From one belly-laugh to an­other

Call off the search – the next gen­er­a­tion of su­per­star stand-ups has ar­rived, says Tristram Fane Saun­ders

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Billy Con­nolly this month an­nounced his re­tire­ment from tour­ing. Who to­day can fill the Big Yin’s shoes? Af­ter judg­ing the 2018 Ed­in­burgh Com­edy Awards – the art form’s most cov­eted prize – I’m con­vinced the next gen­er­a­tion of big names is al­ready here.

As ever, the Ed­in­burgh Fringe was a hot­bed of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, full of comics who treat a punch­line the way He­ston Blu­men­thal treats food. The best of that ilk this year was John-Luke Roberts, whose Byzan­tine solo sketch-show re­vives the clev­er­clever silli­ness of Monty Python. By con­trast, the Fringe’s most hyped left-field of­fer­ings – such as Jor­dan Brookes’s creepy, hitech Bleed, and young ab­sur­dist Sam Camp­bell’s award-win­ning

The Trough – were faintly dis­ap­point­ing.

The real rev­e­la­tions came from the acts by which I was least ex­pect­ing to be im­pressed. Larry Dean, the young Glaswe­gian whose 2017 show struck me as wholly av­er­age, has blos­somed into a prodi­gious tal­ent with a de­li­cious turn of phrase. Fringe stal­wart Felic­ity Ward took a sim­i­lar leap for­ward with her ri­otously funny, and gim­mick-free, ob­ser­va­tional hour Bust­ing a Nut.

Watch­ing Dean guide the crowd from one bel­ly­laugh to an­other in Bam­pot – a Rus­sian doll of shaggy-dog sto­ries, his re­cent break-up with a

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