Innes McQuillin

Edinburgh Fringe review: Raymond Mearns Is Growing Old Disgracefully

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Frequent flyering is a necessity for Edinburgh Fringe performers. With 70 seats to fill, Raymond Mearns is moving among the crowd thronging the historic Grassmarket area on a fine evening, doing the necessary, right up to showtime.

On the plus side, he’s in a great spot for footfall. The Beehive Inn sits in the shadow of the castle, among a pedestrian-friendly social hub of pubs and restuarants. The downside is the fierce competition for an audience from fellow comedians and attention-grabbing street performers.

Mearns opened his set with a cracking routine and the laughs were long and loud. His confessional, storytelling style and forceful personality demands attention and the audience were in his thrall from the first minute.

As the title of show indicates, much of the material centres on where Mearns – at age 47 – is in life and career. That the bulk of the audience were of somewhat tenderer years mattered not a jot. They laughed as heartily as everyone else because he’s that rare thing – a genuinely funny guy.

The “lively” audience – alcohol may have been involved –  interacted with Mearns on several occasions. To his credit, he went with it and his ad-lids and put-downs were out of the top drawer. He won every exchange, drawing laughter and applause, and looked to enjoy freewheeling as much as the audience. It’s easy to see why he’s in demand as an MC.

A good set and the ability to throw it aside and go with the flow are great tools to have in your bag. Mearns has them and he showed flashes too of a mastery of different accents and physical comedy. Properly packaged, it’s no stretch of the imagination to see him carve out a niche on radio or TV.

While Raymond Mearns was rewarded with a full house on the night, the appreciative audience were the big winners.

Date of live review: Sunday 9 August 2015 @ The Beehive Inn, Edinburgh

Click to read all our 2015 Edinburgh Fringe coverage so far.