Even in the death throes of the Fringe, it seems nobody is prepared to sleep at a sane hour. Indeed perhaps it is in this obstinate refusal to accept the dying of the proverbial or literal light that a fair mass of punters pack into Eleanor Conway’s Midnight Rumble, a talk-show stand-up bonanza.
Upon entering, the audience answer rudimentary ‘embarrassing’ questions on cards. These are then collected by the bubbly host, Eleanor Conway. She explains the format and promises numerous guests as well as a vague prize. This convoluted structure is presumably added to differentiate Midnight Rumble from the countless free comedy showcases that litter this city late at night. In practice it serves as more of a distraction that clutters the smooth running of the show: the designated round-card bearer at one point strode out of the tent entirely and the record keeper was so stunningly drunk he gave up on recording the acts.
First of said acts was Deborah Francis White. Though a well-established comic, in practice she struggled with this audience’s dubious charms. Despite promising excerpts from her show at last year’s Fringe, in reality there was so much boisterous activity and interruption that after a few attempts to gamely struggle on she eventually settled on attempting to auction off a rowdy crowd member. This was amusing, but smacked of surrender and she left the stage dejected.
Faring better was Chris Henry. The local’s material had the immediacy required to get an audience onside and he delivered a successful series of observations heavy on word play if a little light on any spark or flair. His observations on Scotland and Scottish humour in a festival awash with foreigner’s tak perhaps rang true most of all. At his close was the host’s most successful moment as she looked through the cards and picked on numerous audience members. Though rendered immediately on the front-foot by the nature of the questions, she nonetheless picked apart a number of squirming show-goers and had the rest laughing along, finally giving her a chance to shine.
Last to the stage was Rob Deering. The comic and guitarist was the most high profile performer in this bill and delivered a short set that bristled with wit. His use of a loop pedal was excellent and rarely formulaic, and his puns so sharp that even our record keeper - now so inebriated he was unable to stand up straight as well as speak - declared him bashfully to be ‘Very good.’ Essentially Midnight Rumble is as ludicrous, humorous and alcohol sodden as you should desire or expect from any midnight show. It might not be big and it definitely isn’t clever, but at this point it sure beats going to bed.