Luke Graves generates a lot of laughter in this debut hour. The guy can tell a story, he can set up a punchline, he can handle an audience. That’s enough to do the trick for the crowd of families and tourists here at Sweet, a venue which doesn’t usually see much stand-up. He’s offered everyone a money-back guarantee, and it’s very unlikely anyone will take him up on it.
It is very vanilla comedy he is delivering though. Graves has just got engaged (he went a bit cheapskate on the ring). He’s planning a wedding (he’s a bit shocked at the cost). He’s been on a stag do (he played a trick on his mate). These have been staples of routines since man first stood at mic and called it comedy, and he never departs from, or adds any distinctive flavour to them. “The other day I had a couple in who…” is a line that gets aired several times. There’s a lot of asking the audience: “Anyone married?” “Who’s got kids?” His best moment is a closing story about a couple having a barney on public transport. This is a club set hitting a mainstream crowd and scoring reasonably well, but feels thin as an Edinburgh hour.
Nothing of Graves the man comes across. Who is he? What makes him tick? What makes him angry? What makes him cry? We get semi-skimmed observation about how he disagrees with his partner about what milk to get, and muted material about how he can hear the neighbours having sex. At one point, he gauges an audience response and asks, “too much?” But it isn’t. It’s never too much. Graves is a nice, but very light comedian whose jokes never stray far into uncharted waters. The slight goryness of a friend with a missing toe and an encounter with a pregnant sheep are as outré as it gets, although the latter also leads to a ewe/you pun and a jibe about the Welsh, which is of a tone with the rest of the set.
There’s nothing wrong with the simple stuff, of course. Just because Richard Gadd is doing high-octane multi-media shows about sexual assault doesn’t mean everyone has to. But there’s space to play with nice guy comedy too, to make a virtue of it, even, and Graves, while possessing all the club comedy moves, doesn’t offer anything different with which to sustain a full hour. You’d struggle to pick this comedy out of a line-up. It has too few distinguishing features.