Minor spoilers: This review includes discussion of some of the content of Vladimir McTavish's 2023 Fringe show The End Of The Beginning Of The End.

AT the top of Vladimir McTavish’s new Fringe show he says that the world has until 2050 – but he doesn’t. He’s not showing many signs of slowing down though, so the Scottish comedy veteran will probably be at the Fringe that year too.

Either way, his 2023 offering is a show called The End Of The Beginning Of The End. It’s a title which neatly ties in with the 2050 countdown and the photo of him holding a clock which has been used to promote the show – and which stands next to him on stage throughout.

The clock shows one minute to midnight – to signal how close to armageddon the world is, McTavish says. But really, the content of the show does not engage with that idea much at all.

The longest joke he tells is about getting the wrong train to the airport in Germany. The story is well-crafted and the punchline smart, but quite what any of it has to do with the beginning of the end is unclear. That disconnect was a running theme. 

McTavish opened by asking where in the world audience members had come from, even quipping how he could run through the whole globe country by country. As you would expect, the show was internationally attended. But McTavish then made jokes packed with references you would have to be local to understand. 

I don’t mean the “Andrew Tate” joke, which landed well despite the two American ladies who were loudly unsure who the misogynist social media celebrity was. Instead, I mean references to Stockbridge and somewhere else in Edinburgh that is apparently not like Stockbridge.

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Or the joke about the “wrong train to Glasgow”. People who regularly commute between the two cities might get it, but the Americans likely didn’t. And there’s a whole debate to be had about whether anywhere that “wrong train” stops is quite as far in the wilderness as McTavish makes out. It only crosses the central belt after all.

But McTavish is a pro, with decades at Edinburgh and god knows how many imitation fringes across the world behind him. That depth of experience shows.

He commanded the attention in the room and hit heights with his eye-watering story about attempting to wax his nostrils with something called “Nad’s for men”. The unexpected props only helped here.

He also told a few political jokes, which were on the nose and fell firmly on the right side, punching up at those in power rather than down. Overall, McTavish’s easy Glasgow charm came across and while – judging by past awards the Scottish comedy stalwart has won over the years – his 2023 show is not his best effort, it will more than prove he deserves another slot next year. 

Vladimir McTavish is performing his show The End Of The Beginning Of The End at the Stand’s New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) every day until August 27 except 15.