Phil Nichol

ABC, Glasgow, Sat 24 Mar; the Stand, Edinburgh, Sun 25 Mar


Many comedians bare all on stage but precious few take it quite as literally as Phil Nichol. Although born in Glasgow, his accent is Canadian, and his wide-eyed, manic, positive energy most definitely not a product of the Central Belt. Flitting from left to right, speedily strumming a guitar, mimicking crazed sex with his girlfriend - this is a theme park in human form, only pausing to rearrange the tousled hair atop a sweat-drenched head.

Other comedians use an extreme physical presence to cover up for thin material, and the incessant jigging and gurning becomes tiresome. But Nichol’s mind runs just as fast as his muscles, spilling out funny anecdotes gleaned from delightfully odd experiences. In The Naked Racist, he speeds through four wild days in Amsterdam (originally planned as a quiet break), involving drugs, mercenaries, teenage metallers, Anne Frank, S&M, pacifism and black paperboys. The routine won him the if.comeddie prize at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, 13 years after he was nominated for a Perrier with droll Canadian musicians Corky and the Juice Pigs.

If the hyperactivity and unabashedness cools down off-stage, then the narrative of The Naked Racist suggests how his drive manifests itself when he’s not performing. What, thinks Nichol, can I do that’s slightly more unhinged and bonkers than the last mad thing I did? And then tell everyone about it? Or perhaps it’s less calculating. Perhaps it’s just that the time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down never comes.

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