Last year, comedian Rosco McClelland experienced the worst day of his life during his Edinburgh Fringe run. So this year he decided to write a show about his second worst day. The resulting hour – Magic Belly is a surreal selection of anecdotes about holiday camp talent shows, relationships and the odd real-life stories found in women’s magazines.
Glaswegian McClelland informs the audience he has an hour and 50 minutes of material written for the show so the set promises to be different every day. His previous Fringe outings included lots of crowdwork but this year’s set is packed with material, so the audience are safe from ridicule. When you arrive at your seat there’s a foam brick waiting for you, its function becoming apparent during the hilarious climax.
We learn early in the hour about the comic’s first on-stage experience – at a talent show aged eight when he discovered an unusual talent (the titular magic belly). No subject is off limits during the show – toilet habits, contraception and hiring a wedding photographer who is not used to human subjects are all mined for comic effect. McClelland is an energetic, physical performer – not easy in the incredibly warm venue. The energy rarely dips, even during moments of genuine sentiment and any lulls in laughter may be down to the material not quite gelling yet.
There is a ‘sad story’ buried in the show as McClelland talks about receiving awful news during last year’s Fringe but Magic Belly is not a gloomy hour or a ‘worthy’ show with a message. If there is a message at all it is that life can sometimes be a bit rubbish but without humour, what’s the point?
The hour is full of nonsense and laughs and is sure to improve with every passing day. The show comes full circle as the crowd gets to appreciate the magic belly in all its glory. Not a moment easily forgotten, that’s for sure.