I first saw Phil Cool about 18 years ago as a teenager when he was on tour with Jasper Carrott (that's why I went to the show). I was quite impressed as I'd never heard of him before and wasn't aware of his TV show but he entertained me then. How would the situation be as my cousin born that year is now able to purchase alcohol and I am a seasoned comedy critic (wannabe)? [Deep gasp of breath] Not well. First off, the venue is a joke. Situated two miles from The Pleasance and one mile from the Assembly Rooms, it is buried behind multiple tram-works, down a side street, inside a hotel. There is practically no advertising nearby and I have not seen a single flyer or poster. So how do Club West describe their consecutive shows of Jazz, Comedy and Dance? The Best of the Fest. I don't think so. So thanks to some promoters with a death wish, 20 of us are lead into a room with 150 seats in (and that doesn't include large walk ways that could have easily made it into a 200+ seater venue. Almost everyone is in pairs, which is not really a surprise as tickets are £16 each (!) but he is part of Friends of the Fringe so I would guess everyone is here at 2-for-1 prices.
We've covered a lot so far and we haven't even touched on Phil's show yet. Doesn't matter, it'll only take a minute... Phil has always had a methodical delivery but in such a big room with so few people in this really doesn't help. He runs through his classic impersonations including his incomparable facial impersonations (he seems to alter the shape of his eyes for Bush compared to Blair). Unfortunately within those impressions he is quite light on jokes and certainly nothing more than a brief blurted ha-ha. His material hasn't change over the past 18 years and some of his favourites are performed for us. Including Clinton, Bush, Blair and Brown doesn't really make it up-to-date, for a start the first three have been away for all of 2009. There has been great debate as to whether this should be a 6 (my initial thoughts) or a 5 (my co-festivaler). Basically if the show was free and you had an hour to kill should you go and see it or not. Despite my initial generosity, on reflection, if someone offered KT free tickets to see it I'd tell her not to bother. That said, it might have been funny if you were high. Facially-excellent, Bereft-of-gags and Stuck-in-time (I know that's cheating on my three word summary but I don't care!). 5 out of 10 and my first one star show [FYI both Des Clarke and Lucy Porter managed to get 3 out of 10 independently or negative one star].