Comedy meets strong drink in a Fringe World edutainment special.
A Glaswegian comedian with a passion for whisky, Alan Anderson delivers his show with evangelical zeal, raising fervour among existing believers and gaining a few converts along the way.
The pinkly-decorated tent venue of The Pink Flamingo at The Pleasure Garden is selling out with the promise of not only international comedy talent but also free whisky. Even with a late night start time, this is a winning combination.
The bottles and glasses on the table at the rear of the stage indicate that the free booze may not be an empty promise, and the appearance of Anderson himself in a delicately printed shirt, short kilt, sporran, Birks and thick-framed glasses imply the man possesses a sense of humour. The presentation is a lecture delivered with bursts of stand-up and bouts of audience participation. A rapidly delivered spiel starts with the history of whisky, the etymology of the word itself, the cultural factors that lead to its invention, the general glorious inventiveness of the Scots, the dubious intelligence of the Irish and the general ignominy of the English.
Various characters are established in the front row, to which he returns to raise laughter from time to time, and enthusiastic hecklers are drawn into discussions only to be more effectively quashed by a performer well-used to lubricated audience members. In the course of this, he also pours measures of Johnny Walker Red Label for much of the front row, finishing just before one of his night’s targets. The differences between types of whiskies are discussed, the manufacturing process and important tasting considerations. The tasting methodology involves further audience participation and banter, with responses elaborated on and humorously discussed. Once Anderson is satisfied that we have appreciated most of his exhortations on the finer points of whisky, he sets up a tasting feedback session featuring interpretative dance, before closing with a blind taste testing that demonstrates many of his earlier points. As we leave, we are offered samples of single malt to seal the deal.
Anderson is a fine judge of comic timing, he has quick wits and a filthy imagination, all of which are wonderful. His passion for whisky is genuine, and he has refined his script to a tumbling patter. However, his determination to deliver so much information leads to a very dense show, not quite as much hilarity as the sneaking suspicion that there will be a test later on. This onslaught of information is not so much leavened as further compounded by his occasional rants about lazy review writing and distillery tours, all of which may work better over a more extended format than in this race-pace tent event.
One for fans of whisky, banter and Scottish accents, Whisky for Dafties is a novel addition to this year’s Fringe World festival.
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5
Alan Anderson: Whisky for Dafties
Presented by Ha Ha Comedy
Performed by Alan Anderson
The Pink Flamingo, The Pleasure Garden, Northbridge