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Phil Nichol: The Simple Hour
Published on Monday, 22 August 2011

5 stars

The Stand Comedy Club V (venue website)
4 Aug, 8:20pm-9:20pm; 5-14, 16-28 Aug, 8:50pm-9:50pm
Reviewed by Rachel Hartley-Davison

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

It is unusual to be ushered to your seats by the comedian you have come to see. Yet as we march up the stairs to Stand V, Phil Nichol is bounding about the landing, welcoming us in with trademark easy charm. The next hour provides a mere glimpse of the considerable talents of this comedian, producer, presenter, writer and musician. It went much too fast.

With a lot of acts there are occasional comic gems to be found, but a ‘simple’ hour with Phil Nichol is a veritable comedy goldmine.  A 2006 winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award, Nichol's show this year – unlike his darkly funny past incarnations – holds no pre-conceived vast themes.  It promises to be an hour of straightforward comedy, and it is that, and a whole lot more.

Nichol gives us a run-down of his childhood, playfully illustrating his born-again Christian parents with superb Scottish accents (Nichol was born and brought up in Canada). He reveals that his current show is born from his desire to make something that his mother could watch – she must be a pretty easy-going lady if this is the end result.

The material is often richly woven from his past incarnations, and there are some of his endlessly popular songs in there – the crowd were reeling with laughs at his latest rendition of ‘The Only Gay Eskimo’.  But whilst this mining of old work may be a negative for many performers, it only serves to illustrate what Nichol is capable of – sometimes the old refrains deserve to be aired again.

In his improvised work, Nichol fully inhabits the various personae he uses to discuss racism – and this part of his act in particular illustrates perfectly his ability to mainline current affairs (the much-discussed UK riots) into his patter. He is riotously funny and, as he swings from crazed Londoner to demented Scots, he literally sweats out the violent energy... yet manages to make it funny rather than menacing.

A breakneck hour’s journey of laughs later, the audience demand more of the crazed comedy majesty that is Phil Nichol. It has been a unique hour, plain and simple.  

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