Magnus Betner, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
Des Bishop, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh
Max and Ivan, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
26 August 2012 12:00 AM
If comedy is the new rock 'n' roll, then Magnus Betner may be its Lou Reed: deadpan, downbeat and determinedly difficult. The Swede tells us he is a "fucking superstar" in his home country, though it's hard to tally that with the jaded figure who explains he couldn't be bothered to give his show a name. "People would go to something because of the title? How stupid is that?" he seethes. Duly, his set is austerely gimmick-free. A vitriolic jeremiad sees him weighing in on numerous "horrible, tragic" news stories – his preferred kind – with provocative one-liners and skewed sermonising. Given the ground covered, it's inevitably a mixed bag – his rundown of the Aids "hierarchy" was as trenchant as his analysis of the Batman shootings was glib. But, in an hour that inspires as many awkward silences as laughs, his uncompromising commitment to serious humour is a perversely admirable thing.