Comic-philosopher Stuart Black is about the most unencumbered comic in Edinburgh right now
He’s dressed in skinny wine-coloured jeans, Chelsea boots and chunky silver rings as if he’s been on a trolley dash through Camden market, and perches on his stool, his legs V-ed up like a frog.
It’s from this informal yet absorbing setting that he calmly performs an impressive hour about the big ones – sex money death – and how they are our coping mechanisms for getting through life, when childhood innocence has gone.
Despite the potentially bleak theme, Black seems to have reconciled himself to the world rather nicely. He tells us he periodically lives in a van (further suggesting he’s either an outsider or a refugee from a Withnail & I world where artists did that sort of thing) and he is remarkably free from bitterness and anger given he’s a romantic idealist who’s just turned 40. His material is interesting and engaging, particularly his take on pornography and the beauty industry. His delivery is wilfully erudite and poetic (occasionally unnecessarily so). He reminds me of a less world-weary Dylan Moran; still probing, still exploring.
When Black starts to look inward, though, the show turns more poignant – he has a photo of his eight-year-old self by the side of the stage and laments that the adult world allows little room for the anarchic imagination and freedom of youth. To ramp up the pathos, he reads aloud a story that he wrote as a child, which inadvertently breaks rules of logic and language in that way only children can.
Very enjoyable, very thoughtful – if Black isn’t careful, he’s going to become a cult comedian.
Stuart Black – Sex Money Death is on at 8.45pm at the Shack
Review written by Paul Fleckney