The Comedy Arcade – live at the Camden Fringe, Water Rats, Kings Cross, Sunday 8th August

Cor this is a late show! 9:30pm on a Sunday is when I’m usually cowering in existential terror of the week ahead. So it was nice, instead, to be at the Water Rats – historically, one of Kings Cross’ most “anything can happen” venues – to enjoy Vix Leyton and her Comedy Arcade.

The Comedy Arcade exists primarily as a podcast, but here three guests (Rich Wilson, Robin Morgan, and Robin Ince) have been lured out of the audio ether to chat in front of some drunk people in north London.

It’s essentially a panel show, and I have a deep prejudice against panel shows, due to the impending televisual Event Horizon towards all of them being hosted by Jimmy Carr’s head in a jar by 2077 [1].

But live, I love a conceit, and Leyton’s is a fun one, whereby topics emerge from a glued-up tombola (somehow) and comedians compete, in an extremely arbitrary fashion, to tell the best anecdotes.

To be honest, with such a great line-up we don’t even need the questions: for example, we learn Ince’s views on Toby Young (“He thinks he looks clever if he looks like he’s shitting out his ideas”) without him even being asked “who do you think pretends they need to wear glasses just to look clever?”

The eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the show had exceeded its EU quota of Robins (one per panel show).

But thank Brexit for Robin Morgan. He warmed the cockles of my non-Starsailor heart by revealing his deep, possibly ironic hatred of Ince for being the comedian people kept thought they were booking when they were, in fact, booking him.

Fortunately Vix was sat between them, so fisticuffs were narrowly avoided.

On the same theme, I enjoyed Rich Wilson’s tale of initially gigging as Richard Wilson, and the Father Ted-esque “I don’t believe it!” hilarity that inevitably followed him. Rich, you did well to part with the ‘ard.

Over an enjoyably frenetic, free-ranging 45 minutes, we learn important life hacks (skip the middle hour of Midsomer Murders and always get the first round in); tragic tales (has there ever been a choose your own adventure book for stealing choose your own adventure books?); and about the majesty of doing a musical with midlands legend Sue Pollard, who sounds exactly as fabulous as I always hoped she would be.

My favourite moment of the night was probably Robin Ince’s newest fact, about the orb spider dying at the point of ejaculation. “I know a lot of women who would go for that,” quips Vix.

Actually, this show could do with a bit more Vix. I know she’s the host and the facilitator, but with three – admittedly lovely – men, two of them both following the diurnal and eternal path of being a Robin, it would have been good to get a bit more Welsh, female variety.

But this is a minor quibble. These are not lads (though I bet Rich is often mistaken for one). They are nerds. And only nerds would proudly end a show, as the younger Robin does tonight, with the fact that David Attenborough is older than sliced bread.

And this, as a way to spend a Sunday evening, is the greatest thing since it.

**** ⅓ out of *****

Vix Leyton’s Comedy Arcade is available via all good podcast providers. You can catch it in live show form at the Edinburgh Fringe at the Counting House from 25-29th August. Tickets here.

[1] This seems a terribly badly timed thing to have written on the day we find out Sean Lock has died. Read Harry Hill’s wonderful tribute here.

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