This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com
David McIver, Tom Wragg and Sophie Henderson are Live in Scotland, and that’s a good thing. We can all agree that three intrepid young comedians pushing the limit of their overdraft, living on nothing but porridge for a month, and performing for free in the characterless basement of a characterless Mexican restaurant every day is ‘what the Fringe is all about’. And to be fair to the three performers – and their special guest Alexander Bennett – there are flashes of potential in their sets.
David McIver opens. His short slot is commendably well-constructed but so middle-of-the-road in its humour that it becomes instantly forgettable. He squeezes some promising material out of a recent break-up, but his self-effacement is never believable enough to truly engage. It is difficult to feel anything for a 20-something with their life stretching ahead of them, whose only discernible problems are a slight social awkwardness and some post-breakup blues. McIver is probably best when he tentatively approaches the absurd, imagining a conversation with a sympathetic dog, but even this needs a good deal of fine-tuning.
Sophie Henderson spins her privilege round to her advantage, riffing sarcastically on the terrible life she has led in her wealthy family home in Surrey. Guildford is horrible, we are told, with its wide, cobbled streets and beautiful architecture. This opening is as high as her routine reaches though, and it soon lapses into predictable 30-something whining about successful friends.
The third of the regular acts, Tom Wragg, is a breath of fresh air. His quirky, frenetic comedy blows away some cobwebs through sheer confusion. He hurtles around the stage, hurling a PBH Free Fringe backdrop over people, seizing audience members and getting them to throw a plastic bottle repeatedly against the wall, before closing with a bizarre routine with a ukulele – which he cannot play apparently. His set is mostly physical, but when he does begin telling some jokes, his offbeat, repetitive style is enjoyable.
But Wragg’s greatest strength in comparison to the two preceding comics is his confidence. He seems unfazed by quizzical looks from the audience, and entirely sure-footed in his odd, and entirely original, comedy.
Special guest Alexander Bennett closed, and his self-assurance quickly marked him out as a more seasoned stand-up than the three regulars. The premise of reading out a selection of laws that he believed were necessary to introduce quickly got the audience onside, and although he hardly had them in the palm of his hand, he did at least then have the freedom to experiment a little more.
All four comics had something to improve upon, but improve upon it they must. At present, Live In Scotland is an entirely forgettable hour of comedy.