The Playhouse, one of Edinburgh’s grandest venues, played host to the annual Comedy Gala; the biggest show of the festival boasting some of the biggest names in comedy. Filmed by the BBC, this was a performance jam-packed with stars, and it was three hours of flawless stand-up.
The first half saw Scottish treasure Kevin Bridges hosting with an air of immense confidence and natural rapport which demonstrated quite what it means to be at the top of the comedy circuit. His amiable yet sharp wit and banter with the immense audience proved yet again that Bridges deserves every ounce of credit and praise the UK is offering him at the moment.
The show kicked off with the likes of familiar TV comics Jason Byrne and Andrew Lawrence offering their distinctive styles, and proceeded with a vast variety of comics all successfully playing on Scottish/English stereotypes, delivering witty anecdotes and, in the case of Gary Delaney, a series of witty one-liners and puns.
Lesser-known highlights included Ivo Graham who, standing out as comparably young, smashed his set, winning the crowd over with his self-assured comedy. On the other end of the spectrum Russell Kane, who has enjoyed a sell-out Fringe show, delivered yet again with his energy and sheer excitement as he bounded around the large stage, oozing liveliness.
Second-half host Adam Hills compared with equal prowess and comfortableness, revving the audience up and maintaining momentum in the long show. A particular favourite in this half was Hal Cruttenden, whose self-confessed camp middle-class air made for hilarious results: ‘I’d rather grow a tumour then make a fuss’. The lovable Sarah Pascoe provided a nice break from the male heavy line-up, followed by the exceptionally articulate and easily listenable Simon Evans whose concise observations surmised Edinburgh at Fringe time perfectly.
Crowd favourite Lee Nelson was undoubtedly a star of the show. Combining his favourite character with comments such as ‘Americans don’t understand the link between lots and lots of people having guns and lots and lots of people getting shot’, getting perhaps the biggest applause of the Gala and culminating with an impersonation of the royal baby in sperm form, Nelson offered one of the most dynamic and popular sets.
Porkie the Poet, also known as Phill Jupitus, arrived on stage dressed in a kilt and leather jacket, with panda face paint and shades; ‘I’ve been working with Noel Fielding too long’. He proceeded to read his poem about Jeremy Clarkson ‘shagging a car’. In his words, ‘you don’t get more Fringe than that, bitches’.
Finally, to round a brilliant evening off, Stephen K Amos took to the stage with his warm and contemporary stand-up, playing on the differences between his Nigerian heritage and British upbringing, highlighting the ignorance and pure stupidity of the racism he has faced.
The Comedy Gala was a showcase of some of the best that Britain has to offer in terms of its comedic greats; it demonstrated the expertise of our top comics and all in all provided a quite perfect end to what has been an absolutely incredible month of performance.