THE STAND, EDINBURGH
AS HIGH concept an act as you could wish to see, The Boy With Tape On His Face, left, harks back to vaudeville tradition. As part of a typical club bill, this makes him a breath of fresh air and the crowd was reinvigorated when he was on stage.
Compere Bruce Devlin had aggressively browbeaten them into nervous laughter, before Karen Bayley and John Gavin semi-successfully ingratiated themselves for being single and a put-upon father-of-three. Yet there was a by-the-numbers feel to the evening until The Boy – London-based Kiwi Sam Wills – appeared, with duct tape stuck across his mouth.
In blue and white striped T-shirt and to a playful Gallic soundtrack, he could be plying his trade in a Paris square, except that there’s an endearingly cheeky populism to his visual gags that eschews the clichd pretension of the po-faced stereotypical mime artist.
He carries a satchel full of props but his chief tools are the volunteers he plucks forth, as he cunningly coerces them into embarrassing charades.
Although there’s a formulaic aspect to his routines that begins to become apparent after 20 minutes, it scarcely detracts from the fun and Wills executes every set-piece with practised mastery.
Perhaps in reaction, headliner Roger Monkhouse followed with a looser set than usual, his exasperated, middle-aged gripes an enjoyable counterpoint to all the mute mischief.