Some way into a verbal onslaught directed at yours truly, Bob Slayers makes an unexpected allusion to the observer effect in particle physics. You can’t review the show, he proclaims, because your presence has changed it. By this time my notebook had been confiscated and my interrogation is underway. It’s past 1 o’clock in the morning. We are all drinking BrewDog — the only brand available in the makeshift venue, visibly crowding the fridge behind the bar — and, despite the 40-minute delay, Slayer has barely begun.
A considerable part of his show involves shouting abuse at them, followed by a kind of half delighted, half defensive “I love you.”
Next is a long riff about a ThreeWeeks reviewer who saw Slayer in a previous year. That was his first Fringe show ever, apparently, and he left it at 7 am in his underwear, plastered with stamps, with few memories. (Is this a warning?) Finally, after many interruptions and false starts, we arrive at what sounds like the beginning of the planned show. It revolves around the mysteriously named “bookshop”: Slayer had to build it himself, he says, because he’s been banned from all other venues in Edinburgh. He relates a friend telling an aggrieved safety inspector: “if anybody can’t find the exit in this [tiny] room, they deserve to die”. None of this would pass muster as straight comedy — the laughs aren’t lined up neatly enough — but there is something endearingly relaxed about the set, part-storytelling, part-stand up, frequently (and usually interestingly) interrupted. The kind of humour involved in making suggestive thrusts of the mike into someone’s face won’t appeal to everyone, but ‘Peachy Peach’’s light-hearted guitar and singing combo should.
In a way Slayer’s right about the review, though not for the reasons he gives. (Another is that he’s a performance artist — a label he flaunts a little too frequently — which surely does not rule out evaluation). But reviewers, ideally, need a kind of native affinity with the shows they appraise, and from the moment I step into the venue I stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone in the crowd has at least a decade on me. They look like a mix of weathered roadies and groupies. Indeed, Bob Slayer might best be described as a cult comedian. He knows half the audience by name; many seem to have attended the show on previous nights. A considerable part of his show involves shouting abuse at them, followed by a kind of half delighted, half defensive “I love you.” If this is worn a little thin with repetition to my ears, it seems only to inspire increasing adulation.
At 2.20 — when the show’s putative runtime is over, and I have to leave to make my 6 AM flight — IndieRound seems still to be getting into gear. I can’t claim my review is representative, nor that I enjoyed all I saw. But Bob Slayer is unlike anything else I came across at the Fringe: a maverick comedian and a throwback to the festival’s unpolished roots, half-genius, half-disaster. I’m glad I got to see him.