There’s a lot to love in Rich Hall’s gravelly voice and deadpan delivery.
If you’re not familiar with the comedian you might be forgiven for wondering what you’ve let yourself in for as you take a seat in the Speigeltent Palazzo and spy a guitar on stage. Hall enters looking not that far removed from someone from a Western. It’s the cowboy hat that does it and then his voice fills the role perfectly.
It takes all of a few seconds to discover that Hall is incredibly quick witted and funny. Lots of the gags and routines in this stand-up show are loaded with references to Scotland. There’s even a song about the Scottish referendum.
That’s right; this is comedy and music. It’s not the Hoedown which is music and comedy, that features a band and guest singers, this is just Hall, lots of jokes and some songs.
There’s also the audience. If a quick witted comedian has tailored his routine to the country he’s currently appearing in then it’s should be no stretch of the imagination to accept that he’ll tailor the show to his audience. Hall does this; rummaging for names and jobs among the crowd and pulling appropriate jokes and even whole songs from his catalogue in response.
I’d previous considered Rich Hall to be audience involvement safe. After his 2013 visit to Edinburgh that label isn’t appropriate. He’ll pick on you.
This was my second Rich Hall show of the Fringe. My first was the Hoedown in which I wondered why he hadn’t sold all of the seats and speculated that he’ll adapt songs for audience names and jobs rather than invent from scratch.
After catching up with the main stand-up gig all my speculation is confirmed. There is plenty of overlap between the two shows. Same songs. Same jokes. Same interaction. I don’t regret going to see both, I’m a fan (even with the audience safe label removed) but I can see why less loyal fans would be content with just catching one of the two gigs.
Overall? I enjoyed myself. Hall’s always funny and always smart. His worldview as a travelled and wise American is wonderful and I suspect casts him as an unsuspecting and probably unwilling ambassador for his country.