For space reasons, The Scotsman shortened Claire Smith’s 4-star review of Charlie Chuck’s Laughter Lounge at the Edinburgh Fringe. This is the un-cut version; it was part of a piece reviewing various cabaret shows…
I think it was when I was sitting in Lili la Scala’s show and started dreaming of a martini that I realised there was something missing in all the cabaret shows I’d visited.
So I was delighted when I stuck my head into Charlie Chuck’s Laughter Lounge, (filed under comedy but subtitled Cabaret, Absurdist), and clapped eyes on a working bar. Hooray.
The demented legend that is Charlie Chuck bursts onto a stage brandishing a lump of wood and proceeds to play/demolish a drum kit, which at one point seems to be fighting him back.
To begin with he’s barely articulate, thumping his chest, stamping, walloping said bit of wood on the floor and making cat noises. When the speech does start to form it begins like speaking in tongues before developing into shouted jokes and eventually philosophical observations and bursts of tangential erudition.
This is a moveable feast and tonight’s turns are Barnaby, whose speciality is wildly inaccurate impressions of famous actors – Michael Caine as a giant winking slug and Peter O Toole as a foetus.
Then Pat Cahill kicks off with a couple of brilliant songs. That Dog is not in any immediate Pain and Too Much Chicken a rap about chicken restaurants performed to French techno music.
When the absurdmeister himself returns to the stage he is laughing so much he can barely maintain his onstage anger, so he steadies himself with a long rambling story about a crab then bursts into his heart thumping wood slamming foot stamping exercise demonstration Chuckaerobics.
Wayne the sound technician, who must have seen the show seven times already, is creasing with laughter. And you can’t get any greater tribute than that.