As we arrive – not quite late, but definitely the last people in before the lights go down, we are directed to the only free pair of seats in the room, which are not only in the front row but in the front row, by themselves, directly at the comedian’s feet and pretty much on the stage. Presumably when the Pleasance staff are describing these seats amongst themselves they are known as the “guaranteed to get picked on” seats.
After some negotiation we managed to secure seating in a less conspicuous setting leaving the seats of misery, doom and inevitable pisstaking to be taken by any proper late comers – poor sods – but as it turns out we needn’t have worried. Because Stuart Goldsmith is pretty much the nicest comedian in Edinburgh.
Goldsmith comes across as almost infectiously good natured, not only not picking on what were some pretty fair targets (a stag do, people walking across the stage to go to the toilet, etc) but going out of his way to put his audience at ease. Which is just as well, really, because this show is really quite difficult to watch.
It’s not that Goldsmith isn’t funny – he is, he’s very funny. But the content comes across as intensely personal and he himself comes across as deeply vulnerable. The subject of the show is anxiety and his own struggles with it, ranging from the elaborate strategies to deal with fear of flying to being paralysed by choices in a camping shop – in marked contrast to his ability to cope well in a crisis.
Goldsmith doesn’t come across as a basket case – far from it, he’s likeable, charismatic, funny and clearly successful – which makes his routine and what he reveals about the internal struggles he faces more poignant than you would expect going in.
This is an entertaining routine but what makes it interesting is the level of self-doubt that the comic is willing to admit to – which, ironically, shows the greatest confidence of all.