Paul Merton's Impro Chums

Pleasance Courtyard

This must be one of the most popular shows on the Fringe. Paul Merton and his colleagues Richard Vranch, Lee Simpson, Suki Webster and Mike McShane are guaranteed full houses of devotees keen to see their favourites performing in the flesh.

This makes sense in that when you watch improvisations such as Whose Line is it Anyway? on television, there is always a sneaking suspicion that it isn't real. Wouldn't it be easy to plant people or suggestions?

In Pleasance Grand, the quintet genuinely generate great comedy from words shouted out by audience members or provided by some of those waiting in the exceedingly long queues outside the venue.

The games vary little from year to year. To warm everyone up, there are stories spun around the players in a contest to the metaphorical death.

The audience suggestions of various types make up the core and allow each of the performers to show how quick-witted they are. In particular, this time around Lee Simpson seemed to be on top form repeatedly making even his colleagues on stage laugh.

Paul Merton is a consummate performer too and knows how to keep audiences happy. Long may this comic pleasure continue.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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