A man sat outside the Artista Cafe, drinking and taking in the sea views he was peaceful and ponderous like the evening’s atmosphere. If you’ve ever been to the cafe you’ll know the basement has a garden shed vibe with its low wooden benches on the outside of the box-fit room.
Al Lubel would be performing here tonight and I was anticipating a great show after hearing he previously won £2,500 and the Amused Moose Award Judges Prize for best solo show, Mentally Al, at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe.Tightly packed into the corner, the stage was set, for Lubel to perform his set underneath the fairy lights wrapped around the hanging leaf decor.
The ponderous man from outside, all 6’4” of him with his big, bushy beard and fuzzy shoulder-length hair entered the room looking (and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this) homeless. He said: “Al Lubel won’t be long, he asked if you could all turn your phones off.” The audience were a bit confused as to who this man was until he unzipped his brown jacket and announced that he was Al Lubel, and that wouldn’t be the last time we would hear his name that night.
He started off quite slow, in hindsight, it felt like he had to start slowly to build up to the more comical gags later on. But the reward for patiently waiting through the build-up wasn’t worth it. He did have the crowd on his side from the start as the introduction ice-breaker seemed to have worked.
Then he went on to make-fun of his homeless appearance and how he wouldn’t look homeless if he stopped spending money on rent and spent it on clothes the gag being he wouldn’t look homeless if he was actually homeless, which was the best of his opener. Lubel then performed his wordplay gag, which was him repeating his name for what felt like eternity and saying ‘Al Lubel’ is his real name but his stage name was ‘AlLubel’ like Beyonce or Sting, it had some of the audience laughing but was quite tedious. Halfway through his hour-long set Lubel had an intermission for himself. He said ‘why should the audience have an intermission?’ He was the one doing all of the work.
The second half of the show mirrored the first. The Al Lubel constant wordplay carried on, it wasn’t getting any funnier and was all very predictable. Maybe it was American comedy or just personal taste. A gag that was naturally funny was his impressions of his mother, who he said he wishes was dead, which was controversial and out of nowhere.
Lubel described himself as a spoilt child who had his mother do everything for him like shouting at her from upstairs to come and change the channel. He would mimic her Jewish motherly accent and say “I’ve got to stop doing this, Alana” in a whiny American/British voice. Overall Lubel showed promise, but never felt like he got out of third gear, the start of jokes got a laugh but there wasn’t enough material backed up to keep the laughs flowing.