Comedy review: Elvis McGonagall



"I'VE SUFFERED for my poetry," says Elvis McGonagall, striding on stage in his trademark tartan teddy-boy jacket. "Now it's your turn." Fortunately, the next hour is pain-free, unless you include the possibility of minor injuries incurred through excessive laughing.

Since winning the World Slam championship in 2006, McGonagall has become a regular on Radio 4's Saturday Live and a sought-after live performer. His Fringe debut is everything it should be: funny, angry and full of tightly written quick-fire verse.

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At first, he over-projects so it feels like he's angrily berating the select crowd in the Gilded Balloon's Turret, but he soon finds his level. His delivery is sharp and the banter between poems, while not as good as the poems themselves, doesn't let the show down. Unfortunately, his late afternoon audience is muted in its appreciation and one feels he might fare better with a later crowd.

McGonagall has a knack for bringing together unlikely ideas which immediately seem to belong together. Jamie Oliver Twist puts the naked chef together with Dickens in a stream of rapid-fire cockney. He imagines the Harry Potter franchise taken over by Gordon Ramsay, and Gordon Brown replaced by James Brown (which is how the PM was apparently christened – Gordon is his middle name).

His work is fuelled by a generous helping of anger, at politicians, Premier League footballers, sanctimonious rock stars, Braveheart and Jeremy Clarkson. In a parody of Boris Johnston, he proves that despite being from Fife he can do a passable Hooray Henry, and his poem about David Cameron is a performance poetry masterpiece in which neat three-word sequences gradually descend from party soundbites into total gibberish. He briefly abandons gags to read a poem about the Black Watch soldiers posted to Fallujah.

McGonagall combines anger, polish and carefully crafted verse in a way which recalls John Cooper Clarke in his prime. If the word 'poetry' is putting you off, get over it.


Until 30 August. Today 5:45pm.

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