Even though this is his third Edinburgh Fringe show, Iain Stirling looks like a fresh-faced rookie. Wearing skinny jeans, smart shoes with no socks, he still looks like a lanky teenager. It’s a pleasant surprise, then, that he is so naturally composed while performing. He delivers an energetic hour of straightforward stand-up, showing remarkable ease in front of a packed audience. Despite his youthful appearance, he seems to have an instinctive talent for doing live comedy. It’s quite annoying, really.
There’s a fair amount of political material in the first half; being Scottish, but living in England, he has plenty of opinions on the upcoming referendum. The divisive content splits the room for a moment, but he plunges on regardless, and manages to get a lot of laughs from it. After that, he turns to more conventional ground, telling stories about his recent break-up. This isn’t a particularly original subject for a male comic doing a Fringe show, and after a while the gags start to feel somewhat ‘safe.’ There are occasional dark flourishes that point to more personal and honest material, but soon after that comes jokes about meeting Jedward. It’s hard to imagine safer targets for comedy. Saying that, the Jedward stuff is legitimately funny, perhaps because of his genuine ire towards the bequiffed pair.
The subject matter may feel a bit familiar, but Stirling always manages to win over the crowd anyway, by being naturally funny. Some punters may wish that his material had more bite to it, but everyone in that hot room in the Pleasance seemed to walk away satisfied. Anyone seeking stand-up free of gimmicks and artifice will find lots to enjoy here.