I’ll start off by saying that the lack of an audience on this particular viewing did not afford much opportunity to the performers. Some adapted better to their vacant surroundings than others. The principle behind much of the show is to read out written questions from audience members and go on these for jokes.
Largely coherent with festival standards of what makes a decent act. It’s nothing special, but it has some moments.
Our host for the evening was the pleasant and cheerful Katie Nichols. She is polite, enthusiastic and friendly with the audience, but this doesn’t atone for her own slot which was delivered nervously and was patchy in places. Lots of silences emerged, some longer than others, and it wasn’t until she dropped the audience questions that she improved.
Ben Dali was on next. A stage hypnotist/magician who is an expert on reading people’s body language, Dali was far more engaging with the audience than his predecessor. His act has nothing to do with America whatsoever, and neither is he American. Nor is this inherently comedic. But his innate showmanship combined with his manifest abilities in human psychology, no less professional and reminiscent of Derren Brown, is fascinating to watch, and he emerged a distinct shade above his cohorts as one of the highlights of the evening.
Latino-American Franco Danger then appeared. Danger has great charisma and far more energy than all the other acts put together, but this is often wasted by trying out skittish jokes that can only appeal to Americans. Obviously you would expect American humour, but the audience of many nationalities received him the best with his jokes about Scotland and his experiences in the capital. He seems like a genuine guy, one you’d probably make friends with at a bar quickly and easily, but if he wants to progress in a career of comedy I suggest he find ways to appeal to a broad audience.
Lastly, the producer of the show Shafer Ward takes to the stage, resisting any lingering criticisms that had been laid upon his fellow comedians. He has great banter with his fellow Americans in the audience, but makes sure not to alienate the rest. He ended the night on a high, and was the crowd’s favourite.
Saying that this act is a risky affair would be an understatement. Because it is heavily dependent upon a larger audience it will suffer during dry spells. It’s nice that the audience can participate, but any improv carries a heavy penalty if done wrong, and that seems to have occurred more than once tonight. Also, the title of the show doesn’t do itself any favours as Donald Trump is almost never mentioned. But as far as free shows go it was largely coherent with festival standards of what makes a decent act. It’s nothing special, but it has some moments.