Return of the Danish Bagpipe Comedian

Tue 18th – Sun 30th August 2015


Stasia Carver

at 09:04 on 26th Aug 2015



Return of the Danish Bagpipe Comedian is precisely what it says on the tin, and nothing more; I’m not sure what surprises I suspected would lurk behind the title, but they weren’t forthcoming. The novelty of a Danish man playing the bagpipes soon wears off, and we’re left with an hour of fairly generic stand-up that fails to inject any real humour into his piping.

This isn’t to say that Claus Reiss, the pipe-whirling Dane, isn’t amiable company. Utterly at ease on the stage and confident in his own brand of Danish charm, he has an easy and immediate rapport with the audience. Unfortunately, his prepared material is at best clichéd, from cheap sexual innuendo to worn-out ‘deep-fried’ jokes, and at worst tasteless: reverting to scatological humour is sheer laziness.

When it comes to the pipes themselves, his routine amounts to little more than ‘name that tune’; perhaps I’m missing something, but there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently side-splitting about listening to The Lion Sleeps Tonight or the Titanic theme being played on the bagpipes, however skilful the musician.

On this particular occasion, Reiss was lucky with his audience, a boisterous bunch easily pleased by cheap laughs – the cruder the better. While I was distinctly unimpressed by his constant barrage of lewd suggestions about the effect of his piping on the female members of the audience, the women he singled out (and their husbands) screeched with laughter.

Many revelled in the opportunity the Dane’s interactive style offered them to air their own dubious comic talent. I don’t know what Reiss had in mind when he invited one audience member to join him on stage and eat a Mars Bar in time to the bagpipes, but he soon found himself sitting in the audience watching a fifty-something year old Scot dancing the can-can entirely of his own volition. At another point, one woman began quite literally howling along to the bagpipes. Reiss evidently showed them a good time, but I’m not sure this particular group was representative of your average Fringe audience; they were certainly more easily pleased than most.

Claus Reiss claims to be the only bagpipe comedian in Europe, and I believe him. I can imagine that this comic niche he’s found works better in Denmark, where the novelty factor will take longer than five minutes to wear off; in Edinburgh, where buskers whirl the pipes at every street corner, Reiss’ charm isn’t enough to save his clichéd material.


Megan Erwin

at 10:24 on 26th Aug 2015



Return Of The Danish Bagpipe Comedian is pretty self-explanatory – this is a Danish man playing a bagpipe and cracking a few jokes for an hour. Claus Reiss is based in Denmark where he does most of his shows, and unfortunately his novelty stand up doesn’t translate well.

Reiss’ whole show is based on the oddity of being a Danish man playing the bagpipes. However, not only does this not seem terribly odd to me, but worse, there is nothing intrinsically very funny about it. Reiss seems to think otherwise, and therein lies the rub.

Frequent enquiries to the audience “does anyone have any questions about bagpipes?” come up empty handed, in spite of the presence of some strangely enthusiastic audience members, and the refrain of the show becomes “well in Denmark…”. But this isn’t very surprising – Reiss has brought his show to Scotland, probably the only place in the world where people are likely to know anything about bagpipes. He could have literally gone anywhere else in the world and his show would have worked better than at the Fringe. It’s all very frustrating.

Bagpipe renditions of Celine Dion, eighties German pop and the Star Wars theme tune have some sort of immediate comedic value, but nothing beyond listening to a loud squeaky instrument play something it’s not supposed to. This novelty – and any humour attached to it – has not only evaporated but left behind it a dry, barren land where laughter used to be after the whole has elapsed. For what it is, this really didn’t need to be more than half an hour, and jokes about the Loch Ness monster under Claus’ kilt fall on increasingly impatient ears.

The jokes in general are too far and few between. Most of them are inoffensive but unamusing (a man wearing a skirt!), but there were a couple dodgy ones about Nazis and Jews that weren’t funny enough to justify being included.

If you have some pressing questions about bagpipes that need answering, or want to know what Danish people don’t know about bagpipes, then whoever you are out there, I guess this is the show for you. If not, you can probably give this one a miss.


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