Innes McQuillin

Edinburgh Fringe review: Pete Firman, Trickster

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The Pleasance is comedy central. With 17 performance spaces dotted around its tight jumble of buildings and courtyards, shows are going on all day, and with the resultant crowds, there’s a huge buzz in the area.

There’s a buzz too in the queue to see Pete Firman. He’s been on the telly and he’s back in Edinburgh for an eighth year. If it sounds as though he’s built a decent career for himself you’d be right. In the world’s most crowded comedy market, he filled over 300 seats on a sold out night.

Despite knowing Pete’s penchant for including audience participation in his tricks, I took the risk of sitting in the front row for the close up view it afforded. Magic remains the backbone of Firman’s act and he proved himself a skilled practitioner, seamlessly blending classic card tricks, mind-blowing illusions and dangerous stunts. For that alone, the show is a must for magic fans.

While I’m clearly not magician’s assistant material, the people who Pete got up on stage appeared happy to be there and their participation added to the evening’s fun and laughter.

But there’s more to Pete than magic. He patters impishly round the stage while keeping up an endless stream of patter. It’s reminiscent, a few expletives aside, of a variety performers’ repartee. It’s somehow old, new, funny and endearing in equal measure.

The undoubted highlight of the evening was Pete’s stinging put down of a drunken heckler. I’ve never seen it done better. It deservedly earned Pete a huge round of applause.

Firman concluded by humbly thanking the audience for coming to his show. A small gesture, but if he’s back next year, there’ll be a queue to see him.

Date of live review: 4 August 2014 @ Pleasance Courtyard

Click to read all our Edinburgh Fringe reviews so far.