If no-one really excels then there have still been a few laughs for a low ticket price – and a bigger name headliner to round things off.
Last night’s offering needed that safety net of low expectations.
There were several nice touches and the odd act who sustained over their whole spot, but overall it was a night to put down to experience.
Which is what Sian Bevan needs if she is to make a success of the compering role. She was innocuous, never scintillating and failed to stamp her mark on the room. Her delivery felt hectoring, even when simply drumming up applause for the next act. Nor was there any of that generosity of spirit the best comperes give to the rawest newbies.
Of those new acts on show, Richard Hunter was the only one to really shine. He has great stage presence and sustained an opening riff on how his own name was the butt of jokes at school. It will be interesting to see if he can work up the same laughs from less vulgar material. My guess is that he will.
Hunter’s biggest asset was his ability to read and work the room. A luxury not available to those trying out new characters, such as Steven Halcrow as “John Stychovitch”. With a less discerning audience, his angry, violent delivery would have gone down well. Last night he just killed all the comedy, dead.
Elsewhere, comics who had reasonable notices during the Fringe, such as Mickey Anderson and the duo of Hitch and Mitch struggled to find form. The laughs were there, it was a question of sustaining them.
At least there was a half decent send-off from headliner Darren Ruddell. His alter-ego Kev, a numpty plasterer channelling Ruddell’s own words, has the markings of a gimmick act, but he delivers it very well and with the hint that there may be more to come.