“Stamptown Comedy Night” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

**** 1/2 (out of 5)

The Fringe boasts several late-night showcases around Edinburgh where comedy fans can find stand-up, burlesque or some combination of the two. None of these variety hours curates chaos quite like Stamptown can.

With Zach Zucker presiding as master of ceremonies in character as horrible throwback stand-up comedian Jack Tucker, he’s both in sync with and simultaneously at war with his tech team, who blast sound effects at him and summon Dylan, the show’s photographer, roller skater, and hype man with his own hype men and merch, rallying the crowd to the sound’s of Jason Derulo’s “Ridin Solo.” Never have so many ridden solo? Try not to think about the paradox. Try not to think, period.

While some elements may recur from night to night (particularly when it comes to Tucker’s schtick), everything else is off the wall and off the rails from the jump.

For this year’s Fringe run, Tucker has been aided and abetted by “Spanish fboy” (Josh Glanc) who strut-dances onto stage, clutching a plastic jug of milk, and always proving himself the perfect understudy to Tucker without needing to say more than a few perfectly chosen words. There’s also the frantically frazzled Pleasance Forth manager, Erin (Erin Farrington), who’s trying her best to keep Stamptown from violating any rules or regulations.

One night might feature a juggler. Another a circus troupe. A third night a daredevil who, for his big closer, disrobes and sets his penis on fire?!?! Former Fringe Best Newcomer Natalie Palamides showed up for the third weekend, and in her first appearance, emerged from the womb of Karen Gillan (yes, that Karen Gillan), and while still tethered to Gillan via extended umbilical cord, as a sloppy naked baby, almost immediately began telling jokes she’d written in the womb. Zoe Coombs Marr killed with her Dave routine. Olga Koch and Huge Davies entertained with a duet.

Of course, when you’re curating this much chaos for a month’s worth of weekends, not everything is bound to work. An impromptu stand-up comedy contest featuring actual comedians missed the mark. A silent conductor miming hand jobs might’ve provoked a response with his big finish, but was it the best response?

But even when it misses, Stamptown never skips a beat. It’s the only variety show you’ll be feeling FOMO over the next day while watching the Fringe’s Instagram stories.

Stamptown Comedy Night runs through Aug. 26 at Pleasance Courtyard Forth

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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