Edinbourgh Festival '99: Reviews

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Phil Nichol

The Pleasance, Venue 33, 8.45pm (0131-556 6550), to 30 Aug

For a second you're thinking, "Oh my God, here we go again." Phil Nichol is a Canadian, NOT an American, and for the opening of his show he's going to get heated about this, just like every other Canadian you've met.

Luckily homely surrealism quickly takes over from the bleating sincerity, and redeems this ultimately very entertaining evening. Nichol has theories about everything, from God and the Big Bang to rude answers to give to insensitive abortion doctors, and his Irvine Walsh shadow puppet show goes to areas of comedy you thought no one would reach.

This is a bizarre comic mix, going from the heartfelt to the groin punching in seconds. You keep on thinking it's getting teeth-grittingly genuine, and suddenly the bitchy punch-line saves it. The overall experience is rather like being served with fairy cakes, only to realise they contain razor blades.