Simon Evans – Edinburgh Festival review

He’s a professorial figure in the comedy world, but Simon Evans could still learn a thing or two about structure, writes Julian Hall

SImon_Evans2Tall, erudite, sartorially adroit, Simon Evans is an aristocratic presence in comedy. He certainly gives the impression of being the master of all he surveys, and he has established himself as a bankable act during his 15 years in the business.

His sure-bet status is attested to by his full house tonight, drawn by his dry and sardonic wit, and happy to endure a stuffy atmosphere to hear it. Stuffy, is of course, a word that could be easily thrown at the starched stature of Evans; he plays on his staid, patronising ‘dad-like’ credentials to elicit hearty chuckles. “Keep digging, you’ll find one eventually”, is his withering advice to local Edinburgers (the majority of the audience tonight) on their ongoing tram system works.

While his punchlines are direct, his segues are not, at least when they are battling against an unfocused theme – as they are here. The theme of the show veers between rivalry and storytelling, but in reality these are weak premises for Evans to allow him to run the gamut of some national and regional stereotypes (with jokes that are, to be fair, often a cut above similar routines by other comics) and to talk about kids, both his and those of others.

Evans’ periodic awareness of having to shoe-horn his routines into a theme weakens what could otherwise be left alone as a competent hour of stand-up, albeit with the attention from theme shifted on to topic segues.

While the learned approach of Evans towards crafting his gags is admirable, it could be that a slightly less disciplined attitude to routine structuring might help him in the absence of a dominant theme.

3 stars
• Simon Evans – Friendly Fire is on at 9.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard

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