Sean McLoughlin

Sean McLoughlin

Sean McLoughlin: So Be It

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Sean McLoughlin has some troublesome audience members in tonight: a row of Pleasance pass-holders chatting among themselves and a bloke happy to throw in a random, derailing comment midway through one of the comic’s more zealous rants.

McLoughlin doesn’t hide his irritation, but the irritants also burnish his image as a comedian always on the back foot, battling against an indifferent public, sabotaged by circumstance. It gives his comedy a contemptuous, nihilistic rage, as if he might as well say anything since he’s going down in flames anyway. 

‘Stand-up is as hard as I make it look’, is a typical self-lacerating comment as he laments the 15 years he’s spent pursuing this ridiculous profession. But while fame might have eluded McLoughlin, those who know, know. He can be depended upon to produce a hilarious howl at the injustices of the world, some of them systemic, some of them his own bad luck.

In this latest indignant wail, he claims to be an emotional man rather than a logical one. But, his writing has its own twisted reasoning – often missing out steps in the thought process to give the ridiculous conclusions even more of a comic wallop. Highlights include picking apart the business model of misshapen fruit suppliers Oddbox, ending with a magnificently absurd image, or explaining the concept of newspapers in a way that makes them feel intrinsically weird. 

He has takes on big stuff, too, from the surveillance culture of Google and the Chinese state to the British immigration system, with an argument that ends up saying the unsayable. Not in a BNP way, but it’s so coldly dispassionate that you fear for the state of his marriage to his Canadian wife. He already admits to giving off divorced man vibes, but for now he’s ‘on the grid’: car, wife, knowledge of when the bins need to go out. He professes to want to fit in with normal society. But the bitterly disillusioned stage version of him never will.

The angry rants – coming after he disingenuously suggests he ‘has no opinions’ – are backed with brilliant punchlines, unpredictable because of the odd angle he takes to get there. I’d put in an early claim for McLoughlin having the joke of the Fringe, were the line entirely unsuitable for those newspaper-friendly lists. It lands hard even after him fully priming the audience to be aware of the misdirection, that’s how strong it is and how masterfully in control of the audience McLoughlin remains. Or at least most of them.

Sean McLoughlin: So Be It is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 7.55pm

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Published: 8 Aug 2022

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Laughing Penguin Presents

Edinburgh Fringe 2012

McLough-Hess Monster

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Sean McLoughlin: Backbone

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Sean McLoughlin: I Will Prevail

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Sean McLoughlin: Whatever It Takes

Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Sean McLoughlin: Kamikaze

Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary

Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Sean McLoughlin: So Be It


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