This US talent showcase is always a must-see at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, previously affording UK debuts to such top-drawer acts as Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane and Marina Franklin.
America Stands Up! - The Stand, Glasgow
And it remains a fascinating cultural exchange, especially in terms of what constitutes edgy stand-up. Though not a natural MC, Dave Fulton acquitted himself well as the Brit-based-Yank compère, dusting off an entertaining tale of his misadventures with the late Mitch Hedberg.
With his oddly paced delivery, nervous disposition and child-like looks, Joe Machi is immediately distinctive. To this, he adds scenarios of being a loser in love and social situations but resists playing low status with vengeance-inflected punchlines. Plenty of these are great but it took time for him and the audience to bridge the incongruity together, less a question of their appetite for dark material, more of them tuning into his exotica. Ultimately though, he convinced with his closing Hitler gags.
An outlier on this bill, Canadian and Edinburgh Fringe veteran Caroline Rhea contrasts her wholesome role on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch with her reality as a cynical mother-of-one. Some of her observations are a little broad but she’s a compelling storyteller, eliciting huge laughs from simply recreating her ex-partner’s snoring.
Then came Paul Mercurio, an in-your-face Italian-American, ditching any pretence to material by simply dragging people onstage for interrogation and photos. Out of context, him miming blow darts in relation to a black audience member seems indefensible. But coming from a more ethnically diverse melting pot, he effectively gave himself licence to bait Scottish political correctness, for a set that had zero content but deserved the headline slot for brashness alone.