Punchline Comedy Night (4 stars)

Punchline Comedy Night

Nish Kumar heads up a strong bill of comics focussing hard on their own thing

Given modern comedy's predominantly atheistic tenor, having a gig in a church might seem marginally perverse. But with the sweatboxes that most circuit comics play during both August and all year round, the spaciousness provided by Central Hall in Edinburgh's Tollcross area must have felt like a breath of very high-ceilinged air.

Initially, it felt as though someone from up above might have been having a chuckle with host Anna Devitt's microphone giving off a horrendous echo as she asked 'can you hear me ok…….hear me ok……?' But thankfully the technical gremlins were quickly ironed out and her jolly banter with various tables of punters (some friendlier than others) kept things moving in between the three acts who all used their stage-time on a particular theme.

Canadian Chris Betts made crime and punishment his key topic, with wry observations on Scotland's not-proven verdict and, in referencing the Emmy-winning OJ Simpson drama, how he would be unlikely to fare well in a People v. Chris Betts scenario. Given that he's billed as 'Britain's premier blind comedian', Jamie MacDonald may always be expected to deliver material about his life without sight. While this may eventually be a comedy pit with a bottom, for now he's got rollicking stories such as the prank he's dreamed up as vengeance on his local council's less than urgent ways. There's a gleeful air of unsentimentality about the Glaswegian's act as he muses over spending most of his day not having a clue where he is and being passed around from person to person.

As you might imagine with headliner Nish Kumar being a staple on Mock The Week and presenting The Mash Report, politics is high on his list of stand-up priorities. But rather than plying us with more echoes (this time of the left-leaning chamber variety), Kumar has the natural ability to concoct his own spin on affairs with his awkward tale of meeting Nigel Farage on the night bus being a particular treat.

Seen at Central Hall, Edinburgh

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