Shaggers is one of the many comedy shows that help make up the ‘Free Fringe’: a fun, slightly raunchy hour of laughs, showcasing some of the many talented stand-ups on display at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. The format of the show is similar to many others at the fest: four comedians are introduced by the evening’s compere and do a 10-minute set that will make you giggle and, they hope, persuade you to come to their individual performances. The slight variation in the format of Shaggers, is that all the material is based around shagging, or in many cases, an amusing lack of it.
The ‘shaggers’ performing change every night, but this particular evening gave us Aidan Jones, Matt Price, James Nokise and Jinx Yeo, all held together by Nik Coppin. Coppin is the perfect man for the compering job, introducing the acts with what seems like genuine enthusiasm for their sets. He also gets some of the biggest laughs from the audience in his short stints between performances. He is particularly adept at engaging with his audience (at one point he even bought a couple of them drinks), a key skill for any comedian tasked with putting a crowd at ease before they’re hit with the barrage of keen joke-tellers.
The first of these performers is Aidan Jones: a self-proclaimed “cocaine baby” with a relaxed charm. He provides a few laughs, and copes well when a couple of jokes don’t land well on the fairly small audience. It must be said that for a night of comedy based around sex, the show is fairly low on the raunch-ometer, but Jones does his best with some schtick about inserting foreign objects where the sun don’t shine.
The night progressed well from here, with standout performer Matt Price milking his middle-age and overweight frame for all its comedic worth. His jokes have a slight relentlessness to them, particularly when he engages with the audience. Where Coppin was adept at getting laughs out of the crowd, Price teases the idea before, somehow linking it back to what he really wanted to talk about anyway. It is slightly jarring, but he gets away with it by providing the night’s most consistent string of laughs.
The show’s venue, by the way, is the perfect fit for the more adult material (Shaggers will be on at Victoria Street’s Espionage as well); Maggie’s Chamber is an intimate venue housed in the upstairs of the Three Sisters pub on Cowgate. For the festival, the Three Sisters becomes the ‘Free Sisters’ and Maggie’s Chamber plays host to a variety of ‘Free Fringe’ shows, making it a key part of the festival for anyone watching their wallets. Maggie’s Chamber feels as though it has the makings of a riotous night.
The penultimate comedian to enter the fray is New Zealander James Nokise. Performing with plenty of energy, he is the one act who tries to pull things into the edgier side of comedy. Touching on race, drug-use and more graphic sex, there is the sense that Nokise is struggling to delve into the areas he really wants to in this short topic-contained set. His performance is not without laughs, but my guess is that his full show is more suited to his talents than this short showcase.
Last up is Singapore’s Jinx Yeo. He is, perhaps, the most hit-and-miss act of the night, with some lulls punctuated by some very funny moments. He has an endearing stage persona, slightly withdrawn and stilted but charming in his own way. Like all the acts, he comes across well as he asks you to come to his solo show. Despite potentially seedy subject matter, all of the Shaggers show has a pleasantness to it that is encouraging both for its future shows and for the individual performances of these comedians.