The Fringe Bar is packed to the gills for Best on Tap Stands Up, a little out of the ordinary for a Sunday crowd, but this is a Fringe show and this is a Fringe crowd, and Best on Tap are an excellently well-established performance company, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

More well-known as an improv company, four of the members of Best on Tap are here to perform standup comedy for us this Sunday eve; Geoff Simmons, Mary Little, Nicola Pauling and Tim Croft. I’m usually quite an admirer of Best on Tap’s improv style – truth-based improv that creates beautiful scenes that are emotive and grounded – so I’m interested in where this style will lead us via the form of standup comedy.

Our first performer is Mary Little, who brings us a set about being a funeral director, and all the little moments that stem from that in her life. Her wordplay is very clever and she brings a bright and likeable start to the show.

Nicola Pauling is up next, where she chats about aging and her book club – ending on a series of little skits about a woman having a secret family. You can really see her dramatic theatre roots as her delivery is powerful and almost hypnotic for the bulk of the set.

Our final performer of the night is Tim Croft. Tim weaves us a tale of his parents’ funerals, eulogies and his cat’s wanderings in Mt Cook. His set, while understated, is perhaps my favourite of the night, with his jokes absolutely hitting the mark.

Geoff Simmons wearing a magnificent feline shirt and dazzling pink pants acts as our MC, and it is his position as the MC I perhaps question. Tonally more abrasive, with dated jokes (ragging on pronouns in 2023, really?), his performance is at odds with the rest of the cast and he garners the two audience groans of the night.

In all, I think Best on Tap Stands Up is exactly what I expected – a musing on mortality, with cerebral, honest storytelling and a taste of some darker notes. Best on Tap is a company I’ll always make time to see.