Edinburgh Fringe Review: Steve Hall, The Stand

Steve Hall

****

We all know about the “dead dad” shows in Edinburgh by now don’t we? The sad ones that tug at battle-hardened award judges heart strings? Well, Steve Hall’s show Zebra takes the opposite approach. It’s about the joys of being a dad. It might not win him any awards but there is plenty here to bring a smile to your face.

Hall has gone for the lo-fi approach when it comes to illustrating his stories. Instead of powerpoint presentation he has had family photos blown up onto cards. I’m not sure how this will go down at the O2 Arena, but it works perfectly well in a small club.

Life has thrown some very funny stories at Hall. Partly because he has a habit of staying up late and blowing his wad on the internet (not like that). He, for example, paid far too much to have a portrait of his progeny painted to be part of a mural in perpetuity. As one would expect, the results are hilarious. 

Of course there is plenty of comedy to be found in bringing up babies, though maybe it takes someone with Hall’s keen mind to articulate the sheer delight on a sprog's face the first time they taste ice cream or discover that there are two layers of biccies in a biscuit tin. Not all children are perfect, just your own, and Hall has a great yarn about a relative’s child who pushes him to the brink of red-misted rage.

While most of this is about Hall's experience of being a bumbling dad, his own father gets a mention in the highlight of the show, an extended anecdote about a childhood trip to the studio where the Muppets was being filmed. Monochrome family snaps from the visit are exquisitely dissected. Some of the gags are predictable, but many are completely unexpected.

The mix of self-mocking stupidity and sentimentality works very well. We’d expect the stupidity from someone who used to be in sketch combo We Are Klang, but the soppy asides are more of a surprise, though I guess that’s part of growing older. You can’t rely on bum jokes all your life. The result is a warm, fuzzy show that builds to the cutest of climaxes. 

Until Aug 30. Tickets here.

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