As we file into Traverse 1, Tim Key is already pacing in wait. Pint in hand he eyes up his audience like prey. Not in a bad way, more in the manner of an eager, if slightly cocky, man in a bar on a Friday night, surveying his prospects. But of course, this is after all a Megadate and we are all on it with him.
Key describes himself as impish and mischievous, qualities clear from the outset in this flirtatious and wordless initial engagement. It’s personal: he makes direct lingering eye contact with many, maybe all, of us. And in case anyone wasn’t gripped from the top, shoving an overflowing, fizzed up can of lager under his armpit in his suit, does it, drawing laughs and gasps from us. We’re involved from the start, on side and invested. Key makes sure of that ahead of the story based journey that is Megadate.
As the title would suggest, this is all about Key’s woeful love life. Bound with poetry, the retelling of an absurd but charming first date and silent movie segments on the big screen, he offers something different to other stand up comedy offerings. It’s classy, artistic, clever and silly with visual gags and costume changes from one crumpled affair to another mirroring Key’s hapless take on his own life competency. We meet characters detailed by Key including Carol, his mother, who despairs of his scruffiness, and ‘his girl’ whom he pursues relentlessly to what would appear to be likely failure.
We are regaled with tales of his gym, poor eating habits and past successes, his prior Perrier award victory and collaborations with the likes of Steve Coogan are often mentioned. This is a comedian with an impressive back catalogue, though perhaps not reaching the dizzy celebrity heights of some piers, attracting a thinking crowd of punters (evidenced by the choice of venue, and presumably the venue’s choice of him).
There’s plenty of direct play with the audience too, as Key riffs on the interaction and delivers sections spotlit on the stairs at either side of the seating area. A consummate professional, our attention is held fully throughout the (comparatively for solo comedy) lengthy one hour and twenty minutes until the story’s climax is reached. There’s plenty of laughs to be had along the way, as well as the kind of hilarity that comes from the absurd and the incredulous. It’s no surprise that Key had already impressed London with this offering and as Edinburgh only gets two nights this time, he leaves us wanting more.