'Is it a good idea to link together a group of comedians for a Fringe show based purely on the common thread of dietary choice?' I asked my husband as we took a stroll along George Street to our Fringe venue. 'I’m not sure,' replied my husband. 'Ask me after the show.'
The material was really funny and the delivery great
Matt Hoss, comedian, founder and host of Viva Las Vegans, states the purpose of the show is to 'exclusively use vegan comedians and make it a vegan friendly environment.' Mulling this over, I took my seat in the intimate and friendly environment of Hendersons to listen to a selection of stand-ups, united in their abstention from animal products. As a pseudo vegetarian, I was perhaps a little nervous. How friendly, or indeed relevant, would this environment prove to be for me or any other non-vegans? Having been for years on the receiving end of acerbic taunts, would these comics deliver an hour of warm wit or declare vegan war? And would they deliver enough comedic variety or would a starter, main and pudding of vegan comedy fare be unfulfilling or too difficult to digest?
Hoss, described by one of the comics featured as a 'red coat', bounces onto the stage to welcome me and the rest of the small, bleary-eyed gathering to this free Fringe show. After a short intro and a genial warm up, he introduces Ryan Dalton, a comedic giant (well maybe not quite a giant – he’s only 6ft 7ins tall, but highly amusing nevertheless). Dalton eases himself to the front of the venue, giving us a moment to 'digest what you see'. This comic is immediately likeable, warm and very amusing. His material confirms his love for animals with stories from his previous zoo keeper career and amusing details of his vegan ‘outing’ to his horrified family.
Next, we are treated to Jamie D’Souza, whose calm confidence belies his 23 years. Like Dalton, D’Souza shares the moment he told his family his body had become an animal product-free zone. His unruffled delivery is appealing, and his set amusing. His comedy is at its finest when he plays with his current obsession for portmanteaus, to express personal goals for a calendar month. Forget Veganuary, how about Kebabruary?
As we near the final twenty minutes of this comic vegan showcase, Hoss introduces us to his last and 'favourite' stand-up performer, Chris Stokes. An affable, baby-faced Liverpudlian takes the floor. Despite his looks, Stokes is a seasoned professional. He reads his small audience well and has no qualms to raise the stand-up bar with his musings on swearing banding about language that, even at the Fringe, isn’t usually heard this side of lunchtime. Stokes has been a vegan for ten years and he too wittily shares the reaction he had to endure from his family when he made that change to a herbivorous lifestyle.
Sadly, just as I’m really waking up, the hour is over. 'So,' I turn to my husband, 'Back to my previous question – what’s your view?' 'Well,' he replies. 'It wasn’t preachy – in fact it was funny and the vegan food was delicious.' I have to say I agree with him – the material was really funny, the delivery great and I wasn’t made to feel guilty at all about the occasional cheeky Nandos.