Bill Bailey is an intelligent and talented man. Combine his ability to play almost any instrument known to man, a keen insight on the world with his style of comedy and a healthy dose of whimsy and you have a show worth fighting to get tickets for.
The Festival Theatre is a great venue. Easy to get too, with easy public transport, a modern front and yet all the charm of a grand old theatre for the stage this is a superb venue to watch any comedian. Bill Bailey, however, seems to take that further and seems to be entirely at home on the Edinburgh stage.
The comedy comes thick and fast. It’s hard to spot when Bailey is riffing off the audience and when he’s following a plan. It’s fun to try. There is a plan, make no mistake about that, as the jokes circle back on sometimes and reference something that you in earlier hysterics.
This is an educational encounter. After laughing their heads off the audience may well discover they know more about anatomy, recycling and, of course, a little more about birds.
It’s worth reflecting on how well the audience gets on with Bailey. Yes; this is a comedian who’ll talk to his audience – he might even poke them with a long pokey stick – but he’s never mean to the crowd. At our gig, one mid-week special in early June, you could even see some of the audience just had to get up and boogie while Bailey honked out tunes on his famous collection of horns.
Bailey sometimes makes references to previous shows. Audiences can clearly leave an impression on him too. I’d heard some of these stories before, in fact, a few snippets of Qualmpeddler seemed familiar but that’s alright. No one loses marks for being consistent. He seems to like Edinburgh and the Edinburgh audience. Of course, this could just be the knack good comedians have to get close to their audience, perhaps every city feels this way, but I like to think that in shows elsewhere in the UK Bailey might be telling them about his encounters in Edinburgh.