Edinburgh Review: Phil Nichol – The Simple Hour
There’s a moment in Phil Nichol’s show where he asks if there are any reviewers in. I cowardly choose to keep my mouth shut, mainly out of guilt, as Nichol comes across as a really nice guy and there are a few funny moments in this show. Unfortunately though, it’s nowhere near enough.
It’s all just a bit chaotic, and not in a good way. Routines don’t really go anywhere, jokes and songs fall flat, and more often than not Nichol resorts to making funny noises and over-the-top play acting to mine laughs from the reluctant crowd. It’s never good when an unintentional air of desperation creeps in to the performance, and I definitely start to sense this during the show.
His career seems to have stalled somewhat since his big Edinburgh award win back in 2006. This new show is billed as a ’simple hour’ of stand-up and songs, ditching the big concepts and themes of his last few shows, in order to get back to what he does best i.e. being funny. This would be all well and good except that he seems woefully under-prepared. Much more effort needs to go into the writing in order to produce some reliably funny routines around which he can then be more spontaneous and playful. As it is, he seems to be just turning up and hoping for the best in a way that really doesn’t pay off. One particularly embarrassing moment sees him interrogate an audience member about whether he has ever masturbated about Jordan’s cleavage, which gives you an idea of the level that Nichol works on throughout most of the show.
To be completely fair to him, he does describe the performance as a ‘work in progress.’ However, if you’re going to play that card, it’s best to put it in the title of the show rather than announce it on the night. Overall, it’s a bit of a disappointment, as Nichol’s a talented comic performer, and could produce something a lot better than this if he put a bit more preparation in.