Fringe Comedy review: Barry Crimmins - Atlas’s Knees

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Barry Crimmins: Atlas’s Knees | The Stand Comedy Club (Venue 5) | Star rating: ***

A legend of US stand-up, Barry Crimmins can recall when there were perhaps just 100 professional comics in the world. A staunch, outspoken socialist who finds his opinions on gun control, public healthcare and vegetarianism frequently clashing with those of his compatriots, he embraces the Edinburgh Fringe’s chaotic ethos.

Sadly, visiting in conjunction with his honeymoon, he’s not quite ready for it yet, the glimpses of sporadic brilliance he displays here accompanied by regular longueurs as he struggles to find a way into his material. Spitting out a few insults at President Trump, he can’t quite get a bead on a polite, attentive audience, constantly dropping and picking up the mic, checking himself whenever he builds up a head of steam, which is a pity, because when he quits second-guessing his approach, he’s electric, delivering a devastatingly funny recollection of meeting Henry Kissinger and precision sniping at Ronald Reagan’s hypocrisy.

He also presents a powerful and largely non-comedic account of addressing the Sandinistas during the Nicaraguan Revolution. And while he ultimately spirals into agit-prop, denouncing those that would privatise the NHS in a rambling finale, you hope that by the close of his Fringe run he may have locked down what he wants to say.

• Until 27 August. Today 9:40pm.