Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh


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The Independent Culture

Ever watched a stand-up and thought, ‘I could do better than that?’ The latest work from the brilliant, genre-leaping performer/ writer Ross Sutherland is a chance to prove it.

This is the story of one fateful night in 1983 when Joe ‘Pops’ Pooley, a terrible comedian at the best of times, literally died on stage. The show is a reconstruction of his final minutes with the audience roped in to play those who were there.

Seated on six tables, ticket holders are assigned their roles (and wigs and 80s accessories): most are hecklers, given cues to shout out a jibe of their choice but one per table has to perform Pops’ last routine. Every five minutes, the fatal shot is fired and, like a stand-up speed date, everyone moves to the next table to replay the scene, this time with new roles and a new Pops on stage. Each time, the script stays the same, Groundhog-style, but the heckles get funnier as the crowd knows what to expect.

It’s all very clever, a Choose Your Own Adventure of a comedy gig where the audience supplies the punchlines. And, although the ending is a bit of damp squib, it’s a lot of fun. How funny it is, however, depends on you and your fellow punters. Go prepared with some killer lines.

To 27 August (0131 556 6550)