Comedy in the Dark

Comedy in the Dark is exactly what it sounds like. Stand-up comedians working in a blacked out room. Staged in Just The Tonic’s Community Project on a Saturday night, the substantial theatre had a buzz that far outstripped the festival’s pokier, cobbled together venues. Somewhat disappointingly for a lineup that boasted Fringe veterans as well as a couple of “TV’s own…”, the well anticipated show failed to capitalise on its promising concept.

Whilst the comedy on show here was of a high quality, the performers neglected to adapt to the fact it was being performed with the lights off.

First up was compare Joel Dommett, current mischief maker with BBC Three’s Impractical Jokers and formally DC Sweeney in Skins. With a face made for television and a physically energetic style, Dommett beckoned down the lights and attempted to rely on his vocal talent. For the most part he did so successfully, coaxing a pleasing penis/watermelon anecdote from Justin in the fourth row and staging a beard off between two particularly well endowed audience members.

Following him were The Beta Males, a high octane, four-piece sketch group. Choosing to showcase only four shorts (short to the point Dommett was caught on the phone following their departure), our allocated five minutes was a punchy, more masculine take on Snuff Box’s Matt Berry; minus the left-field weirdness.

In their sizeable wake came Gareth Richards. With a repertoire of vamped up dad jokes the most consistent laughs of the evening were found here. Reason to forgive him for lifting the set from his 2011 spot on Russell Howard’s Good News.

Last up was Paul Foot, the severely fringed mullet wearer most recognisable from Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Despite throwing himself into a list of “disturbances”, essentially frenetic anti jokes, and employing his high pitched High Wycombe wail, the set failed to live up the hilarity past form would suggest.

The idea of watching comedy in the dark is a fantastic one. A rare chance to physically relax in public, communally shed inhibitions and the perfect comedic foil for the entertainers. Whilst the comedy on show here was of a high quality, the performers neglected to adapt to the fact it was being performed with the lights off.

What we are left with is a shoehorned showcase of what’s on offer elsewhere in a more substantive form, and so the lack of lights is more hindrance than anything else; slightly obscuring the talent present in this selection of fine comedians.

Reviews by Milo Boyd

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The Blurb

Your favourite stand-ups, one hour, no lights! Comedy in the Dark returns to the Fringe following sell-out runs in London, Leicester and Edinburgh. A unique experience where comedians perform in total darkness. Past acts have included Greg Davies, Sarah Millican, Ed Byrne, Arthur Smith. 'Destined to become one of the most talked about shows' (Time Out). 'A lovely quirky idea' (Scotsman). 'An absolutely packed audience' (