Don’t Panic, featuring Jim Bayes and Jake Donaldson, at the White Horse was an easy choice to go and see. Bayes has been consistently good every time I’ve seen him and Donaldson, although I’ve only seen him the once, was impressive with a well constructed set. Their venue, with its neatly aligned chairs, is located on Canongate on the Royal Mile, but unfortunately just that bit too far along to make getting passing trade easy. On the other hand, I can see the back of my accommodation from it and any venue that is a two minute walk away from home is a bonus. For a show that started at 0100 energy levels were buoyant and the audience surprisingly sober.
Jake Donaldson opened the show, doing a spot of compering, explaining the format and the rules. From this he chatted about past reviews, mentioning some less than generous comments on his work and then he gave us examples of past heckles received, which proved to be a real crowd pleaser. His set was fast moving and covered a lot of topics, but it never felt rushed. His themes included language, tinder, a sex story about the Muppets, worst dates, a friend in a wheelchair, memorials, a jacket and racism. His brief material on bouncers on churches conjured up a lovely image and I believe this could be made even stronger. There was a lot of exposition involved in the set up for the tale of his friend in the wheelchair, but the reveal justified this investment in time. His delivery was at a relaxed pace, which was in tune with a show in the early hours and his Scottish accent was better than many attempts I’ve heard. Donaldson’s throwaway line about being able to drink whilst at work is one I’ve heard 3-4 times during the last two days and whilst it got a laugh, I think he is capable of thinking of something a little bit different to the herd. He held the room well and gained constant laughs from the audience, teetering on the edge of an applause break for a cracking line in response to a lady being from New York. This was a well written set.
Jim Bayes completed the show. Bayes is an interesting comedian, who has the swagger that one would associate with a #lad, but he also has a deeper sensitive side and it is easy to imagine him being pulled in both directions. He began with a few observations about the room, which gave his set a sense of the now and this went down well. He then described his conversation with a local lady, although his attempt at a Scottish accent still had a lot of Yorkshire in it, which could, with the right treatment be made into something. However, the comment that this lady made about his job, that of him being a sort of Banter Gypsy is a solid line and I shouldn’t be too surprised if that is the title of his next show. A lot of Bayes’ material is good, kebab meat was a big hit with the ladies, reverse begging builds up very nicely as does the Sofa, the 87 year old provides for a subtle callback and walking for some nice visuals. However, I felt that the quick literal definition of yoyo dieting was a bit too basic for his set. This is also a show that would benefit from a bigger closing routine, although in fairness, he did run out of time and so what I saw may not have been the intended ending. If it is, I’d suggest a rejig and closing with reverse begging, as this builds to a bigger climax. This was a nice set and despite being a work in progress it is well worth seeing. Bayes is a charismatic performer and his set complimented that of Donaldson, helping make this a show bigger than it’s component halves.