allows his devoted fans to perch before him like children, requesting songs like presents from Santa. And while middle age may have mellowed Father Graffoe, it's also sharpened his talent for crafting a show that is inoffensive yet thoroughly satisfying.

Boothby Graffoe with Nick Pynn: Release U Wan Tin, The Stand Comedy Club, until August 27 (not 14, 21), 19:50, £8/£7 (£7/£6).