There are plenty of rough diamonds in the melée of eager young performers who flock to the Fringe and 25 year old Sean McLoughlin, taking his first tentative steps into the Edinburgh circus this year, is clearly keen to impress, initially on the extensive audience platform that the free shows offer. In front of a healthy-sized crowd at Espionage, McLoughlin certainly punctuated his performance with a variety of nice one-liners, but this act in general failed to suggest he has yet really lived a life worthy of sharing on the comedy circuit.
That’s not to say there’s nothing good to take away. McLoughlin is refreshing, easy on the ear and we are sufficiently impressed with his calming influence to feel some sympathy for the financial woes he later talks about in depth. His self-deprecating ‘So, do you guys know any jokes?’ raises hearty laughter from a crowd who is fully behind him. If you’re a 20-something who thrives off the Free Fringe to keep your Student Loan repayments under control, then this is certainly one for you.
However the plight McLoughlin bemoans is all too predictable – discussing his status as a poor comedian (‘I had a handful of flour for dinner’), the bitterness of having to work in a call centre and the usual jibes at the normal targets – the USA, sex, or lack thereof, and what he sees as the deficiencies of the male sex (‘I am disgusting – I once ate a chicken drumstick in the shower’). When he asks towards the end of the act for suggestions as to the ‘theme that runs through this show’, it is unsurprising that the audience answers are among the theme of pessimism, pretty much verging on suicidal tendencies. You almost want to buy him a drink, give him a hug and tell him ‘We’re all here for you.’
In all honesty, the show squeezes into the three star category because it is perfectly watchable as part of the Free Fringe, but would’ve been less favourably reviewed had any money changed hands. But McLoughlin is still on the early winding turns of the comedy road, and his enthusiasm and drive to impress the crowd gave him an edge that keeps him in the ‘potential’ category for the moment. Certainly room for improvement, but one who could prove to be a rough diamond yet.