Comedy Review: Mr Thing, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh * * * *
Ostensibly a chatshow, with guests plucked from the Fringe to plug their wares, in reality Mr Thing is a gang show far greater than its myriad parts, its knockabout nonsense facilitated by some well-executed tech and sublime, rascally humour.
With a touch of late-night pioneer Steve Allen about him, your assured, affable host is Tom Clarkson, capably guiding you through the established cult and mythology of Mr Thing's world. Backing him on jingles and other sound effects, with his cameras mischievously roaming the audience, is second banana Owen Visser, considerably more than just the laptop guy. Set up like a genuine television recording, the houseband is led by Clarkson's cousin Andy Chisholm. But the acknowledged scene-stealer is guest booker Puppet Steve. Played by Clarkson's brother Dan, he's a strong argument for adding a quip-ready Muppet to any Fringe show, his dubious producing adding an extra layer of controlled chaos and ribaldry.
The multimedia elements, which even respond to live appreciation of the show on Facebook, are obviously intricately arranged, with an affectionate yet hilarious storyline of Dame Judi Dench as a booking error. But Clarkson and Steve in particular keep it as loose as possible. And there's delight in seeing the brothers, albeit one as a purple monster, surprise each other with nightly variations on the narrative.
Arriving into this well-established environment you might expect the guests to serve as joke-fodder. And some serve precisely that function. But the show I caught was carefully tailored to comedian Lucy Porter's appearance and she responded in kind, with game participation and compelling gossip.
Until 25 August