Nicholas Parsons has been such popular and uncontroversial figure in the British entertainment industry for so long that I could say almost anything about his show and he would still sell out a venue every night. I should perhaps be thankful, then, that there isn't that much to say about this show, Parsons' thirteenth year hosting a comedy chat show at the Fringe.
Not that this is meant to be an insult. It's simply that the crowd sitting beside me waiting for the show to begin had clearly known what to expect: the kind of chat show Radio 4 might commission on a Friday evening just after the watershed. Parsons certainly looked the part, dressed in an elegant pinstriped suit. As for the comedy, he used just enough mild sexual innuendo to titillate his audience while still preserving the genteel atmosphere of the venue. For eighty-nine, indeed, Parsons' wit and energy was astounding. He was able to raise some of the biggest laughs of the afternoon by his comic timing alone.
Parsons' three guests change every day, so it's impossible to predict what kind of laughs his interviews will get. In this case, Jo Caulfield was the undoubted highlight. She obviously had a personal rapport with Parsons and her banter with our host - perhaps inevitably centering around his age and hearing - was spot-on. Caulfield was also very funny in her own right. Her anecdotes about working as a waitress had the crowd in stitches.
Overall, then, this is a gentle and laid-back way to spend an hour. Parsons claims he's going to finally retire next year, so make the most of his manifold talents now. Just don't go along expecting any biting satire or edgy laughs. But then, you weren't really expecting that, were you?