Reviewing student stand up can often be a difficult proposition. For the most part it’s rare that you get the opportunity to review a full length routine, as a lot of the stand up that we see it town is a work in process, with people trying out new material in venues like Sandy’s Sundown Stand up. While the overall experience of Sandy’s is frequently great, the individual quality of people’s sets can occasionally be hit and miss – and the last thing you want to see is someone bomb on stage for 40 minutes. Luckily, Joe Irvine’s On The Rocks show Alternate was utterly charming and borderline fantastic.
An absurdist, darkly comic take on 20 something life, Alternate shows that Irvine has charm of a young Daniel Sloss – taking us on a Mr Toad’s Wild Ride of job interviews and relationship wisdom that ends with him slithering across the floor. Irvine clearly has a strong understanding of his own comic appeal and has weaponised it to great effect. While a lot of student comedy can feel occasionally derivative, Irvine’s routine was a breath of fresh air.
This said, the set did have some issues – a number of jokes, such as with a segment on audio representations of paintings, either dragged on too long, or weren’t as strong as other parts. A bit on “a joke for myself”, may have played better to an audience of comics, who would have enjoyed it’s metaness, but is perhaps less suited to a typical audience. The set may also have benefitted from more of a through line – with the transitions from segment to segment occasionally feeling clunky. Irvine’s warm up act, Tom Caruth, while certainly amusing, had a set that seemed more like it was in the work shopping stage rather than being a final product.
Yet if you missed Alternate, you missed out. Laugh out loud funny, anarchic and genius in equal measures – Irvine has the potential to be the best stand up to come out of St Andrews in a while. Although the show wasn’t perfect, and could still use some tuning up – Irvine’s potential as a stand up comedian is undeniable.