Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Written for FEST

Paul Daniels and “The woman who is restoring the economy of Scotland singlehandedly”(that’s Debbie McGee to you and me) are bringing some old-school variety charm to the Fringe. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow is a family-friendly hour that feels like you’re settling down in front of the TV in your slippers, except that here the presenter occasionally talks to you. While his material feels slightly dated, Daniels is lightning-quick when it comes to audience interaction. In fact, he engages so much he often gets lost in his own tangents, an issue he cheerfully acknowledges.

It’s all in the best possible spirit and any jibes at audience members are done so in the most gentlemanly fashion. As such, latecomers get it in the neck but the London riots, we are told, are not to be made fun of. In the face of some newer comedians this may feel tame, but tonight’s giggling audience clearly lap it up and the old-school appeal does seem to make Daniels all the more likeable.

His magic feels fairly rudimentary (apart from the head-achingly tense finale) and when he jokes about having got it wrong he’s in danger of having us take him at his word until he reveals the trick’s winning last twist. It’s not really the magic that’s the centre of this show and it seems Daniels knows this, performing around only five sleights of hand and sensibly filling the gaps with the popular banter that has clearly drawn this eclectic and appreciative crowd.

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