Where can you get an hour of stand-up that includes routines about farts, worms and Charles Darwin? The Comedy Club 4 Kids, that's where. Now in its seventh year at the Fringe, recreating the feel of an adult comedy club with the UK's best known comedy names and some rising stars thrown in for good measure, each show brings a new line-up of top class talent to the stage. This has all the noise, heckling and unpredictability you'd expect from the grown up version but this time without the rude bits.
We were treated to a side splitting hour of stand-up hosted by Rich Sandling, himself a fine comedian and a man engagingly adept at handling both the kids and adults in the audience. Two minutes into the act any inhibitions the kids may have had went out of the window to be replaced by full on audience participation. The banter with the audience is well pitched and Sandling's impressive recall of the names of the kids he's spoken to earlier in the act delighted those who got another name check.
Tom Webb, here in Edinburgh with his own debut comedy hour, started the show off with a bang, quite literally - a farting noise competition ensues which has both the adults and kids in tears. His engaging personality had the audience onside from the moment he steped out: dealing adeptly with a cry from a tiny person at the back who asked, “Are you Harry Potter?” Instantly Webb added it into the routine and thanked the child for giving him the idea for a new act. Less successful is Eleanor Curry, just out of school herself, her routine about blood raiseed only sympathetic noises from the adults, while the kids just stared bemused. Last up was Robin Ince, best known for his Radio 4 comedy/science show The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox. His routine about Darwin raised laughs from the older kids and adults but his shouty grown up persona was less of a success with the tinies.
Aimed at six years plus, it's fair to say that the material went down best with the slightly older kids; that said though, even the five and six year olds were joining in the spirit of the show. There was no compromise in the quality of the stand up and the brilliant thing was that the comedians didn't patronise the kids.
Credit must go to the comedians who agree to be part of this: it's a brave performer who enters this lion's den. It's a challenging and unpredictable audience and whilst adults will fill any awkward silences, kids remain unforgivingly silent. Thanks to Sandling's skilful steering of the audience which struck exactly the right note, this is an out and out success for all ages.