Frank Skinner, Edinburgh Fringe, 2023
Photo: Avalon
  • Comedy, Stand-up
  • Gielgud Theatre, Soho
  • Recommended


Frank Skinner: 30 Years of Dirt

3 out of 5 stars

The veteran comic returns to the Fringe with a reliably filthy look back on his life

Andrzej Lukowski

Time Out says

This review is from the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. ‘30 Years of Dirt’ transfers to the West End in 2024.

A more pedantic soul than Frank Skinner would probably have updated the name of this show to ‘31 Years of Dirt’ after it got postponed last year, or even ‘36 Years of Dirt’, given the title’s a reference to his stand-up career, which began in 1987.

Still, 30 years is approximately correct and (of course) a play on the lyrics to ‘Three Lions’, plus Skinner is not a pedant. Instead, he’s a formidably accomplished raconteur, whose late-blooming success, national treasure status and promise of a filthier live persona all conspire to make him still seem like a relatively fresh prospect for a man now technically past retirement age. 

It’s perhaps not a surprise, though, that ‘30 Years of Dirt’ isn’t a rigorously sculpted high-concept exploration of a new area of comedy. It feels like a man with nothing to prove flexing his stand-up muscles for fun. We get a smattering of extremely loosely connected anecdotes from throughout his life, a LOT of audience interaction – he is understandably transfixed by the fact somebody has brought their eight-year-old along and plonked them on the front row – plus a smattering of meticulously worked killer puns that he drops in to show he can. 

Still, if it’s laidback, it’s hardly tossed off. The section on his unease at an un-PC sermon delivered by a stand-in priest at his church feels perfectly illustrative of his longevity. He’s entirely honest about the fact he's a card-carrying Catholic, and lord knows it’s too late for him to give himself a woke makeover. But it’s his inescapable, excruciating awareness of what a hole the priest is digging for himself that really makes the joke – Skinner may have a mouth like a sailor at times, but he’s never been about blundering around doing a bit of blue: he’s much wilier and more thoughtful than that. 

Ultimately ‘30 Years of Dirt’ is not a show that’s going to change anybody’s mind about Skinner. It’s not a show in which he’s trying to break any new ground. It’s an hour of Frank Skinner having a nice time being the ruder version of Frank Skinner he’s allowed to be on stage, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what everyone in the room wanted (apart from the eight-year-old, who seemed to be having a legitimately bad time).


Gielgud Theatre
Shaftesbury Avenue
Rail/Tube: Charing Cross; Tube: Piccadilly Circus
£32.96-£110.52. Runs 2hr

Dates and times

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