Sean McLoughlin: Kamikaze
One brilliant punchline after another in this worrying yet supreme hour
It's only natural to occasionally worry about Sean McLoughlin when he's in full confessional mode. But the greater concern is why the comedy world hasn't got its act in gear and helped make this man far more recognised than he is at the moment. He plays here to a modest number, but the laughter runs free when it should be awkward and hesitant in such an intimate and unforgiving atmosphere. But the feeling in this room is of being in the presence of a stand-up who is in complete control of his material at possibly the same rate as he's losing his way in the outside world.
Claiming to have nothing to say in a festival whirlpool where everyone delivers a message, McLoughlin finds something positive in this year of the 'celebrity death'. Admittedly, it's an entirely selfish standpoint, but it all neatly ties in with his trajectory of belief that he's being left behind in a culture which promulgates image and surface over raw talent. His comedy friends (the more successful ones at any rate) get it square in the neck too, and all this would sound like a much more bitter trade were it not accompanied by one glittering punchline after another. This staggeringly high success rate serves the dual purpose of keeping the mood reasonably light and devastatingly proving his point.
Only when he indulges in off-message banter with a man in the crowd who 'looks like God' and contributes chat about quantum mechanics and parallel universes does the show threaten to derail. But McLoughlin brings it all back with a flourish as he insists, in a gem of a routine, that he's directing his hate in the right direction.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, 8.30pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£8–£9).