Quick backtrack first up as I forgot to mention one of the earlier days I was invited to South by South Wales by the agent of the comic Matt Price who was compering. His style was described to me as “anti-compering” which I can understand – he struck me as very in tune with the reality of his situation in terms of addressing and engaging the crowd both individually and as a group in what appears at least to be a very genuine manner (as opposed to using the “tricks” of the compering trade – tho of course he might just be using different tricks!).
The two other acts were new to me but enjoyable and pretty strong for their experience level – Josh Widdicombe and Elis James – both spinning tales from their lives in Wales.
I had only two shows in the diary for day four – I like to keep parts of the schedule fairly fluid to be open to the experiences that come my way. The first few years I came I tended to race around from show to show seeing everything I could, but that can be quite hard work. The two shows I did have in I was really looking forward to and they didnt disappoint. Nick Revell was quite a well known act in the 1980s in what was then considered to be alternative comedy but which looking back from 2008 seems classic. He’s been back on the circuit some two or three years I think, and is strong. He retains his left wing soul and cares passionately about the political and social climate, offering real comment and insight clearly backed by research and long thought. Onstage he strikers me as quite theatrical – bold, forceful acting which gives his material plenty of punch – he doesnt connect with the audience as individuals much the power of his delivery gets the argument firmly across.
Tom Stade I’ve always rated highly as an act – being particularly struck by the calm meter of his delivery when I saw him in Melbourne this year, tho Ive never seen him over an hour. This year he has come up with an all new set which is still evolving through the course of the festival and is already very funny. I can see it getting more and more refined and condensed as it goes, but it was great to see him easily chatting with audience members before going ahead into another great routine. His show is split into around six bits all with a little many revealing the conflict between his long held lifestyle of being chilled, free and regularly wasted with the commitments of a 13 year marriage and raising two kids. He seems to pull of both really well, and talking about it with brutal honesty makes for great comedy. We hung out for a bit afterwards and worked together a little on a joke he really likes but which wasnt yet firing on all cylinders. Lets hope “gorilla meat” flies tonight!
After stopping to chat to Paddy I realised Id lost Amanda and went for a pint on my own in the Library to consider my next move. Chatted briefly to someone and was a little disappointed that even in Edinburgh during the fest, you sometimes get the occasional odd look if you have a drink on your own. Reg was back at the place so I headed back for a chat only to be waylaid by the sounds of live jazz. The Jazz Bar has opened up on Chambers Street and is a terrific late night haunt. Leah Gough Cooper was heading up a young but really talented jazz group which I loved – had a great chat to a complete stranger. Im getting into jazz!