TITLE: Stephen Carlin

VENUE: Lawrence Batley Theatre

By Barry Gibson

TALK about high expectations.

You’ve got a lot to live up to when Stewart Lee – the thinking man’s stand-up – labels you “one of the 10 best comedians in the world ever”.

Glaswegian Stephen Carlin, pictured, carries that mantle into this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

And this week Huddersfield punters got a preview of comedy’s next big thing at the Lawrence Batley Theatre.

Does Carlin live up to the hype? Just about, I would say.

The bearded 34-year-old came on stage and meandered through a 50-minute set loosely based around crime.

There were some really good moments – including Carlin’s obsession with Sherlock Holmes and the way that whiskey brings out his paranoia.

And he can improvise well, bantering with the audience for a good few minutes about After Eight thefts in Salendine Nook.

Carlin has a pleasant, slightly shambling on-stage persona. He banters with the crowd in a gentle way – rather than the naked aggression which some stand-ups use.

Carlin is clearly a very good comic – but he was operating at about 70% capacity on Thursday night.

A section about working from home petered out almost before it began while the show came to an abrupt halt on 50 minutes without a big finale.

But that shouldn’t be too surprising.

The show was billed as a warm-up for the Edinburgh Festival and it had that feel.

In sporting terms, it was like a sparring match in boxing. Perhaps Edinburgh will get to see the knock-out blow.

But in the meantime, Huddersfield is happy enough to have seen some of Carlin’s shadow-boxing.