As with any show that is made up of multiple stand-up comedians, AAA Stand-up is quite a mixed bag. The majority of the jokes, provided by Sarah Iles, Will Hall and President Obonjo, land well, but there is a distinct variation between sets. Although all three dedicate a fair bit of their material to their sex lives, the rest of their performances come from different viewpoints and senses of humour. The crowd is often divided in their response, with most of the unifying laughter occurring during Obonjo’s piece.
The Cellar of the Pleasance Courtyard is not an easy venue to perform in. The audience sits intensely close to the stage, making it impossible for the comics not to pick on the front row. AAA Stand-up is on the heavier side of audience participation, with all three of the comics asking questions of the crowd at least twice, and over five times in Iles’ case. However, unlike some stand-up, there is no degree of malice with which the comics use the audiences’ answers, instead using them as a spring-board for their own self-deprecation – a much kinder way to include the audience.
Iles acts as MC, with her main piece at the beginning of the show and shorter material between the following acts. She bases a lot of her routine on audience participation, using career types as her first springboard and then covering a range of topics including divorce and Tinder. Quick-witted and funny, she is able to adapt her material to the crowd and propel the show forward.
Hall is the first of the two other comedians to be introduced. Discussing life as a boarding school student, his sexuality and coming out of the closet, Hall has a couple of slightly awkward moments where his jokes don’t quite take off. He does warm up as his set goes on though, and receives a few good laughs towards the end.
Obonjo then steps up to the mic. Receiving the biggest laughs of the evening, his entertaining portrayal of an ‘African dictator’ takes shots at modern politics. As much as his character could easily fall into pits of controversy, Obonjo manages to navigate his material cleverly and caluculatedly and receives an appreciative response as a result.
Overall, AAA Stand-up is an entertaining show, with three comics to suit all kinds of different senses of humour. A particularly audience-dependent show, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but its use of audience participation is among the better at the Fringe.
AAA Stand-up is on at the Pleasance Courtyard – The Cellar
At 19:15 until 26th August
Book tickets here
Image: Bound & Gagged Comedy