There should be no more queuing in the street, which really confused me, instead punters heading to the Music Hall are urged into the bar just by the entrance. You can’t enter the Music Hall without going through the bar. Commercially, this makes a lot of sense and I’m sure will start to claw back on that massive £9,000,000 bill.
Our Return of the Lumberjacks, a preview show, started a little late but not terribly so. The audience was modest but appreciative which is just as well because it’s the type of show that should attract big crowds. Stewart Francis, I think, has the ability to fill the hall himself.
The three lumberjacks are Craig Campbell, Glenn Wool and Stewart Francis. We had a guest lumberjack in the form Jimeoin. This surprised me and put a lifetime of avoiding Jimeoin at the Fringe to an end. Thankfully, I quite enjoyed Jimeoin’s time on stage. He took the middle crowd of style, mixing single jokes with storytelling – a contrast to Francis’ great one-liners and Glenn Wool’s monologues.
Craig Campbell acts as host for the gig and is very good at it. With his long hair, bushy beard and height he looks the most like a stereotypical lumberjack and there’s even the risk he might be intimidating. His energy, though, is infectious and he seems to exemplify the Canadian brand of judgement free welcomeness.
Campbell is a comedian who likes to talk to the crowd.
Glenn Wool is back from the States after having a bash at building a career over there. Indeed, he draws on his experiences in America and his life now as a traveling comedian for his routine. You can tell there’s depth to the man. I got the feeling, however, that his gig was the least practised or planned of the group. Listen out for the hoot from offstage that warns him when he has five minutes left.
Stewart Francis, perhaps now the most TV recognised face of the group, is a powerhouse of puns. His one-liners fill the last segment of the Return of the Lumberjacks and leave the audience with a belly full of laughs. He seems far more confident on stage than the others, empowered by his success and ready to grasp the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with both hands.
There’s swearing and the occasional sex joke. I think a 14+ rating is about right. Craig Campbell and Stewart Francis come out on top.
With a collection of comedians this strong it’s hard for the Return of the Lumberjacks to go wrong. I expect some overlap of material from single gigs with this one but that’s the nature of the festival. I recommend bagging a ticket while you still can.