From the moment he storms to the stage of the Pleasance at the EICC, clad in a shocking pink kilt and bouncing around like an aerobics instructor, Craig Hill’s latest Fringe show Bottoms Up! is a high-octane experience. During his hour-long set, Hill takes aim at topics like sexuality, class, nationality, and masculinity with his trademark snarky demeanour, biting wit and a delivery that never seems to dip below 90 miles per hour. Hill’s frenetic energy ricochets around the room, zipping through his audience like forked lightning; the full force of which is rarely accurately conveyed on TV.
However, Bottoms Up! is not simply a man in pink having had too many cans of Red Bull. Beneath the façade of improvisation, there’s a comedian who has honed his style in rough and tumble venues and has made it to the main stage through years of hard work.
As anyone with a passing awareness of Hill’s act will know, he is not one for those with Victorian sensibilities. Bottoms Up! is absolutely saturated in smut and filth of the finest and most ebullient vintage. Hill makes himself the most powerful man in the room; finding the straightest and butchest men in the audience and making playthings of them. In a less skilled comedian, this could come across as resentful or even lecherous but in Hill’s capable hands it has the feeling of a particularly cutting roast.
There are several standout elements in this stellar stand-up show. Hill’s writing and comic timing are excellent, as are his powers of observation and his use of music is phenomenal. However, it is Hill’s accent work that turns a good show into a great one. Not only is he brilliant at mimicking such diverse accents as German, American, Kiwi, and Northern Irish but is gifted at using this talent to reinforce a punchline.
Bottoms Up! may not be highbrow or particularly deep but in terms of belly laughs and cackles, fired from the barrel of a pink machine gun, Bottoms Up! absolutely delivers. Hill has been a Fringe staple for many years and, based on this latest show, it’s easy to see why.