Laughing Horse @ City Cafe – Las Vegas
Aug 19-28 (10:00)
Please note: I didn’t unfortunately get to see the full line-up an “An Irish Comedy Showcase”, so this review should be taken with this in mind. I wanted to write this regardless to give credit to the two comedians who played the show on Thursday 18th August.
Arriving bleary-eyed into Edinburgh at 09:30 in the morning, I was determined to do as many shows as possible in one day. I was excited to hear that there were morning shows at the City Café, so I headed there at 10am to see the Irish Comedy Showcase. With nine other people, I sat in one what I can only describe as a kind of exhumed basement, the kind of room where the smaller acts play while the larger acts pop in and out to grab their coats.
When I write this, I mean absolutely no disrespect to the Irish comic acts who played that day – I thought they were on top form and performed under the difficult circumstances of half of their showcase not turning up to the show. But it brought home to the kind of desperate feeling I always get when I enter the Fringe, and as you take in the scope and fizzling mania of thousands of entertainers descending upon two square kilometers of Edinburgh for a month.
The fantastic host, Paul Marsh, an instantly likeable and very funny comedian, let us know that two of the four comedians who perform at the show wouldn’t be able to make it in that morning. While I was a little disappointed, this didn’t last long as Marsh launched into a brilliant 20-25 minutes of comedy, taking us through stories of his full-time job as a firefighter and his stories about life in Ireland. (One particularly good anecdote was about how a local pub landlord continues to swindle starry-eyed American tourists who come into his pub…) Marsh’s delivery was extremely warm and friendly, and he had a likeability as a comedian that I don’t come across that often. There was never a lull in his act, even when he was bouncing between acting as the host and being the first of two acts in the show. I left the show thinking I’d love to see more of his material in the future.
Following Marsh was Sean Begley, who did a great job keeping the show going. He got a great reception from the audience and used a series of self-drawn portraits and memes to draw big laughs between his stories. By far one of his best stories narrated his struggles to recover from his anal fissure, and the expected embarrassment this caused. I felt that Begley and Marsh worked really well together as two separate acts, and again, put on an excellent show under tough conditions.
I think if the Fringe has an ability to humble performers (which is maybe the politest way I can put it), this element of camaraderie is what makes it also really fun, and both Begley and Marsh really made the audience feel at home and delivered some excellent laughs. Certainly from both comic’s reputations within both Ireland and the UK, playing this kind of room didn’t reflect at all on their veritable skills as comedians. It’s an absolute testament to both comedians that they were able to pull off a really good show under the circumstances of losing not just two of their four comedians, but having to deliver a comedy show at 10 in the morning. Delivering your act in front of ten people armed with nothing more than cappuccinos can’t be easy, so I give them full credit for that, and for putting on a great morning show.