Last year Ivan Brackenbury hosted a special Christmas radio show in one of the hottest venues in Edinburgh, in the hottest month, with a full size Christmas tree and crackers for everyone in the audience each and every night. That was real dedication and preparation. What's more his story was excellent, he stayed almost completely in character and his gags were funny. This year he steps up to the prestigious Cabaret Bar (the room Frank Skinner won the Perrier Award in 18 years ago) and has had to add extra shows due to demand. What a shame it came a year too late. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a dreadful show, it's just a pale shadow of what it was last year.
Ivan is a "special" person who works as a small Hospital Radio DJ. The music he plays is completely inappropriate and very funny. Well, it was last year. This year gags are weaker and feel like they lack thought. By his own admission he has less music to chose from with this being his third year in character in Edinburgh. The first 10 minutes of the show are spent interacting with Justin Moorhouse which was nice enough but it is another sign he has ran out material and/or creative inspiration. The story is a lot weaker this year and includes an actress, playing an actress, which doesn't really work. During my show he apparently messed up the big twist and similarly has done the same on other days despite being several days into the real festival and the audience paying full price! The reason I believe it wasn't a work is down the reactions of the actress, she would have to be stunning to pull off the awkwardness and cracking up at the disaster in Ivan missing his lines.
So does anything make this show watchable? In actual fact yes, quite a lot. If you've never seen Ivan before then this will probably be your last chance. Okay that gags aren't all top notch but there are still some good musical gags as well as one liners. Near the beginning of the show he pulls out something he bought from Woolies (I wonder when that gag was written...) and as it stands right now, is the funniest gag of the Festival so far! Real gold! It was still an entertaining hour and the main faults are the high standard he set for himself last year (as I didn't see him two years ago). If he could get through a show without any unintentional screw ups then it might feel a little bit stronger. His ending is nice, all things considered. Bonkers, Special and Different - 8 out of 10 or four stars, it's just a shame it's not as good as last year.