Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret and comedy review: Phil Nichol’s Cray Cray Cabaret, Phil Nichol: I Don’t Want to Talk About It, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kate Copstick.
Phil Nichol’s Cray Cray Cabaret
Phil Nichol: I Don’t Want to Talk About It
If music be the food of love, and you go down to the Assembly Rooms around 11:10pm, be prepared to get through the whole of the Kama Sutra.
Onstage in The Ballroom you will find the funkiest most fabulous concentration of musical talent since Cream split. They are called Good Company and they are exceedingly Good. They are funny and friendly and make phenomenal music. Mike Willis leads, sings, and is smarter and funnier than any man wearing shiny trousers has a right to be.
Ben Balmer (harmonica, guitar, vocals), Nick Brewer (keys), Heidi Burson (vocals), Aaron Rhoades (electric guitar), Josh Flowers (bass) and D Madness (drums) are the band and will make you happy to your very soul. They are onstage for the hour, sometimes taking centre stage, sometimes providing a soundtrack to some of the comedy guests on the show. Believe me, there is not the comedian born whose best set could not be exponentially improved by having these guys backing them up.
John Hastings is a very funny guy but his glorious, one night only partnership with Good Company is possibly my favourite thing this year. Hal Cruttenden topped the bill but, for reasons of insurmountable English middle-classness, doesn’t make use of his onstage Good Company and their comico-musical prowess. He is, of course, still funny.
Phil Nichol, twinkling in a red sequinned jacket is more obviously thrilled than a Trekkie meeting Bill Shatner and Patrick Stewart at a Borg-themed memorial gig for Leonard Nimoy. He sings, he jams with the band, he tells terrible jokes and he generally exudes so much energy the front row get radiation sickness.
All the more amazing since most of us have just come with him from his own show at The Stand, led by him like a twinkly Pied Piper, singing Proclaimers songs and collecting passers-by as we go.
His own show is a cautionary tale of love and loss in the world of comedy. Or Phil’s reaction to finding out that a girlfriend had been cheating on him. For quite a long time. And he reacted as any comic would. He wrote a shouty, angry, funny show about the break up. And how he tried to get over it.
And so we get power-walking and booze, oysters and Coldplay, a hilarious visit to an STD clinic and an epiphany in Leeds. But because he (as the title of his show suggests) doesn’t want to talk about it, we get Reggae prostitutes, Phil’s teenage nieces and Scottish independence by the by. It is an extraordinary hour born out of the dark night of a talented soul. I almost feel moved to thank his ex. But not quite.
Either show is probably going to be the best show of your day. Both shows together is an experience not to be missed.
Phil Nichol’s Cray Cray Cabaret, Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) until 30 August / listings
Phil Nichol: I Don’t Want To Talk About It, The Stand 2 (Venue 5B) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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