I love going to see comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe, I really do, but some of it can be, for want of a better word: “worthy”. The confessional comedy that journeys towards a serious point can, after a while, become a little claustrophobic. Sometimes you just want to go and see someone whose primary agenda is to make you laugh like a drain.
For people looking for this type of stand-up then Stephen Bailey is the ideal palate-cleanser for all the misery memoir material. He puts the “amuse” in “amuse-bouche“. He’s chatty and engaging, flirty and filthy by equal turns, never letting the audience stray far from the palm of his hand.
That’s not to suggest that “Can’t Think Straight” is just an empty-headed hour of tales and laughs (not that it would be the greatest sin in the world if it was). There’s a strong spine to the set as he touches on the themes of identity, generalisation and acceptance. However, there’s no rug-pulling revelation designed to wrong-foot the audience at the denouement, the observations nestle naturally in a winning nest of familial anecdotes and repartee with the audience.
There’s a delightful mix of audacity and warmth to Bailey’s on-stage persona. “Can’t Think Straight” is a ‘free’ show at the Fringe and, as such, the audience was a very mixed demographic, many of whom would have been unaware of what to expect. While some of Bailey’s material is probably too bawdy, at times, for everyone it speaks very strongly for his talents that everyone I saw leaving the venue showed every sign of having been richly, and riotously, entertained.
Excellent. I got to the end of the review without lazily describing him as “camp” or “flamboyant”…
…Oh. Damn it!
Stephen Bailey will be appearing at Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, Edinburgh (Venue 272) at 5.15pm until Sunday 27th August.