Comedy review: Kaput, Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 300), Edinburgh

Tom Flanagan charms and delights with old-fashioned slapstick. Picture: Jane Barlow
Tom Flanagan charms and delights with old-fashioned slapstick. Picture: Jane Barlow
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WERE some gifted comedy scientists able to inject the spirit of Norman Wisdom into a young Paul Nicholas, they would create something very similar to Tom Flanagan. This is a joyful show. A show that charms and delights you.


Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 300)

Rating: ****

I am so very glad I saw Flanagan’s very first performance because, technically, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but such is the talent of the man, so comfortable and confident is he in his onstage persona, that the fact that he had to perform some of his sound cues on the kazoo and that the entire back of the set collapsed, narrowly missing the front row (the sight of Flanagan giving a surprised young girl a fireman’s lift to safety is one I will treasure) absolutely added to the 

This is old-fashioned, 
good-natured slapstick somehow made fresher than a sherbet lemon by an engaging Australian who is as likely to entrance your older daughter as he is your younger.

The show is a beautiful balancing act – daft enough to elicit cries of “he’s a silly man” from the cherub behind me, but not dumb enough to irritate me.

Kaput’s sillinesses are all, somehow, wholly understandable. There is always a tickle of laughter in the room, as the youngest of the audience can follow the line of simple logic that will lead our hero to his next comic catastrophe. But this is not just kids’ stuff.

The comedy has layers of laughter, some layers for everyone, some for just us big people. What Flanagan does with a roll of wallpaper and an elastic band, and his seductive ways with a custard cream, tip a wink to those of us whose feet touch the floor from our seats. The final “special effect” Flanagan pulls out of the comedic carnage onstage gets a deserved “aaaahhhh” from the entire room. To paraphrase an old movie, this show “just reaches in and puts a string of coloured lights around your heart”.

• Until 27 August