‘I’m a working class lad. I know what it’s like to drink Blue Nun and fuck fat birds.’ Nope, Jim Davidson hasn’t softened his attitude for his Edinburgh Fringe debut. His booking at the world’s biggest liberal arts festival has been a hot topic, and he knows it, opening with, ‘You’re probably wondering why I’m here,’ and, later in the show, when he has some audience members crying with laughter, adds ‘I’m much better than you thought, aren’t I?’
And he really does get them laughing. Technically, the 60-year-old comic is a pro: his timing and delivery are spot on, with the relaxed rhythms of an old-school veteran. But the material itself is shamelessly crude and out of touch.
If there’s any excuse to adopt an accent or perform a cheap impression, the former ‘Big Break’ host will take it. Scottish-Indian, Polish, deaf people and young, black Londoners are all covered, with little more to each joke than the impression itself. ‘I’m fed up of the fucking PC bullshit,’ he claims as he explains getting rapped by Big Brother earlier this year for similar behaviour, and it shows.
Whatever his morals, they’re skewed. Women are only ever talked about in terms of their looks, and he has no problem with telling aforementioned jokes about ‘fat birds’, yet apologises to a woman in the front row when he drops the c-bomb.
‘No Further Action’ takes a more intriguing turn when it hits the titular subject: Davidson’s arrest on suspicion of sexual offences, under Operation Yewtree. The charges were dropped, and it’s interesting to hear his side of the story. But, again, his logic is warped. Apart from Savile, Davidson reckons Yewtree is a ‘witch hunt’. His proof? Well, Freddie Starr was arrested, and he was really funny – he used to play hilarious pranks on his dancers, like locking them in the dressing room before they were due on stage, or nailing their shoes to the floor. ‘Well, you can’t lock up a man like that,’ he concludes.
So why is Davidson in Edinburgh? He’s here to ‘rejoice for the first time’ after a terrible year, he says, and say thank you to his fans that have stuck by him. Oh, and his book – with the full Yewtree account – is available for purchase after the show.
‘Jim Davidson – No Further Action’ is at Assembly Hall, 9.15pm