Review: Frank Skinner Live at Assembly George Square
4★★★★

All across Edinburgh this month you can see comedians howling their political passions across the lights. Hurling new and crazy ideas at the comedy wall and praying something sticks. Opening a vein and bleeding their traumas at audiences, and it’s all very exciting. But there is none of that in Frank Skinner’s hour.

He gets a bigger cheer coming on than any other performer at the end of their show, and he deserves it. As he takes to the stage, we sit back in our big comfy seats and relax. It takes a long time and a lot of practice to be able to hold an audience in the palm of your hand for an hour, but that’s what he does. There are few massive belly laughs but they would only have interrupted the rippling, rolling waves of amusement and enjoyment that are the constant accompaniment to Frank’s chat.

His crowd work is a joy and he quickly establishes his co-stars from among the front rows: Brian from the Fife Council; the guy who ran the line at the Spain/Holland World Cup Final; and a sweet girl called Claire who doesn’t seem to have heard of anything at all. Each of them provides comedy playgrounds that only a mind like Frank’s could have discovered, and he’s utterly charming to them all, even though one of the many things of which Claire had never heard is Room 101.

Frank pulls laughs from his age and Mariah Carey, he shares his flights of fantasy about a man on a bus with an empty wheelchair, we get impressions of Yoda and Bob Dylan, gossip about Stevie Nicks and a load more in this gentle, almost conversational hour. If you can get a ticket, go and watch a master at work. And he sings a mean ‘Annie Laurie’.

Frank Skinner Live, Assembly George Square, 31 Jul – 18 Aug, 9pm

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