Where/when: Banshee’s Labyrinth, 16.20
Some stand-up in the Fringe is fantastically unique, original and inventively plays with the genre as an artform. Some does not.
Sadly, Luke Benson’s Big Night Out in the Afternoon falls into the second category. A show mostly about being out on the lash with some mates, I’m sure it would work fantastically as a shorter club set to a room of hens and stags but it certainly doesn’t sustain a full hour. The giant Geordie rolls through all the cliches; dual drink/sober personas, having to pay for rounds and the price of drinks in clubs and it never goes anywhere. You feel you can predict each punchline, having heard it before from a hundred other circuit acts and there is just nothing new in it.
In Benson’s defence, he isn’t helped by the sweltering heat in the room and the audience, so packed that some are sitting with him on the stage, enthusiasm quickly dies down after the opening flurry and are in nearly complete silence for the rest of the show. It drags on, some crowd work going nowhere and a bizarre section near the end where he just pours drink for an audience member. This has the potential to create a new, interesting dynamic but there are no jokes involved. He pours the drink, the guy drinks it and we move on with no mention.
It just feels like another wasted opportunity in a show full of them. Benson is clearly a skilled and charming performer, and certain punchlines show he does know how it’s done when he tries, but nothing is ever strung together into any sort of momentum and the laughs dissipate like a group of mates at the end of their own big night out.
The show is at least free, and might provide some laughs for a group of friends starting their own session, but anyone looking for anything clever or original may have to look the other way.