Stephen Grant

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Stephen Grant is a stand-up comedian. And if you couldn't tell that after buying a ticket with his name on it, at the world's biggest celebration of comedy, while listening to him talk through a microphone, he helpfully spends pretty much the whole of his hour talking about that very subject.

And the Edinburgh Fringe is pretty much the only place you could get away with such inward-looking material about nothing more than the job of being a stand-up, covering, for example, the levels of artistic integrity versus financial reward of a stand-up gig compared to a TV panel show.

Those variables are plotted on an imaginary graph, which forms the structure of the show and provides the excuse for anecdotes from various points in a stand-up career, from open mic spots in pub back rooms to advert castings.

Grant's horizons don't stretch too far, it seems, not daring to offer opinion or insight into the wider world. His comedy is in danger of eating itself, and the BSE scandal has taught us the risks of that.

It's nicely done, though, and it's Grant's effusively likeable presence that keeps the show bobbing along. He flatters the audience about their comedy savvy, and banters amiably away between stories, keeping them firmly on-side.

But it's on the rare occasions when he does look further afield for his inspiration that the show steps up a level. His examination of mid-20th Century history using the theory of rock-scissors-paper is a top-notch routine and by a long chalk the best thing he serves up.

Perhaps aware that just talking about the business of comedy itself is in perpetual danger of blandness, he tries to bolt on a point of view or two onto the show, but nothing too controversial ­ foxhunting is bad, angling isn't. Grant's no Mark Thomas.

But he is a friendly chap, and that's enough to maintain an entertaining hour ­ just.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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