Phil Kay belongs to the stream-of-consciousness school of comedians. Sure, there are a few pre-planned milestones which demarcate the journey of his show, but the path in between them is delightfully freeform and dependent on the audience, the evening or whatever pops into Kay’s head at any single moment. While this can result in a less polished end product than your more traditional stand-up show, it opens up a whole can of worms of endless opportunity and signals the true talent of the off-the-cuff comedian.
Euphoric is a storytelling extravaganza, during which Kay recounts some of the choicer events from the past 12 months of his life in between swigs of beer from a bucket. Primarily, these anecdotes deal with a recent stint at the Perth Comedy Festival, his first brush with Airbnb and a series of aviation experiences at 35,010ft. It’s clear that he has the beginnings of a script for his show in mind, but he frequently digresses into subjects such as the insolence of a shark attack, the versatility of a 5p bag and the indignity of the Scottish dustpan and brush. It’s also abundantly clear from the audience’s reaction that these deviations are the highlight of the show and the crystallisation of his talent.
It’s not for everyone, admittedly, and Kay actually stops mid-story at one point to perform a fantastic imitation of one nonplussed audience member. For those who prefer their laughs to come with a set-up and punchline, Kay’s manic, madcap drivel might be overwhelming and unintelligible, but it’s the childlike euphoria with which he greets every shiny bauble that grasps his attention that makes him such a charismatic performer. An old hand at the Fringe these days, Kay hasn’t mellowed or matured with his 48 years, but his show is all the richer for it.