Contrary to what some critics might suggest, it’s not a comfortable experience seeing someone ‘coming off the rails’ on stage, especially when they’re clearly talented and - usually - good at what they do. However, US-born/London-based stand-up Luke Capasso was clearly not having a good day on Sunday. It certainly didn’t help that numerous members of his audience came and left pretty much as they pleased, often quite noisily; that his attempts to engage with members of the audience after giving them chocolate floundered on the simple fact that they couldn’t answer with full mouths; that too many of his cutting comments about fatherhood and parenthood provoked tumbleweed silence from a small Sunday afternoon crowd clearly not that interested in being there.
Which is a shame, for two reasons. Firstly, Capasso comes with a genuinely different background from most of the stand-ups seeking fame and fortune in Edinburgh - few of the youngsters slotted into the big comedy venues have racked up six years in the US military, for example. This gives Capasso an edge of machismo that he’s happy to play up to; though the surprise is that he’s genuinely far more handsome and engaging than the ‘police mug-shot’ on his posters and flyers would suggest. On this particular occasion, his taut, muscular frame couldn’t compensate for the overt lethargy that robbed his routine of any momentum. Even pausing to take a sip from his glass of water took just a few seconds too long.
Secondly, Capasso’s material is actually very good: often self-deprecatory, his take on family, relationships and our default denial of our own mortality showed intelligence, wit and some passion. But, half-comatose from (apparently) a lack of sleep, it was only when Capasso was able to hide behind his guitar that he seemed to gain some real confidence in what he was doing. Unfortunately, on this occasion, it was simply too late to get more that the politest splattering of applause from an audience all too eager to leave.