This late-night party at the Underbelly is a Fringe long-runner, back again with its mix of “awesome comedians, sexy hosts, controlled anarchy and booze”. When it works, it can be a great way to end a day of excessive theatregoing.
But it can be hit-and-miss – and, unfortunately, on the night I attended (after a seven play day when I was really looking forward to some diverting humour), there were several more hits than misses. Of the guest acts, comedienne Tanya Edwards opening the bill was moderately amusing but sketch duo The Stockholm Syndrome fell flat, not helped by sound desk problems, baby-faced Mark Burroughs lost control of a drunken group of suited, post-work hecklers, and the frightening drag queens of Drags Aloud made flatulent work of a disco lipsynched spoof of Titanic.
Host Alexis Dubus did his energetic best to orchestrate a “We Will Rock You” audience singalong and rescue what he and his co-host deemed the “weirdest Spank ever”. And spirits, and laughs, were enormously lifted by Paul McCaffrey (whose full-length show I’d happily see), with his observations on cash machines, misleading adverts and the wrongness of shopping for a Mother’s Day gift at Ann Summers. But by the time the interval came at 2am, many in the crowd – including me and my friends – were more interested in getting back to our beds than taking a risk with any second-act, and too often second-rate, comedy.