Hero Worship ★★

The angry boater launches a sinker at Edinburgh Fringe in his obsessive new show

Joel Sanders, who has lived on a canal boat moored mainly in the south of England for the past decade, has two shows at the Fringe. One, called Angry Boater, is about living on a boat with hypertension, few practical skills and against the advice of his late father who told him: "Jews don't live on boats." He has been doing it for five years and it is well polished by now. The other, Hero Worship, is still a work in progress.

Sanders, 52, the founder and former manager of the Comedy Bunker in Ruislip, west London, who started stand-up comedy 30 years ago, introduces his audience to a dozen or so of his long list of heroes. All happen to be men of a certain vintage and many are clearly lost on the younger members of the audience.

The anecdotes are designed to offer snapshots into the lives of the famous, the semi-famous and the not-so-famous, as well as an insight into the phenomenon of hero worship and are a bit hit and miss.

Joel Sanders with one of his heroes, Robin Williams, San Francisco, 2000

Joel Sanders with one of his heroes, Robin Williams, San Francisco, 2000

Sanders' backstage encounter with Billy Connolly as a student in Oxford is sweetly told, and his onstage interview and Soho restaurant trip with Jim Davidson – no longer everyone's favourite comedian, as he acknowledges – is perfectly agreeable, but there's also a sense of scratching at the surface of fame. Particularly in his anecdotes about Norman Wisdom and Jimmy Carr, which fizzle out disappointingly.

His Michael McIntyre impression, though, is excellent, and the tale about Mark Lamarr and Sanders' "legendary water gun routine" is deliciously embarrassing and insightful, though perhaps not in the way he might wish.

Maybe the lack of sleep in his apartment in the student-friendly Marchmont area of Edinburgh is partly to blame, as at one point the angry boater gets a bit shirty with a jabbering member of the audience. Perhaps it's because he was coming down with the Fringe lurgy. After all, the Free Fringe side of the festival can be gruelling. Still, the comedian who was in a bunker is now in the loft, so things are at least looking up.

By Lee Levitt

Hero Worship runs until Sunday 25 August (exc. 14 & 21 Aug). 4.45pm. FREE. Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD. www.edfringe.com