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So Comedy


Venue:The Free Sisters, 139 Cowgate Edinburgh EH1 1JS
Phone: 0131 622 6802
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: Maggie's Front Room
AUG 3-13, 15-27 at 17:15 (60 min)
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Following his sell out debut tour and appearances on ITV’s Safeword, C5’s Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and W’s Celebrity Advice Bureau, everyone’s favourite ‘guilty pleasure’ (Daily Record) returns with another of his infamous gossips. Join Stephen, support for Katherine Ryan on her UK tour, as he tackles everything from celebrity culture to politics, and from dating to working-class family life. "He has charisma, he has his own style, he has a wicked line in material and the ability to go off piste with crowd work that is achingly funny" **** (One4Review)

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News and Reviews for this Show

August 26, 2017  Chortle
Stephen Bailey is proudly ‘council estate’, growing up amid brassy, gossipy, strong working-class women – and all those character traits have certainly rubbed off on him.

But he never even thought of himself as having what might traditionally be classed as feminine properties until relatively late in life and still isn’t sure about such gender or sexuality based labels such as ‘straight-acting’ gays or ‘camp’.

Parts of his personality might fit that latter adjective – after all, he’s an outrageous flirt with the straight men in the audience, has a stinging line in waspish put-downs, and is not above the odd innuendo. But then he’s not fey and he boasts a black belt in Tae Kwon-Do. Contradictory?

Not really, he says, he’s not a gay stereotype, just ‘Stephen’ and most people in his life have always treated him that way, from the lads at school to his no-nonsense blokes’ bloke of a dad, which again might not be what the archetype suggests.

Such points means Can’t Think Straight gets involved in a conversation about gendered identities – but Bailey is keen to ensure any such discussion is in the background, secondary to outlandish stories.

Another point he makes is a call for more openness about sex, although that could scupper his act, which depends on a certain shock value, given reticence of polite society to talk about the subject. He draws visceral laughs when he speaks of how sex peels away the facade of suave civility we may all put up… a point he makes by gurning some hideous sex faces.

For all this, the stories in Can’t Think Straight are defined by class more than sexuality, with Bailey hailing the Northern working-class woman’s love of a bargain and regaling us with stories of all-inclusive holidays on the Costas. His time working in Sainsbury’s provides probably the most potent story, with its cast of middle-aged (and beyond) women vividly realised.

Some of these anecdotes are pretty light, but Bailey is an absolute crowdpleaser, getting the room howling with laughter. Much of this is down to his Free and Easy badinage – he’s a natural compere who builds an instant rapport; his love of being in the spotlight spreading through the room.

Purists might find him more personality than content – and he’s certainly picking up more and more TV work that exploits his frank, warm and larger-than-life character more than any gag-writing skills. But those endearing personality traits are magnified tenfold in a packed and sweaty Fringe venue, and intimacy that matches the tenor of his material. Click Here

August 22, 2017  Voice
A witty hour with fantastic adlib, highly entertaining stories and an audience crying with laughter.
Stephen's show was hilarious from the first line, and for the whole performance I don't think a single joke died. The audience provided some material and Stephen grabbed it with both hands. The whole (packed) room just bounced off him. He said we're all like a family unit at the start, and actually we really were by the end of it, so successful was he at making us feel included.
A few lucky souls got sucked in, and when you see the show you'll get why this is an apt choice of words!
Stephen presents a simple set-up, stand-up comedy plain and simple. But he makes brilliant observations about the world around us and his stories are cleverly entwined and witty. He tackles the challenges and perceptions of being gay in an open and honest way - bringing much humour to the packed venue. The stories cover dating, celebrities and culture from a very personal point of view.
He clearly lives by some advice he was given, and certainly was giving out; "Don't put limits on yourself". Such a good mantra to live by. Click Here

August 22, 2017  ScotsGay
Stephen Bailey has an enthusiastic audience falling about laughing for much of his show. He is well known for his appearances on ITV’s Safeword and for W’s Celebrity Advice Bureau. The packed audience were fully with him from the start. They gave him a rousing welcome and a very enthusiastic second welcome. He had a very good rapport with his audience, and they enjoyed his talk about his Radio 4 audience and his estate followers. He talked directly to a number of audience members who enjoyed the attention, though when it came to singles and gay audience members owning up I am sure many people were just that bit shy.

Stephen had a good deal of affectionate material about his father, whose skills are clearly appreciated, and who had some pithy and sensible things to say about sexuality. There were many references to sagging body parts that were much appreciated by the audience. He promised us many dick jokes, but there were maybe not as many as I had thought there might be.

Stephen has strong and important things to say about homophobia and gay rights, and becomes serious for a couple of minutes, which is excellent to see. Very good to see the Waverley cause also promoted. Stephen clearly has a solid sense of values as well as a very good sense of what makes an audience have a brilliant time and forget all their troubles as they roll about in helpless laughter prompted by this very skilled and extremely professional entertainer.

If you want to throw off the cares of the day at tea time, thus is the guy to seek out. Click Here

August 21, 2017  One4Review
It was back in 2014 when I first saw Stephen Bailey and back then he showed a lot of potential. His next show was even better, and now with his 2017 that potential has been fully realised.
Bailey is camp, he is flamboyant, he is occasionally bitchy, but boy is he funny and has enough stage presence and charisma for two comics.
From the onset Stephen was on his metal, creating energy in the room that never dropped. He was in control, taking the oversubscribed audience with him, making them laugh with a selection of stories and short sharp gags, and even in the more serious parts, making them think, thus done, back to the laughter.
Bailey has the knack of writing bitingly funny and well observed anecdotes, school days, a family holiday in Ibiza, Weightwatchers and speaking French are all top draw, yet there were other, I was laughing too hard most of the time to make coherent notes. And it’s not all scripted either, his crowd work is second to none, delighting in making obviously straight guys his target for a little bit of flirting, much to everyone’s enjoyment.
It would be impossible to leave his gig without a smile on your face. But beware. His room is not the biggest so get there early. He has to turn people away daily such is his popularity. Click Here

August 18, 2017  Black Diamond FM
I'm breaking my own self imposed rule by reviewing the same act three years in a row but catching up with Stephen Bailey has become a start of Fringe tradition for me.

Despite the venues and audiences getting bigger Stephen still greets his crowd at the door welcoming everyone into his world for a hour.

He acts as his own warm up guy with the right amount of self deprecating humour and charm to get the audience on his side before running to the back of the room to make his grand entrance. What follows is a hour of tales, some his and some embellished from others that has the audience poorless throughout.

Being a Free Fringe show the audience is varied with many not knowing what they are letting themselves in for but Stephen wins them over one by one testing their boundaries each time, prepare for some filth and sometimes brutal honesty but you'll let Stephen away with it because it's always delivered with a sly look and never malicious intent. Click Here

August 14, 2017  Fringe Guru
Head into Can’t Think Straight with a full drink, and you will be in genuine danger of laughing so much that you spill it. Stephen Bailey is an exceptional performer, and this hour of stand-up about everything from dating to working-class culture to his own family is well-written and achingly funny.

Bailey warmed up the audience with a charismatic introduction and continued to interact with us throughout the show, with shout-outs, questions, and comments – sometimes friendly, sometimes ruthlessly harsh but always hilariously funny. This constant engagement gave the performance an intimate feel, and offered Bailey a chance to ad-lib a little with excellent results.

I was glad that I hadn't brought my grandma, as a lot of the humour was blush-inducingly filthy – though that said, the vast majority of the audience fell outside the demographic I would have expected for this type of show, and seemed to be loving it. The jokes are crude, but not offensive, and Bailey is a very likeable performer. His material draws a lot on sweet and seemingly genuine stories about his family members, which endeared him a lot to the crowd.

The show took a surprisingly serious turn when Bailey addressed the issue of homophobia around the world, drawing the audience up short and making us stop and think. There was a moment of serious, laughter-less reflection, then Bailey cracked a joke and the room erupted again. It felt as if he were a puppet master in perfect control of his audience, bringing the mood up and down, forcing us to laugh whenever he wanted to and then to be serious when he didn't. Bailey has wonderful comic timing, and he changes the rhythm throughout the show – sometimes delivering short, snappy jokes, and sometimes building the audience up over a period of tension before realising with a brilliantly funny punchline.

There was an incredible energy throughout the hour, and Bailey seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. He wasn’t alone in that: the room ceaselessly resounded with laughter. It's clear that Stephen Bailey has a bright future as a shining stand-up talent, and I look forward to seeing what this comic genius comes up with next. Click Here

August 9, 2017  Fest
Camp, effeminate, flamboyant. These are the words Stephen Bailey doesn't want me to use to describe his show. Or, more accurately, he insists on them being starting points for an understanding of him, not the sum. A clear concern arises here of being pigeonholed as another camp comic, just the next in a long line of representations of homosexuality deemed acceptable by a mainstream straight audience.

Towards the end of the show he therefore delivers his message of self-realisation and tolerance. He notes he's come to terms with who he is, and doesn't care what others think. And he encourages the audience to do the same, seeing self-identity as something inescapable. Unsurprisingly, the audience cheers this exhortation for tolerance.

That said, there's no denying that the comedy here is powered by the camp, effeminate and flamboyant persona he presents. Gags often hinge on his superficiality, and he flirts with male members of the audience, bitchily dismissing their female partners. This is not to deny there's skill in doing this effectively, and one of the problems of the long history of camp comedians is to undercut the talent of those who do it well. Stirling adds a class inflection—often referring to himself as "council"—that supplies an edge to the worldview he presents. So there are tales of working in supermarkets and all-inclusive family holidays that complicate the persona he's concerned about being trapped within. In a culture energised by debates about identity politics his exploration of comic identity has considerable heft. Click Here

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