Susie McCabe – The Merchant of Menace (Glasgow International Comedy Festival) ★★★

The popular Scottish comedian, Susie McCabe, debuts her latest show, The Merchant of Menace, at the Glasgow Comedy Festival.

It’s no exaggeration that Glaswegian stand-up Susie McCabe is on somewhat of a roll. Profile-raising support slots for the likes of Kevin Bridges, Jason Manford and John Bishop, have led to her own popular solo tours. And her regular TV and radio show appearances mean she is, arguably, now one of Scotland’s most recognisable comics. 

Following her last two offerings, Born Believer and Femme Fatality, McCabe’s stated intention for this new show, The Merchant of Menace, was to keep it a bit more light-hearted. And it’s obvious that she’s having fun with the material, largely consisting of observations and musings on her life since her recent second marriage. 

McCabe is a good storyteller and can definitely land a line. Indeed, some of her punchlines are greeted by the kind of audience cheering that would make a rock star proud. 

Is she always funny, though? Well, on the evidence of this show, no, not consistently so. Too much of the material is clever without being genuinely amusing. And some of it is rather laboured. (Her take on the differences between the upmarket Balmoral hotel and a Travelodge goes on a tad too long, for example.) The packed audience was split between those who hooted along enthusiastically, but also a good many who sat there rather nonplussed. 

McCabe’s style is loud and confident, which works for her, but can also be a little exhausting over a full hour. Her closing piece on political class, however, was more measured and definitely delivered from the heart.

With her star very much in the ascendancy, when she brings the show to the Fringe later this year, it will be a definite ‘hot ticket’. McCabe is a good-natured performer and it’s easy to see her appeal. But with its variable laugh rate, the Merchant of Menace is only firing on half its cylinders. 

To paraphrase, all that glisters is not necessarily gold ★★★

Merchant of Menace Tickets

Susie McCabe - The Merchant of Menace will play the Edinburgh Fringe at Assembly George Square Studios from 31 Jul to 25 Aug, 2024

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