Ian Stone Will Make It Better | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Ian Stone Will Make It Better

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Laudably, Ian Stone says his show might be about bringing people together, given there’s more that unites us than divides us. Except, of course, those selfish bastards like Tories or people who play music on buses without headphones.

Turns out Ian Stone Will Make It Better isn’t especially about unity, or indeed about much at all. But that doesn’t matter a great deal. What the stand-up veteran lacks in depth he more than makes up for in breadth, with a show taking on politics, religion, royalty and many of the other major news stories of the past 12 months – all covered with an insightful directness that cuts straight to the point.

He’s often quite provocative, probing what the audience is or isn’t comfortable with. Is it really OK to link that former Cabinet minister with the apparatus of Nazi genocide? (Answer: yes, especially when Stone’s speculation is as on-the-nose and brutally funny as this).

Or worse, for this left-leaning audience, is it acceptable to suggest the Jeremy Corbyn might not have been the best Prime Minister Britain never had? Needless to say, as a Jewish man, Stone has some problems with the antisemitism under his watch…

Over the hour, we whizz through the millennia-old Arab-Jewish tensions, the blandness of Keir Starmer, the Queen’s death, a bit of football (of course, given his punditry sideline) and the reputational downfall of several public figures. Being so wide-ranging in the search for the next laugh means the hour flies by in fine humour, even if it’s at the expense of a more cumulative impact that will stick with you.

Nor is it all politics. He has an amusing story about youthful recklessness and rants at everyday irritants such as corporations forever asking you to ‘rate your experience’ or temperamental printers. Stone has a fine line in comic exasperation and could easily drill deeper into these frustrations, given the crowd is so enthusiastically in agreement.

Even when the room is more reticent, the comic is ever-alert to how his material is going down. He needs no customer satisfaction survey, he nimbly, instinctively navigates the audience’s responses to keep them on his side, even if they’re not 100 per cent sure if they want to be.

An aside towards the end probably reveals Stone’s philosophy more than the rather glib setup: that life is more fun if you don’t get offended. It’s a nice take, especially given from someone who’s no ‘anti-woke’ headbanger, but a straight-talking Londoner who likes a laugh – sometimes an edgy one – but isn’t a dick about it.

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Review date: 4 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

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