American comics like to please. They want everyone to have a good time all the time. They work the crowd. They radiate charisma. They want to know ‘How y’all doing tonight?’ While British stand-ups are renowned for their self-loathing, bad teeth and crowd-baiting, the Yanks simply yearn for you to smile with them.As the audience filter in Phil Nichol greets each one cordially, building the sort of rapport that will make his job infinitely easier upon taking to the stage. Phil Nichol wants to be your friend; you’re not gonna boo him now are you, now that you’ve seen what a nice wholesome guy he is? As the last few stragglers slip into the venue, Nichol has the audience enthusiastically shouting out the C-word en masse. It’s all good, clean fun.By the time the performance officially starts Phil Nichol’s work is done; the crowd are already dancing a merry jig in the palm of his hand. The next hour should be a formality. Before the show can commence in earnest however, there’s just one thing the audience need to know: Phil Nichol is not an American. Sure, he may sound and look like an American comic, but the man is actually Canadian. Mixing your North Americans is a cardinal sin across the pond but one that comes naturally to us ignorant Brits. It works both ways though with Americans quick to confuse their Scots and English, much to the chagrin of both races. Nichol would never make such an elementary mistake however. He knows the British better than they do. This a man who can differentiate between regional London accents. This is a man who can do a credible Scottish accent and knows where Cumbernauld is. As a Canadian, this is a man who can mercilessly taunt his neighbours from across the border, the ones who sound an awful lot like him but are in fact nothing like him.The Simple Hour promises to be just that: a feel-good slice of throwaway fun that will leave the audience in a convivial mood as they retreat to their preferred wine bar to sup post-show Prosecco. It’s supposed to be unthreatening, good-tempered comedy, the sort of show you can safely attend with a first date. The best laid plans can go astray however, and when Nichol’s American brand of comedy takes a decidedly Un-American turn to the left, it’s most welcome. What had all begun so civilly soon degenerates into a raucous performance that sees the comedian strapping on a guitar, leaping into the front row and gyrating against a gentleman while the crowd heartily sing along to ‘I’m The Only Gay Eskimo’. Nichol spilt someone’s pint and replaced it with a pitcher of lager; when that was done, he replaced it again. The rest of the show flies by in a blur of smutty songs, stage invasions and improvised comedy, with nary a clunker to be heard. It’s all highly entertaining stuff. Shambolic and silly perhaps, but eminently fun. Those Canadians are far better than we give them credit for.