Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Markus Birdman - Son of a Preacher Man" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

While not exactly outside our comfort zone, we don't normally go for out-and-out stand up comedy at the Fringe. Rightly or wrongly, I tend to assume that the good stand-ups are all on well past our bedtime and that someone in a 7pm slot will be more miss than hit. But after seeing Markus Birdman we might have to re-evaluate our thoughts for next year.

Birdman's set is themed loosely around the absurdities of religion and the religious, but also touches on fatherhood, right-wing attitudes and his relationship with his own father (the preacher of the title). He's an immediately engaging character and the audience are very quickly on-side, and despite his voiced concerns of losing some along the way as he picks off targets for offence one by one, the audience stays with him throughout.

Not that there is anything really offensive here, at least not to anyone other than the fiercely closed-minded religious. Some may find a few of the gags in poor taste, but that doesn't make them any less funny for the rest of the audience. And any accusations of prejudice can be quickly thrown out - although Christianity bears the brunt, Birdman dishes out the comedy at the expense of pretty much everyone. There are a couple of elements of the set such as the budget airline segment that stray a little from the central themes and instead go for some cheaper laughs, but they do hit the target.

In addition to a well honed routine Birdman has great rapport with the audience and is happy to encourage responses without fear of becoming a target.

This was pretty much an hour of solid and genuine laughter and at times I was left with tears in my eyes. If the finish had been just a little stronger, and if he'd stuck around a little longer to take the applause, I could easily have found myself on my feet.

Markus Birdman
is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 19:00 until the 27th.