After meatily dense, provocatively funny shows about white privilege and political discord post-Brexit, it seemed inevitable that Fin Taylor would grope towards the zeitgeist once more, his state-of-the-world explorations becoming something of an annual address.
Fin Taylor: When Harassy Met Sally, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) ****
Comprehensively thoughtful, fiercely intelligent and with a dash of devilish advocacy, he’s a master of persuasive rhetoric, a spiky wit and attuned commentator, picking at the fraying threads of the social fabric.
Decades after it was deemed the most classically hack of stand-up subjects, Taylor marvels at how he finds himself discussing the differences between men and women, the wave of recent sexual harassment scandals bringing the issue front and centre. Building up to his chief preoccupation with some richly textured observational routines on gender identity, toilet access, sex education and celebrity falls from grace, at the core of When Harassy Met Sally is the question of consent and when does flirtation become harassment?
Asking leading questions of the front row, dissecting his own relationships, the conclusions he arrives at are worryingly open-ended and somewhat contradictory, reflective of a deeper unease and wider cultural malaise. Informed and woke, making his more controversial points from a stool to seem less confrontational, he’s nevertheless as libidinous as the next man. And he admits to boundaries he might have over-stepped in the past, while finding a degree of sympathy for the likes of Louis CK and Aziz Ansari.
Taylor has an excellent knack of seemingly surveying an issue from every angle and point of contention, affording his arguments robustness and the opportunity for successive topper gags. He’s previously joked that television has labelled him a “risk”. But he appears less and less so with every superb Fringe hour and it’s surely time he was given a more high-profile platform.
• Until 26 August, 9:45pm