THE room is tiny, the comic is gyrating on a hapless front-row punter while bellowing the mating song of a doomed Mexican insect — and the audience is in fits.
* * * * *
Stand 2, North St Andrew Street /
Assembly Rooms, George Street
Yep, you’re at a Phil Nichol gig. The man’s so fast he makes Robin Williams seem languid, and his energy could power the Vegas strip.
He came to Edinburgh to talk heartache and loss, but the only tears shed during this frenetic hour are tears of laughter - ours and his.
Ricocheting around like a comedic pinball wizard, he caroms between the Wasp Workout and the absurdity of signs, to a discursive story that might or might not be about actress Helen Hunt.
There’s an exuberantly gross tale of bad oysters, a riff on pedantic dentists and another about his fecund family back in Canada. Throughout, his joyous pursuit of chaos is as physical as it is intellectual.
And then. . . when you think it’s all over, he reveals what has to be the Fringe’s best bargain: Your reward for coming to his comedy show is free VIP entry to the Cray Cray Cabaret at the Assembly Rooms.
Do not make plans for afterwards. Do not hope for an early night. DO join the giggling throng following Nichol — resplendent in red sequins now — as he dances and busks his way to George Street.
There you’ll met a stellar house band imported from Nashville. They’re called Good Company. They should be called Great Company: what a collection of talent! Nichol ran about welcoming his audience individually, encouraging everyone to let their hair down and then dance on it.
The fare varies nightly, as you’d expect. Among the treats on Sunday were Alex Edelman’s unexpected rendition of Rhinestone Cowboy, and Tiffany Stevenson’s magnificent set featuring reworked rap songs (girl can sing!) and a fabulous riff on menstruation.
Phil Nichol is on a mission to entertain us to within an inch of our lives. He’s succeeding.
Until 30 August