Edinburgh Festival Fringe veteran Ian Stirling returns with his new show Touchy Feely about a range of stories from when he antagonized the armed forces by not being Al Murray to complicated post-referendum Scotland. Stirling’s show is hit or miss with an improvised feel that sometimes works. Stirling has sold out his last three Fringe runs and been nominated twice for a BAFTA. The young Scottish comedian is a delightfully dirty and fun performer, however his jokes are just flat this time around.
Comedians have a pretty loose dress code which is fine except when the audience can’t focus on the jokes wondering how he got into those skinny jeans. Stirling establishes good rapport with the audience indulging in decent banter with several audience members going back and forth. He is skilled at improvising and using observational humour in his show to some extent. Overall there does indeed lack structure hurting the performance and creating the feeling of being on an out of control bus. Jokes feel watered down and just don’t quite hit their mark. Stirling’s delivery feels lazy and like he forgot to do his homework before coming on stage.
Touchy Feely is far from Stirling’s best show with jokes that aren’t quite there, lacklustre delivery and only a few really funny moments. The show is nearly sold out on this particular night, but that appears to be based on his reputation for previous shows rather than the quality of his current one.