What do you get when you put the comedian’s boyfriend in his eye-line? Some rather uncomfortable (for said boyfriend especially), though ultimately engaging, stand-up…

On Wednesday night, Joe Irvine showcased his “Alternate- A Stand Up Comedy Show” in the atrium of the Byre Theatre to a packed-out bar as part of the town’s On The Rocks Festival. With able side-kick, Tom Caruth, whose opening act set the tone, most notably his attempt at accents was something to behold, for forty-five minutes or so Irvine in his first solo show took what was a very receptive audience on a bizarre excursion into a sphere of one-man divorces and salmon-babies.

As someone who isn’t overly familiar with the St Andrews comedy scene, it was an eye-opener (on this showing at least) to what seems to be a small but impressive branch within university theatrics. People do racket on about the difficulties of stand-up comedy- the isolation of one’s own material and the crowd, no composer or playwright to blame when all goes horribly wrong- but both Irvine, who won the St Andrews Heat of the Chortle Student Comedy Award 2017, and Caruth, another Sandy’s Stand Up regular, appeared relaxed and assured under the lights, when jokes went swimmingly or failed to do so.

Alternate had been promoted as absurd and it hardly fell short of such a bracket. Incoherent babbling and one-sided discussion abounded on topics from family, mental health, gay relationships, getting jobs and a new, faultless business venture of existentialist postcards. Heads dropped (in a good way!) when the show finished with Irvine lying front down on the floor, the result of an umpteenth impression of himself closing the routine a foot shorter.

It was, overall, a fun way to spend an evening and it must be recommended that comedy devotees among the student body should take the chance to see what is on offer from your peers here or down in Edinburgh- supposedly a Fringe show is in the offing!

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