From one belly-laugh to another
Call off the search – the next generation of superstar stand-ups has arrived, says Tristram Fane Saunders
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