Stephen Carlin: Gambling Man (2 stars)

This article is from 2013

Stephen Carlin: Gambling Man

Reformed comedian jokes about the temptation to go back

Stephen Carlin’s slightly mumbling, hesitant delivery is part of his shtick as a slightly surly, dysfunctional Scotsman; but often in this show the hesitations just feel downright awkward as he visibly aches for a reaction beyond polite laughter.

His show is ostensibly about being an incorrigible gambler. It starts with the massive odds against any of us being born, and from there meanders disjointedly through some occasionally charming vignettes of boyhood obsessions with sweeties and sugar, to oblique references to the financial wrack and ruin caused by hardcore gambling. But as a narrative it doesn’t draw you into the heart of the matter – how it feels to gamble and why people – such as the now apparently reformed Carlin – keep going back.

It improves with time and an early exit by a sweltering audience member prompts an unscripted exchange that gets some of the biggest laughs of the evening, suggesting Carlin’s forte is in more of a chatty, compere-style area of comedy. But whatever your comedic style, jokes about women’s reverse parking and Irish drunk drivers are definitely passé.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 26 Aug (not 14), 6pm, £9–£12 (£7–£10).

Stephen Carlin: Gambling Man

  • 2 stars

The band performs pop and rock covers, including works by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks and The Monkees.