Perhaps the most damning indictment of the smug, middle class liberal residents of Edinburgh at which Fin Taylor takes aim, is that there’s really no need for them to brave the teeming multitudes of the Fringe. They can instead be secure in the knowledge that the excellent shows they may have missed will inevitably reappear on the touring circuit. So, hello again Fin Taylor.
Last year Taylor, ‘gave up being left wing,’ for January, and it’s suiting him down to the ground not being a ‘whiny little bitch,’ any more. Built around the ending of a relationship – not as jarring a framing device for political comedy as you might think – Taylor uses his new position to probe and prod at the assumptions of the audience with impish delight, firing off effortless salvos at the lax attitudes and narcissistic virtue signalling that encourages complacency and lets cluster-fucks like Trump and Brexit in through the back door. Left-wingers who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary attract severe ire; as does the type of right-on hipsterism that dominates posh enclaves like Stoke Newington in London or Stockbridge in Edinburgh.
Always one to tap a zeitgeist – in the wake of the success of Get Out in the film world, his 2016 show Whitey McWhiteface seems remarkably prescient – Taylor has hauled the show up to the moment with material on the post-Weinstein minefield of gender politics and the #MeToo movement. This section is particularly near-the-knuckle and daring. That said, as with all his material, he’s adopting the role of scabrous iconoclast as a comedic weapon and wears this guise well. It’s a different approach to Geoff Norcott for example, whose on-stage opinions are so extremely right-of-centre they’re obvious satire. With Taylor it’s more difficult to tell.
Just in case he’s in danger of being taken too seriously however, he dips his toes into the realms of absurdity claiming that without white people and slavery blues music would never have been possible, and that ISIS got him laid. As much as the jokes, it’s the convoluted logic he uses to reach these conclusions that draws the laughs, and this laughter is abundant throughout.
A surprisingly relaxed presence on stage – often leaning against the back wall with supreme nonchalance – Taylor is a comedian with well-justified confidence in his ability to haul a potentially dubious crowd along with his musings. A bomb dropped in an echo chamber will be all the louder, and Taylor’s show is really a witty clarion call for real political engagement again, rather than hashtags and armchair commentary. There are a few jokes there just to niggle certainly; a bit about vegans for example goes for the most obvious and lazy punchline, and some of his claims are severe generalisations, but this is otherwise a thoroughly excellent hour of thought-provoking comedy.