Edinburgh’s live comedy credentials are growing at a pace. With increasing choice available to tourists and locals, this Punchline Comedy Gala offers something slightly different again. For a start, the venue is Central Hall, located in Tollcross in the South West of the city (the first time Punchline Comedy have used this venue). The geography is of note because while Edinbugh’s centre isn’t massive and is easily traversable, for Saturday night comedy you’re looking at a relative schlep from the environs of Tollcross (made up of affluent culture vulture districts), to the city’s main clubs in the New Town and the Old Town. So here, Punchline is serving a ripe and underepresented – in comedy terms – part of the city.
The venue is large, lofty, airy and much grander than the grungy cool of clubs, plus it’s BYOB, so while the ticket price is slightly more than line-ups elsewhere, it’s likely to come in at an excellent value night out. The audience demographic is also more varied and in the comfort of a spacious cabaret style layout and glitzy loos, this is a night to which you can bring the parents, or even grand-parents. Host Anna Devitt, wears sky high glitter heels, full length glitter jacket and glitter make-up adding to the high-end glamour of the event.
In terms of the comedy, it’s a mixed bag of earthy west coast humour from Glasgow comics Devitt and Jamie MacDonald, Canadian Chris Betts‘ funny take on life and Nish Kumar‘s super, critically-acclaimed political satire. The balance is excellent, proving to be well curated by comedy producer Rosalind Romer.
It is a little debatable however, whether Devitt has quite the right vibe for this show – at times the compere sections are a little flatter than the rest, perhaps because she seems more of a club-style comedian. Jamie MacDonald proves to be a real crowd pleaser, with his irreverant look at disability and day to day experiences of being blind. It’s fresh, well constructed material, brilliantly delivered. Nish Kumar is expectedly hilarious, adding in some site-specific jokes for good measure – a very high quality headliner indeed, with on point, topical humour.
This setting and lack of bar won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the majority of attendees it’s a total breath of fresh air – and with Punchline Comedy offering such strong line-ups, it’s definitely a highlight in the Edinburgh comedy calendar.