Edinburgh Fringe 2019: Rhys James review — An immaculately crafted set

Much is made of edgy comedians on the Fringe tackling taboos and pushing the artistic envelope. But when it feels as if you can’t move for silent clowns and shouty Brexit-bashers, it is refreshing to see someone simply being funny. Rhys James is a comedic sorbet, the perfect palate cleanser.

The boyish Mock the Week star’s latest show Snitch is based around him returning to his school to give an inspirational speech. Yet now in his late twenties he wonders what he can say to inspire them. All he can recall of school is learning to grow cress. He also worries that he is so fresh-faced he might be mistaken for a pupil.

Elsewhere much of this slick set explores the usual preoccupations of someone finally becoming an adult — relationships and finding somewhere to live. His horror at dealing with a hapless letting agent will strike a chord for many Londoners.

His polished-until-they-shine routines at first seem like a fairly random selection of off-the-peg observations. Gradually, however, they start to coalesce and prompt extra laughs. Things that appeared insignificant take on further comic relevance.

If you’ve only seen James on panel shows, you’ve only seen the bullet points of his act. This is an immaculately crafted set. He might not be bothered about meta-this and postmodern-that flights of fancy, but crowd-pleasing relatable entertainment rarely comes any sharper.

Until Aug 25 (0131 226 0000, edfringe.com). Oct 1-5, Soho Theatre, W1 (020 7478 0100, sohotheatre.com)