The review was originally published on Fringe Review
Glasgow stand up, Stephen Buchanan brings his stand-up show to the Edinburgh Fringe. Winner of the BBC New Comedy Award in 2018, his debut show mixes observational comedy with sharp story telling and the reality of living with his mum and a refugee.
The show takes place on the first Friday of The Fringe, in The Cellar at the Pleasance and it’s a sell-out.
As Stephen Buchanan takes to the stage his small stature and youthful face make him look younger than his 27 years. His voice, however, is that of a much older and bigger presence. Its warm, full bodied and confident and with just a hint of Glasgow grit.
Indeed, one of the striking things about Stephen’s show is his confidence in his own ability. It’s not arrogance or conceit, just the self-confidence of a performer who knows what he’s doing and that he’s good at it. We are there to see him and there is never any doubt that it would be otherwise.
The brochure entry describes the show as a mixture of observational comedy and sharp story telling. This is an accurate description. The observational comedy doesn’t just leave us with one smart observation, but builds and develops, linking and joking as we go along. Whether the object of the anecdote was big or small, significant or not he makes it funny. The audience loved it.
It’s easy to believe that he could read out his mum’s shopping list and we would still be laughing at it.
As for the stories, they are well thought out, honed and crafted and engagingly and pleasantly delivered. There are self-deprecating jokes a plenty. His love and respect for his mum shines through, even when she forms the subject of the jokes. It is a similar story with Baby Dove.
Somewhere along the line Stephen has inherited an open and caring outlook. This underpins the comedy. His is an open and engaging world, one where people matter and with all the hope of youth.
A couple of times he veers away from the observational and storytelling and into the political sphere. Which in short intervals the audience went along with. It’s clear that there are strong political views bubbling under and it was whilst discussing some of these themes that the audience response was more muted.
It wasn’t long before Stephen bought us back on track.
Whilst the audience was mixed in age, the majority were Scottish. This may suggest that the warmth of the audience response was due to home field advantage, but the quality of the performance and the strength of the material would work anywhere in the country. The crowd loved him, the applause at the end was long and sustained. Based on this performance his receipt of the BBC New Comedy Award would seem justified.
Stephen is young, talented and bright. He has all of the necessary comedic tools to hand and surely, must be on the cusp of greater things. His demeanour and presence suggest TV will come calling and that next year’s venue will be significantly larger. Perhaps he may even end up moving out of his mum’s house.
If your wondering where to spend your time and money at the Fringe, this talented young comedian would be a great place to start.