FRINGE REVIEW – Iain Stirling – Happy to be the Clown


By Susan and Helen McNaughton

We were trying out a new experience for our teenage reviewer this evening: the darker reaches of the Udderbelly in a small performance space known as Daisy. On entering the vicinity we received a warning from helpful staff to be sure to vacate the area immediately after the performance as minors are not allowed in the bar area after shows. One of the hazards to be circumvented in the attempt to introduce late evening shows into our Fringe experience.

It’s uncharted territory for us this year as we move from being junior reviewers scanning only the Children’s section of the Fringe Programme, to scouring the age indication of the Comedy section to find shows suitable for a young teenage audience.

It was with excitement that we happened upon the advertisement for Iain Stirling’s show, as we’d seen him morning and evening as the anchorman for CBBC, where he works with his sidekick – the puppet dog, Hacker. As part of his Fringe show he confirms that it is indeed his job – and as the only one in a family of four not pursuing a legal career, he’s coming to terms with explaining his career choice.

This stand-up routine, aided by a small number of props and a presentation screen, was staged in an intimate 50-person theatre space converted from a university tutorial room by swathing it in black cloth. On entering, we were somewhat nervous, but Iain’s routine did not involve any embarrassing audience participation, which we were mightily relieved about. It’s difficult to avoid being in the potential selection zone if the space only has 6 rows of seats.

We thoroughly enjoyed the hour of amusing anecdote and the rich comic seam which our hero stumbled into a trip to a certain shop where he was lured by the promise of items available for one hundred pennies. The comedic device of using as a prop one of the items he’d found in the store had us roaring with laughter. A close examination of his Mother’s use of social media had us squirming and giggling in equal measure. Some of the antics of his Auntie Pam confirmed that there are definitely comedy genes in his family. A good scattering of items with an underlying culinary theme leads us to suspect that a show which builds those into the entire routine would be one worth exploring too. The references to experiences at school were a great hit and sure to be repeated by our teenage reviewer.

As an introduction to stand up comedy for teenage consumption this was an excellent choice. Our post-show discussion on whether there was any material which she found uncomfortable revealed that our reviewer thought Iain brave to be able to perform it in front of his Mum (for she was in this evening’s audience), but that none of the subject matter was beyond the reaches of a young teenager.

It’s really difficult (we’ve found) to review comedy without giving away the punch lines, so you’ll have to head along to Daisy one evening soon to find out more for yourself. Take your teenage family members too, you’ll be sure to have found a comedy hit.

Until 26 August Udderbelly (Daisy) at 21:40 Iain Stirling – Happy to be the Clown

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