Comedy review: S&M Masterclass

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So disant irony is the paper bag used to cover the face of many a comedy munter. The genre is tired.

Star rating: Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156)

Venue: ****

But Seann Walsh and Mark Simmons have roused it from its torpor with a show, the conceit of which is that Seann is giving the benefit of his ten years in the business to Mark, a comedy newbie. I know. I thought it would probably be shit, but it was absolutely hilarious.

Seann makes a fantastic straight man, Mark is a wonderfully nervous newbie. And the actual material, whichever purpose it serves in the show, is properly funny stuff. Mark starts by offering a taster of his act while Seann “critiques”. Puns and wordplay are his stock in trade and he had me at the ice cream gag, but Seann wants to work on energising his entrance technique and audience warming material.

Mark is not, it transpires, the sharpest knife in the comedy bag. And so Seann conjures the spirit of the Duracell Bunny of comedy and gives us his brilliant Michael McIntyre impression. The crowd go crazy. Mark is impressed. Walsh mutters moodily that he is the most underrated comic at the Festival. At least he can legitimately put it on a poster now.

Unsurprisingly, Mark turns out to be not as good at impressions as Seann so we move to improving his crowd work. And his ability to deal with hecklers.

Nothing you have seen on the Fringe will prepare you for Mark’s attempt to take Seann’s advice about getting personal with his audience. And the classic comedy routine they work around the “40-minute mark” is a beautiful thing. No comedy cliche is left standing. This is simply great fun.

Until 28 August. Tomorrow 3:10pm.

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