Phil Kay is a well-known presence on both the Scottish comedy scene and the Fringe in particular, but his familiarity has not soured the sometimes infectious energy of his comic presence. Nearly thirty years in the business have yet to slacken Kay's enthusiasm for standup or deplete his imagination.
Kay practices a style of stream-of-consciousness observational humour that has maybe fallen out of fashion in an era of standup that increasingly favours precisely-phrased storytelling and the killer punchline. Yet Kay's rapid-fire, multiple-choice approach to comedy often serves his material well. In any given 10 seconds of one routine, there might be several variations on the same joke, but instead of lessening the humour through repetition, they act almost like an orchestra tuning up until the final, ultimate laugh is delivered.
The appeal of Kay's persona—and its ability to carry the crowd from the off—is for the best; Lighter Hour is, as the name suggests, pretty light, and feels a bit more insubstantial than a hour of comedy should. His drawn-out, verbose style—entertaining though it may be—leaves the show with only a few solid anecdotes and reflections.
However, this may be attributed to the prolongued periods of improvisation into which Kay diverts, and which he has more talent in than most of his peers, proving that the strength of observational humour often lies in the originality of the observer. Lighter Hour may be a work in progress, but its progression is good fun to witness.