Frank Skinner: 30 Years Of Dirt | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Frank Skinner: 30 Years Of Dirt

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Sorry to bring bad news to anyone who has tickets for Frank Skinner’s sold-out Fringe run, but I have to report that, at 66 and a full 32 years after scooping the Perrier Award, he’s still got it.

Why’s that bad news? Because, as the comic points out, it would be a much better story if punters could go into work the next day and regale their colleagues with how terrible and washed-up the star had become. But I’m afraid they’re just going to have to report what a great night they had in the hands of a comedy master.

Many of Skinner’s contemporaries fear being cancelled – for which, read ‘sliding into irrelevance – yet despite a career built on knob gags, it is a fate Skinner avoided. While you might detect a slight nostalgia for simpler times in some of his material here, Skinner is keen to keep up. As hinted at by the title 30 Years Of Dirt, there’s something of a through-line about his attempts to write more jokes above the belt – but it’s either a gift or an affliction that he’s always drawn back to the filth. No worries, though, as knob gags as good as his stand the test of time.

His shows are not an environment most people would put an eight-year-old into, but that didn’t stop one mum tonight. And she sat her lad front and centre, too, to be as distracting as possible. It was mere minutes before the C-bomb exploded on those young ears.

But Skinner made the boy’s presence an asset, adding extra punch to the dirtier routines precisely because they shouldn’t be repeated in front of a child. Occasionally he circled back to draw attention to the swearing, or to try to find some point of reference the youngster might share, always to no avail.

It formed part of a masterclass in crowd work, with Skinner getting spontaneous laughs off every interaction, riffing mini-routines from the briefest of heckles, to which he would return to create running jokes, just for this room on this day.

He makes the whole hour seem effortless, mixing exquisite one-liners and observations that needed pointing out, with longer stories, from hanging out with the criminal underclass at his local when a lad to hanging out with royals now - including Princess Anne, who made him an MBE earlier this year. 

Despite moving in elevated circles, Skinner has not lost the common funny-bloke-at-the-pub touch. His stories of going for a curry ring as true as those about attending church – the latter a particularly hilarious anecdote about a politically incorrect priest.

He culminates with his longest anecdote from an early factory job of heading to a male strip show with his older female colleagues, filled with evocative imagery of working-class women on an unapologetic night out, with baroque levels of swearing and filth. This, surely, is where he gets his sense of humour from – but rarely are knob jokes this classy.

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Review date: 7 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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