Iain Stirling: Touchy Feely

Stand-up, Pleasance Courtyard, Venue 33, 19.40 until 29th August

Iain Stirling’s offering at this year’s Fringe is fairly innocent, fairly middle-of-the-road, and fairly able to raise some laughs without bringing anything particularly interesting or innovative to the table. The Edinburgh-born comic, who is currently the voice of ITV2’s Love Island, brings to the stage material that is dated or overdone but still appealing enough (see: the Independence Referendum, fast food and vegetarianism, hand positions during sex). He brushes over politics without really getting his teeth into it except for a quite refreshing routine on the culture of blame in political circles. This is despite the fact that he says he’s being trying to get educated recently – it was disappointing that he didn’t go into this much more, as that might have made for a more interesting, perhaps soul-searching or indeed ‘touchy feely’ show.

Instead, Stirling regales us with basic tales which are funny enough to keep the audience happy, and he employs all the usual tricks of a circuit comedian: innocent audience interaction, self-deprecation, every-day topics of conversation and caricatures of famous people like Nicola Sturgeon or Ed Milliband. There is nothing special here, nothing to bind the show together except for the fact that all the material is basic observational comedy. Even his final long anecdote is ultimately anti-climactic, a tale of his spectacular death at a corporate gig at which the audience were under the impression that it was Al Murray, not him, who had been booked for the night which made the material which had come previously feel somewhat tacked onto the fifty minutes.

Stirling has a charming stage presence, knows how to get basic laughs, and is good at gaining rapport with the audience. Beyond that he is unimpressive, lacking a thematic narrative or anything else which might make him stand out among the many other observational comedians who grace our stages and screens today.

Image: Edward Moore

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