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NEWS & REVIEWS 2016

This page contains the news stories and reviews for The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016...  Checking back on this page to find out what's happening, and which shows are the ones not-to-miss....

Click here to see the highest rated shows from the 2016 reviews

December 31, 2016 Free Fest News
Applications Open & We're back at the Counting House
Some great news to end 2016 on - we can now let you know that we will be back at the Counting House in 2016. So if you are a performers, and would like to apply, do do now - applications for here as well as all of our other venues are now open for the 2017 Fringe.
 Click Here

September 4, 2016  What's On London
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for Erich McElroy: (US) Electile Dysfunction
Rating:
Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer
Don’t miss a hilarious and insightful analysis of the state of American politics by a natural and intelligent entertainer.
So many shows at this year’s Fringe cover Brexit or depression, that it’s refreshing to get a little light relief with a witty analysis of the flawed individual who’ll soon run The Free World. And there’s none better to provide it than Erich McElroy, an immensely likeable US stand-up who’s lived in the UK for 16 years. Because he gets what we don’t understand about America, explains it simply and humorously, and – importantly, given the range of ages in the crowd – puts it in historical context.
Looking like a cross between Jason Bateman and The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki, McElroy gives a guided tour of US politics since 1990, yearning for more innocent times when you formed your own views. Nobody told him to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. He took this decision by himself when Dan Quail (Bush Snr’s V-P) failed to spell ‘potato’ in a school spelling bee. Punctuated by plenty of laughs, McElroy rails against the media for polarising news to such a degree so that people’s views are effectively formed by looking in a mirror and asking if the reflection agrees.
As he moves his narrative towards the present, Donald Trump gets both barrels. McElroy admits a grudging respect for the demagogue’s resistance to shame and childish way of casting aspersions (“Some people are saying …”), balanced with cheaper gags about Trump’s tiny hands and unnatural affection for his daughter. Then, knowing his audience, he drops one excellent observation: “He’s like a drunk heckler, but The Donald doesn’t drink. If you guys trusted him before, you won’t now.”
But this isn’t an attack on the US right, nor does McElroy simply tell liberal Fringe crowds what they want to hear – evidenced by his 2015 anti-Scottish independence show which, by his own admission, bombed. McElroy is pragmatic and has previously voted Republican, so he also picks apart the faults of Bernie Saunders and Hilary Clinton – the latter for her uninspiring campaign and slogan. “‘I’m With Her’? Damn, that sounds like a husband who’s given up.”
Ultimately though, he reveals where his vote will go come November. “For all her faults,” he says, “that woman can spell the shit out of ‘potato’.”
Erich McElroy is performing (US) Electile Dysfunction at 13.20 until 28th August at Laughing Horse @ Bar 50. Click Here

September 4, 2016  The Scotsman
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
Review for Ahir Shah: Machines
Venue: Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire (Venue 338) Consolidating Ahir Shah’s reputation for dense, thoughtful hours full of political polemic and fraught with personal unease, Machines is dizzying in the breadth of its exploration, closing with an account of his involvement in horror that only further destabilises the listener. Part of the reason Shah performs stand-up is the sense it gives him of being in control, a fleeting feeling that dissipates whenever he’s returned to the real world. He begins with the premise that we’re all so aware of the suffering and inequality out there, but so “atomised” that we’re impotent, his own recourse being to drink and seek help for his depression. This might sound heavy but Shah is as sharp and punchily funny as he is occasionally smug, the impressive wielding of his otherwise ineffectual intellect a pyrrhic victory that he tempers with self-deprecation. Witnessing the rise of the far-right internationally, the self-loathing liberal finds himself questioning democracy. Yet he makes passionate advocacy for the necessity of immigration for reinvigorating society’s lifeblood, even if his own tale of a grandfather arriving from India with £3 hasn’t worked out brilliantly, his debt making for a Shah family net loss. Naturally, the result of the EU referendum has caused him considerable disquiet but he’s less concerned about the rise of the machines, comedian seeming set to be one of the last jobs automated. Rejecting utopianism, calling out fascists and Stalinists, he builds furious heads of steam in his intellectualising, his eloquent articulacy conveying often complex ideas in pithy, grimly funny lines. He got to see them relate to the real world though when he was caught up in the Paris terrorist attacks last November. Affording a dramatic climax to the show, it’s an extreme way to close an hour that offers few crumbs of comfort to the anxious.

 Click Here

September 4, 2016  Fresh Fringe
Review of Foxdog Studios
5 Star Review for Foxdog Studios
REVIEW: FOXDOG STUDIOS
You are in for such a treat: Foxdog Studios are at the Fringe!

Lloyd Henning and Peter Sutton, Uncle and Nephew, create a new world and invite, even order, the audience to explore it. In this case, this is not just metaphorically or a world present only in the minds of performers and viewers. The duo has actually programmed an interactive world to which the audience actively contributes. The show includes understated acting, original live music and video gaming with adventure appeal. The humour is dry and witty and at times quite surreal. The story telling through ought the game reminds of that in Naboo in Mighty Boosh (series 3), which is a very good thing if you are a fan of off-beat comedy.

The show is a unique and fully enjoyable experience even for those less versed in all things IT (like me) and I’ve never seen a show like this before. If this hasn’t convinced you to take up the long hike down south (10 brisk walking minutes from George Square), then maybe the promise of homemade pasties will or definitely should.

5 Stars - *****

Everyday at the Cellar Monkey at 11.15pm Click Here

September 3, 2016  Bunbury Magazine
Review of C.S.I: Crime Scene Improvisation
5 Star Review for CSI: CRIME SCENE IMPROVISATION
Bunbury Magazine Review – ★★★★★

The show we saw of Crime Scene Improvisation was a one-off, in more than one sense of the word. This intelligent group of actors work an entire murder mystery solely based on suggestions from the audience, meaning each performance is unique, never to be seen again.

Each and every person involved demonstrated a phenomenal skill in building an increasingly bizarre and hilarious story, filled with wonderfully 3-dimensional characters.

Our was the story of a young, world-leading shrew tamer who was force-fed a Lego statue of a shrew. Yes, we told you it was bizarre. The detective superbly lead the audience through the narrative as each of the characters interacted, unraveling revelations that eventually built to revealing the culprit.

This troupe of performers cannot be praised highly enough for their quick-thinking, interaction, both with each other and the audience and we cannot more strongly recommend seeing them if they should be in a town near you. It is of utter testament to them that the demand to see the show was so high that people were being asked to come back the next day.

CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation was on in Cabaret Voltaire at 1515 as part of The Free Festival. Click Here

September 3, 2016  Three Weeks
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for Erich McElroy: (US) Electile Dysfunction
Current politics on both sides of the pond are making it look as if reality really is stranger than fiction. And it’s a brave soul who bases their show on something that seems to change on a daily basis. American ex-pat Erich McElroy focuses on three of the main protagonists in the US election: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their race to the White House. It isn’t laugh-a-minute, and there are the occasional cheap, slightly crass jokes (references to post-menopausal Clinton, especially), but, having said that, there are some great observations, highlighting some of the reasons that even the most obnoxious politicians can get away with far more than they should. Click Here

September 3, 2016  TV Bomb
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for Erich McElroy: (US) Electile Dysfunction
Erich McElroy returns to the fringe with what is essentially a potted history of presidents, from Bill Clinton to the current nominees. The focus is heavily on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s current campaigns. McElroy delivers a monologue which, although very amusing and excellently delivered, is fundamentally flawed. Should McElroy try to educate a British audience about American politics, thus keeping his observations light and more accessible? Or, could he delve beyond the commonly known things about candidates but risk losing the less knowledgeable audience? McElroy chooses the former. If you watch the Daily Show on Comedy Central or the BBC app there aren’t many surprises, although the audience is certainly kept smiling.
McElroy is missing an excellent opportunity to interrogate the reasons why the Trump campaign is still in the running. And even more so what a Trump presidency could actually look like. This would have appealed to those who know nothing about US politics as well as any ‘politicos’.
To be fair to McElroy, he does admit to being a Democrat yet is still able to openly criticise Hillary’s credentials. Ultimately though, McElroy is simply not keeping up with what Trump has said this week… but who can I suppose?
The most positive thing about this show is Erich McElroy himself. He is funny, likeable and self-deprecating. He is presenting some interesting observations about British people which may be where a future routine is waiting. But topical material needs to be kept up to date. Click Here

September 3, 2016  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Matt Price : Poltroon
5 Star Review for MATT PRICE – POLTROON
Rating – ☆☆☆☆☆

‘Try reviewing this one’ Matt said at one point incredulously, so, we did.

Superb. Just superb. Excellent observational humor, Matt Price works the room expertly and is a marvelous story teller who is exceptionally easy to listen to.
There are some fantastically shocking punchlines which mix seamlessly with the elements of brash honesty he brings to the performance.

The show was wonderfully intelligent, edgy in parts and extremely well crafted and his powers of recall followed the contours of the show very well indeed.

The banter with audience members is pinpoint and spot on, a rare talent one doesn’t see that often anymore. With such a feeling of warmth and positive atmosphere in the room, this for us was one of, if not the best show of the fringe.
Matt Price is here to remind all of us what good, beautifully crafted comedy is all about.
Seek him out, go watch him work. Click Here

September 3, 2016  iNews
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Review for Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth
Olaf Falafel – “Sweden’s eighth funniest comedian” – builds his set around the Vines which have gained him quite a following (75 million views) online. These tiny, six-second video clips, in which applies a toilet plunger to his face or recreates the James Bond title sequence with a toilet roll and a block of jelly – are presented alongside memorably odd one-liners – “Yoko Ono’s real name is Yoko Or nearest offer” – and eccentric thoughts about breakfast cereal variety packs and alphabetti spaghetti. It is largely a successful segue from online success to live format, though more enjoyable if you aren’t already aware of his best Vines. The “Cheese of Truth” that features in the title is a loose and silly structuring device but Falafel has thought about how to make six-second clips into a show and it is a refreshingly odd way to spend an hour.

 Click Here

September 2, 2016  One 4 Review
Review of Matt Price : Poltroon
Review for Matt Price: Poltroon
I’ve never seen a show derailed so badly and have it turn out to be a thing of beauty and hilarity. Poor Matt had it all in the show I saw: misunderstanders, latecomers (forty-five minutes into a sixty minute show!), strange noises, chatty people… but Mr Price is so lovely, and so good with his insults, that even if it wasn’t the show we were supposed to see, it was really good fun nonetheless.

Ostensibly, the show is about the fact that Mr Price is a poltroon, a coward, and the stories he tells (tried to tell) are about things that have happened to him as a result of his tendency to please people and avoid confrontation. There’s a nice mix of styles here, with some traditional short ‘jokes’, and stories (with excellent payoffs) of varying lengths. I imagine that it probably has a nice narrative arc (because Mr Price is good at telling a story), but I can’t be sure (because of some audience).

Mr Price is reflective and thoughtful with his material, so even some of the rather darker and liminal stuff, which might have turned an audience off, came off well. A reliably enjoyable performer.

Laughing Horse @ Caberet Voltaire

Reviewed by Laura Click Here

August 31, 2016  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Circumcision
5 Star Review for DAVE CHAWNER – CIRCUMCISION
Bunbury Magazine Rating – ★★★★★

Bunbury Fringe Award – The From The Hood Award

Straight from the top of the show, it is clear that Dave Chawner is a confident performer who brings a great deal of cheek and charm to the stage.

This cheek and charm are deployed to fantastic effect whilst dealing with some very sensitive issues – this show is the story of Dave’s circumcision at the start of this year. As the story unfolds, the audience are taken on a journey through mental health issues and eating disorders, all of which are dealt with with the utmost respect and sensitivity. It is clear that Dave knows how to put an audience at ease with excellent delivery.

He even talks about sex in a way that had us in stitches but without being overtly graphic – for the most part – which is a very difficult skill to master.

The entire show had a great rhythm and flow, moving through the narrative with a natural pace that allowed the story to build momentum. There was a very clear message to take from the show, an uplifting message which we will not spoil here but we left knowing we had seen something brilliant from one of the loveliest people we met in Edinburgh.

Circumcision was on at Cabaret Voltaire. Click Here

August 30, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Review for Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth
The Cheese of Truth is a silly hour of one-liner concepts and Vine videos from Elliot Quince in the character of a wacky, yet deadpan, Scandinavian uncle, Olaf Falafel. ‘Sweden’s 8th Best Comedian’ is a gentle and lovable one. He acts as a good crutch to Quince’s show that relies heavily, and quite rightly, on his excellent collection of Vines.

Not every joke is terribly original in concept, but most build to create a satisfactory whole. While it may not always be terribly slick, or inventive in topics or delivery, it is consistent in style, tone and with its huge sense of fun.

The main thing it does is showcase Elliot Quince’s tremendous talents as a comedian. He’s already proved himself to be a great illustrator and satirist, as well as strong character comedian, but this show edges him towards a complete display. Lovely, accessible and constantly creative, it’s a clever little joy.

Words: Tom Crosby

Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, Aug 26-28, 4:15pm Click Here

August 30, 2016 The Skinny
Article about Foxdog Studios
Foxdog Studios listed as the Best Edinburgh Fringe (Comedy) 2016
"On the complete other end of the comedy spectrum, Foxdog Studios absolutely blew me away this year with a high-tech, interactive show the likes of which I have never seen anywhere before. I came out of The Cellar Monkey's basement bouncing around and desperately wanting to see it again. They picked up two Malcolm Hardee Award nominations, so clearly other people felt the same. Critical success has also come Rose Matafeo’s way, and deservedly so. This was her debut show and she managed to cram in physical and musical humour, surrealism, sneak-feminism and a good spoonful of death. She's also a couple of years younger than me, which I am completely OK with." [Jenni Ajderian] Click Here

August 30, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Foxdog Studios
Review for Foxdog Studios
Foxdog Studios is a delightfully tech-heavy mash up of comedy, musical and C++ programming. The premise is that everyone uses their phones to log onto a closed WiFi network for the show and plays along with the plot of the show live on their phones. To say it’s original barely does it justice.

Despite its genius, it’s worth addressing the key flaw inherent in the concept: as the show requires constant audience interaction, many perceived it to be about them. It was like giving the heckler the stage.

Thankfully, this means almost nothing against the backdrop of homemade technological wizardry and comedic invention that peppered a delicious hour of nonsense. The songs play like Garth Marenghi’s soundtrack and the characters reek of Vic and Bob. It could all just be an attempt by an early Mighty Boosh to travel back in time and prevent ‘Live at the Apollo’ from ever happening.

Words: Tom Crosby

Foxdog Studios, Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, Aug 23-28, 11:15pm Click Here

August 29, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and other short tales of woe)
Review for The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)
Each of the short – but far from woeful – tales in this half-hour collection (from Bristol University and National Youth Theatre) have concepts that could be summed up in one line: a girl whose eyes are celestial telescopes; a boy who turns out to be a humanoid tea-bag; another boy who is half-sofa. They have all the singularity, absurdity and fun of Bizarro fiction and, with a confidence impressive for a student writer, Phoebe Simmonds’ script is written entirely in rhyming couplets.

The Girl with the Hurricane Hands is a commendable and extremely likeable production.
The five vignettes have much in common: most start with unusual conceptions and births, origin stories that lead each unlikely hero to problems of acceptance and belonging. Whilst the four-part story structure (origin-problem-trial-equilibrium) of each tale risks being somewhat repetitive, it does give them a pleasing simplicity. Each story reads like a miniature fable or myth, or maybe more like a joke: ‘did you hear the one about the girl with the hurricane hands?’

This sense is reinforced well by Simmonds’ couplets, which add to both the senses of compactness and whimsy. Her rhymes are often extremely satisfying, each couplet feeling like a little take off and landing. The best passages read like those of a top children’s poetry writer (Michael Rosen for example), and The Girl with Hurricane Hands is worth seeing if only to hear a formally ambitious script by such a promising writer.

The quality of writing is matched well by that of the delivery. Josephine Balfour gives perhaps a stand-out performance, full of energy and expression as, amongst others, Hurricane Hands herself. Elsewhere, Tullio Campanale is extremely endearing as Terry the Teabag; amongst a capable cast of five (completed by Sam Bird, Molly Honer and Tom Besley). There are nice touches in Simmonds’ direction too: in the transition between each story, four cast members freeze whilst the fifth brazenly removes the storybook from the ongoing scene to start the next tale. It would not be funny if the performers were not so precise and their manner not so playful.
The piece wants for more variety in form, content, structure and tone; and at times feels formulaic as a result. Too much of the blocking, furthermore, takes the action too low and removes it from audience’s line-of-sight. Some of the plotting also seems underworked: one story – about the boy who is half-sofa – rushes headlong, and confusingly, to an abrupt ending. It seems over before it starts.

It is the couplets that really make it, though. The Girl with the Hurricane Hands is a commendable and extremely likeable production. Whatever its limits, who could not, afterall, be won over by such audacious rhyme, inventive concepts and lively, fast-paced performance? Click Here

August 29, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of An Act of Godley : Janey Godley
Review for An Act of Godley
A status as Fringe favourite and a viral stint for her infamous “Trump is a cunt” sign at the businessman’s visit to the Trump Turnberry golf resort mean that Janey Godley’s reputation definitely precedes her. If you offend easily, Godley’s certainly not the comedian for you: an apologetic force with a filthy mouth and a skewed perspective on the world, Godley doesn’t invite conversation with her audience. Her stand up is a force of nature, sweeping you along with it - whether you’d like to or not.

Godley’s style won't appeal to everyone – not that she’ll be fussed by that.
Godley has a great rhythm on stage and is comfortable mouthing off about any and every subject, even swinging the odd punch at her own family. She does this to good effect, although sometimes the structure doesn’t feel watertight. Godley moves between segments of her set fairly seamlessly, but the anecdotes themselves can feel a little overlong once the full extent of jokes has been reaped. There’s no strong overarching theme to Godley’s hour, which works very well for her but compared to several hundreds of stand ups who have crafted their material for a theme Godley’s show runs the risk of feeling mismatched.

The uncontested highlight of Godley’s material is her experience protesting against Trump, a fantastic story which has some genuinely shocking moments. Godley’s delivery is matter-of-fact and perfectly suits the ridiculous extents to which the story escalates, pitting Scottish and American attitudes against one another to create a high hit rate on gags. This high return of jokes is fantastic, although it does overshadow some of Godley’s previous material from the hour. There are some excellent one-liners in here, but Godley’s style won't appeal to everyone – not that she’ll be fussed by that. Click Here

August 29, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
Review for Ashley Storrie and other Erotica
The moment you enter the room, you know this is someone special. Ashley Storrie has a natural rapport with the quickly filling room, any form of ‘heckles’ are simply incorporated and launched back. No holds barred, everything ripped out and open, Ashley treats everything as up for discussion. Every joke lands, some are a little too niche and local for a few in the crowd, but there isn’t a flat delivery.

Whether it be dinosaur erotica, nearly sleeping with a Tory or just bantering with the audience, Other Erotica reveals why Ashley Storrie is a magnificently promising act.

A more linear structure may be needed; the penultimate story punches the crowd into tears and roars of laughter, but the finale leaves a little to be desired. Reorganised and structured; Other Erotica could easily rob the limelight from any other show.

Words: Dominic Corr

Ashley Storrie and other Erotica, Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, Aug 27-28, 5:15pm Click Here

August 25, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
Review for Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
In his latest one-man show Aatificial Intelligence, British Pakistani comedian Aatif Nawaz is an engaging and charismatic presence, which results in an easygoing and fluid audience interaction.

The show centres on the worst advice Nawaz has ever received. However, he also touches on a variety of issues, the two most prominent being how he is often recruited by the media as a representative for the Muslim community and the effect of marriage on his relationship with his wife.

Aside from one over-extended section on American stereotypes, Nawaz manages to effectively cover multiple tangents within his show whilst keeping the audience laughing.

Aatificial Intelligence is a consistently hilarious show that is a must-see if you are looking for comedy in this final week of the Fringe.

Words: Adam Thornton

Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence, The Newsroom, 23-28th August, 8.45pm Click Here

August 25, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Ivor Dembina: Old Jewish Jokes
Review for Ivor Dembina: Old Jewish Jokes
This show doesn’t disappoint. As the publicity suggests, Ivor Dembina provides a lively hour of stand-up comedy, and whist I am in no position to dispute its claim to be the “Fringe’s all-time favourite Jewish comedy show”, I can confirm that there are guaranteed laughs for Jews and gentiles alike.

Old Jewish Jokes is a different stand-up hour that is well-worth seeing.
The space in Finnegan’s Wake is small and the audience are right up against Dembina. They are subject to his own particular audience interaction style, his anxious looks for reassurance about his observations from Jews within the audience, and his muttered line after each round of laughter, ‘yes, tell them the old jokes, the old jokes’.

The show itself is a series of jokes and observations about Jews, their relationships, stereotypes and culture (Israel and the Holocaust are two topics covered). It is the story of Dembina’s difficult fundraising performance at his local synagogue on which these jokes are hung. This is a show that doesn’t shy away from discussing or using stereotypes about Jews, but connecting together the disparate set piece jokes and Dembina’s own highly amusing anecdotes is a difficult task, and one that is only loosely managed. The jokes were like pretty (and funny) clothes on a little too widely spaced clothes hanger. However, Dembina is a talented enough comic for this to not really matter and the audience, who cackled throughout, certainly didn’t seem to care.

Old Jewish Jokes is a different stand-up hour that is well-worth seeing. It’s a free show, but it’s best to book ahead to guarantee yourself a seat. Click Here

August 25, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
Review for Machines
An hour of emotional stand-up comedy, Ahir Shah delivers an insightful show at this year’s Fringe.

Accompanying his self-depreciating, sarcastic style of humour, Shah ponders over a wide range of topics; from depression to alcoholism, to religious extremism and racism. He discusses a culture that allows history to repeat itself, preventing us from ever fully developing, which is extraordinarily thought-provoking.

A deep-thinking, intelligent man with a hint of controversy and dark humour, Ahir Shah provides a powerful yet comedic hour of entertainment. His recounting of his personal experience in Paris during the November shootings is a darkly wonderful piece that so adroitly manages to amuse and amaze.

The show is a worthwhile visit for a stand-up show unlike any other and an exceptionally memorable experience. Shah will also be returning to Edinburgh on the 14th of September as part of his Machines tour.

Words: Calum Wilson

Ahir Shah: Machines, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, Aug 23-28, 1:30pm Click Here

August 25, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Mulhollandland (Work in Progress)
Review for Mulhollandland (Work In Progress)
How to review a WIP with just three people in the audience? It’s tough but brilliantly Mulholland treats you to a well-conceived and unique performance, always playing with the idea of the conditions the show is being presented in.

Once fully-formed Mulhollandland with almost certainly be a pick of next year’s Fringe, such is the standard of the surreal skits and creative comedic ideas. Set around a ‘Royal Variety Performance’ in a mythical communist state, conceptually it can be a real winner, and a grand vehicle for his talents.

Certain parts, like the mash-up of different types of hack comedian and comedy tropes are extremely neat, whilst surreal parts involving ghost cows and Bowie numbers are true quality.

A review of the expected future – the key thing to take from it is that Mulholland is one to watch for next year.

Words: Tom Crosby

Mulhollandland (Work in Progress), Laughing Horse @ 48 Below, Aug 21-28, 1:15pm Click Here

August 25, 2016 Chortle
Article about Aaaaah, it's 101 clean jokes in 30 minutes - Free Show
Congratulations to Masai Graham for winning Dave TV's Best Joke of the Fringe.
Comedian Masai Graham has won this year’s Joke of the Fringe award with: ‘My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart.’

The comic, a 35-year-old care worker from West Bromwich , scooped the title run by TV channel Dave that has previously won by the likes of Tim Vine, Zoe Lyons, Stewart Francis and Nick Helm.

Graham was runner-up in 2014 and fourth in 2015 and says he has better jokes than the one that earned him the title. ‘I do a lot of darker material and dark one-liners, but only the clean material gets on the list,’ he said. ' It's an incredible honour to land Joke of the Fringe. Not bad for someone from West Brom...'

'The funny thing is that it was Dave’s Joke of The Fringe that inspired me to become a comic. I remember picking up the paper years ago, reading the top 10 gags and wondering if I could write a decent one myself.'

Steve North, general manager of Dave, said: ‘The Fringe is renowned for being the best place to spot new and emerging comedy talent and although there are some returning contenders in our top 10 this year, there is a high volume of new talent which is very exciting to see." Click Here

August 25, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Juicer
Review for Sunil Patel: Juicer
The Fringe is full of unrecognised talent and under-filled venues. Sunil Patel, performing to a comedy-savvy crowd of five, is experiencing just that. To say he deserves more is a huge understatement.

A clearly gifted comedian with a comfy and approachable style, he is as self-aware and structurally subversive as any of the Fringe’s great alternative comedians, without fitting directly into that bracket. It’s material that could work anywhere and appeal to most, whilst being subtle and clever.

If anything it’s the style of the lovable comedian, of the ilk of Stuart Goldsmith, subverted through intelligence, rock solid delivery and an innate understanding of the processes of comedy. He has the awareness of which comedy tropes to exploit and when.

Patel is the sort of comedian you could take anyone to see. It’s marketable enough to make him a star, whilst keeping enough intellectual property in the back to raise it above the norm.

Words: Tom Crosby

Sunil Patel: Juicer, The Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, 22-28, 2:30pm Click Here

August 25, 2016  Fringe Biscuit
Review of Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
5 Star Review for Flo and Joan: Victory Flaps.
Flo and Joan: Victory Flaps. This musical comedy sister duo mocks millennial life with charm & wit. @FloandJoan are lyrical geniuses. 5/5 Click Here

August 25, 2016  KCW Today
Review of Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
Flo and Joan are ready to take on the world via the medium of song
Flo and Joan: Victory Flaps

Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom (Venue 93) until 21st August

Sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, better known as Flo and Joan, spent two years living in Canada, but now they’re back to show the UK what it’s been missing: namely some of the sharpest comedy songs around. It might sound trite to compare them to the much-missed Victoria Wood, but the duo share Wood’s affection, attention to detail and peculiarly British turn of phrase, whether talking about dating, brunch or the horrors of ‘gap yah’ travelling types.

Performing in perfect unison with deadpan expressions, Flo and Joan are magnetic on stage and could easily charm larger venues than the Newsroom. Their simple tunes and loveably basic percussion are a welcome break from the vocal gymnastics most singers their age adopt. Not all of these songs will stand the test of time, but they tap into the zeitgeist and stay in your head long after you’ve headed off into the night.

Verdict: 5/5 Click Here

August 24, 2016  
Review of The Oxford Revue: Free
Review for the Oxford Revenue
A mix of witty and well-crafted anecdote, stand-up, sketches, and even a drag queen, it can't be denied that the Oxford Revue write and perform a very good show.
The decision to have two of the Revue members as hosts kicking off works well. The pair have a good dynamic between them, and keep the show rolling. Their chatty, relaxed tone creates a great rapport with the audience, and I particularly enjoy one of their opening anecdotes about the "typology" of those who reject flyers. Even the "Evasive Erics" of the audience (we’ve probably all been guilty of this label one time or another…) laugh heartily.
There are, however, points where this pace is broken a little, and the hosts appear to lack confidence. Some extended hesitations at points lead to the feeling that the pair are disarmed by each other’s jokes, somewhat disrupting the natural flow that other parts maintain.
Next we have Donna Kerbabe, a heavily contoured drag queen, who treats us to an incredibly sassy lip-sync mashup of quotes and songs. Kerbabe's energy, facial expressions of seismic proportions, and complete lack of inhibition make for a very funny skit. That said, it goes on a little long, feeling somewhat repetitive by the end. To justify this length, it needs to be developed further.
A later sketch of fictional stand-up comedian ‘Jerry Katona’ is another amusing part of the Revue's set. The painfully shy Scouser, brother to the more notorious Kerry Katona and deliverer of awful jokes, makes for a well received satire on poor stand-up comedy.
The second part of the set features 'Horseplay’: a series of sketches by all members of the group. These are well thought out, and on the whole well-executed, tackling Masterchef, Pingu, and even the gender of the Almighty. The quality of humour is testified by the raucous reaction of the audience. Some moments are weaker than others though. One sketch really suffers from a lack of pace and confidence, and in the performance I watch, one member of the group has something of a mind bank. It can happen to the best performers, but is dealt with by a rather clumsy, mumbled apology to the audience. This unfortunately strips some professionalism from the piece.
This show is rough around the edges, and could do with some slickening up, but overall, this is good quality comedy – witty and imaginative. Click Here

August 24, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of The Voice of Ray
5 Star Review for The Voice of Ray
The Voice of Ray is an absurdist piece of new writing about a dead man called Ray and his anger over people’s bad impersonations of him. Well, I think, at least. The glorious thing about this madcap show is that the bewildering plot line only adds more to the eccentric charm.

Paddy Wilmott skilfully plays Ray, the floundering Aussie upset with his posthumous legacy, and is to be commended for his hilarious facial expressions and deliberately klutzy physicality. Tom Kitching, who plays a variety of characters, proves himself to be an extremely talented impressionist and is, in particular, immensely likeable and charming as a self-assured American host.

The Voice of Ray might not be for everyone but if you’re willing to embrace the outlandish absurdity of the production, you’ll be energised by the duo’s infectious energy and have one of the funniest hours available at the Fringe this year.

Words: Joshua Zitser

The Voice of Ray, The Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, 4-28 August, 10pm Click Here

August 24, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Nev: Guts
Review for Nev: Guts
On stage Nev seems to be a one-man deadpan satire on the conventions of the typical misanthropic Scottish comedian. Normally the charismatic frontman of Scotland’s exceptional alternative comedy night Chunks, Nev is displaying with Guts a different side to his talents.

It’s painfully low-energy and at points quite grim, but always with an undercurrent of self-aware complexity. It’s safe to say that not every part of the act hits; lots of the politics can be played too straight, without enough nuance and invention. In fact, the more extreme or tough the show, and its subject matter becomes, the stronger it is for it.

There is more than enough substance to make the show one to watch. Ultimately, it isn’t perfect and the crowd isn’t huge, but it is inventive and unique – exactly the sort of comic the Fringe needs.

Words: Tom Crosby

Nev: Guts, Laughing Horse @ The Hanover Tap, Aug 22-28, 10:00pm Click Here

August 24, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Barbarians
Review for Barbarians
Ben Van der Velde began his career as an improv performer, but has latterly taken to scripted solo shows. While some artists thrive under constraints, he is hampered by the self-imposed challenge. Yes, he gets to address what his programme entry terms 'big issues' and market his show as a unified whole, but his planned material seems lacking when bookended by off-the-cuff riffs.

The latter make for Barbarians' most memorable moments, the performer's superficial judgement of various audience members proving a clear highlight. On these flights of fancy, he pushes ideas to extremes and displays a crackling, spontaneous energy in which we're swept up. By comparison, it's difficult to forgive, much less enjoy, a rotten, illogical routine on female genital mutilation which the comic has thought worth memorising.

Ostensibly about human nature and the characteristics we pass on through DNA, this is a loose hour and relies on Van der Velde's charisma to carry it off. His inclusive, studenty charm goes a long way in the uncomfortably hot pub back room, but once the dust settles on the gig, it's difficult to recall very much of it. The comic helps us pass the time with a few solid laughs, but falls short of any grander ambitions, his key strengths lying dormant for most of his time on stage.
 Click Here

August 24, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Review for Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth
Making his debut at the Fringe this year, “Sweden’s Eighth Funniest Comedian” Olaf Falafel arrives with a barrage of absurdist humour and sharp one-liners, searching for the answers to some of life’s greatest questions: What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a man? Why are Starbursts so juicy?
Building around a series of Vines (the medium that first made him famous), Olaf Falafel’s performance tries to combine a love of one-liners and tight comedy with an overarching narrative about the 'Cheese of Truth', all with a healthy dose of audience participation (audience bullying might be more accurate). It takes a while to get the audience fully on board with Falafel’s off-the-wall style, and a few of the first jokes fall flat. As both Falafel and the audience warm up, though, the show begins to take off and rolls comfortably on towards the conclusion.
The most successful parts of the show are those which deal with pretty banal ideas: judging audience members on how they cut their sandwiches (two rectangles? Nothing more disappointing) or using the dark art of biscuitology to analyse hidden parts of their psyche. The tension when he shows a Vine of an overly-dunked biscuit falling helplessly into a mug of tea is palpable. Less successful is his running joke about calling a member of the audience “Patricia”, and making somebody consume a Babybel with the wax still on.
Falafel himself is utterly likable. His boundless energy and enthusiasm is what carries the show, although it’s clear from the videos that he’s more comfortable behind a screen than in front of it. The 'Cheese of Truth' quoted in the title refers to him throwing pieces of cheese at popular publications and supposedly being able, from this, to pick out the “soul” of the paper – something which works well on screen but not stage. Although Falafel does try to integrate different media, there are unavoidable viewing restrictions at many Fringe venues, and, if you are unable to see all of the videos clearly, the comedy loses its bite.
Olaf Falafel has masses of potential, and the show is a quick-paced, tongue in cheek piece of comedy. However, there’s still some work to be done before Falafel can market himself as a stand up comedian rather than a Vine star. Click Here

August 24, 2016  The List
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Review for Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth
A relative newcomer to the scene, Sweden's Olaf Falafel takes on the Herculean, 21st-century comedy task of trying to convert online success into a viable live format. Having accrued a vast number of views (as well as the obligatory haters) on Vine, he utilises a video screen to present some of them during his show, the theme of which he describes as being the big questions in life.

For the uninitiated, Vines are 6.5-second videos, a kind of digital invocation of the theory that brevity is the soul of wit (why they aren't nine seconds long we'll never know: Vine = video + nine, surely?). Falafel succeeds where others have failed in merging his live work with pre-recorded footage. Not only does he manage to weave together Vines, contextual material and one-liners but there is a hidden logic at work.

Underneath his massive beard and veneer of daftness hide kernels of genuine insight, rendered all the more funny by their veracity. Taking on Trump and children while dropping enough witticisms to prove that his accomplishments are not limited to a digital platform, Falafel's debut Fringe show is a wonderful hour of professional silliness. Sadly, we never quite get to the bottom of that moniker though.

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, until 28 Aug (not 16), 4.15pm, free. Click Here

August 24, 2016  Comedy Reviewer
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Review for Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth
Vine master Olaf makes a decent entrance into the world of stand-up, showing that he's capable of much greater things.

There is no doubting his ability to be funny in a 6 second video, but to do it in front of a large live audience is something else.

I wouldn't say he makes it look easy, but you can see that he has something. Nice ideas and good writing show that he's capable of establishing himself in a place like Edinburgh.

This show is clearly written around his vines but his good work has made it more than a showcase. It's a decent hour from the newcomer and very enjoyable. Plenty of groans but big laughs too. He has obviously still to prove himself without the video but I do see enough to predict a bright future.

Comedy Reviewer 7/10
#edfringe 3 Stars *** Click Here

August 24, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Mulhollandland (Work in Progress)
Review for Mulhollandland (work in progress)
Patrick Mulholland’s solo show promises weirdness, and it delivers. The entire show is an exercise is surrealism, taking satire and social commentary to a whole new level of oddness.
The show is presented as the 'National Variety Performance of the Glorious People’s Republic of Mulhollandland', a totalitarian communist state. As an idea, it works, even if it is not hugely original.
The central character is a beleaguered policeman attempting to ensure the show runs smoothly, ideologically speaking, with the "help" of regular phone calls from a shadowy government figure. Mulholland plays an increasingly absurd cast of characters - the performers at the variety show - with an impressive collection of silly hats and even sillier accents.
‘Mulhollandland’ is advertised as a work in progress, and this is probably a good thing. The show could definitely be a lot more polished. Tech problems delay the start and seriously hamper the flow throughout (the projections are worth it in the end, but could also be used to greater effect). As this is a Free Fringe event in the basement of a pub, the audience are forgiving, the mood casual and good-humoured, and his technical woes even rather endear the comedian to the crowd. It doesn't make for a very slick show however, justifying the work in progress disclaimer. This is something easily resolved, which would take Mulholland’s performance to the next level.
Many of the sketches could be tightened up considerably. The ‘ghost cow’ piece, for example, is delightfully bizarre, but could easily be trimmed of some of its weaker lines. The final scene, in which the tone turned unexpectedly serious, also feels unnecessary. Political points are made much more effectively through satire and absurdist comedy throughout the show; there is no need to attempt to turn it into something more dramatic.
Mulholland is at his best with satirical socially-conscious material, which then veers off on surreal tangents. His opening montage of short critiques of British society (such as, ‘The Playground Banter of Eton’) is hilarious. Other highlights include ‘Sesame Street Tory Majority,’ the Angry Irish Man, a dramatic adaptation of ‘Mein Kampf’ and a train of thought which ended in a rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ to the tune of ‘Octopus’s Garden.’
Mulholland is likeable and self-deprecating, punctuating his show with wry meta-comments (‘this bit is the weakest bit’ or ‘it’s the same joke as before’) which add to the general enjoyment of the audience. ‘Mulhollandland’ feels like a trial and error process preparatory to a great final show. Definitely worth a look, it will only improve with time. Click Here

August 24, 2016  The List
Review of Archie Maddocks - Shirts vs Skins
Review for Archie Maddocks: Shirts Vs Skins
This is Archie Maddocks' third successive appearance at the Fringe, and he's swiftly developed an assured swagger to his delivery, even if the material doesn't always match the confident demeanour. First up here, he needs to set the record straight on the title of his show. Shirts Vs Skins has nothing to do with sporting endeavours as he admits to having never been much cop in that arena.

Instead it's to do with his mixed race heritage and the dilemmas he's faced which have often led to him feeling that he's being forced to take sides. Maddocks dubs himself a 'walking indecision' and has some amusing anecdotes about being tackled on his identity by an African-American while his seemingly random discussion about grapes and raisins may have had some over-arching metaphorical message hidden deep within it, but it was hard to tell.

For now, Maddocks feels like a comedian who is brimming with vigour from being a successful club act. Whether he can translate that in later years to becoming a firm favourite at the Fringe is another story.

Laughing Horse at Espionage, until 28 Aug, 9.15pm, free. Click Here

August 24, 2016  Scotsgay Fringe
Review of Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Review for Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Comedy

LaughingHorse@DropKickMurphys (Venue 289)

5-28 Aug (not 15)

17.15

****

Deep under the streets of Edinburgh, in a cavern obscured by the rotting vegetation of a fortnight’s flyers there is a gender neutral concubine pirate treasure. They are precious, multi-faceted and sparkling in a cave just waiting to be discovered by the passersby above.

Maawan is mesmerising and enchanting, exotic, playful and sexy. They begin with the line “It’s Free Fringe, time to lower your expectations” but unnecessarily. Their antics and energy transcend this hidden cellar and like Peter Pan they take our hand and lead us to somewhere magical, where we can all be gender neutral concubine pirates together if we want.

Their obscure bizarre impressions are charming and then as they weave them together into a burlesque dance, we catch a glimpse that this is the most astute of non-binary jesters. We are being led exactly where they want us to go and regardless of the distractions of baby wipes, dad-heckling or even R Kelly’s Ignition Remix (or even the horror of the original), the magic will happen and the wooden panels on the concave ceiling becomes the upside-down hull of our fantasy gender neutral concubine pirate ship, as our Captain engages in their final alluring dance.

I absolutely loved this. I knew it was going to be special as I’d seen Mawaan guest spot at Pollyanna. Some others in the audience seemed to expect something more mainstream. It felt like a cold start but Mawaan soon had them on side. I did find myself thinking where the hell are our people, why aren’t they rushing to see this comedic queer shaman?

A few little production values would have helped to create even more of a structured atmosphere and increased bucket takings. One thing that I was increasingly frustrated with was 3 members of the venue’s staff talking at the end of the bar for the entire performance. Very rude and disrespectful.

Nothing phased Maawan though and I have immense respect and affection for this act. Go see it yourselves and get in on one of the best secrets of this year’s Fringe.
 Click Here

August 24, 2016  Three Weeks
Review of Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
Review for Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
Aatif Nawaz is a man on a mission with ‘Aatificial Intelligence’, not to promote cybernetics but to teach people how to say his name right. But beyond improving our Pakistani pronunciation, Nawaz’s comedy exposes the bias and assumptions he deals with every day, in society and the media, in his role as soapbox Muslim, available for comment. Nawaz is a pro at putting his audience at ease, navigating what could be an old-fashioned, “where are you all from?” opener with real warmth. Though the show could be tighter, he tells stories with candour but without presenting them as ‘issues’. There is nothing controversial or scandalous in Nawaz’s show, but there are some good gags and great camaraderie.

Laughing Horse @The Newsroom, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Francesca Peschier] Click Here

August 24, 2016  Fringe Guru
Review of Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
Review for Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence
The title Aatificial Intelligence is conceived, in part, as a handy guide to help Joe Public pronounce Aatif Nawaz’s name. A lot of people get it wrong. The show is about advice, journalism, stereotypes – and how a lot of people get those wrong too. And it’s also a show about being a Muslim, with all the people-getting-things-wrong that entails.

Nawaz is instantly likeable, with a big old smile and gently self-effacing nature. He begins by getting to know the audience – but in a way that quickly blows away the classic fear of participation, because it feels like we’re just hanging out with him in his living room. Him and his wife and some bus drivers. This is where the venue choice shows its worth, Nawaz having turned down a paid, name-in-lights slot in favour of staying closer to the more intimate spirit of the free Fringe.

Aatif paints a cheerful commentary on living in Britain as a Muslim, knowingly amplifying and poking fun at all the stereotypes. He draws particularly apt parallels and contradictions between the treatment of different faiths and lives, but he really excels in his light-hearted but damning critiques of the way the world twists and stretches the truth. See, for example in his Daily Mail headline generator segment, following onto his brief topical analysis of the recent London Mayoral election.

There are the obvious easy Brexit and Trump references, but he doesn’t let these steal focus. He does however sometimes toe a fine line of gratuitousness – with more than a couple of bomb jokes – and some parts of the show seem to rely a little too much on chatting to the audience. Occasionally it feels like Nawaz is trying to kill time, a pleasant time though it may be.

This is an enjoyable hour with a new old friend, in which we are drawn into a web of colourful anecdotes, observations, and exaggerations. Nawaz does a great job of lambasting all the common stereotypes by owning those stereotypes, and presenting them in bright comic light. Click Here

August 23, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of 9 Months And Counting...
Review for 9 Months and Counting
Andy Stedman: 9 Months and Counting is a gentle burble through the perils of impending fatherhood, combining musical comedy with sustained audience interaction.

Andy Stedman: 9 Months and Counting provides mild comedy and funny songs. Perhaps it should stick to the latter.
Stedman’s concerns about becoming a father meander from worries about the birth to which parent his child will love more. The comedy element here is very gentle indeed, with Stedman’s rather fumbling delivery style (at one point he mistakes a duck for a frog mid-punchline and has to tell the joke again) meaning that many jokes have a limited impact. The show was laboured at these points; occasionally, Stedman’s efforts have the feel of a filler before he can return to his musical comedy.

He is more successful where he involves the audience, with a generous crowd becoming enthusiastically involved in games of Never-have-I-ever and word association. Here, Stedman displays real talent in playing to his audience, creating and maintaining a friendly rapport which gives the show much of its charm. It is these sections which mean that, although laugh out loud moments are comparatively rare in Stedman’s stand-up, the audience is rarely uncomfortable.

The undoubted star of the show, however, is Stedman’s foray into musical comedy. It is here that the show justifies itself as an entity; whilst the stand up is often gains a muted reaction, the songs are genuinely funny. Stedman constructs delicate couplets through which he details the more graphic aspects of his wife’s pregnancy. He sings to his unborn child about favouritism and dating. He even manages to involve his audience (with, predictably, varying degrees of success). Despite musical triumph, however, the strained nature of his standup is hard to overcome.
Andy Stedman: 9 Months and Counting provides mild comedy and funny songs. Perhaps it should stick to the latter.
 Click Here

August 23, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Michael and Roper: Three's A Crowd, Four's An Audience
Review for Michael and Roper: Three's a Crowd, Four's an Audience
What are a couple of self-deprecating, twenty-something stand-up comediennes to do at the Fringe, if not perform a stand-up act in two halves, in a rather shockingly intimate karaoke booth? That’s precisely what Charlotte Michael and Lucy Roper deliver in this just-shy-of-an-hour set, unequally divided between the two flatmates and colleagues, in Three’s a Crowd, Four’s an Audience.

A self-deprecating strand of pessimistic humour weaves a common theme through both ladies’ entirely separate and distinct sets
The title is fitting, too: whether they were able to foresee it or not, these two comics share a platform (literally) in one of the Three Sisters’ more cosy, limiting venues. And yet, lurking under the surface of that title is a self-deprecating strand of pessimistic humour that weaves a common theme through both ladies’ entirely separate and distinct sets, with both declaiming on their dating misadventures (some successful, others abysmal), home towns, class anxiety and northern roots.

Kicking off the double-set, Charlotte Michael, of Wakefield’s traditional pharmacist clan, regales the audience with a series of personal tragedies and, as she points out, ‘sad stories’ about herself, with just the one joke. Which, of course, is totally fine: self-referential abuse and scorn for structured jokes are a modern comedian’s mainstay, and Michael’s pessimistic reciting elicited plenty a giggle. Where the act did fall down, however, was in the telling: somewhat shapeless and lacking bite, Michael’s delivery was personable and bright, but failed to make best use of her material, and relied heavily on mock-pessimism.

A self-deprecating strand of pessimistic humour weaves a common theme through both ladies’ entirely separate and distinct sets
Then, a heavily telegraphed tonal ‘gear shift’ later, as she puts it, Lucy Roper from the Peak district gets off to a calculatedly low-key start, with similarly self-deprecating jokes, but delivered in a thoroughly different manner. Quietly surreal tangents and naff puns pepper her set, interspersed with character-centric and ironically awful poetry, lending greater conceptual charm and variety to the routine. Sitting somewhere between Milton Jones’ abstract tidbits and Noel Fielding’s quiet oddness, though never with such intensity, Roper’s longer routine stands on its own - though it shares themes, and, indeed, detractors, with Michael’s, particularly a want of energetic flair.

In truth, Michael felt like a warm up act to Roper, both in terms of the length of each respective set, and in terms of tone and content. Moving jarringly from one act to the next, totally distinct and unconnected, it’s clear these two have jointly decided to take a stab at Edinburgh, rather than building a single concept requiring one another's skills and comedic expertise. It would be interesting to see both stretch their wings solo, as both have talents, but brought little to one another’s performances. They are, however, funny ladies of wit and charm. Even if they don’t think so. Click Here

August 23, 2016  The Mumble
Review of John Scott Smashes It To F**k
5 Star Review for John Scott : Smashes it to F**k
John Scott returns to Edinburgh from the depths of the Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle with his intriguingly titled show, Smashes It To F**k. A regular face on the comedy circuit during the Fringe, John is always one of these comedians that takes his show to another level. Acquiring the Kasbar in Espionage, with a crowd of 35 to 40 people, this is a close up and personal hour of hard-hitting, stand-up comedy. John takes an average day and turns it into a head-on collision of gripping, on the edge of your seat hilarity. From the first words spoken, John had the audience in barrels of laughter, clutching at his jokes as they were hurled towards us with precise meaning… Click Here

August 22, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Review for Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Troy Hawke is a charming home-schooled young man who is suddenly unleashed into modern day Britain. Desperate to learn about the world outside his home, Hawke embraces even the most mundane activities with Shakespearean passion and endearing naivety. A lack of understanding of this modern life gets Hawke into all kinds of trouble, as he confidently and dapperly moves from one hurdle to the next. From Facebook, to William Hill, McCabe’s character explores elements of daily life with the curiosity and charm of a young mind.

This is a beautifully written show, topped only by McCabe’s diction which nears perfection, complete with an overly-verbose use of language that makes Hawke a very entertaining character: a must see for any comedy enthusiast.

One of the best comedy acts this year, The Unflappable Troy Hawke is a show that will outgrow it’s venue in no time.

Words: Mariana Mercado

Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke, The Laughing Horse @City Cafe, Aug 20-28, 8pm Click Here

August 22, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Review for Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Musical comedian Tamar Broadbent impresses with her debut show Get Ugly

Winning charm allows Tamar Broadbent to explore the highs and lows of being a single 20something with aplomb. Fighting an urge to grit our teeth as a gorgeous and very talented blonde tell us how she feels 25% uglier after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, we're swiftly brought back onside – she has some genuinely original and funny things to say.

One of the high points is a song about her jealousy of the ubiquitous sexy gym girl, who never appears to break a sweat but takes up a lot of floor space with elaborate stretching, and getting the audience involved in a mock Tinder dating competition is also inspired. One dud is a song about her sister, where she seems to be trying to humanise her show, but just comes over as sentimental. The closing song (about how she could never compete with her ex's new girlfriend, except in that she is a much better driver) brings the house down though – and deservedly so.

Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly, Laughing Horse @ Espionage (Mata Hari), 4-28 Aug (not 17), 5.30pm, Free Click Here

August 22, 2016  Chortle
Review of Dylan Gott: Tubby Tubby Dumb Dumb
Review for Tubby Tubby Dumb Dumb
Dylan Gott reckons everyone thinks he’s a weird creep… and few of his anecdotes that would disavow us of that notion.

A Canadian who has been based in London for the past year or so, he fits into a fine tradition of North American schlub comics, a bit dumb, a bit unmotivated, somehow struggling with a society where he doesn’t quite fit. He’s been banned from several fast food outlets and admits he comes across as scary to women, even if it is by accident. In a story about a nutter on the bus, he’s the weirdo.

He has an appealing technique, which he deploys on a handful of occasions, when he tells us a story as he thinks it happens, then rewinds to explain how it actually played out. Inevitably he comes across as an even bigger loser.

Yet he delivers such tales with a buoyant, self-effacing shrug and phrases such as ‘a new low for me…’ which shows how he’s come to owns his failures. The assured delivery comes with some relaxed crowd work, which really paid off tonight. He had great craic with everyone to a professional burlesque performer to a risk management guy, creating an easy to-and-fro banter than allowed the punters to be funny too.

As well as adult misadventures, he has some autobiographical nuggets from his youth that intrigue – such as him being despatched to Christian camp (‘surprise religion!’) and sent for anger management counselling at 11… because he got so enraged by video games.

It must have worked because he seems pretty chilled now. Though that could be the dope, too, for tales of smoking are part of the patter, as well as drinking and sex (and how he’s not so good at the latter, being lost for words when it comes to talking dirty).

This is strong club-set stuff – no grand themes or philosophies here – and although he’s playing a tiny Fringe venue, you can easily envisage this entertaining loser shtick playing well in any weekend line-up.

Review date: Monday 22nd Aug, '16Reviewed by: Steve Bennett Click Here

August 22, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Death and the Data Processor
Review for Death and the Data Processor
The Cock and Bull’s Death And The Data Processor follows the adventures of office worker Ian, whose murders of two co-workers lead him into the strange world of Harton, a community where criminals regret their crimes and want to start anew. With an array of puppets and a script channelling both IT Crowd and The Prisoner,this production of Death And The Data Processor is a surreal and fun late night comedy.

With just two actors and two chairs on stage, everything is performed in this madcap, frantic style
The performance begins with Ian and his boss, played by a sock puppet, in their office. Later Ian meets his co-workers, played by opposite sides of a ball on a stick. Ian goes on to act alongside several puppets (and occasionally a character in a mask).

With just two actors and two chairs on stage, everything is performed in this madcap, frantic style. The actors do a great job of distinguishing between characters, the quick-fire script itself creatively written and Ian having a wonderfully bemused and dumbfounded expression throughout. As the story continues with Ian murdering his co-workers and entering the Harton commune (think The Prisoner meets The Wicker Man meets Hot Fuzz-esque weirdness) the plot gets stranger, with even more characters being introduced and the conspiracy surrounding the mysterious “Uncle” beginning. It should be said that there’s something both remarkably funny and disturbing about watching someone “murdering” puppets on stage in surprisingly visceral ways. The actors do a great job of comedically establishing a sense of place, and the puppets are imaginatively designed and performed.

While the first two acts are fun and silly, the third act does drag a little as the nuisance of a plot has to enter the otherwise anarchic nature of the script, with exposition taking the place of comedy. Not every joke hits home but nothing ever feels awkward because the action moves from one thing to the next without pause. The play makes it clear right from the beginning that this is not a performance that treats itself seriously, with plenty of meta-jokes poking fun at its own small budget and production values. Nonetheless, the performances are fun, and the story is suitably absurd for a free late night show in a bar. A fun effort from a crime puppet comedy drama. Click Here

August 21, 2016  Fringe Biscuit
Review of LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Review for LoveHard: The House on the Hill
LoveHard: House on the Hill. @LoveHardComedy pay homage to classic horror stories while making each other laugh as hard as the audience. 4/5 Click Here

August 21, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of 5 Years
Review for 5 Years
In a world where it’s possible to trade time off your life to change your body into society’s definition of perfection, how much time would you spare? 5 Years is a very eye opening portrayal of how much the media industry dictates the way we should feel about our appearance. Every inch of the body is analysed and criticised. We starve and abuse ourselves with ludicrous low calorie diets and fast in the name of someone else’s opinion of beauty. What are we doing?

A real dagger in the dark for any industry that relies on female self-doubt to keep it in business.
We follow Amanda (Hayley Davis), who is convinced that her body image is responsible for her quality of life; that if she could be a size eight then she could be happy. She signs up for a new medical procedure that will enhance her body to her liking in exchange for five years of her life. While she anxiously waits for the treatment to begin she takes us through an unending list of reasons why she is willing to make the sacrifice.

Hayley Davis has the audience nodding in agreement throughout her performance. She touches on some very sensitive subjects such as body image, employment, dieting, confidence, male acceptance, and above all acceptance within ourselves. As serious and as thought provoking as the subject matter is, Davis still manages to find the funny side of the ridiculous things we are willing to do to make ourselves feel attractive. This is an admirable skill to be able to make us laugh at ourselves when focussing on a subject that usually makes us feel quite defeated.

Although the basic structure of the show is present and the concept is wonderful, the show doesn’t flow as well as it should. The use of voiceovers is very effective but needs to be a bit snappier in order to maintain the audience’s full attention. A one person show is always challenging and sadly Davis seemed to lack the confidence needed to back up her strongest points. On a subject so true and important to the lives of women we need a voice that can scream from the rooftops and not care who's watching. Davis redeems herself to an extent however through the likeability and believability of her character.
The show is a real dagger in the dark for any industry that relies on female self-doubt to keep it in business. We come to realise what we are actually doing to ourselves physically and in the long run the effect this will have on our mental health. The ending of the play is very powerful showing that it would be easy enough to stick to one method to get to perfection, but the ideal body concept is continuously changing and updating itself with the next diet or beauty tip; perfection is not sustainable. A strong reminder that these media influences may think they know about beauty but have no idea whatsoever about happiness. Click Here

August 21, 2016  Shortcom
Review of Foxdog Studios
Review for Foxdog Studios
When a certain cult comedian hero has travelled outside the Fringe bubble of most centralised venues, it reaffirms the notion that Foxdog Studios on at 11:15 at the Cellar Monkey in Marchmont, are going to be something special. For a Monday night, the audience have turned up in their droves. Potentially aided by one five star review and British Comedy Guide, but there is a sense word of mouth is the cause.

So word of warning and tricky giving the time, make sure you have plenty of juice in your phone and it be best to be on the smart side. A slight faux pas on my part for going in partially blind to the show. Upon first sight, the cosy setting is decorated with cables linked to various tech devices, drum machines, monitors, projectors, think Roy and Moss’s basement in IT Crowd but cramped and more manic. The projector screen instructs the audience to connect to the Foxdog Studio’s specified WiFi connection.

Self proclaimed IT rock stars, Peter Sutton and Lloyd Henning are computer science graduates from the University of Manchester. Lloyd dawned in a hi-vis jacket and armed with a guitar, who looks on towards the crowd with a dead pan expression whilst Peter is the amiable easy talker directing the crowd. Like Lloyd, Peter’s body is covered with touch synthesisers, that later, he uses as a musical instrument like an electric keyboard that is linked to the screen that maps out his body, highlighting every touch with a visual tick. It’s impressive as it is hilarious. The wow factor has barely begun.

The purpose of using our smart phones becomes apparent when the audience are individually giving a number or letter on our phones, as we look up to the projector screen, we’re all involved in a game of survival that smacks of charm of early gaming but multi shared activity, its what they’ve called podracing. This is bloody fun and merely a warm up for the main game.

There are so many elements to enjoy and applaud the duo, particularly matching a prop that is equally as daft as it is elaborate. In particular when Peter becomes box head, a metal scrap yard merchant with a box for a head with some particular technological upgrades that are not worth spoiling.

The 8-bit RPG game directed by boxhead continues the impressive level of interactive fun and silliness, giving the individual responsibilities of certain audience members and slightly lengthy game, I did feel the high octane fun achieved begin to wane. If we consider this a comedy show alone, it won’t consistently get the big laughs and there is a sense that Peter and Lloyd can improve on their joke writing and lyrics. But as a spectacle and entertainment value, this is one of the most unique shows I have seen at the Fringe in the past 14 years, if not the most unique. A perfect blend of geeky fun, rock’n’roll and daftness, there would have to be something wrong with you to not be able to enjoy yourself. I went in with a sense Foxdog Studios could be this year’s Flight of the Conchords and I can’t argue against that after first viewing. Their talent is sickening.

★★★★ (and a half) Click Here

August 21, 2016  Arts Award Voice
Review of Jordan Brookes: The Making Of
Review for Jordan Brooks - the making of
Jordan Brookes is hysterically and unexpectedly funny. He combines a series of slow-motion and amusing facial expressions with clever, witty lines. He makes fun of doing a gap year, when whatever you do is apparently more interesting because it's done miles away from home.
In an escalation of jokes and enumeration of different exotic places, his facial miming enhances every bit of his performance. From being a new born baby to growing old, we explore with him his life. In this story, humour and sarcasm hide insecurity and past discomfort, including in his gap year. It was nothing like the ones he describes: not full of travels around the world. But it is still great comedy material.
The venue is not so close to the main ones, but it's worth the short walk to arrive and see Jordan's show. Expect to be greatly amused Mr Brookes, who is perfectly able to fill up the room with infectious laughs.

* * * * Click Here

August 21, 2016  Chortle
Review of Fit
Review for Fit
Treat yourself. Toby Adams is an unsung, uncool, low key cult comic act in the making. His self-effacing approach to posters and flyers makes it almost difficult to find his show. I was delighted to find one of his minimalist flyers at the venue because I’d loved last year’s show so much, the fishing-based, Quivertip and didn’t know he was in Edinburgh this time.

He has the gift of making a tiny audience feel so welcome and just the right number that it’s almost pleasing that there aren’t more people there, it’s a little gift from performer to audience as it is. But it would be more pleasing for him if a few more of you turned up, and enjoyed yourselves before a late lunch.

Fit is utterly daft and lighthearted. Adams can move seamlessly from pre-show chat until you suddenly find yourself caught up in his show without realising it’s started. The interaction is so gentle and charming and unthreatening, it just feels like cooperating towards a common goal. And that goal is forging path to happiness through fitness without ever having to join a gym. There’s a lot of silly fat measuring (he’s in good shape), drawing, filming, it really is a team effort. A most relaxing, giggly show to start your afternoon with a feelgood experience.

He plays low-status but is not unconfident and has quiet charisma which endears him to the audience, whatever their number. Now, go and support a truly Fringey, uncorporate, modest show. And then sit back and wait for next year’s.

Review date: Monday 22nd Aug, '16Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain Click Here

August 21, 2016  Young Perspective
Review of Mulhollandland (Work in Progress)
Review for Mulhollandland (work in progress)
Where/when: 48 Below, 1.15pm every day (not the 17th)

Walking twenty minutes out of the centre of town for a free fringe work-in-progress may not inspire the greatest confidence in the show, but when you see the fantastic flyer for Pat Mulholland’s Mulhollandland, you may find it hard to resist.

Luckily, this show does not disappoint.


A heady mix of stand-up and theatre landing somewhere as a one-man sketch show, it takes the form of the national variety performance of a failing totalitarian state. The show starts off with some fantastic alternative comedy bits- the ghost of brisket past and Sesame street Tory majority- are then suffocated by the phonecalls of a mysterious, anonymous representative of the central government who forces more mainstream approaches. This leads to things like a stereotypical angry Irish comedian and a spy posing as a ventriloquist amongst other things. On the surface it is merely a cutting deconstruction of Communist values, but the subtext is of the continued selling out of the free fringe- original, alternative stuff being squeezed out by club comedy.

The original and alternative are certainly what this show falls under. Hilarious and fresh, most bits land big and if they don’t then there’ll be a new ‘act’ in a few seconds to make up for it. Consisting of big laughs and including political jabs, surrealism and whimsy, as well as an underlying message, it is essentially the perfect Fringe show.

That’s not to say there aren’t some issues, mostly of the technical variety. The show involves a lot of sound queues and a projector and several times the cue comes in either too early or refuses to play at all, but that may as much be a product of the venue than anything else, as well as being the work in progress. Taking up the mantle of writer, director, performer, stage hand and tech, you get the feeling the extra polish provided by being able to delegate some of the stage work, as well as the budget provided by a big venue would make the show something truly special, akin to a Sam Simmons show (something this show is very similar to).

Overall, however, it is an enjoyable and laugh-packed hour and exactly what the Free Fringe should be promoting in its premier venues, as opposed to a cellar on the outskirts of the festival. Click Here

August 21, 2016  Scotsman
Review of Alfie Brown: Scissor
Review for Alfie Brown: Scissor
From a breathtakingly arrogant debut show that could not have been more irritating had it been done to a backing track of nails scraping down a blackboard, Alfie Brown has evolved into an extraordinarily impressive comic. Rating: ****

Venue: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe (Venue 85) He is still an energetic bundle of egregiously educated, middle -class self confidence, but the borderline sociopathic arrogance has gone and, as he starts this exhilirating hour by taking on well worn subjects like alcohol and Facebook and enthusiastically ripping them a new one, you feel Alfie and his ­talent have finally clicked. English and French, he says, are the only languages in which we “fall” in love, and follows with a glorious demonstration of him falling in love with his girlfriend. It is manic, openhearted and funny. For all that Jennifer Rush claimed “the power of love” could do, she never once mentioned turning a smug opinionated boy into a great comic. Apart from making a very good case for men’s opinions on feminism being more valid than women’s, his argument that, while society might not favour the female, nature certainly did, had the room persuaded. I laughed more at Alfie’s revelations of his clit envy than was entirely comfortable for the person next to me. The end, he tells us, casually, “isn’t really written yet”. Which would normally light my personal blue touch paper. But this is terrific stuff. Fellow comic Jimmy McGhie is beside me on the way out. “Alfie’s comedy has finally caught up with his intellect,” he says. I could not have put it better myself.

 Click Here

August 21, 2016  Shortcom
Review of Superhero Secret Origins : SPECIAL EDITION
Review for Andrew Roper - Superhero Secret Origins: Special Edition
Andrew Roper has over 20 years of experience in comedy and he’s back at the Fringe again this year with his latest show Superhero Secret Origins: Special Edition.

It is essentially an hour long lecture on the origins of all your favourite superheroes but do not let the word lecture dissuade you, this is where his 20 years experience in comedy really shines and it’s really just the best word I could think of to describe his show. It is very funny and very well delivered with an obvious enthusiasm for the subject matter that keeps the audience interested and laughing throughout. He begins with some examples of early superhero theme songs from 60’s and earlier and asks the audience to identify them with some limited success, but it is obvious that Roper knows who is audience are and what they will identify with. He moves on to tell us about, not just the origin of your favourite superheroes but the first ever superheroes. He then takes us on a rapid journey through the politics of the comics industry, the “borrowing” of characters, the misattribution of who created who and the creation of Marvel and DC. Speeding his way through the silver age, the rivalries and the comic code at a speed at which The Flash would be proud.

I got the impression that Roper was constrained by his 55 minute runtime and would have happily kept on talking about this subject till the cows came home, if i’m honest I would happily have listened. His enthusiasm for the subject matter is infectious and his level of knowledge is staggering, if you even have a passing interest in comics and superheroes or the latest comic book movies then you should definitely check him out, his show is free so you have nothing to lose.

★★★★

Euan Tennant Click Here

August 21, 2016  To Do List
Review of Mae Martin: Work In Progress
Review for MAE MARTIN: Work in Progress
Improvised material from an inherently funny stand up.

This show is a work in progress and it’s in the early stage, so it’s a touch hard to review – there’s very much the sense that what you see in the finished article will not be the same. But… our version was a very good one and we have every reason to believe that yours will be too. It is essentially one-woman improvisation, but Martin has put a structure into place that seems to work. The show essentially revolves around audience questions that may or may not spark memories and generate jokes or comic tales. In the most part, they do – and Martin also has a couple of genre tricks up her sleeve that are likely to result in laughter whether they fail or succeed. This is quick witted comedy – Martin is smart and likeable, and funniness seems an innate part of her personality. LE
 Click Here

August 21, 2016  Young Perspective
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Review for Eric Lampaert – Alien of Extraordinary Ability
Eric Lampaert is a tour de force in ‘freaky funny’. His latest offering to the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Alien of Extraordinary Ability’, is no exception, and examines Lampaert’s recent life involving immigration, marriage, meeting parents in law and mental health problems with warmth and wit.


Lampaert has the extraordinary ability to put his audience at ease immediately by, frankly, being delightfully weird. So much nervous and excited energy radiates from him that it’s infectious, with his lanky persona allowing him to get away with plenty of controversial jokes that rarely actually make the audience uncomfortable, something which can (in my opinion) really detract from a performance. Charmingly, Lampaert laughs at his own jokes! – unlike many comedians who create amusement from being very noir and self-deprecating, Lampaert is pleasantly upbeat without being obnoxious, and so is far more invigorating and memorable afterwards.

His handling of the trials and tribulations of being a twenty (nearly thirty!)-something and the conflict of interests (am I an adult? But I snore when I’m awake) is masterful, and compared to stand-up from previous years, which was fizzing with energy but perhaps more erratic, Lampaert has developed into an intensely likeable, clever and astute comedian.

This, however, does not mean that Lampaert is unable to be childish and ridiculous, with his continual (naked) references to The Silence of the Lambs (just go and see this show. It’s impossible to explain) proving absolutely hilarious and the epitome of weird comedy at this year’s Fringe. His use of film and music also adds to the performance, making the show feel very well-made.

Often a measure for how much I enjoy a show is by how much I’ve written down – the lesser, the better. It seems I spent so much time laughing during the hour that I only managed four lines. If you’re searching for an unconventional energy boost, Lampaert is your lanky, hilarious and quite frankly ridiculous man. Click Here

August 21, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Review for Eric Lampaert – Alien of Extraordinary Ability
Enquiring minds can have their fix of scientific musings and comedy at once in these sceptical shows from two outsiders

Immigration, that buzzword of so many headlines, is hard enough when you speak the language. Eric Lampaert, Frenchman in disguise, boasts American, UK and tricolore citizenship, and is officially known to the US immigration office as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability [★★★★]. That ability is stand-up, and in this hour he more than proves his status as a really impressive comic with a unique perspective on the planet.

Lampaert eases us in with material on cultural differences before swiftly sliding into surrealism while never losing his thread. He seems to trust us completely with details of his experiences of xenophobia, visa applications and depression, but the mood never drops below a set level of welcoming cheekiness.

We see how mental health issues can be detrimental to one’s visa application as well as one’s life, and all the ridiculous questions asked of those wanting to move from one part of our pale blue dot to another. With a tight use of multimedia we see sketches in video form and extra added photos that enhance the show without distracting us from Lampaert as the main event. This is a slick and heartfelt hour of comedy from a confident and amiable performer. Click Here

August 21, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Circumcision
Review for Circumcision
Stand-up comedy is unquestionably a very masculine world. You only have to look at the proportion of women to men on comedy panel shows to know it. It therefore seems a no brainer that an hour of stand-up on the modern conception of masculinity will be interesting. Dave Chawner’s ‘Circumcision’ is not only that, it manages to be hilarious at the same time.
Chawner is an easy, charming presence on stage. If a joke misses he doesn’t seem too put off by it, you don’t get the uncomfortable sensation that you do from other comics that a small piece of their soul has died with that gag. However, he does seem to get better with audience laughter, his comic timing improving as the show progresses. He appears thrilled when an audience member corrects his medical language: it’s the most factual heckle he’s ever had. His ease on stage is crucial to the success of the show, as it delves into topics that would make many men squirm.
‘Circumcision’ isn’t a pretentious, metaphorical title. The show centres on Chawner having to be circumcised earlier in the year. He tells us that previous titles for the show include ‘In the Hood’ and ‘Less of a Prick’. He’s clearly not embarrassed and it provides an original basis for his show. Normally when male stand-ups talk about sex, or worse, their girlfriends or wives, there’s a fair amount of crude jokes and sexism. It can make you feel uncomfortable as a female audience member. It’s not that you’re always offended, and I’ve definitely laughed at sexist jokes in my time, because we all understand that comedy has slightly different rules. But there is a sense of being sidelined in an audience. These jokes aren’t really for you.
You can understand, therefore, why I’m weary when Chawner stops the show to give a disclaimer before moving on to material about his ex-girlfriend. He doesn’t want to be rude about her. I’m waiting for the oh-so-ironic but not-so-original “But she’s a f**king cow”. However it doesn’t come, and instead we simply get more hilarious insights into sex and dating in the modern world.
It’s a professional, and original hour of comedy, and it’s totally free. Though as Chawner points out, he’d be grateful for a tip. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Chortle
Review of Nathan Cassidy: 42
Chortle Review
Nathan Cassidy has always been a tricksy comedian, loving a bit of a gimmick. And his latest Fringe show is no exception.

The premise is that he’s seeking the meaning of life and the key to happiness. Thanks to Douglas Adams, the number 42 will forever be associated with that greatest of existential questions. So Cassidy has compiled a list of 42 things that make him happy, from much-loved celebrities to holiday excursions. An audience member picks ten at random from a deck of cards, and that’s how the show is constructed.

Has he really learned four times more material than he needs? The cynic in me suspects at least a smidgeon of trickery, especially as some topics clunkily segue into tangentially related anecdotes.

It also seems as if the gimmick has come first; it’s not entirely clear why the card doohickey has produced a better result than telling a story straight would have done… but without seeing other versions, it’s hard to tell. My maths may be wrong, but if all is legit there are 1.47billion possible combinations of ten cards out of 42, if the order doesn’t matter, which would take 168,000 years to get through.

The stories are a mixed bag; his awkward meeting with a producer of a youth-skewed TV comedy shows him to be rather bitter, and it’s pretty indulgent. But that’s set off by a nice twist on the Birdman of Alcatraz legend. Best of the bunch is when he speaks of his children – so often cited as the source of lasting happiness, but are they? Jokes about young Will being an almost-certain homosexual, which somehow seem naughty for Cassidy to be saying, but they work very well.

Cassidy’s delivery is sarcastic and sometimes a little aloof, so it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that he warms up for Britain’s Got Talent and Clare Balding’s show, jobs that would require a lot of bouncy energy. Still, this sideline provided the biggest laugh of the show, thanks a comment made on Balding’s show – and the way Cassidy tees it up with building anticipation.

As well as the card device, Cassidy has also engineered an enjoyable stunt ending, not entirely original – one more established comic did a bigger-scale version of the same idea last year – but still the sort of ‘only on the Fringe’ moment that turns a show into an event. Did we discover the secret and life and happiness? Not conclusively, but Cassidy will make you that little bit happier for an hour or so. Click Here

August 20, 2016  The National
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for ERICH MCELROY'S Electile Dysfunction
Comedy: Erich McElroy's (US) Electile Dysfunction

Three stars

IN Donald Trump, comics have the perfect subject. A man who cites both The National Enquirer and Alex Jones as “reliable sources”, he cannot open his mouth lest he offend someone, say the unthinkable or eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in manner hitherto unseen – with a knife and fork.

As McElroy, a seasoned US comic and floating voter from a small-c conservative town, explains, Trump's success is partly down to playing expertly to the echo-chamber of right-wing social media and how he has a genius for saying a terrible thing eg: “Mexicans are criminals and rapists” followed by a nice thing eg: “Mexicans are good people”, provoking a kind of cognitive dissonance that confused, weary voters don't really know how to respond to.

An expat who's lived the UK for over a decade (and who helmed one of the few shows in 2014 in support of keeping that Union), he's both likeably self-deprecating and open to the possibility he may be wrong.

Though some of his historical material on US politics will be familiar to anyone with a worn-out Bill Hicks CD, there's plenty of laughs to be had here (and his asides are often even funnier than his main material) as well as interesting comparisons between the UK and the US.

Until Aug 28, Laughing Horse @ Bar 50 (V151), 1.20pm (60mins), free but ticketed. Click Here

August 20, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for ERICH MCELROY'S Electile Dysfunction
UK resident and US-born comedian Erich McElroy has history with political shows at Edinburgh, devoting his 2014 show to the then upcoming Scottish Independence referendum, and his decision to come down on the Better Together side. He repeatedly refers to that show as a mistake, but evidently it’s not put him off too much as he’s back with Electile Dysfunction [★★★] which looks at the presidential election in the States.

He’s on safer, less divisive, terrain this year. The absolute madness of a certain Republican candidate’s rise means he alone could fill a show himself. Hilary Clinton’s had her own scandals and is viewed with suspicion. There are a lot of pantomime villains, and the danger is that McElroy’s show loses a bit of edge in going for easy targets.

What keeps the show fresh is that McElroy doesn’t focus solely on the present day, looking at his own varied voting history, and examining both his formative years in smalltown America and his Lutheran upbringing. It’s an intriguing trip through a world we don’t see or hear about too often amongst the sensational headlines and extravagant rallies. He returns to the current political storm one more time to skewer Clinton and Trump’s slogans (“I’m with her” isn’t all that inspiring), before signing off with a show of support for the woman who could be America’s first female president. Click Here

August 20, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Stephen Carlin: TV Comeback Special
Review for Stephen Carlin: TV Comeback Special
We’ll give the benefit of the doubt to poor Stephen Carlin, who fights against a small army of mindless hecklers on the night we see his stand-up show TV Comeback Special [★★★]. He gets close to a story about nearly appearing on Newsnight, and what he manages to deliver (about Donald Trump, drugs and sex with a mad girlfriend) is the kind of solid material we'd expect from him, but on a raucous Friday evening this is pearls before swine. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Aaaaargh, it's 101 naughty jokes in 30 minutes - Free Show
Review for Aaaaargh! It's 101 Naughty Jokes in 30 Minutes – Free Show
If you find it in your heart to forgive the failings of Masai Graham’s previous show, Aaaaah! It’s 101 Clean Jokes in 30 Minutes, and stuck around for the follow-up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what he has in store. Graham drops the clean-cut act from his routine for a no-holds-barred performance that takes pot shots in all directions, sparing no race, religion, or creed; and all through the witty lyricism of his infamous, trademark puns.

Graham drops the clean-cut act from his routine for a no-holds-barred performance that takes pot shots in all directions
There are some wobbles here and there, where one or two jokes are woefully predictable or lack a grounded context. But the general experience is no less commendable. Fringe goers need not worry; despite the slow-burn start, Graham succeeds in its ultimate goals of leaving you laughing without resorting to desperate, amateur-hour tactics.

If Graham stuck to just this kind of humour, he wouldn’t be laden with the sorry reputation of the previous show. But then, maybe it is necessary to offer a contrast. Let’s face it, clean humour may not cut it in 2016, and compared with his clean show, the dirty one garners far more laughs where it is evident he makes more use of his sizeable audience. Graham derives humour from being casually offensive with blatant disregard to social convention; and that is what makes dirty jokes so appealing.

So if you can forgive the failures of Aaaaah! It’s 101 Clean Jokes in 30 Minutes, do not hesitate to come along to its hilarious counterpart, a show which, above all things, delivers what it promises.

By Stuart Mckenzie

I live in the American Gardens Building on West 81st Street on the 11th floor. My name is Patrick Bateman. I'm 27 years old. I believe in taking care of myself, and a balanced diet and a rigorous exercise routine. In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I'll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Martha McBrier : Japanese boy
Review for Martha McBrier: Japanese Boy
Others have noted that mental illness is a recurring theme in comedy shows this year, suggesting the redemptive nature of humour in managing widespread but misunderstood conditions. Martha McBrier’s show recounts her time working in a day hospital for people with a variety of diagnoses, and draws on the kinds of blunt and necessary humour that leaven such experiences. The narrative focuses on a team pool competition she encourages attendees at the centre to participate in. But this is merely a conceit enabling her to humanise those stigmatised by society, and the whole show encourages an inclusive and understanding approach to such conditions.

And what a storyteller she is. Clearly at home in a cramped venue, she’s a skilled narrator not averse to mocking the audience. It’s a rough and ready show, whose blunt edges align neatly with the tale being told. Jokes are raucous and rude, and well delivered. A reenactment of a day centre disco goes on a little too long, but still evidences her talent at character comedy. There’s a message here about the differences between love and care, even if the two sometimes overlap. She rejects some forms of treatment as nonsense, and clearly has views on how best such people are supported. And in the insistence on confronting an audience with a social problem it’s all too easy to ignore, the show has pointed political purpose.

 Click Here

August 20, 2016  The Stage
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Review for Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Songbook cabaret is on a roll at the moment, or so it seems. Aside from the dozens of tributes to the likes of Brel, Porter and Gershwin that pop up around town, there is also a wealth of original songwriters, performing new work and building core audience fan bases. One such example is Tamar Broadbent, who has been a regular face on both the comedy and cabaret circuits here and overseas for several years now.

Broadbent's unique style fuses exquisitely crafted lyrics with precise observational comedy. As with Get Ugly, the artist takes a lighthearted approach to self-perception referencing her recent move to east London and continuing the dating game amid hipsters, gym girls and all the while attempting to keep body hair under control. Think somewhere between Bridget Jones and Victoria Wood and you'll be close to grasping Broadbent's undeniable appeal.

There's an honesty to Broadbent's work that resonates deeply with her fellow millennials and while her references - Tinder, Facebook and hipsters - are refreshingly contemporary, she maintains a universal appeal. Diverse compositions include light ballads and rock beats but it's the connection this artist makes with her audience that signifies a bright future. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Chortle
Review of Alfie Brown: Scissor
Review for Alfie Brown: Scissor
Alfie Brown hates Adele. Really hates Adele. Not just her singing, which he hates. But her lyrics, which he boils down to: ‘It’s all probably someone else’s fault; no further self-analysis needed.’

It’s the exact opposite of Brown’s comedy, in which he subjects himself to the most intense scrutiny and shares his often unflattering results, And not just himself, much of society gets the same forensic examination – before concluding that Adele stems from the same cultural mulch as Islamic State. Did I mention that he really hates Adele?

Scissor is a fiercely intelligent hour, wide in its scope, penetrating in its analysis. The results are engrossing and compellingly conveyed… but it’s also one of those shows which sacrifices a fair bit of funny as Brown puts philosophising over punchline. There’s a lot of them about this Fringe.

Fatherhood and his relationship with fellow comic Jessie Cave, previously documented by them both, has made him a changed man, and a changed comic. He’s not the raw cocktail of rampant anger and bleak nihilism he once was, but he’s not exactly the jaunty everyman comic making relatable observations about Sunday DIY either. He’s as fiercely cynical about relationships and sexual mores as he is about humanity in general.

An habitual contrarian, he confesses to being a racist sometimes and convincingly argues that it’s OK to objectify the opposite sex – then makes the tongue-in-cheek demand that if full gender equality is the aim, he should be granted the same sexual privileges as a woman.

Partly this is provocative for its own sake, to shake up complacency. He talks with the conviction of a demagogue and applies a relentless logic. But he works with nuance, challenging the doctrines we’re supposed to accept as given. His standpoint can be intriguingly ambiguous, arguing the case for opinions he may or may not hold, but he’s very convincing.

Brown’s writing is as powerful as his performance, with a mastery of the pithy maxim. ‘Having just one drink is like having a Russian doll and never opening it up,’ he opines of the missed opportunities responsible drinking means. His fine words conjure up potent images – even if it’s a vivid mental picture you could do without, as he magnifies the dread of imagining your parents having sex a hundredfold, or describes a filthy ballet of ejaculate in a heavenly orgy.

Bold ideas match the bold words, from describing how we’ve come a slave to the selfie, while losing our actual sense of self, and how blandness has taken over our culture.

Yet fascinating and audacious as this is, those elegant phrases don’t often enough break through into hilarious punchlines. He doesn’t push through laughs as determinedly and as passionately as he pushes through his arguments.

One year Brown will surely be at the eye of the perfect storm of comic and intellectual brilliance to create the must-see show of the Fringe. This one isn’t it – again – but he’s never less than a fascinating performer, eloquently firing doubt into your once-certain worldview.

Review date: Thursday 18th Aug, '16Reviewed by: Steve Bennett Click Here

August 20, 2016  Chortle
Review of Archie Maddocks - Shirts vs Skins
Review for Archie Maddocks: Shirts vs Skins
Shirts vs skins is not, Archie Maddocks is keen to point out, about his sporting prowess. Rather it’s the pressure he finds as a mixed-race man to ‘pick a team’ in what he often feels like a binary world of black or white.

Race is a definition he keeps banging into whether he likes it or not; from the American guy who told him ‘you ain’t black’ on hearing his British accent, to feeling out of place among the white Limp Bizkit headbangers, to being told on a climbing wall that black men can’t ascend. (He meant literally, though the metaphor is strong).

So the topic is a useful framework to give context to a broad range of first-hand anecdotes about encounters he’s had that are either odd, or he makes odd in his description, very much the dominant style in contemporary comedy. You can see the affable Maddocks fitting very easily into a TV stand-up show.

For he’s personable, lively and very fast-talking – attributes that stood him in very good stead when battling a hugely disruptive audience at this performance, including, but not limited to, a Russian woman so drunk she couldn’t comprehend where she was, good-natured walkouts from a group of friends deciding food was more important than comedy, and a man who randomly shouted out, ‘ananas’ – French for pineapple – mid-joke.

Though the odds were stacked against him, Maddocks persevered with his material, though even in this odd atmopshere he needn’t keep pointing out that gags deserved more: those who laughed would think him ungrateful and those who didn’t would think him arrogant. Nonetheless, he said the words: ‘That’s a nice line. I wrote it myself. You’re welcome’ often enough that it seems like a catchphrase.

Indeed, there are many neat gags in the show, though not quite enough for a constant stream of laughs, while the stories never coagulate into anything of great substance. Despite the underpinning theme, it’s really a succession of similar-ish yarns, which leads to a rather flat tone over a full hour.

He also reaches his conclusion about three-quarters of the way through the show, leaving him killing time with more of the same in the home straight.

However, there is a corking, almost cinematic, story about a run-in with an old-school Vegas mob boss here, which shines whatever it’s relevance to the topic in hand. Other stories of bizarre instances of racism (as if all racism isn’t bizarre) come with a deft touch, although there are other things he could probably delved into further: his time at the London school dubbed a jihadi training camp after nine of its pupils fled to join Islamic State prime among them.

Still, this is an upbeat hour of sprightly fun with a bit of substance; Maddocks could just do with varying the texture a little more. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Beyond the Joke
Review of Jordan Brookes: The Making Of
Review for Jordan Brooks - the making of
Jordan Brookes is a comedian who has definitely got a very distinctive talent. Once seen he is never forgotten. He is creative, inventive and not scared to try out new things onstage even though they might not necessarily work.

His second Edinburgh show, The Making Of, underlines how good he is without ever - for me anyway - quite delivering. From the very start his set had a stop-start quality which made it hard to build up momentum or to get the audience to engage with the performance. Every now and again he would step back and comment on proceedings just as you might have been getting into it. This could be precisely the self-sabotaging uncomfortable mood Brookes is aiming for though, in which case he does a brilliant job.

One of the running themes in the autobiographical show is the classic Fringe trope of being shaped by a troubled childhood. The gag - or maybe the truth - here is that everything he does springs from his father being largely absent from his childhood. It’s a theme he keeps returning to from different angles, maybe labouring the point a little too much. Then again there are some gags that are pushed so far - such as giving the audience the finger in various ways - they become funnier the more he does it.

The Making Of is as big on physicality as it is on verbal humour. In various bullet point flashbacks and flash-forwards Brookes shows us the stages of his life, from being born (excellent) to loony tunes decrepitude. He has a marvellously mobile face. In fact it is funny that he is playing a venue called the Cellar Monkey as I bet he could do an excellent impression of a monkey trapped in a cellar.

Brookes is without a doubt a comedian to keep tabs on. I wish I was clever enough to suggest ways he could improve. Maybe better direction? Neater editing? Maybe more concessions to an audience who haven’t paid to get in - it’s a free gig - so need to be got onside quickly rather than made to feel like they are watching someone have a public breakdown?

But I get the impression Brookes knows what he wants to do and is doing it. This show is definitely worth fifty minutes of your time, but I have the sneaking suspicion that future Brookes shows will be even better.

Until August 28. Free Click Here

August 20, 2016  Fringe Biscuit
Review of Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Review for Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Like insane and absurd comedy... here is the Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate for you! Click Here

August 20, 2016  The List
Review of Chris Davis: Chinchilla Coats
Review for Chris Davis: Chinchilla Coats
Ever wondered how many chinchillas it would take to make a coat? Animal-lover Chris Davis is ready to tell you. The American comic opens with an explanation that he's prepared a series of flashcard jokes alongside his routine, to be selected from a pile and read out when the mood takes him. The sizeable stack looks like it'll see him through the entire festival without fear of repetition.

Davis meanders through a series of topics, covering sleeping with pillows, the delights of day-drinking and the mood-boosting power of burgers all in the same laid-back style of a guy that enjoys a beer and doesn't take life too seriously. The subjects haven't been shoehorned into an overarching theme and there are some surreal, almost trippy moments here, though several returning motifs help tie the hour together.

Trump and Brexit are left unmentioned in a chilled-out affair that muses light-heartedly over the everyday. When discussing nicknames, he relishes the succinct answer given to him by a homeless man named Spider when asked why he was called that: 'because'. A similar philosophy seems likely as his explanation for why he's created a show about chinchillas: just because.

Laughing Horse @ the Cellar Monkey, until 28 Aug, 7.30pm, free. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Bob Blackman's Tray
Review for Bob Blackman's Tray
“The Tribute Act To The Act With No Act”has solved a problem that dogs all but the most innovate of performers: why bother making the effort to come up with something new when in all likelihood it’s been done better already? The Bob ‘The Tray’ Blackman Appreciation Society thankfully returns to Edinburgh for another year, bringing with it its unique brand of light entertainment-infused, highbrow silliness.

Deceptively well-written, with a stand-up performing a character performing stand-up, yet never over-eggs the premise
Stoke-on-Trent Variety Clubis the venue for the gig, which we’re told in advance will last approximately 48 minutes and 37 seconds. The show is loosely built around two standup sets, one from Johnny ‘Showaddywaddy’ Sorrow, the second from up-and-comer Trevor Never (both played by the same man). The set from Sorrow is part variety club compere, part homage, part breakdown. The ghosts of ITV’s New Faces and being barred from performing at the Dudley Social Club haunt Sorrow (“I’ve been shunned Missus! Have you ever been shunned? You look like you have.”) It’s deceptively well-written, with a stand-up performing a character performing stand-up, yet never over-eggs the premise, delivering more good old fashioned gags per minute than you’re likely to see anywhere north of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Trevor Never is considered on the Stoke comedy scene as one of those new, edgy comics, bringing with him a Lenny Bruce-style rage at the bureaucracy that means he is denied any local access to indoor bowling facilities during winter months. Like Johnny Sorrow’s routine, this can be taken at face value or as a parody of Never’s furious parochialism – from either vantage point this section, like all parts of the show, works equally well.

Palate cleansers administered by the balaclava-clad Richard Drake are slotted in between the larger routines. These come in the form of “The Man With No Act” (and his aforementioned tribute) and the man whose act consists only of punchlines (“I’ve never even met Carol Vorderman”), among others. Handily, he’s brought his own canned laughter, just so we’re sure of the right places to laugh. In Fringes past a technician looked after the sound effects – it’s a pity that’s no longer the case as seeing Drake remotely trigger the response to his punchlines a split second before we hear the programmed ‘Oi Oi!’ takes away from it slightly. But only very slightly.
This is one of the most criminally under-attended and under-appreciated shows of this (or any other) year’s Fringe. As Johnny ‘Showaddywaddy’ Sorrow himself says: “You can take your Avalons, you can take your Gilded Balloons, you can take your Copsticks and your bloody Malcolm McIntyres! This is what it’s all about, this is craft!” Amen to that. Click Here

August 20, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Andy Field: Roar
Review for Andy Field: Roar
Many comics would look out on an audience of four people and cancel their show, but would Andy Field? Andy Field would not. You get the feeling many of Andy Field’s daft puns and sketches were developed in the mirror—stupid jokes to make himself laugh—and he would happily play to an empty room. We are privileged to be allowed in. Many comics would get disheartened when a quarter of his audience leave halfway through, but Andy Field only gets funnier.

He’s not even annoyed that it’s the flyerer he employed that day, who did such a bang-up job filling the room. Andy Field has overcome disappointment before. Previous winners of the Chortle Student Comedy award have snatched fame and prestigious slots within a year of winning, but Andy Field has not. There’s every chance that will change. You never know who’s watching. Some comics would think it is tempting fate to ask an audience member if he is a critic. (He is.) Most comics would consider it suicide to ask another audience member the same thing. (She isn't – she is a scout from a major comedy promoter). Almost every comic would melt if faced with that room, and Andy Field wobbles a little, but he is determined that we have a good time – and we do.

It’s tempting to make Andy Field into a metaphor for the true heart of the Fringe, the cliché of a comedian plying his art for the art of it, but he’s not. Andy Field is a talented and silly performer who will make you laugh for an hour, improving your life a little bit for a little while.
 Click Here

August 19, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Review for LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Perhaps one of the most entertaining shows I have seen on the Free Fringe, Lovehard consists of comedians Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (see what they did there?), who in what is amazingly their first full length Edinburgh show deliver an outrageous horror-comedy.

The House on the Hill is almost impossible not to enjoy.
The Kings are an American family who have moved to rural Scotland; little do they know that they will have to contend with some unhinged locals and spooky goings on in their new home. Right from the off the show is fantastic – and the first joke is mostly just Harding pulling a dramatic face set to scary music! Everything that follows is charmingly lo-fi: together the pair play a total of 25 characters (somehow managing to get a lot of them onstage together near the end), and the occasional late sound cue or corpse actually made it all much more enjoyable than a slicker show.

Working in a tiny performance space (you’ll hardly notice), most of the comedy is verbal rather than visual. The humour is surreal with a fantastic filthy streak, and the audience were in hysterics as the routines get weirder and weirder. There are plenty of satisfying running jokes which are all very odd – they’ll appeal to all but have an enjoyably youthful slant – with a hilariously strange adaptation of the “no legs” meme. The characters are also fabulously off-the-wall, with Lovick’s take on the Scottish locals being a particular highlight.

The show also managed to be fairly creepy in some of the horror scenes, and the familiar tropes of unexplained music and mysterious voices were pulled off well. I saw a plot twist coming early in the story, but it was still very satisfying and unexpectedly hilarious when the big reveal came. The horror vibe provided some great black humour and multiple opportunities to poke fun at the genre – particularly the locals’ inexplicable hostility towards people who “aren’t from round these parts.”
By the end of the performance you’ll have laughed more or less solidly throughout. The surreal humour and hilarious running jokes make this an unexpected delight, providing plenty of reasons to head out to the small venue for the late evening slot. The House on the Hill is almost impossible not to enjoy. Click Here

August 19, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Review for Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
We're greeted by bubbles, lovingly dispatched by Mawaan Rizwan as a gift to selected audience members. This opening sets the tone of a show high on audience interaction that is always leavened by sweetness and frivolity. By the end of it you'll be clear on what constitutes a gender neutral concubine pirate; and whether you want to be one too.

There's a stage, but it's not used. Rizwan is, instead, down in the audience, his manic performance within spitting distance. This is high campery that flits between threatening and absurd, often exhibiting both simultaenously. It turns out he's a magician too, in a glorious bit of silliness that revolves around a quite different kind of trickery. And you might want to hide your drink if you've got one; alternatively, you could sample the homemade wine he whips up there and then.

While there's lots of lunacy to enjoy here, there are also hints at a darker motivation behind it all. The desire for identity fluidity is manifested via the pirate persona and digs at conservative parents splutter through at unexpected moments. It's a shame there isn't more of this splenetic bile. But the inventive deirium is what matters most; after all, there aren't many shows that could get away with not one but two sequences all about baby wipes. This is an energetic and engaging show deserving to be seen by a bigger crowd. Click Here

August 19, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Review for Eric Lampaert: Alien of Extraordinary Ability
Now bearded, married to a sometime model and living in LA, things are going pretty swimmingly for Eric Lampaert, a man who, as an FBI interrogator in one of this show’s enjoyable video skits suggests, looks like “Heroin Jesus”.

Lampaert currently feels attached to three countries as he’s French, was brought up in England, and has an American wife. So one weighty issue has dogged his year: immigration, which turns out to be a major headache even if you’re a citizen’s husband. And without a UK passport, Brexit confuses things even more.

It’s a topic that’s understandably high on the Fringe agenda this year, but Lampaert takes it in unique new directions. Into space, in fact, as he’s developed a serious interest in astrophysics recently, and embarks on some enlightening big-screen cosmos chat here.

An Eric Lampaert TED Talk? Well, only briefly, as he’s got a galaxy of brilliant silliness to cram in too. Even the dark matter is rich with comic potential: his therapist’s measured response to the voices in his head (“It’s the best place for them”) leads to some fine physical comedy capped by a fabulously crap pun. Now that’s how to write a bit.

He’s actually working with a relatively small audience on this boiling afternoon, punters dotted around the venue like stars in the night sky, but there’s none of the awkwardness that such a scenario sometimes provides. Lampaert is evidently enjoying every minute of this idea-packed hour, and the enthusiasm is infectious. It’s probably the best intergalactic immigration party you’ll be invited to this year. Click Here

August 19, 2016  Chortle
Review of Nathan Cassidy: 42
Review for Nathan Cassidy: 42
Nathan Cassidy has always been a tricksy comedian, loving a bit of a gimmick. And his latest Fringe show is no exception.

The premise is that he’s seeking the meaning of life and the key to happiness. Thanks to Douglas Adams, the number 42 will forever be associated with that greatest of existential questions. So Cassidy has compiled a list of 42 things that make him happy, from much-loved celebrities to holiday excursions. An audience member picks ten at random from a deck of cards, and that’s how the show is constructed.

Has he really learned four times more material than he needs? The cynic in me suspects at least a smidgeon of trickery, especially as some topics clunkily segue into tangentially related anecdotes.

It also seems as if the gimmick has come first; it’s not entirely clear why the card doohickey has produced a better result than telling a story straight would have done… but without seeing other versions, it’s hard to tell. My maths may be wrong, but if all is legit there are 1.47billion possible combinations of ten cards out of 42, if the order doesn’t matter, which would take 168,000 years to get through.

The stories are a mixed bag; his awkward meeting with a producer of a youth-skewed TV comedy shows him to be rather bitter, and it’s pretty indulgent. But that’s set off by a nice twist on the Birdman of Alcatraz legend. Best of the bunch is when he speaks of his children – so often cited as the source of lasting happiness, but are they? Jokes about young Will being an almost-certain homosexual, which somehow seem naughty for Cassidy to be saying, but they work very well.

Cassidy’s delivery is sarcastic and sometimes a little aloof, so it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that he warms up for Britain’s Got Talent and Clare Balding’s show, jobs that would require a lot of bouncy energy. Still, this sideline provided the biggest laugh of the show, thanks a comment made on Balding’s show – and the way Cassidy tees it up with building anticipation.

As well as the card device, Cassidy has also engineered an enjoyable stunt ending, not entirely original – one more established comic did a bigger-scale version of the same idea last year – but still the sort of ‘only on the Fringe’ moment that turns a show into an event. Did we discover the secret and life and happiness? Not conclusively, but Cassidy will make you that little bit happier for an hour or so. Click Here

August 19, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Head Sets
Review for Head Sets
Rondo comedy show Head Sets features a rotating line up daily, so you cannot be certain of what to expect. All performers stick their heads through a cut-out hole in a black plastic wall to give off the impression of levitation, as well as rely upon only their noggin for comedy.

The half Irish, half Colombian uses the audience in his short slot, and was by far the highlight of the evening
The viewing I saw featured New York MC Suzanne Lea Shepherd to present, who, despite her enthusiasm, wasn’t great at crowd control. For instance, Shepherd pointedly called out the rude couple on their mobile in the front row, but her weak finger-wagging response was more akin to lecturing an unruly school child than an obnoxious asshole who couldn’t respect performers. And it is this tameness which carried through much of her humour where the jokes are too kind to have any major impact. Still, she was cheery and passionate for the lukewarm audience.

Will Mars was the first to poke his head through the hole, and began the night with sardonic, self-deprecating quips about his physical appearance ranging from his weight to going bald. A great warm up, though at times it felt more like group therapy confessions. For his own well-being, I too hope there lurks a Vin Diesel under there.

Up straight after was Paul F Taylor whose bizarrely amusing antics shows influence from the comedy stylings of Flight of Concords. By far one of the most endearing acts, and the one performer who made the best use of the fact that his head was levitating on stage, Taylor was a great midway point between Mars and Matt Gifford. When the latter stepped on after Taylor, the loud and eccentric comic, Gifford, wasted no time on introductions to make the best use of his set time with jokes about cocaine and potatoes. The half Irish, half Colombian uses the audience in his short slot, and was by far the highlight of the evening.
The giant 6’7” Luke Benson followed on after with numerous jokes relating to his imposing stature. Lastly, the token Scot Steve Carling took to the stage with quips about Scottish culture and American politics. He slowed down the momentum of his predecessors but was nonetheless funny, ending the night on a gradual come down. Click Here

August 18, 2016  Chortle
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review for Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
The nuttiest Presidential campaign in US history has been keeping the satirists busy trying to keep up with Donald Trump’s constant stream of brain farts, and crack jokes about what is already clearly preposterous.

Erich McElroy, an American who’s lived in the UK for 16 years, has the same problem. Plus the fact that the internet puts the sharpest American comedians and commentators on to every desktop, against whom it is impossible for him to compete.

So there’s little new in the opinions he sets out in (US) Electile Dysfunction, which charts a mainstream view of the campaign, balanced in the way it pokes fun at the three biggest personalities – Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – in equal measure.

He talks of how Trump uses the dog-whistle of suggesting the worst without out-and-out saying it and how his relentless pushing of the same idea, such as ‘crooked Hillary’ inevitably sticks. Sanders is portrayed as an irascible leftie, and the unlikeable Clinton as no one’s first choice, a dry political automaton reluctantly seen as the lesser evil.

The show is more of a monologue of entertainingly presented information than a stand-up set of punchy jokes, although there are few lines that shine and a few ideas that stick. McElroy doesn’t just talk about the current election, either, offering some background for viewers too young to remember vice-presidential hopeful Dan Quayle misspelling ‘potato’ in a children’s spelling bee, or the first Gulf War. Two defining moments in America’s recent history, if not exactly of equal importance, which again the over-40s will already be familiar with.

Despite what you might expect, McElroy is not particularly topical, not even referring to Trump’s assertion a couple of days before the show that Barack Obama was one of the founders of Islamic State… not ‘creating the vacuum in which they could germinate’ but an actual founder. Maybe he assumes that in the bubble of the Edinburgh Fringe, many of his audience will miss real-world news for the month.

The very latest developments notwithstanding, (US) Electile Dysfunction is a reasonable primer to what’s going on, an astute and fair-minded analysis of a situation beyond irony, presented by an eloquent communicator staking a claim to be called on for the next talking-heads show about American politics. But for the real jokes, tune into Fox News. Click Here

August 18, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Review for Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Troy Hawke shimmies on stage in a cravat and red silk robe, hair and moustache impossibly well groomed, the perfect gentleman of leisure. Character comedian Milo McCabe's camp creation is a pre-war throwback to another age—part Errol Flynn, part Kenneth Horne—flung headfirst into modernity after an apparently insulated childhood with a sadistically overprotective mother.

Armed only with a Bible for guidance, and a notebook in which he assiduously documents verbatim encounters with everyone he meets—he's a quick study, proudly annoucing he's now proficient in “phonetic” Scottish—Milo has been out on an adventure. He's approached his travels, mostly around South London, with the enthusiasm and cluelessness of British imperial explorers –somewhere betweeen trippy grand tour and misguided anthropological study.

It's a fun premise, and the character is brought exquisitely to life. There are a few gems, too, as Hawke tries to understand the world around him. Croydon Wetherspoons, he can only surmise, is a sort of “spiritual temple”: the sticky floors encourage us to pause and live in the moment, while all around blank-faced men face the walls, meditating to the regular sound of ceremonially smashed glass.

It's all fairly one-note, and at just over 40 minutes is little more than a fun diversion, a series of entertaining variations on a theme. There's just time for McCabe to turn political though. Apparently the moral of it all is to beware posh-voiced morons with no comprehension of the real world – witness the current crop of Tory MPs. Click Here

August 18, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Katie Mulgrew: Saboteur
Review for Katie Mulgrew: Saboteur @ Laughing Horse, Southside Social
A captivating return from Katie Mulgrew

After having a year away from the festival, Katie Mulgrew is back and raring to go. Her show Saboteur makes up for lost ground, covering her last year away from the Fringe and taking an introspective look at parenthood and the bond between child and parent. She wants the world to up its game, but has yet to muster more than the signing of e-petitions to make it happen. Saboteur references the fact that Mulgrew is prone to self-sabotage – now that she has the responsibility of a child, she faces an even bigger challenge to get it together.

Mulgrew makes no bones about the subject of this year's show being her transition into motherhood. Her conversational inclusivity and buddying charm create a cosy atmosphere, akin to a coffee-fuelled catch-up with an old friend around the kitchen table. "You don’t get to go out much with a 11-month-old baby," she says, before delving into a routine about emotional signposting (a balloon-based suggestion from her husband during Mulgrew’s pregnancy to help show her mood).

Mulgrew is naturally funny, but its her storytelling that pins the show together, as she breaks the show into smaller digestible pieces by occasionally diverting from the main topic of discussion. There are some lulls in the second half of the hour which slow things down considerably, though routines about Robocop and a hen night help fill the gaps. Happy balloons at the ready.

 Click Here

August 18, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Foxdog Studios
Review for Foxdog Studios
Surely a unique mashup of comedy, music and computer geekery, Foxdog Studios is very much in the beta stage of development. But there's a cracking, late-night event building here. IT consultants by day, Lloyd Henning and Peter Sutton have contrived a bizarre blend of audience interaction and hit-and-miss spectacle, which, despite their electronic wizardry remains a little clunky, as several longueurs exceed the point of being entertaining for crap's sake.

The initial premise of the show is that we're all new employees of a metal recycling plant owned by Mr Boxhat (Sutton, in a wonderfully disturbing helmet of cardboard and cameras affording horrific closeups of his features), which he runs with his nephew (Henning). Establishing the core inventiveness of Foxdog's comedy, everyone in the crowd can use their smartphone to connect with, create avatars and contribute to the narrative as it unfolds on screen. Meaningless tosh about smuggling toffee cream liqueur into Leeds Festival, there's nevertheless a giddy thrill in realising that, in a small way, you're dictating the show whenever your avatar is centre stage. The technology works far better than the lo-fi shambles around it might lead you to believe.

Unfortunately, once that initial delight has settled, there's a lot of simply waiting for scenes to unfold at a snail's pace, and seeing your avatar pelt pointlessly around a mostly featureless canvas. Henning and Sutton retain an endearingly dry humour about this nonsense though and mix it up with some diverting musical interludes, suggesting that they're ones to watch for the future. Click Here

August 17, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Mixtape
Review for Mixtape
This is a pleasant little show which deserves a bigger audience. Mixtape is billed as a “cross between a live gig and a lunchtime music club”, and it delivers on this well. Sophie Grant shifts between a different theme for her songs every couple of days – I got Living in the City (inspired by the Stevie Wonder track) – and she plays a range of music around said theme. Between tracks, Grant talks a little bit about each song, explaining, eloquently and earnestly, both its background and why she likes it.

Grant creates a nice lunchtime atmosphere and backs it up with a great voice.
Grant’s voice is lovely – light and soulful – and she offers stripped back covers of some great songs. The tunes range from Billy Joel, with Vienna, to Gil Scott Heron, with an excellent rendition of We Almost Lost Detroit. Each song feels appropriate to Grant’s theme and to the general mood and they wash around the small tent at The Three Sisters nicely.

The show ends with a nice touch: a cover of the aforementioned Stevie Wonder track which requires the audience to help out with makeshift “fruit-shoot shakers”. All in all, Grant creates a nice lunchtime atmosphere and backs it up with a great voice. What more could you want from a free show on a sunny day?

 Click Here

August 17, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of We are all C**ts
Review for We are all C*nts
What you see is what you get with Ashley Haden’s notoriously dark humour in this aptly-named free show. He is not afraid to call you, your mum, himself, or anyone else in the world a cunt – he is genuinely convinced you all are anyway. The cynical, politically-driven satire touches on many sides and faces of today’s current events and is occasionally interrupted by seemingly spontaneous angry rants.

Makes your conscience feel guilty when you laugh
A few party poppers are distributed at the beginning for crowd members to pull when it’s time for a “pallette cleanser,” which shows Haden’s best efforts to give the audience a small break from the otherwise pitch-black satire. Haden pokes fun at old people, but even more at young people. He’s not afraid to turn anything from ISIS to sex slavery into a sick joke that makes your conscience feel guilty when you laugh – he even says that he must have been the only person in the world who didn’t want terrorism to end because it would mean having to write so much new material for a set.

After the crudest joke, one he calls a “punch in the face,” hits the audience, he quickly gives them a chance for a more lighthearted laugh – “yeah, that’s my favorite joke.” The set finishes with a truly dark monologue of an imaginary future conversation between Haden and his son, Haden hilariously explaining the tragedies of the current political trajectory while on a cliff-bound suicide mission.

 Click Here

August 17, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
Review for Ahir Shah: Machines
Following on from the success of Distant at last year’s Fringe and an international tour, Ahir Shah is back in Edinburgh with a new show brimming with witty political polemic and intelligence. Shah’s fast-pace show takes a winding route as he examines the world we live in, its infinite complexity and the alarming speed at which it is changing. In a whirlwind tour of his political views Shah covers issues surrounding immigration, the terrifying rise in hard right sentiment and the appropriation of various religions for violence, all the while hinting at that better world we seem so close to realising.

Machines is making important points in beautiful, funny and often poignant ways.
Despite the seriousness of these issues, Shah packs in the laughs, sprinkling a few more lighthearted jokes into the mix for good measure. He delivers his set with a fervour that is fitting for the topic in hand, although this can make his shifts into silliness seem a little sharp.

Shah’s material is intricately crafted, often melancholically beautiful in tone and so densely written that we frequently sweep through several philosophical points in the space of a single breath. His rhythmic delivery imbues the show with a whiff of spoken word poetry. Suffused with whimsically archaic syntax and poetic turns of phrase - the world today is simultaneously “hyperconnected and atomised” - Shah’s set is painstakingly sewn together with a compact verbal utilitarianism that makes every word feel deliberate, even if they are spoken at hyper-speed.

The eloquence and cleverness of his set is understandably something Shah is aware of, but unfortunately there is a little smugness to his performance style, magnified by the odd brag about his own talent, that ever so slightly hinders the audience’s engagement with him as a performer.
Nevertheless, Machines is making important points in beautiful, funny and often poignant ways. Ahir Shah is going places and his show is definitely one to catch while it’s still free - but if you want to get a seat, make sure to get there early! Click Here

August 17, 2016 The Cuture Trip
Article about Molland vs Sullivan: Freedom of Speech
Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016: 10 Spoken Word Performances To Catch
Spoiler alert — this is one hell of a comedy show and will leave tongues wagging. “Freedom Of Speech” quite rightly has no boundaries whatsoever (or censors for that matter). Imagine a monk and a professional wrestler. Throw them in a room together and watch them go at it. This should give you a sense of what to expect. Social barriers will dissipate as Rick Molland and Sully O’Sullivan go head-to-head in an epic stand-up comedy battle about freedom of speech. Expect lots of riveting political talk and blunt opinions. Click Here

August 16, 2016  One 4 Review
Review of John Scott Smashes It To F**k
Review for John Scott Smashes It to F*ck
I’d not heard of John Scott prior to this Fringe, but clearly lots of other people have, because this show was standing room only. I was lucky to manoeuvre into a space where I could see a sliver of the stage, but what I could see didn’t make me too bothered about missing out on visuals. This isn’t physical comedy: it’s pure, face-paced, spoken-word stand up.

There’s a nice balance in the show, with the alternation between big world/small world commentary. Mr Scott suggested he would put in more of what the audience preferred, so it’s entirely possible another night would yield a different show. It might do that anyway, because he looks (and talks) like he has a vast library of material in his head, and just pulls out the bits he likes most at that given minute.

The delivery is confident and articulate, and the material comes at a fair lick – no slowing down for the inebriated. This means if something offends (and it might), there’ll be something along soon enough that doesn’t. Almost all of his material is intelligent and considered, a mix of thoughtful and incisive political satire, personal anecdotes and general observations. And it’s all delivered in a marvellous Scottish accent (some things are just funnier in a Scottish accent).

Espionage (Kasbar), 18:15

Reviewed by Laura Click Here

August 16, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
5 Star Review for Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
This is political stand-up at its best. Neither hectoring nor dull, there are laughs throughout the show as McElroy, an American resident in Britain for the past 16 years, talks the audience through the American election and the candidates. What McElroy is especially good at is explaining, in an endearingly witty way, just what on earth is going on in America. When it comes to the jokes McElroy builds a quick rapport with the audience and is unafraid to take risks. On the very few occasions where his jokes didn’t come off his razor-sharp reactions led to a big laugh almost immediately afterwards.

Fantastic value for money and a highly enjoyable lunchtime hour.
McElroy, a self-described political nerd, came to the Fringe two years ago with a show he calls the only “explicitly against Scottish independence” comedy that year, and it did not go well. Perhaps because of his own personal connection, and perhaps because American politics is just distant enough to be subjected to honest analysis this show certainly does go well. It is extremely funny and sympathetic, riffing off his now dual British-American identity and his background in small-town America to talk about politics in a way that manages to avoid the repetitive liberal sneer beloved of many comics. McElroy does not look down upon Trump voters as is so-often the case with British comedians, and as he says, after Brexit, who are we to talk? McElroy does not, and this is a real relief, compare Trump repeatedly to Hitler. I must agree with McElroy that Hitler comparisons are completely and utterly overused these days.

Whether you are only slightly switched into the news cycle, or an American political obsessive who has read all of Caro’s LBJ volumes and watched every episode of the West Wing, this is a show with something for you. McElroy’s pitch is that he is mainstream, and no political radical (some of his patient disregard is also reserved for Bernie Sanders), but his analysis is not conventional, with anecdotes to delight nerds but still explained for the whole audience to laugh along. One of his major reference points is the now forgotten former Vice President Dan Quayle, who once famously told a schoolchild that word “potato” had “an e on the end”. As McElroy repeatedly says, in politicians he looks for people who can spell potato.

This is a Free Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, and as McElroy says in his pitch for cash at the end, if it was at Pleasance it would be priced very highly. Even with a contribution to McElroy’s Uncle Sam hat, this is fantastic value for money and a highly enjoyable lunchtime hour. Click Here

August 16, 2016  The Chortle
Review of Jordan Brookes: The Making Of
Review for Jordan Brooks: The Making Of
Jordan Brookes had something of an under-the-radar success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, with a debut rightly acclaimed for its inventiveness but not quite picking up the momentum to translate into a bona fide Fringe breakthrough.

It would be a shame if the same happened this year, for The Making Of is a highly inventive one-man sketch show that doesn’t sacrifice laughs for the sake of artistic stretch. But it’s hosted in a venue that’s just slightly off the beaten track.

The show is set up as a look into the performer’s personality, from the familiar story of a lack of parental love driving him to seek affirmation in the approval of strangers, to what he euphemistically calls a ‘gap year’ but which others might see as a breakdown, to the well-worn idea of the fake smile to reassure the audience that everything is fine.

Underpinning it all is an essential lack of confidence; the way he adopts a silly voice to distance himself from the truth of what he might be saying, or the insecurities he feels when he looks at himself in the mirror, which takes us into darker areas of his psyche as well as new territory about perception: how he’s seen by both himself and others.

The themes are ever-twisting, and usually philosophical. His idea of getting an audience on side is to ask them: ‘Who thinks they are ready for grief?’ It’s not exactly on a par with the usual rallying cry of: ‘Who’s drinking tonight?’

But talk about the ideas should not detract how funny this is. Brookes can write a nice line, but his forte is as a compelling physical performer who puts his all into everything. Repetitions, such as his demolition of the aims of a real gap year are made brilliant by his increasing desperation. And he has the most audacious and spectacular way of giving his audience the finger. There are even little tricks such as the double-take looking at his watch in disbelief that he makes as funny as any golden-era silent star.

He cleverly uses cinematic tricks such as leaping backwards and forwards in time or going into slo-mo replays to reveal unseen Easter eggs, conceptual sleights-of-hand which keep the audience on their toes. The whole show is pretty meta, with layers of detachment to be dealt with, which occasionally slips into being a bit too smarty-pants – but then Brookes will do something to mock that and away we go again.

He is not a comedian short of ambition, nor of the wherewithal to perform his grand ideas expertly. If he’d been in Cambridge Footlights, his future would surely be predetermined… but let’s hope a graduate from Newport can catch a break too.

Review date: Tuesday 16th Aug, '16Reviewed by: Steve Bennett Click Here

August 16, 2016  The List
Review of Alfie Brown: Scissor
A superb return to form for a room-splitting talent
When a couple get up to leave while Alfie Brown is in full flow with a routine about Thomas Piketty's Capital, you immediately fear the worst. After all, he has been known in the past to show little mercy towards anyone daring to depart his room, but here he gently suggests they stay a while or they'll miss a good bit. They ignore him, and they do. Indeed there are lots of fine moments in Scissor, which suggests that Brown's mojo has returned after a bumpy period in his stand-up.

Not that he is any less baffled by life or with people's attitudes, and it's unlikely that he will ever stop offering room-dividing opinions. He certainly seems extremely irritated at the perfectly reasonable questions he's been asked now that he's a father. Brown's less than positive attitude towards Adele enjoyably rears its head again with a lengthy dismantling of any notion that she carries a lovely voice, while his girlfriend (in attendance) takes a few jokey blows.

It's good to see this genuine talent back on form as he delves deeply into why men are the woefully inferior gender, and he has terrific imagery-heavy gags about restraining a birth-giving woman and the sound of a baby crying.

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, until 28 Aug, 3pm, free. Click Here

August 16, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Irish Championship Comedy
Review for Irish Championship Comedy
The show’s title is accurate in that the two comedians who perform in it are indeed Irish, but the idea that this has anything to do with “championship comedy” is a misleading one. Elaine Gallagher and Seamus Stackpoole each perform a stand-up set, and while they might be in competition with each other they don’t act like it.

An overall pleasant experience.
Elaine’s set starts with some awkward crowd work routines - she admits she found them on Ask Jeeves, which gets a few chuckles out of the audience. While she does warn at the beginning that “this isn’t comedy,” the energy in the room doesn’t pick up in pace and stays with a slightly-awkward-schoolgirl sense of humor. She talks on peeing, fiddle comedy (“fiddledy”) and being a female comedian. She’s unafraid to tackle politics and stereotypes, although the puns and jokes she makes are hardly causing much laughter.

Seamus follows with an upbeat, lively energy which provides a welcome lift in the crowd’s spirits after Elaine’s low-energy performance. The Limerick-born comedian jokes on his rural upbringings and catholic family with hilarious impressions and questions about life and religion- ‘what is “amen”?’ He jokes mercilessly about his round frame and funny experiences trying to lose weight as he refers to himself as a ferrero rocher in the world of treadmill-bound “gym creatures.”

While Elaine’s slightly awkward set could improve in its levels of energy and quality of jokes, the awkwardness is funny and touching and will surely improve with practice. Seamus seems more confident and at ease with the crowd, and his positive energy in the second half of the performance makes up for the slowness of the first half for an overall pleasant experience. Click Here

August 16, 2016  Scotsgay Fringe
Review of An Act of Godley : Janey Godley
Review for An Act of Godley:Jane Godley
Laughing Horse@The Free Sisters
(Venue 272)

19:00

August 16-28

****stars

Donald Trump, Isis, and plumbers had better look out because Janey Godley and her fearless posse of over-50s Glaswegian women are coming for you. In a hilarious set which had the punters doubled-over laughing, Godley spells out her unique solutions to some of the problems stalking the world today. Drop that Glasgow posse into Syria and they’ll sort it out in no time, providing there’s a Gregg’s of course. Take down Donald Trump and his pompous security team with a few well-chosen words scrawled on a piece of lino. As for the plumbers, and other tradesmen, let’s just say they’d be well advised not to go down into the basement with any pre-menopausal women.

But it’s not all about the “big issues”. She also brings it closer to home, to her own life There’s the indulgent neighbours, who let their kids vandalize cars, who soon change their minds after a word from the – let’s just say scary lady – across the street. There’s the husband with Asperger’s whose literal take on role-playing leads not to spicing up their their love life, but a speech about the benefits of green energy; and the dad with dementia who makes up the story of his life so as not to disappoint his carer.

Don’t think of this as a Free Fringe show, think of it as an encounter with a comedian at the top of her game who swears and shouts and smashes her way through all the issues of the day and leaves you gasping with laughter. But beware, because while you’re busy laughing at “them”, she will also have you questioning some of your own attitudes. Click Here

August 16, 2016  The List
Review of Foxdog Studios
Nerdy feat of excellent comedy engineering
'Stop laughing at metal!' demands Mr Boxhat, proprietor of the metal recycling plant we now work in, and a man whose name is awesomely apt. The line shouldn't be especially funny but, as delivery is everything in this unhinged musical exploration of high-tech audience participation, it just kills.

Foxdog Studios are two very smart, nerdy guys who have wired themselves up as instruments to accompany our journey into a surreal virtual world where the acme of high living is sucking Dooley's – a toffee cream liqueur experience – out of clothing at Leeds Ceilidh Festival. The community feeling engendered by an audience fiddling with their own smartphones to control the story's characters is palpable. It's a huge treat for everyone, although those with phones that can't deal with their technology will feel a little frustrated after a while.

That said, this show is a feat of comedy engineering, especially Mr Duckhat, an inspired, unnerving creation, and the pair have even remembered to cater to the section in the room that has a poor stage sightline. This is the free festival done right, with incentives for generous bucket donations, and is well worth the late-night trip south of the Meadows.

Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, until 28 Aug, 11.15pm, free.
 Click Here

August 16, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Paul Duncan McGarrity- Ask an Archaeologist
Review for Paul Duncan McGarrity – Ask an Archaeologist
In Paul Duncan McGarrity’s eighth show at the Fringe, Ask An Archaeologist, interesting and funny are blended to create a must see stand-up at the heart of the Free Fringe Festival.

A more pleasant way to pass an hour could scarcely be found.
Sitting in a cosy room in the Cabaret Voltaire, McGarrity creates an environment different to most stand up shows. Everyone who arrives is greeted, and McGarrity too takes a seat, making it feel more like a little chat over a coffee rather than a stand up gig. The material of the show lends itself well to this atmosphere and the interaction with the audience is eased by the casual mood. McGarrity’s show is pretty well named – jokes are thrown out at pace, with almost no break in the laughter – but otherwise it’s a really interesting conversation between the audience and him about archaeology.

McGarrity tells us that he always gets asked the same, often stupid, questions and then invites us to ask him some. Some brave souls ventured a query or two and a dialogue was opened, chock full of laughs but also some very interesting observations and facts about archaeology. As a history grad it very much appealed to the hidden ye olde’ times geek inside me.

I couldn’t help just really liking this guy, his style and everything he had to say. Unlike a few comedians, every time he strayed into the taboo it felt justified and genuinely funny, rather than just for the sake of being offensive. The hour seemed to fly-by and I felt myself really wanting to stay and hear more. McGarrity’s show relies on audience interaction, so it’s no shock he’s a master at handling it and every riff with an audience member, for example the woman knitting in the far corner, was hilarious and clever in equal measure.
A more pleasant way to pass an hour could scarcely be found. Head to Ask an Archaeologist tomorrow to learn something and have a laugh while doing it. Click Here

August 16, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Champion of Comedy
Review for Champion of Comedy
Self-proclaimed “Champion of Comedy” Rob Mulholland tells all in this hilarious stand-up show. He is unflinchingly real and open with the audience, talking on relationships, suicide attempts, and the taste of his own “jizz.”

Mulholland gives the audience a light, funny perspective on occasionally dark material.
While his stories on his past relationships generally have positive morals and lessons to be learned – even the break-up he affectionately refers to as “girlfrexit” –others are much darker and more shocking. The coexistence of drugs and depression is a running theme, and it would be impossible to tell the story of suicide attempt in a funnier way. Hint: it starts with a stubbed toe and ends with a giant bin of gay porn magazines. He is a great storyteller and maintains the audience’s attention even when talking on more serious issues- despite their seriousness, he can always manage to turn a bad experience into a joke, inviting the audience to laugh at his stories and himself.

He references George Michael’s 1,2,3 a few times throughout the show. What started as the “our song” of him and an ex, Mulholland says he doesn’t mind that the breakup ruined the song for him because it was so bad to begin with. It did, however, inspire him to find the three keys to the universe, or at least the three things that saved his life: drugs, spunk, and hardcore gay porn.

From his “failure heartbreaks” to hilarious impressions, Mulholland gives the audience a light, funny perspective on occasionally dark material. Click Here

August 16, 2016  A Younger Theatre
Review of Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
5 Star Review for Flo and Joan
Sometimes, after a long day of seeing shows, or giving out countless flyers to hundreds of strangers on the Royal Mile (you’ll be in one of those two groups I’m sure), you just want to have a good rest and a laugh. But listen up, AYT readers – I’ve found one such little show that will be the perfect antidote to a long day at the world’s largest theatre festival.

Meet musical comedy duo Flo and Joan. They are sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, taking their pseudonyms from their gin-loving old ladies they used to be neighbours with. Armed with a keyboard, a handheld drum kit made out of Pringle tubes and an acute eye for life’s little quirks, the two sisters are here to conquer Edinburgh’s Free Fringe at the Newsroom bar.

Their songs are comedic views on several things, including finding love in Little Chefs, saving the bees and finger buffets. This might sound like a bizarre combination of topics, but trust me on this one: it really works. The pair are absolutely hilarious; the stories in their comedic songs are perfectly executed, and are firmly cushioned by inventive, addictively simple melodies and harmonies to add a bit of sheen to their overall presence. Throw into the mix a very clever and witty mish-mash of different musical genres, firmly bound together by well-considered, tight lyrics.

The vibe that Flo and Joan both give off is warm and welcoming, and you can’t help but feel drawn into their madcap stories when you’ve settled down underground in the Newsroom’s basement. They joyfully and confidently set out to entertain and engage you with their work, and I am certainly confident that these two have given me a night that I won’t soon forget. They’re a pair that deserve attention, respect and lots of laughs.

If you’re looking for a good bunch of laughs that lasts just under an hour, then look no further. There’s nothing else here but pure laughter, and these two have provided me with one of my favourite evenings up here at the Fringe. These two are going to be really huge one day, perhaps from all of the finger buffets they supposedly love and attend, but mainly because they’re utterly hilarious. They’re both an absolute must see.
 Click Here

August 16, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Bob Blackman's Tray
Review for Bob Blackman's Tray
You thought you were in Edinburgh at the Fringe? Nope, you're at Stoke On Trent Variety Club to witness a tribute to Bob "The Tray" Blackman, the Penge comedian who used to sing 'Mule Train' whilst banging a tray on his head (he really did, check it out on YouTube).

Johnny Sorrow and Richard Drake have been peddling their unobtrusively oddball oeuvre at the Fringe for the past few years, often slipping under the radar as they're not fussed about doing much in the way of promotion – besides, rumour has it that they'd do the show even if the room was empty. But beneath the oddities on stage lies an incredibly sharp and cunningly written piece.

Sorrow's nostalgic routine laments the lost days of the old school comedian, name dropping the likes of Roger de Courcey. It's a beautiful combination of musical hall variety and minor breakdown. And how often do you see an impersonation of Bernie Clifton atop his ostrich these days? Sorrow's big dream? To get back on the bill at Dudley Social Club.

He's joined by Richard Drake all the way from Newcastle under Lyme, the continually balaclava'd introvert with a fine line in one liners.

In between the pair's routines are simple small gags, such as the man who hasn't bothered to write any material, and to top off proceedings there are a couple of old fashioned sing-a-longs. As for the finale, you can probably guess what that involves, trays at the ready. Click Here

August 16, 2016  Mumble Comedy
Review of 'Loose Brie Filling My Tin' with Loose Brie, Phil and Martin
Loose Brie / Mumble Comedy
Loose Brie is part of the Free Fringe, a rather rather insightful look into life played out in the middle of the afternoon in the basement of the Newsroom. Phil & Martin – the Loose Brie duo – appeared after what seemed like an age of shockingly bad intro music (did something go wrong backstage, perhaps?) & with oodles of enthusiasm driving them pell-mell through their pretty decent routine. I laughed – a lot – they had the right energy levels and charisma, they have excellent timing & a have a good crack with the audience — but something told me these dudes are by no means the finished article & can improve & then go on improving. Their material should evolve over time – there is certainly some stuff in there which doesn’t need to be here next time round, but some which clearly has to remain a part of their repetoire.

Overall though I was pleasantly surprised – the boys are not afraid to be a little bit out there and definitely gave it everything they had. They blended good audience participation into their show’s decent flow and we were never left wanting. Worth chucking a few squiddlies in the bucket for if you’re in the right place at the right time.. Click Here

August 16, 2016  The Mumble
Review of 'Loose Brie Filling My Tin' with Loose Brie, Phil and Martin
Review for 'LOOSE BRIE FILLING MY TIN' WITH LOOSE BRIE, PHIL AND MARTIN
Loose Brie is part of the Free Fringe, a rather rather insightful look into life played out in the middle of the afternoon in the basement of the Newsroom. Phil & Martin – the Loose Brie duo – appeared after what seemed like an age of shockingly bad intro music (did something go wrong backstage, perhaps?) & with oodles of enthusiasm driving them pell-mell through their pretty decent routine. I laughed – a lot – they had the right energy levels and charisma, they have excellent timing & a have a good crack with the audience — but something told me these dudes are by no means the finished article & can improve & then go on improving. Their material should evolve over time – there is certainly some stuff in there which doesn’t need to be here next time round, but some which clearly has to remain a part of their repetoire.

Overall though I was pleasantly surprised – the boys are not afraid to be a little bit out there and definitely gave it everything they had. They blended good audience participation into their show’s decent flow and we were never left wanting. Worth chucking a few squiddlies in the bucket for if you’re in the right place at the right time..

Reviewer : Mark Parker Click Here

August 15, 2016  Fringe Guru
Review of Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
Review for Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
Victory Flaps offers a night of funny songs and transatlantic whimsy from comic duo Flo and Joan. Their repertoire is broad and varied, with a slight drinkies-based undertone, replete with on-stage G&Ts and taking on topics from boozy brunches to a thirst for Justin Trudeau.

Flo and Joan comprise Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, British sisters who take their stage names from their gin-slinging grandmother and great aunt. The pair have spent the last two years honing their craft in Chicago and Toronto, training with outfits like Second City, iQ and Bad Dog Theatres and featuring at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. Their return to the UK also marks their Edinburgh debut.

This dedication shows in a highly skilful and inventive set. I’m not sure if they’re doing the Ant and Dec ‘thing’ of always appearing in the same order, but Nicola sits on the left on piano and harmonies, also delivering a hefty measure of dry retorts, while Rosie sits to the right on lead vocals and percussion – usually an egg shaker, but also other novelty devices that provide a laugh in their own right.

The opening number is a strong one, a sort of manic spin on the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude, and the quality doesn’t let up from there. Their lyrics are deft and incisive, skewering their targets mercilessly but with a cheery demeanour. I liked especially a folksy take on yah-yah gap year students travelling in South East Asia, filled with elephants, drugs and knowing asides within the number (“yes, this song is still going!”) – all underlined with a great payoff at the close.

There’s also an interesting contrast between their British heritage and North American experience. They recount an amusing story about Canadians mistaking the term ‘finger buffet’ for something rude, and thereby reading a little extra into their song on that topic; but equally, they manage to shoehorn in for the British audience a primer on a disgusting-sounding Canadian cocktail, which gives essential context to explain the punchline of a later tune.

Clever and accessible, good-natured but sharp, Flo and Joan sets up and maintains a feel-good vibe that even they succumb to. The pair’s repeated corpsing during an ambitiously slow number was carried by the crowd, and in fact helped set up the gag they were building towards. Victory Flaps is a triumph of lyrical creativity and sororal camaraderie, to which we can all raise a glass. Click Here

August 15, 2016  The List
Review of Merkin 9 to 5
Finely-written sketches with lo-fi elements and double entendres galore
You can tell from their title that this troupe like a bit of wordplay, though sadly there's no tribute to Dolly Parton in here. What is here, though, is a bunch of finely written sketches.

The opening scene sets out their love of pun with as many piscine double entendres as you can possibly think of when the Plenty of Fish dating site is mistaken by a fish enthusiast for a fish suppliers and where 'crabs ruining your fishnets' could take on a whole new meaning. The follow-up using Match.com is equally as well-penned and stuffed with naughty inferences.

To allow for costume changes there are video interludes also starring fourth member Fen, who is riddled with stage fright after an incident with someone's leg. But here on screen, aside from her story and the group's attempts at tempting her back on stage, are a range of adverts such as the incongruously hilarious one featuring Alan Bennett crossed with a jihadi.

Bounty of Beards prove masters of the most unlikely combinations as the highlight here is the eponymously titled Amish band playing (non)electronic music complete with dodgy facial hair and a wooden xylophone. Kraftwerk's 'The Model' never sound-ed so lo-fi.

Laughing Horse @ Moriarty's, until 28 Aug, 5.30pm, free.
 Click Here

August 15, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of LJ DA FUNK's Anti-Fascist Counter-Terrorist Comedy Orgy
Review for LJ DA FUNK's Anti-Fascist Counter-Terrorist Comedy Orgy
Dressed like a hip hop stereotype and with an accent he describes as “Forrest Gump on crack”, LJ Da Funk is the brainchild of stand-up Zac Splijt. Shouting his way through an often surreal set, Splijt’s persona is sufficiently hilarious to make even the less-good jokes enjoyable.

His assuredly silly tone and light-hearted handling of some satirical material make Splijt an attractive prospect
Splijt’s character is refreshingly bizarre beside the Fringe’s more down-to-earth comedians, picking topics seemingly at random and leading up to some very odd punchlines. Part of the fun is listening to him declare “I went to Waitrose” gangster-style, and mangling the name of various English cheeses in the ludicrous accent. He’s clearly has the potential to be something of a cult act with his idiosyncratic delivery and expanding range of catchphrases, and is significantly different from a lot of stand-up at the Fringe.

The jokes occasionally come second to the comic persona. One of Da Funk’s favourite catchphrases is “my humour is best enjoyed retrospectively,” which tended to come after an obscure reference managed only a few laughs. Out of the jokes that didn’t soar over our heads, about half were inspired and the other half less so, but Da Funk’s delivery usually still got a laugh. At his best, the persona allows Splijt to get away with punchlines that are sometimes convoluted and sometimes outrageous, swapping the more anecdotal style favoured by a lot of stand-ups for surreal, bite-sized routines, often pitched a healthy distance away from reality.

Da Funk probably won’t appeal to everyone, and you do have to be in a certain frame of mind to fully appreciate a bellowing gangster parody. Nevertheless, his assuredly silly tone and light-hearted handling of some satirical material make Splijt an attractive prospect, and a welcome injection of weirdness into this Fringe’s comedy. Click Here

August 15, 2016  Fringe Guru
Review of LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Review for LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Horror and comedy are genres you don’t too often see mixed, even in the great melting-pot of the Edinburgh Fringe. That being so, The House on the Hill offers a tantalising promise of late-night chills and laughs based on its premise alone.

Thankfully, the payoff is good. LoveHard, Birmingham-based comedians Jacob Lovick and Tyler Ross, have crafted something that stands as a decent comedy, occupying similar space to narrative sketch but with slightly more theatrical elements. And they also deliver a genuinely sinister atmosphere throughout.

The story follows an American family, the Kings, who move to a remote Scottish village to escape their traumatic past – only to take up residence in a mysterious mansion with its own bloody tale to tell. The prologue setup is quick and crisp, and establishes a nice tone that allows Lovick and Ross to flit between spooky and funny with ease. The protagonists are also well-realised and distinctive, important in a show promising “2 men, 25 characters.”

The broader cast of antagonistic village-folk is patchier, and it was perhaps ambitious to attempt quite so many different variations on a comedy Scottish accent – particularly when performing in Scotland. The characters become somewhat indistinguishable, either as personalities or in terms of geography, with voices occasionally ranging accidentally into parts of the world far, far away from Caledonia. Some of the broader comedy felt out-of-place: a diversion with a pair of street vendors hawking dildos was unwelcome, although a sequence with a mango and a scripted fourth-wall break worked better. A later bit of improv-inspired corpsing also hit the mark, and mixed things up a little.

I was left wondering if they could have gone even further towards the horror side of the scale: a creepy power outage scene was well staged at the mid-point, and the finale wove in a fine horror trope that could have been played for even more scares. As it was, they went for the laugh, with an absurd and hilarious exposition that undercut the tension they’d built – intentionally, but just maybe too heavily.

Although not quite as deft at deploying the macabre as, say, a group like Casual Violence, the LoveHard pair have nonetheless achieved something with The House on the Hill. It’s a welcome addition to the line-up on the free festival, and well worth a visit down the hill on Broughton Street if you want midnight frights with your late laughs. Click Here

August 15, 2016  The Skinny
Review of A+ Underachiever
A smart but safe debut from Jinx Yeo
Jinx Yeo's A+ Underachiever centres on his traditional Chinese upbringing, and while much of the comedy is mined from the contrast between Western ideas and the strict and conservative values of his family, the themes resonate because it's a more universal than that. The hour is about those times when our best is not good enough.

There is insight in this show: once, after Yeo finally topped his class it was his father's body language, and not his words, that revealed a glimmer of paternal pride. His description of their relationship should strike a chord for anyone with a buttoned-up Dad.

Yeo's delivery is soft and relaxed, and he has more than enough material to fill the hour. The jokes sidle toward the predictable though; a misunderstanding that the teenage Yeo had with his mother about a condom leaves the structure of his material too visible. For someone who disappointed his parents through education, it'd be interesting to see Yeo play his debut a little less textbook. Nonetheless, there is much to enjoy here.

Jinx Yeo, A+ Underachiever, Laughing Horse @ Southside Social, until 28 Aug, 11.15pm, Free Click Here

August 15, 2016 
Article about Pear Shaped Afternoons
 Click Here

August 15, 2016  The Mumble
Review of All My Friends Are Dead
Review for Conor Drum: All My Friends Are Dead
Nestled in a pigeon hole which looks as if it’s Cab Vol’s flyer distribution office the rest of the year I find myself awaiting Conor Drums (@conordrum) one man show. The venue is packed to the rafters (Capacity: 25) and the audience are keen to discover whether this slice of Free Fringe will prove to be worth throwing money in the bucket or throwing another hour of your life away.

Dubliner Conor quickly settles into his obcom routine, a skilled raconteur he rarely stumbled on words and in such an intimate venue his story-telling style worked well with the proximity aiding eye-contact with the audience He’s a young 35 and this mirrors in the comedy staples that provide his material (is there anyone who doesn’t do a joke on dating websites?).

The title of his show refers to watching all his friends get married off and that he’s got hardly anyone left to go out on the sauce with to be his wingman with the ladies. Housemates,snoring (she sounded like Darth Vader swallowing an apple) testicles, cheese, heroine and Netflix get covered but it’s his story about the stag do in Prague that is the most skilfully written and performed and also gets the biggest laughs and, you suspect, is probably true. I wish I had got the contact details.

He’s no Fringe virgin having been coming since 2012 and was completely unawed by an intimidatingly small venue and yes- I did put my money in the bucket (pint glass actually).

Reviewer : Dave McMenemy

 Click Here

August 15, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Amir Khoshsokhan: Shhhhhh
Review for Amir Khoshsokhan: Shhhhhh
In an opening gambit that's somewhat unlikely to catch on in the mainstream, Khoshsokhan begins his set with a rendition of 'Vesti la giubba' from Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci. He doesn't perform this rendition, it should be noted. He simply stands, listens, and gazes intently as it blares in the background. "The show must go on", he muses.

The aptly titled Shhhhhh is an enjoyable vehicle for his subversive brand of whispered, muted comedy. It's an hour of lo-fi squeaky reveries, alienating a few along the way but doubtless winning over far more. He deals in artful silence, favouring the Stewart Lee-inspired protracted punchlines and lingering words. The material itself isn't particularly absurdist (were it performed at twice the speed and half the pitch it would be fairly regular standup, and 40 minutes shorter), but the stilted delivery is what takes it into the realm of "anti-comedy".

He does struggle to find rhythm or atmosphere, occasionally losing the room in the process when he becomes too static. In a quivering voice he tells us "we shouldn't trust confidence so easily", but generally he uses his own timidity to great effect. It's clearly a persona too, with the veil being lifted when he does an impression of his mother doing an impression of Tupac Shakur.

It's lacklustre in style but not in end product, and his appeal is broader than the surrealist packaging would suggest. He's a rising star who'll find his audience in good time.
 Click Here

August 15, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Stephen Carlin: TV Comeback Special
Review for Stephen Carlin: TV Comeback Special
When Stephen Carlin was named by Stewart Lee as one of the ‘Ten Best Comedians in The World Ever’ in 2008, he wasn’t exactly a household name. Now, however — well, okay, he’s still hasn’t found the fame he deserves; his brand of deadpan wit is well overdue widespread recognition. Unfortunately, TV Comeback Special won’t be the show to propel Carlin into the spotlight.

Just enough flashes of bleak brilliance, and inspired turns of phrase, to make the more pedestrian moments forgivable.
Carlin touches on some of the usual topics for comics in 2016, but most of his set is emphatically idiosyncratic. It’s true that, when described in the broadest terms, the topics are fairly familiar — love, relationships, drugs, driving, suicide, sex — but Carlin’s routine reliably steers away from cliché: he delivers idiosyncratic, dependably morose perspectives on these well-worn topics, couched in his distinctive, desert-dry delivery.

Carlin takes a scathing eye to the world and himself. He mines a vein of self-deprecation for some excellent bits on a jury duty equivalent for dating, his own middle-class politeness and the insult of being trusted to look after a stranger's bag. Carlin’s sometimes brutally honest insights are well-served by his talent for finding weirdly illuminating out-of-left-field similes. There are extremely funny comparisons made between love and multipack toilet rolls, between suicide and the emergency services.

The show, however, could do with some tightening. The pacing was less than ideal, with some lengthy lulls which didn’t build to much of anything, capped off not with raucous laughter, but with a smattering titters — too many stretches of silence that led to whimpers, not bangs. An excellent moment of improvised crowd work, too, slowly foundered as Carlin himself was derailed by the hilarity of the moment — a smoother, momentum-maintaining response was sorely needed.
TV Comeback Special — in spite of these few blips — contains just enough flashes of bleak brilliance, and inspired turns of phrase, to make the more pedestrian moments forgivable.

 Click Here

August 14, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Erich McElroy’s (US) Electile Dysfunction
Review of ERICH MCELROY’S (US) ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION
With his tan, bad hair, and lines like ‘a small loan of a million dollars’, Donald Trump has undoubtedly become an easy gag for the comedy world in recent months. When arriving to see ‘Erich McElroy’s Electile Dysfunction’ I assumed this would be one of many shows maximizing on the comedic gift that is Donald J. Trump. But I was pleasantly surprised by McElroy’s refreshing take on this somewhat overdone topic, taking this subject into a more endearing and personal sphere that left you with a feeling of consolation and hope about the situation in which we all find ourselves.
In this sell-out show, it became clear how popular this topic remains to be: a somewhat safe subject that guarantees a laugh. However, to place this expectation of ‘easy comedy’ upon McElroy’s performance would be greatly unfair and largely incorrect. What distinguishes this set from others I have seen was McElroy’s attention and interaction with the audience, being consciously aware of being an American comedian talking American politics to a British audience. McElroy strokes egos with the acknowledgement that Brits follow American politics because they enjoy turning their noses up at Americans, before bringing the audience down with the unspeakable ‘b-word’: Brexit. This assertion set the tone for the rest of the performance, dragging us all down to the same level and creating an odd sense of comedic community to face the discussion of our chaotic political climate.
Alongside this, the routine is more sincere and heartfelt than expected, relating to his own personal story of growing up in America and the past sixteen years living in the UK. It is easy to forget that this is stand-up, instead feeling more like talking to my American uncle and hearing his private experiences of politics - but a very funny uncle nonetheless. Like a special messenger sent over to explain what on earth is actually going on over the pond, McElroy is endearing, relatable and never let us forget our own political faults.
Inevitably, there are some predictable jokes made, which at times are a little disappointing but, overall, I felt this added to the amiable nature of McElroy: a non-egotistical voice of reason comically discussing narcissistic figures. A smooth flowing set teaming with essences of flamboyancy, sincerity and sharp wit leaving you with a hopeful beam on your face and desperately wanting more. Click Here

August 14, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Barbarians
Review for Barbarians
There is always a little apprehension surrounding the Free Fringe, and Ben van der Velde bounds into the room exuding a kind of nervous energy. There is no question of nerves getting to him, though, as he launches into his show and makes the energy in the room electric.
The room itself is packed, and the crowd is varied – he uses the disparity of people in the room to his advantage, addressing individuals in a gently mocking but not unfair way. I felt that he balanced his stand-up act perfectly, in that the main thread of gags running through it is intelligent, and his subject holds up well to being mined throughout the show. His spontaneous interaction with the crowd is as good as his written lines, and this is an obviously quick witted man performing fantastic anecdotal style comedy. His delivery is faultless, he is a natural – I was in stitches throughout the show, laughing along with the fifty-strong crowd.
Van der Velde takes every topic that is taboo to talk about at a dinner party and lays it out on the table to laugh at, turning lazy stereotypes and political messes into biting, personal, satire. Religion takes a hard hit in the show, but it is not crudely bludgeoned, it is just addressed in an intelligent, innovative way. He does rely quite heavily on his own Jewish identity to provide a kind of insurance against his Jewish-based jokes, but they are self deprecating enough and eventually just about safe enough to steer clear of being too unacceptable. That is not to say that he is just a Frankie Boyle of the Free Fringe. He is clever, not cruel, and he makes you laugh, not “write an angry letter to the Guardian”, as he suggests might happen.
Stand-up is brutal, and it takes some nerve and some sheer talent to do it well. Van der Velde has talent in spades; he had me laughing the whole way through the piece. It is a definite gem of the Fringe, let alone the Free Fringe, so go while you can and enjoy his sharp, observant and hilarious style. Just don't bring it up at a dinner party. Click Here

August 13, 2016 PrimaryTimes.net
Article about Andrew Roper's Superhero Show for Kids
Andrew Roper – Superheroes for Kids

Edinburgh Fringe Childen's Show review

"Kids, repeat after me: ‘My mother is young and beautiful. My mother is young and beautiful and my father is an idiot.’” Irreverent and laugh-aloud funny, Andrew Roper’s Superheroes for Kids includes a lot of superhero geekery that will appeal to any child obsessed with Marvel and superheroes.

Who was the first superhero? What is Spiderman’s power and can you sing the song? Better yet, it lets kids dress up as their favourite superhero and culminates in a fabulous conflict between the audience and the (child) Avengers involving coloured table tennis balls. My kids, who are friendly onlookers to superhero culture, were dubious to start with but quickly won over by the comedy. This was the least scripted show we’d seen, with (child) hecklers in the audience being answered wittily but kindly, and lots of spontaneous funniness.

The interaction with the children on stage is well-handled and funny, and the children seemed to enjoy their time in the spotlight. There’s no sexism – girls are superheroes as much as boys are, and it was a little girl in the end who managed to lift the fabled hammer of Thor that had defeated grown men from the audience. This is a perfect show for 5-12 year olds, especially, but not exclusively, those who love superheroes

Our young reviewers said:

“I could have lifted Thor’s hammer AND the table it was on.” (Ewan, 6)

“The best bit was where the children got to vote on whether parents could stay in the room.” (Stephen, 9) Click Here

August 13, 2016  The Chocolate Ocelot's Pouch
Review of Superhero Secret Origins : SPECIAL EDITION
Review for Superhero Secret Origins: Special Edition
Andrew Roper – Superhero Secret Origins: Special Edition
The Alcove @ Laughing Horse @ Bar 50
It’s back! The interactive comic book knowledge bomb. Part stand-up, part lecture, part madness, all superhero. Learn things you never thought you didn't know about our favourite comic book heroes. Updated for 2016 with a look at women in comics.
The Ocelot says: More of a lecture than a comedy piece - which is absolutely fine by the way. I do like a good talk about superheroes and comics. Mr Roper knows his stuff; shockingly, a little more than me, at least about the background for today's talk, which was all about Wonder Woman and her creator Dr William Moulton Marston (a name I always get mixed up). The venue and set-up wasn't ideal, as the projector on the seat next to me kept packing up, but Andrew put on a nice slide show, some cool theme tunes including the various TV versions, and a complex examination of both the character's feminist credentials and her creators' (plural intended) unconventional lifestyles. But most importantly, I was the first person in the festival to correctly identify the Superfriends theme tune from a couple of seconds of music. "Merciful Minerva!" 5/5 Click Here

August 13, 2016  West End Wilma
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Review for TAMAR BROADBENT: GET UGLY ★★★★★
If Tamar Broadbent has noticed her YouTube hits spike dramatically over the past few weeks, then that will be have been me binge-watching the music video to her comedy song “The Tube Ride of Shame”. Tamar is a musical comedian who recently shared a bill with the excellent Four Femmes on the Thames at the Good Ship Benefit, which I was gutted to miss due to being on holiday. Delighted was I to find out that Tamar was performing at Edinburgh Fringe and I went along to see her free show at the Espionage, excited to see more material from the tube shame lady. I was a little worried that I had only heard the one song and hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed with the rest of her material. It’s fine – I wasn’t.

Tamar opened with the song I’d gone along to hear with the words slightly tweaked (yes, I know them off by heart), presumably to resonate with those who don’t dwell inside the M25, and it went down a treat. She then launched into an hour of stories and songs all about her life, living in London and some rather self-deprecating humour on the subject of her love and sex life. Audience members were called to the stage to participate in a game of “Live Tinder” using chat up lines Tamar and her friends have been subjected to in the thankless pursuit of online dating – all of which are apparently true and range from hilarious to cringey to just plain weird. My favourite song was a number about hipsters, a common pest in London, and my companion was singled out as one of them!

The room was packed out with people and raucous laughter, one guy actually couldn’t catch his breath for the tears streaming down his face. I was so pleased that going to see Tamar on the strength of one YouTube video turned out not to be a disappointment but a delight. There are sure to be great things to come from Tamar Broadbent, she is a real triple threat. She sings like a dream, is ridiculously funny and can play the piano! She also looks strikingly like Kerry Ellis’s sister .

If you are up at Edinburgh Fringe this August, do not miss this show. It’s FREE would you believe! I am looking forward to catching her next gig in London!

Reviewed by Pete Forbes-DuGreiner

Tamar Broadbent is playing at Laughing Horse @ Espionage at 5.30pm until 28 August 2016. It’s free and not ticketed so get there early as it was packed when I went! Click Here

August 13, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Archie Maddocks - Shirts vs Skins
Review for Archie Maddocks: Shirts Vs Skins
Poignant, inventive and razor sharp describes Archie Maddocks’ debut show at the Fringe. Shirts vs Skins, explores the conflict of being mixed race and the pressure of choosing a side. What is undeniable is Archie’s stage presence, which bolts people into the action and keeps them strapped in for the ride. From raisins to jihadis, there’s not much that isn’t deliberated in this hour.

This London comic’s show contains a balance of style and substance that leaves food for thought.
Storytelling is the style of comedy that suits Archie most and, as someone who has a talent for impersonations, the tales come to life when he becomes his characters, with sketches including the many ways he is continually mistaken for other ethnic groups (ironically enhanced by the fact he turned up dressed like a Cuban musician with a straw fedora, linen shirt etc).

Particular personas to note are his Mexican mafia casino owner, an old Arab man at a mosque and a African American telling him why he isn’t black, each with their own story illustrating Archie’s identity crisis. The most powerfully unifying moment for Archie was when he enlightened, what seemed to be fifty per cent of the audience, where prunes, raisins and sultanas came from. It was just one of his observational lines that was delivered with the winning combination of wit, stupidity and charm.

But this hour not just all about characterisation and there are two themes are clearly identifiable within this show, that of race and loneliness. Archie admits, quite refreshingly that firstly, he needs to try to no longer use race as a crutch for when things go wrong and secondly, that it’s okay to admit you’re lonely.
Nerves start appearing when Archie looks to be second-guessing his material and as a result speeds and trips over his words, causing the punchline of a joke to be weakened. The layout of the Mata Hari space at Espionage means there is often commotion taking place in the back of the room, which did seem at times to distract the comic. Ignoring the background hissing will only help to keep an audience eating out the palm of his hand.

Overall, this London comic’s show contains a balance of style and substance that leaves food for thought. Click Here

August 13, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Pun-Man 2: Girls Just Wanna Hear Puns
Review for Pun-Man Two: Girls Just Wanna Hear Puns
Leo Kearse, in his guise as Pun-Man, has a simple mission: to save the world of comedy from banal observational stand-up and self-righteous, long-winded anecdotes. In this, the current UK Pun Champion is a qualified success, delivering an hour of dizzying highs mixed with a few nauseating lows.

Kearse’s strategy of accepting topics on which to pun from spectators is risky in the extreme
Puns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and keeping an audience onside for the duration of an Edinburgh hour would be a struggle for any comic. With this in mind, Kearse’s strategy of accepting topics on which to pun from spectators is risky in the extreme – an equal mixture of bravery and foolhardiness. As a result, the show has a very unstructured feel to it. Kearse starts with some scripted punning before opening the floor up to the audience, taking suggestions on “any subject at all!” He is really flying by the seat of his superhero pants at times, with some cracking sequences (the one on weather in the Middle East a particular favourite) mixed with a few howlers (long erased from memory). Give him his due, Kearse is the first to accept when the pun doesn’t quite hit the target, his self-deprecation at these points allowing him to score some much-deserved rebound laughs.

On a few occasions, the Pun-Man mask slips – he betrays his original mission and reverts to a more orthodox comedy stance. Routines on the more familiar subjects of trains, one-night stands, and foreign toilet plumbing come a little out of the blue, but are respite from the seemingly ceaseless flow of wordplay on either side.

With the hit-or-miss nature of Pun-Man’s call for audience suggestions, the show does begin to drag a tiny bit. However, Kearse’s massive reserves of charm are more than enough to see him through the more niche topics. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely worth the few spare quid rattling around in your pocket. Click Here

August 13, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Will Mars: Schtick Shift
Review for Will Mars: Schtick Shift
Mars claims that Stand Up comedy is a fantastic expressive outlet in his day to day life; as such, the show ‘Schtick Shift’ is filled with observations, anecdotes and cynical self-assessments. The material is varied but always controlled, and the show is clearly well practiced without feeling stale. He almost fills a sixty seat damp and dark bunker on a rare sunny afternoon at the Fringe: I think this speaks for itself!
The mood is welcomingly casual; Mars was the show’s doorman, usher, and techie before he’s even stepped onstage. From this point, the material carries itself. At 38, Mars realises he doesn’t know who he is, who he wants to be and what’s more, perhaps that’s for the best. His entire attitude is summed up with his one crucial message for the audience: “Don’t follow your dreams”. Although this show of dark comedy won’t be for everyone, I find this fast-paced performance refreshingly brutal. The set up for most gags is perfectly measured, and at times the jokes only get funnier as the punchlines are drawn out.
It must be said that some sections are weaker than others: his justifications on buying battery-farmed chicken over free range don’t get much support from the typically middle class Edinburgh audience members, although to any crowd I’d say his defences are pretty underwhelming and not his best gags. He even speculates for a few minutes on new tactics terrorists could try out; it isn’t as bad as it could have been, and the punchline almost carries him through, but at this point, (45 minutes in to an hour long show) I feared from the nervous chuckles and unsure glances that this could’ve cost him the crowd for the remainder of the performance.
What I liked about Mars' style is that he seems completely effortless. He is personable, relatable and sharp. ‘Schtick Shift’ is an hour of easy watching and dry humour. Mars is quietly confident so that when a joke falls flat there is no awkwardness, he’s the first to embrace the potential from these moments, highlighting his own errors to a much more humorous end. As a free show, Will Mars is certainly worth an hour of your afternoon, and a few quid to contribute to those crippling travel expenses he’s had to stump up commuting from New York to Edinburgh – but I’m glad he did! Click Here

August 13, 2016  Edinburgh Fringe Review
Review of Head Sets
Review for Head Sets
Sometimes painfully awkward, sometimes side-splittingly funny, the beauty and equally major flaw of ‘Head Sets’ is that you get a different set of comedians every night. The premise is simple: comedians perform stand-up behind a hung cloth with a gaping hole in which they insert their head. Yes, many a ‘this is not the first time my head has been in a hole’ jokes ensued that are vastly overdone and extremely unimpressive. This teamed with a sensationally poor spiel from the resident MC, Suzanne Lea Shepherd, who has hopefully learnt from the evening that accusing an audience member of ‘liking to groom children’ based on his Catholicism is simply not funny.
Nevertheless, there were some absolutely golden moments in this production. The flamboyant, no-holds-barred sensation that was Stephen Bailey instantly redeemed where Shepherd spectacularly failed. His sharp and quick-witted set makes Bailey a memorable talent certainly worth keeping your eye out for. Similarly, Joey Page, a whacky and refreshing comic, who can only be described as the love-child of Noel Fielding and Joe Wilkinson, stormed the stage, fantastically taking on the hole challenge in the most inventive response to this set-up. Finally, Bethany Black entered the frame: a wonderfully self-depreciating, honest and downright funny comedian covering topics from drug-abuse to lesbian relationships in an incredibly stimulating set.
Where these comics flourished, some floundered, clearly unprepared and desperately searching for a gag that wouldn’t nose-dive, crash and burn. In these cringe-worthy attempts, an anxious grasp at comedic straws in the form of us reviewers occurred: a bold move that did not pay off. It seemed surprising that such a simple idea could have such a drastic effect upon the performance of regular comedians and provide such a range of successes and atrocities in comedy. The exciting prospect of ‘Head Sets’ is having this vast array of comics back-to-back, but this structure also separates the men from boys, the smart from the desperate and the funny from the overwhelmingly unfunny.
An incredibly unique and clever concept that can genuinely be a hilarious and intriguing platform in which to discover new comedians on the scene, especially as part of the Free Fringe. However, as audience members, be prepared for awkwardness but the potential to discover some hidden gems of talent, and for comedians, simply be prepared. Click Here

August 13, 2016  The Chocolate Ocelot's Pouch
Review of Joke Thieves
Review for Joke Thieves
Joke Thieves
Main Room @ Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire
Comedy set swapping live! The cult hit show where comedians perform their own jokes, then each other’s.
The Ocelot says: Not bad, though very much dependent on how each comedian chooses to riff on their randomly selected comedian's material. Lanky Anglo-Frenchman Eric Lampaert did the best, stripping and doing a rubbish impersonation of Welsh comedian Kiri Pritchard-McClean which was as much self-mockery as it was a roast. A Scottish woman's take on Finn Taylor was less successful - just a summary of his material with unfunny put-downs. 4/5 Click Here

August 13, 2016  The Chocolate Ocelot's Pouch
Review of The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Review for Milo McCabe - The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Laughing Horse @ City Cafe
Homeschooled by an overly nostalgic mother, Troy confronts the 21st century as if waking from a 1930's time capsule... with insightful and hilarious consequences.
The Ocelot says: Thanks to Kill the Beast overrunning, I had to peg it from the Pleasance to the City Cafe for this free gig but made it with minutes to spare. I do enjoy Milo McCabe's character Troy Hawke; he looks like George Valentin from The Artiste and sounds like a fruitier version of Robert Donat from The 39 Steps. Not entirely sure the audience got the vibe of his show, which is essentially that innocent 30's throwback Troy inadvertently gets into and out of scrapes in modern Croydon, but I certainly enjoyed it. And he has the best jawline/soupstrainer combo at the Fringe. 4/5 Click Here

August 13, 2016  The Mumble
Review of Messed Up
Review for Messed Up
Geneva Rust-Orta : The Second Funniest Jew

Watching Geneva Rust-Orta’s first ever performance at the Edinburgh was a bit like gazing at Leonardo Da Vinci sketch. There is genius there, clearly she has the gift for comedy, but her youth & her inexperience still dominate both performance & material. She is only 21, and although her patter is of a woman twice that age, her life experience is such that is a scanty bed-soil from which to feed her talented eye for fun. Credit where credit is due, however, she’s only been doing comedy 9 months – a recent graduate in theatre down Yorkshire way, her end-of-year show had comedy elements in it, & her tutor suggested a spot at the Edinburgh Fringe. The spot she got was at half-past midnight, & trust me some of her stuff really does need to be on this late – she’s a bit, well, ‘open’ & a bit too ‘raunchy’ for anything earlier – but its all, well, rather hilarious.


Before arriving in Edinburgh, Californian Rust-Orta has already been pronounced as the UK’s second funniest Jew. Checking this & other stereotypes with a cheeky grin, Rust-Orta offers a unique insight into life, with realism rising out of every breath. A romantically-minded, comic poetess trapped in a neo-modern cage, I have a funny feeling that if Geneva sticks at it, her place in the comedy pantheon is assured, & her juvenilian sketches grow into a masterpiece even Da Vinci would have been proud to call his own.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

 Click Here

August 12, 2016  Arts Award Voice
Review of Man in the Miracle
Review for Man in the Miracle
Tommy Holgate's Man in the Miracle, much like the subject matter he covers in this hour-long comedy show in the basement of Laughing Horse's Moriarty's at Ed Fringe, is complicated, hypocritical and rather confusing. This is due in a large part to a genuinely complex building of Holgate's zen character, new found inner peace fully intact. Where that character begins and ends is a total mystery — and all for the better. There are huge sections of his monologue that I thought were a total fabrication, which on later search turn out to be entirely true. Or are they? Perhaps they're just a further part of one big joke.
Slathering coconut oil on his face, gnawing on lumps of fresh ginger and stuffing handfuls of spinach into his mouth while addressing the audience, Holgate's performance is a rambling account of his life pre- and post-revelation, via Jeremy Corbyn, The Sun Newspaper, human miracles and plenty of breathing exercises. But this performance steers clear of a simple finger pointing, belly laughing affair, and Holgate's straight delivery, lack of punchline — well, there are a few — and meandering story-telling leads to deeper audience contemplation. We know these people are ridiculous. I know and laugh, despite having my fair share of almond milk, coconut oil and agave nectar stacked up at home. I giggle my way through breathing exercises that I would usually treat with 100% seriousness in my weekly yoga classes, inner white light and all.
The really effective thing in taking on this character, rather than firing wise-crack after wise-crack at it, is conveying quite how dull conversations about 'inner joy', 'childlike playfulness' and the 'miracle of life' really are. Man in the Miracle does draw chuckles, but also boredom, irritation and more serious thought. This is how it really feels to be stuck in the room with a new found peace hound for an hour, and it isn't fun. Although, in many ways, it also is.
 Click Here

August 12, 2016  One 4 Review
Review of Funny Stuff For Happy People
Review for Funny Stuff for Happy People
Martin ‘BigPig’ Mor is a very silly man, and his young audience love every moment of it. From borrowing a child’s
smelly shoe, to a group rap, to vanishing facial hair, this show is just one silly, funny thing after another.

There were yoyos, a balancing act, and plenty of audience interaction. Juggling, a vanishing knot, spinning balls, and baffled children on stage. Even a new way to high five! This is one show that does exactly what it says on the tin. It was funny. People were happy. Whether or not they started that way, it was hard not to be by the end.

Reviewed by Gill
Laughing Horse @ City Café 12:30pm
 Click Here

August 12, 2016 Daily Business
Article about Molland vs Sullivan: Freedom of Speech
Best of political comedy: Being a politician is no joke. Oh yes, it is!
Liverpudlian motor-mouth Rick Molland teams up with energetic New Zealander Sully Sullivan in a no-holds-barred comedy face-off where opinions are shared, insults exchanged and gags are traded. The audience are involved in the show throughout, and there has been one show already this Fringe where one audience member took part too enthusiastically. Suffice it to say, Molland and Sullivan will now have incorporated that incident into the show. Click Here

August 12, 2016  One 4 Review
Review of Science Magic
Review for Science Magic
This show is part of the Free Festival, so you can’t book a ticket, but it is worth getting there early to get your place in the queue – this show is worth it. Your mini magicians will love the tricks, while small scientists will appreciate the explanations.

It has lots of science and plenty of silliness – from playing with fire to defying gravity, with a little help from balloons, ghosts, and magical ketchup, Donal Vaughan had a wide range of tricks / experiments to play with.

He had quick-fire gags aimed at the children, and plenty of silliness. What he didn’t quite have is the smoothness of patter that I hope will come, by the end of his fringe run. Some of his better lines aimed at individual children, perhaps even using a volunteer or two for an early trick, just to make him appear a little friendlier and more relaxed, and this show will easily get to being four or more stars.

Oh, and extra credit for one of the best “bucket speeches” I’ve heard this Fringe.

Reviewed by Gill
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
To 28th Aug 11:00 Click Here

August 12, 2016  West End Frame
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
EdFringe Review: Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly at Laughing Horse @ Espionage
Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Laughing Horse @ Espionage
Running time: 1 hour
Reviewed on Thursday 11th August
★★★★★

It feels ironic that a show called Get Ugly can be so beautiful. It is beautifully honest, beautifully brutal and filled with beautiful moments of ‘it’s not just me? Oh thank god for that’.

Tamar Broadbent is back at the EdFringe with her new stand up, comedy musical Get Ugly. We join Broadbent in an intimate venue where she talks us through her break up (don’t feel too sorry for her, it turns out that she is excellent at being single) and being exposed to a world of singletons and tinder dates, all accompanied with impressive riffs and the odd knowing look to an unsuspecting audience member. What’s not to love?

The show is charmingly funny from start to finish and Tamar takes control of the audience with ease. If you are no stranger to tinder, man buns, a Facebook horror story and trying to successfully adult then this is the show for you. And if that territory is unfamiliar, Tamar will educate you in a musical, endearing manner.

If I could give this show six stars then I would – Get Ugly is the must-see show at this year’s EdFringe.

Reviewed by Lucy Beirne
 Click Here

August 11, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Chris World
Chris Henry: Chris' World
Chris Henry is a frantic comic. He bounces around the stage like pinball that’s taken a lot of MDMA. Occasionally he giggles manically before launching into his next comedy rant or tale of ineptitude and judgmental friends. However, I’m aware that I’m judging him by his appearance and this is what his show is all about. Henry has been judged his whole life for the decisions he’s made and the way he currently lives his life but he’s not bitter. In fact, Henry wants us to understand him intimately and isn’t afraid to share. He’s bloody likeable and, although some of his show feels like spoken word rather than stand up, it’s undeniably entertaining and the audience warms to his buzzy banter.

Henry loves his life and hopes that you find the way to love yours too. As long as we let him keep being the centre of attention.
Sharing stories of broken hearts and dreams, disappointing parents and compromising webcam chats alongside some blunt admissions of what keeps him so perky, Henry is a true performer. His material flits around and he’s not afraid to ‘go there’ but Henry never punches down because you get the impression that he just wants everyone to get along.

It’s standing room only in the large space at the Three Sisters and Henry regularly engages the crowd with questions and requests to reenforce his opinions of the awesomeness of being single, childless and doing a job you love. Some of his statements on parenting elicit groans of recognition from the proper grown-ups in the room but Henry takes this as suitable validation of his stance that parenthood isn’t for him.

It takes a brave comedian to stand on stage and tell the majority of the audience how much better your life is than theirs but it’s done it with a boyish enthusiasm that never comes off as arrogance. Henry loves his life and hopes that you find the way to love yours too. As long as we let him keep being the centre of attention.
 Click Here

August 11, 2016  The List
Review of An Act of Godley : Janey Godley
An Act of Godley: Janey Godley
Janey Godley recently went viral as the lady with the 'Trump is a cunt' poster being apprehended by a polis outside Trump Turnberry, and she has a lot to say about that day in her new show. There's more to the image than meets the eye: it's a tale of breaking away from the crowd, standing up to authority and being heckled by a group of fat, golfing American men. There's politics talk here, of course, but it's measured: Godley isn't about to tell a nation who they should vote for (even if Trump is still 'a cunt').

She pauses to wonder whether we're offended by her use of the word, as well as a joke about how being locked in a cellar by some mad man – with the occasional shag and Greggs' pastie – could be seen as a nice weekend break for a single mum with kids. But Godley also talks with fondness and humour about her dad, his accidental old-person political incorrectness, and that one time he had a stroke while on the phone to her while she was thousands of miles away in LA.

When she's making the case for Scottish women over 45 – forget ISIS, these premenopausal warriors ought to be feared the world over – her strength in shouty, strong humour comes to the fore. Janey Godley is Scottish comedy personified: sweary, passionate and really funny.

Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters, until 28 Aug, 7pm, free. Click Here

August 11, 2016  The List
Review of Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
Ashley Storrie is a fearless performer. Her tales of sexual misadventure take in one-night stands, attempted groping and a lot of frank chat about body parts delivered with intensity and a lot of cussing in her Glasgow accent.

The self-penned erotica takes the form of two brief interludes: the first features an incident in which Storrie's reluctance to relinquish her childhood impinges upon her romantic life while the second takes as its subject a public figure who is a less than likely romantic lead. It would have been lovely to hear more of her hilariously unsexy sex stories.

Comparisons with her mother (comedian and Trump-botherer, Janey Godley) are inevitable but will not do any harm to Storrie's rising career. She's an example of the kind of feminism that doesn't announce its agenda but lives it. It's mindboggling that hearing a woman onstage talking about her bodily functions and admitting to enjoying sex can still seem startling.

Ashley Storrie's forthrightness is a tonic and should be mandatory viewing. Make sure you arrive early to gain an extra 15 minutes of material as this funny firecracker welcomes in the crowd.

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, until 28 Aug, 5.15pm, free. Click Here

August 11, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
“I don’t want your opinions printed,” Ashley Storrie says to any potential reviewers in the audience. It’s pretty daunting to be addressed directly by the act, particularly as I’ve already committed to writing this. My apologies to Storrie, though for what it’s worth I was a fan of your take-no-prisoners style of confessional comedy.

I’d love to see more filth from Storrie
And Other Erotica touches on many of Storrie’s successes and failures of life: from her resting face to her sexual conquests, no stone is left unturned. Even in the pre-show audience interaction, Storrie’s more than happy to talk about whatever: I entered the room to the dulcet tones of Storrie advising which photos not to send to people on Grindr. Her observational material is nice and neat, with set pieces blending into one another. Storrie has a nice sense of structure in her show, whilst also being unafraid to riff on a particular anecdote or concept for a while. Yes, some jokes on her rivalry with incredibly preened women feels familiar, but her material on being the daughter of a Protestant and a Catholic in Glasgow has an excellent punch line which proves Storrie has something a little different to her contemporaries. There’s a boldness and unapologetic tone which is incredibly endearing.

A risk when developing a show based around how dumb 50 Shades of Grey and other erotic novels sound is that Storrie could come off as childish in tone. If anything, the set seems a little cleaner and more sensible than it could be. Storrie’s short erotic stories make for neat interludes in her set, rather than the main focus of the show. They’re really funny though, and for that reason it seems a shame that we only get two of Storrie’s seductive tales. Storrie parodies the tropes of the genre with a cheeky suppressed smirk: with plenty of alternate names for the male anatomy, there’s a high hit rate which digs at the genre in a way that everybody can enjoy. I’d love to see more filth from Storrie, and look forward to her next foray into the industry of erotic literature. Click Here

August 11, 2016  One 4 Review
Review of Katharine Ferns is Faking It
Katharine Ferns is Faking It (work in progress)
This is a work in progress, so I’m not sure how fair it is to review it, or how to do so (since I’m going to). Gently, I suppose.

Ms Ferns is a storyteller, and this show is a story about her experience of domestic violence. It’s horrifying and sickening, and upsetting to hear how cruel one human can be to another, but it never gets bleak. And it’s difficult not to admire the courage to tell such a story, especially in such a tiny room, where the audience are almost sat on your feet – you can’t distance yourself. The reactions and the emotions are right there.

It is a work in progress, and so once it’s not, the performance – the timing, the strength of the comic elements, the delivery – will hopefully be much slicker. As it is, this is a captivating show with a powerful message.

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, 18:00

Reviewed by Laura Click Here

August 11, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Review for Mawaan Rizwan: Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate
Invisible Dot manages to keep a finger on the pulse at the forefront of new comedy

Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate made for a surprisingly enjoyable hour. A bombastic spike on the free fringe, Mawaan Rizwan hams it up in a show of little meaning but a lot of laughs. It isn’t perfect, but is at least a step in the right direction toward getting Rizwan’s name out into the public domain.

The idea of the show, that Mawaan identifies as a gender neutral concubine pirate, may either put punters off or fill them with intrigue and take a risk on it. The curious will be truly rewarded. Particularly if they enjoy thrusting, impressions of trampolines and baby wipes. Oh, and plenty of sordid audience interaction.

Unfortunately, some of the audience participation made for uncomfortable viewing and the laughs were occasionally fearful ones, not resulting in those elicited by interactive masters (see Neal Portenza for a masterclass). Also, as is too often the case on non-ticketed shows, the act was slightly let down by lack of creative control over the venue. However, I did enjoy the juxtaposition of such a huge personality contained in a rather dank room, and luckily this disadvantage did not hinder the show too much. Click Here

August 11, 2016  The Mumble
Review of Phil Mann: Nothingism
Phil Mann : Nothingism
Comedians are clever people, yes, but Phil Mann is a genius. Not a comedy genius, although he is a pretty funny geezer, but seems to possess a wikipedia’s worth of fun & imagination in the creative whirpools of his soul. This is Mann’s tenth year in Edinburgh – he’s a highly-trained actor as well, so he must lead something of a romantic life, one thinks.

Loosely based on the theme of the abstract state of ‘nothingness’ Mann’s show is essentially one-man improv session, but remarkable in the fact the only person he really has to bounce off is himself. Beginning the show by nicking someones phone in order to create the soundtrack of the hour, & after the audience filled the blanks in several ‘read out’ cards, Mann proceeded to imagine this wee wonder;

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 13.49.45 (2).png

Scene 1: Big Butts — A man who loves big butts and cannot lie is seeing a therapist in a hospital atop a mountain peak. He reveals issues about his past, his Dad, his life. The therapist is concerned about the size of his own butt.

Scene 2: Canada — (Silent scene) Two bears fight and then make out. Two lumberjacks stumble upon them. They make out. Then the bears and the lumberjacks make out.

Scene 3: Technology — A student invents a machine that writes essays for him. It writes “Vindication of the Rights of Bears by Bear-y Woolstonecraft.” They decide to publish.

Scene 4: TV SHOW: Dexter — Dexter finds a serial killer that likes bad stuff, so he has to torture him by being nice.



Scene 5: Big Butts — The hospital detaches from it’s peak and slides towards certain death. The therapist and New Yorker realise they can save themselves and cure the NYer of his Big Butt fetish by inflating the NYer’s butt and using it as wings to fly to safety.

Scene 6: Canada — The Bear, now in a relationship with the lumberjack, manipulates him into not cutting down any more trees because if there’s no woods, then no bears can shit in the woods, then no truth can exist and he’ll ruin philosophy.

Scene 7: Technology — The professor arrives and is dismayed to find that not only have his students made bears all powerful and stopped logging, but have actually created something new which is totally not the purpose of academia: you’re just meant to research things that already exist and write about it in another essay.

Scene 8: VIDEO GAME: Car Crash Comedians 4: In order to win the game you have to find James May and beat him to death with a baseball bat, while he is crawling out the wreckage of a car crash.

Scene 9: (Synthesis of all scenes:) The bear is killed by the flying therapy hospital as it flies past on the massive buttcheeks of the NYer. The lumberjack falls in love with a rabbit instead. The rabbit reveals “Vindication of the Rights of Rabbits” written by the Essay Machine indicating the whole cycle might start again…
And this quick-thinking wit ninja did all it so bloody well…

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen Click Here

August 11, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Archie Maddocks - Shirts vs Skins
Archie Maddocks: Shirts vs Skins
Archie Maddocks is a treat in his new Fringe show, Shirts versus Skins. The show focuses on the struggles, and the good experiences, he’s had growing up mixed race – mainly trying to choose his own nicknames.

Maddocks really invites you into his life with hilariously random detours about his menopausal mother and witty puns galore – he really knows how to work a crowd and is effortlessly fast on his feet.

He is a natural with an audience, boldly exploring controversial topics such as race and religion. Just as you’ve tensed up, he manages to bring the energy back down with amazing skill – leaving everyone in stitches by the end of the show.

Words: Katie Mckenzie Click Here

August 11, 2016  The Reviews Hub
Review of Barbarians
Ben van der Velde: Barbarians – The White Horse, Edinburgh
Reviewer: R G Balgray
Pzazz. That indefinable mix of pace, quality of material, energy, call it what you will, Ben van der Velde displays it in bucketloads. A packed back-room in the pub advertised as the oldest in Edinburgh was whisked through a routine covering many, many bases – and then some.
His main schtick, though, is to tweak at the multiple absurdities we have to live with, particularly the “isms”- racism, sexism, terrorism – and throw in a dose of his own personal psychological analysis for good measure. And don’t forget some cracking dirty jokes, plus debunking religions in general, and his own complicated genealogical background in particular. Along the way, he manages a fine line in audience engagement (his is definitively not a performance for those who like to sit anonymously behind that glass wall…), and he doesn’t baulk at taking the odd chance or six with their willingness to go along with him. For walking a fine line seems to be his firm intention: some holy cows don’t seem so much to be mocked as kebabbed. But he’s working so hard, and so much on form rapport-wise right from the start that he seems to get away with it. He must have one of the highest jokes-per-hour counts in Edinburgh this month already. It’s only afterwards you realise just how structured and clever his material has been. If he can keep this level up, it will certainly be exhausting, but success must also surely beckon …
Runs until Sunday 28 August 2016 (not 15) Click Here

August 11, 2016  Three Weeks
Review of Barbarians
Review for Barbarians
Tackling human nature, biology, identity and current affairs, Ben Van der Velde covers a broad remit in this entertaining hour at the venerable White Horse. At times he plays it safe; when discussing his own Jewish identity he covers the practical ridiculousness of religious doctrine and traditions, which is well-trodden ground to say the least. Elsewhere he takes real chances – the closing routine revolving around ISIS sees him engage in some impressive emotional honesty. Though Van der Velde clearly plans his material quite thoroughly, he’s also unafraid to riff and improvise, which allows him to keep the audience onside even when a dicey gag causes a murmur (there are a few – this show’s not one for the easily offended). It’s a solid, fun hour.

Laughing Horse @ The White Horse, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley] Click Here

August 11, 2016  Three Weeks
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Eric Lampaert – Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
The first part of Eric Lampaert’s new show comprises well-observed and fairly straightforward material on the well-trodden comedic ground of cultural differences, winning the audience onside immediately with Apollo-ready material. But as the show develops, it grows into anything but standard. Material that started off nowhere near as “weird” as his own persona seems to grow, and soon we’re watching a hilarious, unique show with a huge variety of styles of humour blended so seamlessly they often all fit into one bit. Lampaert’s character is complex too, a blend of self-deprecation, ironic hubris and occasional nutjobbery, with self-references sparse enough for each one to be belly-laugh hilarious.

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Nina Keen] Click Here

August 11, 2016  Three Weeks
Review of Jeu Jeu la Foille: Frontal Lobotomy
Review for Jeu Jeu La Foille: Frontal Lobotomy
It’s not often at the Fringe that you’re treated to a show combining old school original poetry, burlesque and puppetry. But that’s exactly what you get from ‘Jeu Jeu le Foille: Frontal Lobotomy’. It’s punctuated with scientific accounts of actual lobotomy surgeons and procedures, plus imagined conversations with John Waite –what more could you want? Somewhat erratic at times, the show can feel a little all over the place, but this is reflective of the subject matter. And, although the puppetry is crude, it is fitting within the piece and the performance is ultimately creative and engaging. Jeu Jeu La Foille clowns her way through burlesque and passionate prose – surely this is how every poetic anthology wishes it could be presented?

Laughing Horse @ Southside Social, until 21 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts] Click Here

August 11, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Juicer
Sunil Patel: Juicer
Sunil Patel oozes funny like a jammy doughnut running down a diner’s chin. Sometimes looking at his expressionless facade, I wonder whether he even realises how funny he is.

This is a great debut show.
His show, called Juicer, has absolutely no relevance to his set at all, bar one joke about a juicer, which he claims is his “get out of jail free” card. This in itself is funny, because it illustrates Sunil’s personality in a nutshell.

Sunil’s debut show is, unsurprisingly, all about himself. He asks his female friends for a list of his characters flaws, which is both brave and again typical of Sunil’s warped sense of humour. After dissecting a couple of the watertight flaws, he moves into storytelling mode explaining his upbringing, likes and dislikes, and his Hip Hop DJing career.

It’s worth going to watch Sunil to experience his unorthodox yet crafted way of explaining the complex mind maze of who is the man and who is the comedian. Cellar Monkey, being nearly a mile away from the thick of the Fringe hullabaloo, naturally makes this show difficult to populate. Momentum was lost due to a severe lack of audience members, however, with a full crowd this show has the potential to dazzle.
A few jokes fell short of his normally cleverly constructed pieces such as when he compares the Hip Hop struggle in New York to Bath, where he grew up. This may be because he hadn’t found a strong enough punchline to carry the joke material through. Sunil’s humour is intelligent and therefore not appropriate for anyone who likes an easy laugh, because soon as Sunil starts speaking he gives the impression of someone who got ten As at GSCE.

With a larger crowd and the polishing up of a couple of punchlines, this is a great debut show. Oh, and yes, you do get to hear the joke about the juicer. Click Here

August 10, 2016 Fresh Air
Article about POTTERVISION!
REVIEW: POTTERVISION!
Do you like Harry Potter? No, I mean do you ACTUALLY Like Harry Potter, ‘like’ with a capital L? Do you like the books to an extent where the mere attempt of being light-hearted about the subject is a cardinal sin and you consider the films let alone stage versions an abomination? Then you should go and see this show! You will hate it and maybe rethink your attitude. Get over it, it’s just a book. If, however, you just like Harry Potter or are a bit more than aware of the matter and its following, there’s a good chance you will love this show. That is if you get into the room. This is probably one of the most sought after free shows at the Fringe, which isn’t always an indicator of quality, but in this case it is. More advice: this is not a kid’s show. While there isn’t any strong language, there are adult themes, sort of adult-ish themes.

The premise is simple, the execution? Not so much. Four guys re-enact Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But, how? Yeah, that’s a very good question. One might doubt they thought it through. But then they just go and do it, and without giving away too much, it is hilarious. The show is fast paced and highly energetic, to use two of the most-over used review phrases, but they really apply to the farcical shenanigans this group get up to. At the end of it, maybe not every little detail has been told, but you get the gist and morale - even if it wasn’t quite what you took away from the books or films. But that’s okay seeing after 19 years (!), it might be time to get a new perspective on Harry Potter and you might as well laugh at it.

Pottervision is on at Cabaret Voltaire at 1pm. Click Here

August 10, 2016 Festival Magazine
Article about Liars Club
Lou Sanders: Sweet Mystery
“If I was a boy, a male comedian, people would want to cook a nice dinner for me and look after me,” Lou Sanders blurts. “No, wait, I don't think that's true actually.”

Intermittently forthright, then guarded, the quirky standup hates telephone interviews because she tends to overshare, adding that she's usually telling the truth. “Nobody wants to read that though...” she tails off momentarily, a little enigmatic, a little coy.

Sniffing a potential whiff of scandal after hearing allusions to heartbreak, criminality and even teetotality in her Fringe show, I nevertheless come to realise that the only dirty laundry being aired today is currently getting dragged, wretchedly, from Sanders' washing machine as she speaks to me. “More stained than when it went in!” she laments. The lottery of Edinburgh accommodation, now that's a scandal, we agree.

“I like to retain a sweet bit of mystery,” she continues in the sing-song style of her naif-like, only occasionally jaded stage persona – a self-indulged princess who's perhaps kissed one too many frogs. “The comedy I do is very silly, so I think it's enough to just hint at the stuff that makes you who you are, that has contributed to your personality now or when you were younger.”

She isn't overt in expressing her “passionate” political views. “I'm not going to bang on about that kind of thing, even though I love and respect the comics that can do it because it's a great skill,” she says.

“When I sing a song with a vagina on a stick, and I'm saying 'I'm from Africa', it sounds stupid. But there is a message there if you know where to look.” She cracks up. “I think I say quite a lot by saying a little.”

This mock arrogance, a mix of superiority and vulnerability that defines just about all of her utterances on stage is “always funny”, she maintains. “To be like, 'Yeah, I know I'm a big deal', especially in a small room. It would maybe be less funny if you were doing Live at the Apollo.”

While she doesn't think the past is especially formative in shaping personality, Sanders is offering a glimpse into her childhood with her show this year and, perhaps, the triumphant roots of her nonconformity as a performer. She concedes that even in those days, “I kind of liked attention”, but that her ballet classes and insensitive brother were simultaneously undermining her confidence. “He said I'd got a massive arse,” she gently discloses. “And it does stick out! Certainly, it wasn't the fashion at the time.

“I've always wanted to tell that leotard story because I think it's funny. But it wasn't a conscious decision to say something about myself. I wouldn't say anything I do is a conscious decision.”

She backtracks. “Actually, that's not true. You say something in a conversation and suddenly it's in print, confronting you. Still, I don't think that was a conscious decision. Oh dear!”

Called What's That Lady Doing? after an audience member's bewildered response to one of her previous hours—“fair point” she acknowledges—the night I saw it featured her being flirtatious, nay, sexually aggressive in directing her youthful technician, an enjoyably one-sided exchange that didn't feel like pre-prepared material.

“No, it's not,” she confirms. “I like to keep about eight to ten per cent improvised. But I'll do it again if a similar situation arises. Sometimes you introduce stuff and it stays in. I've got quite a few lines that were improvised one night and then kept in.”

She enthuses about Liars' Club, the improv show that she's simultaneously running with Vanessa Hammick, “The way it uses a different part of your brain.” Still, she doesn't like the idea of introducing anything from these improvisations into her solo shows. I'm a bit of a purist like that,” she explains. “I like to keep my two babies at arms length.”

When an ad-libbed episode like the tech intimidation occurs, people invariably tell her, “Oh, you should do that every night,” she reflects. “But if you try to recreate that wonderful magic, you'll lose something. If you're still chasing last night, you're not in the moment of tonight. And Colin's not my tech every night.”

As the festival progresses and she beds the show in properly, Sanders anticipates growing more confident in taking risks with it. And she's already looking forward to her next ventures: gigs in Los Angeles with Aisling Bea; a short film with Tom Rosenthal, Nick Helm and Sheila Reid in which she plays an annoying, Amélie-type florist that's shooting in October; and a feature film for next year that she's working on with comedy writer Hannah George about female travellers, which she describes as a “backpacking Bridesmaids”.

With all this in development, she finds herself “at the most exciting phase” of making comedy. “When I think of something and wonder if I can convey it properly to an audience, will they find it as funny?”

Before it's compromised by others? I ask. “The room in my head is such a safe space,” she concludes.
 Click Here

August 10, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Foxdog Studios
Foxdog Studios present a show of technical finesse and bizarre storytelling with an audience interaction element like no other

Foxdog Studios’ technological wizardry is matched only by their baffling modesty. This is a show in the basement of a pub, full of deadpan humour with no pause for applause, laughter or acknowledgement. They just crack on with the show in all its glory, first asking us all to log our smartphones on to their website so we can play an interactive game and watch the results onscreen with musical accompaniment.

The story behind the madness is that we’re all on a team bonding exercise on our first day working at the scrapyard – and it absolutely works, both through the aforementioned feats of engineering and the easy, dry wit of our IT consultant hosts on stage. Add to that a live musical accompaniment and we’re all entranced; we may have signed up for a degree in engineering without realising.

If there are points for effort, Foxdog Studios gets all the points. There are no points left for anyone else. We’re going to have to print off some more points. Prepare the shiny paper. My pockets are empty of points and my brain is full of little stars and whizz-bangs of excitement.

This is ridiculous, unique and so funny your face will hurt. Click Here

August 10, 2016  The Skinny
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
Olaf Falafel and The Cheese of Truth
'Sweden's eighth favourite comedian' brings his debut hour into the City Cafe

Olaf Falafel is an imaginative, inventive loon and best introduced by the six-second video clips that have made him 'Vine famous'. This kind of introduction is pretty much what transpires in his debut hour as he presents something of a greatest hits on screen and builds a nice story around his popular 'Cheese of Truth' Vines, where cheese slices reveal the essence of whatever reading material they land on through the few words only visible through the cheese-holes.

The economy of his storytelling in this restricted format suggests Falafel should break out beyond the strange bubble of social media admiration, where hits and views replace the cheques an artist needs to get by. He finds himself in the odd situation, however, of being eclipsed by his own videos. There's his clever and bizarre use of props, for instance; so arresting in his Vines, yet they barely materialise onstage.

That's not to say his live material lacks in quality or ideas. A quiz-style competition with the contestant playing against a bowl of breakfast cereal, the ancient Rome translation of Hilary Clinton's name and the pay-off of a hard-to-swallow conclusion all demonstrate Falafel's considerable range and a desire to take risks. He's also the kind of comedian who can elicit as much pleasure from the audience with weaker material, understanding that sometimes a groan can be as good as a laugh.

A promising debut, but not yet a calling-card presentation.

Olaf Falafel and The Cheese of Truth, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe (Basement Bar), 4-28 Aug (not 16), 4.15pm, Free Click Here

August 10, 2016 Beyond The Joke
Article about Nathan Cassidy: 42
Spoof Poster Claims Comic Is Big Arena Star
Comedian Nathan Cassidy has come up with one of the best publicity stunts so far at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

A fake poster has appeared in the pedestrian underpass by the major Pleasance Dome venue advertising Cassidy’s fictional 2017 tour, The Man In The Arena. According to the poster all the dates are already sold out except for one night at the O2 Arena in London on November 4.

The poster also advertises two imaginary Cassidy DVDs entitled I Am Orig and The Cure For The Common Cold and then using the Amazon typeface says they are “out of stock”.

There is also a fabricated quote from website Chortle saying: “The entire second row is pissed. And there are only two rows.”

Cassidy is currently doing a show at the Laughing Horse venue at the nearby Free Sisters pub entitled 42 which is described as “a quest for the meaning of life from this critically acclaimed, award-winning stand-up renowned for innovation. No two shows the same…” Click Here

August 10, 2016  Musical Theatre Review
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
A more pleasing hour on the Fringe would be hard to find. Laughs by the bucket-load – and you will look for her in the future. One day you will see her on TV and tell anyone who will listen that you ‘found’ her on the Fringe, in a basement in Espionage. You owe it to your future self to see this show! Click Here

August 10, 2016  Festival Magazine
Review of Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Broadbent is pulling herself together after a bad break-up. A friend tells her that you're 25 per cent uglier when you break up with someone, so off she despondently goes, moving her stuff into an abandoned warehouse with a wee smelling kitchen hoping to find her beauty again.

It's hard to believe, as on stage she's radiant, all smiles and lush hair behind the keyboard from which she bangs out show style tunes and soft rock numbers, musing on the break up and pulling herself back together again.

Many of the songs here feature familiar touchstones found in many comedy routines – hipsters and their habits, not looking glam at the gym, Facebook mistakes and bikini waxs, or rather the lack of them. But Broadbent sells them well, with more chutzpah than several performers rolled together.

However, her comedy writing isn't the strongest and a fair few gags within the songs rely on that old classic of the previous line of a song rhyming with a rude word but then she sings something else instead. Elsewhere there is a fair amount of guessable pull back and reveal. But there's a pleasure in that too. Plus there are some great moments – when she discovers her Tinder date is very politically unaware, and a routine about the inequality between the genders when it comes to making films about what guys will stick their penis into.

Overall Broadbent is a charming performer with an enjoyable hour, and her message is a strong one. Click Here

August 9, 2016  List
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
Ahir Shah has been working steadily towards producing an hour of stand-up as powerful as Machines for a number of years now. His brand of unapologetic liberal-left cage-rattling has always been energising for its vaulting ambition and wrestling with ideas (and sizzling quality of the jokes, of course). But this time around an emotional heft has been loaded on; being caught up in the carnage and chaos of Paris last November has given him a real perspective on the world affairs he has long discussed in his work. Click Here

August 9, 2016 Three Weeks
Article about Martha McBrier : Japanese boy
Martha McBrier: Back at the Fringe with stories to share
 Click Here

August 9, 2016  The Mumble
Review of 1 Last Dance with my father
The wee Kasbah room is tucked up inside a warren of rooms in the Espionage venue. A tiny arena befitting an intimate night out rather than the stage for an excellent comedian, it was fairly full of expectant punters. Of course with the front row was typically empty. They need not have been afraid to take their seats though, as Njambi had already told me she didn’t pick on audience members, as she wanted to keep them on her side. She introduced herself before she came on, which kickstarted the laughs, and she slipped onto stage with her elegant black dress and braids; fitting for the dry, sardonic sense of humour that she was about to unleash on us. As dry as the Sahara, if you’re going to use an African stereotype. ‘I’ve come by plane, just so you know’, and so begun her quick, cheeky unravelling of all those well worn Western stereotypes of African people. The flyer promises the following: ‘Having survived a beating that nearly killed her, Njambi McGrath is forced to confront the perpetrator, her father, for answers when their paths unexpectedly cross again.’ Although the painful relationship with her violent father formed the backbone of the hour, most of the flesh was in the form of punchy, hard hitting jokes, cleverly entwined metaphors and dead-pan one liners on a variety of topical subjects. Click Here

August 9, 2016  The Mumble
Review of 48 Minutes, Another.
Ben Shannon (Nottingham) & Mike Reed (Merthyr Tydfil) are old Uni mates – they love each other & their love each other’s comedy in equal measure. Last year they found themselves on the geographical fringes of the Fringe – Moriarty’s on Lothian Road -, liked it, & decided to come back & do it all again. Its location, actually, is good – its more like a machine-fun border post for West Edinburgh, trying to take folk out with laughter before they hit the battlefield. Going there’s a bit like going to Skye – its a bit of a trek but its worth it! Click Here

August 8, 2016  ScotsGay
Review of WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
Review
Nestled in the basement of the Newsroom, there lurks a bearded bear in a polka-dot dress, holding court in his otherworldly realm. It’s only previews and that’s normally a no-no for reviewing but the lad’s just done a show in Maryhill so I figure he’s ready and I kept missing his show last year at the Market Street Arches, so I wanted to get in early.



The show opens and he is resplendent in a black and white gown and blue sequin jacket. Welcome to the happy gender frottage from down under. Drag doesn’t have to be pretty, skinny and fishy – it can be a great slab of meat, served with a pair of hairy buns in a jockstrap and frock. Carter dominates (well he is a top) his audience with an acerbic wit and playfulness that is infectious like an STI.



I was worried from the title and images, let alone the 5pm slot, that this was going to be a little safe, or that it would feel like he was pandering to a straight audience. That just isn’t the case. We are all his happy, fierce submissive bitches clapping and purring for more. There’s a rough and ready romanticism to the notion of a penniless bearlesque performer that we’ve all bought into by the end of the hour.



He admits that he’s just being his authentic on stage, or at least a “fat disgusting ugly cunt in a dress”. In truth his strip tease is charming and titilating, his stories cringeworthy and comforting and everyone walks away feeling special. He just lets his inner 8-year-old faerie princess dungeon sex pig run wild and it’s enchanting in a way.



OK, so he’s not polished and after having toured this show for a year now the expectation is that he should be. So what? He’s filthy, crass and delightful. By the time you walk away you feel like he’s the kind of mate (with or without benefits) you could as happily go to the sauna or op-shopping for drag with. Or do guest spots around town, both of you in dresses running Kath & Kim monologues together. That’s worth few quid in his bucket. Click Here

August 8, 2016 British Comedy Guide
Article about Fiona Sagar: Entitled
Fiona Sagar: Entitled Review
https://www.comedy.co.uk/fringe/2016/features/fiona_sagar_interview/ Click Here

August 8, 2016  List
Review of Juicer
Week one of August was eventful for Sunil Patel; he appeared in Borderline, a new Channel 5 mockumentary series about ropey airport border control officers, and brought Juicer, his first solo show to the Fringe. Although he claims he's suffering from comedy fatigue after five years of doing stand-up, over-analysing gags until he no longer knows what's funny, and feeling like a porn addict craving newer, weirder kicks, his set seems fresh and free of kinks (it's smooth, but sticks to safe territory in this afternoon slot). Click Here

August 8, 2016  Fest
Review of 1 Last Dance with my father
Njambi McGrath has been through some testing times, of which this current Fringe is doubtless the latest. Espionage's Kasbar Room is hardly suited to her harrowing new piece of confessional comedy, but she approaches performance with the same tenacity shown throughout her life, confidently withstanding apathetic audience members and the occasional disruption. Click Here

August 8, 2016  TV Bomb
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
The undeniable intelligence of Eric Lampaert’s stand-up rarely stops him from indulging in silliness or, occasionally, outright weirdness. As a British-French-American, he has triple nationality, and it is consideration of this unusual combination that forms the backbone of Alien of Extraordinary Ability. This is an hour of comedy that has obviously been meticulously structured, and as a consequence there are very few weak moments. Click Here

August 8, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Eric Lampaert: Alien of Extraordinary Ability
Lampaert’s show is at heart an exploration of the odd requirements of US immigration forms, and a deeper look at his own-Anglo-French nature. It’s a bit of a worn out trope but one that he manages to extract a few strong new threads from.

A mixed bag, certain elements of the show feel rather dated, the recurring Mulder and Scully skits especially. Likewise, the jokes based on national stereotypes are also a little too easy. Conversely, the multimedia elements worked for the most part, but the show has as many misses as hits.

The obligatory Pokémon Go joke starts out purposefully shaky but really builds into something much bigger than its parts, and the critique of the media humans send into space to represent themselves to aliens is a joy. All wrapped up with a needlessly ‘risque’ ending that added little.

There’s plenty to recommend, but ultimately Lampaert never seems to quite find his top gear.

Words: Tom Crosby Click Here

August 8, 2016  List
Review of Aatif Nawaz: Aatificial Intelligence

Aatif Nawaz takes issue with the way Islam is portrayed in the media. Following on from last year's Muslims Do it Five Times a Day, in which he sought to demystify his religion by making it acceptable to joke about it, this year's show follows in the same vein.

Playing to a crowd of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, he strikes a good balance between in-jokes and over-explaining, making sure that his comedy is accessible to all. Adept at blending his political material with tales of a propensity to get into scrapes, a Nawaz punchline has an equal chance of referencing Nando's or suicide bombers. His decision to go there has the effect of nullifying any tension or uncertainty in the room before it can arise so that just by being his charming, cuddly self, he is a great ambassador for British Muslims.

Making frequent reference to audience members, and asking them to participate in one section, his high-energy performance style drives an hour that can feel a little slight at times. But it's enjoyable while it lasts and hopefully he will be around to expand his repertoire for next year. Click Here

August 8, 2016  Fest
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
At times it seems as though Ahir Shah is more intent on rallying support for his partisan cause than making people laugh, but he manages to do both, so it's fine. Machines is a caustic triumph, sure to gain him fans if not political disciples. Click Here

August 8, 2016  One4Review
Review of Jordan Brookes: The Making Of
I’m very disappointed that Jordan’s audience hasn’t found its way to his show yet. There’s an audience for almost all comedy, and the right one brings an extra frisson to a show. There were more right audience in this show than when I saw him last year, so at least that’s an improvement. The four people in the front row who just didn’t get it made it all the funnier for the people behind them who did. Click Here

August 8, 2016  Fest
Review of Funny Stuff For Happy People
Watching comedian Martin Mor’s kids show sometimes feels like a case of be happy – or else. With his waistcoat and insane facial hair, well-deserving of its own billing, he’s the guy who makes snot jokes behind your parents’ back, with a wink, or fixes you with a stare that burns holes in you while you laugh. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Chortle
Review of Ahir Shah: Machines
An hour in the company of Ahih Shah will make you feel smarter, like you’ve read several books on social science in one intense mind-scrambling session.

He starts from the premise that we all live in a ‘hyperconnected yet atomised’ world, aware of horrors and inequity but so increasingly isolated and impotent to be able to do much about it. The rise of insular politics, from Trump to Ukip to various far-right European parties to the nationalistic Hindus in India, is clearly a worry, especially after the Brexit vote. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Fest
Review of Katie Mulgrew: Saboteur
The obscenely likable Katie Mulgrew couldn’t make it to last year’s Fringe due to a pressing family issue: Jim, her brand new baby son. He’s the saboteur in question, having throwing a massive, messy spanner into Mulgrew’s working life.

Then again, Jim has now inspired a full hour-long comeback show. So, swings and roundabouts. And poo-splattered cots. And awful circus-themed birthday parties. There’s much anecdotal mirth to be mined from a baby’s early months, in the right hands. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Alien Of Extraordinary Ability
Lampaert’s show is at heart an exploration of the odd requirements of US immigration forms, and a deeper look at his own-Anglo-French nature. It’s a bit of a worn out trope but one that he manages to extract a few strong new threads from.

A mixed bag, certain elements of the show feel rather dated, the recurring Mulder and Scully skits especially. Likewise, the jokes based on national stereotypes are also a little too easy. Conversely, the multimedia elements worked for the most part, but the show has as many misses as hits.

The obligatory Pokémon Go joke starts out purposefully shaky but really builds into something much bigger than its parts, and the critique of the media humans send into space to represent themselves to aliens is a joy. All wrapped up with a needlessly ‘risque’ ending that added little.

There’s plenty to recommend, but ultimately Lampaert never seems to quite find his top gear. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Fest
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
The publicity for "Sweden's eighth funniest comedian" has played heavily on Olaf Falafel's status as a celebrated Vine humorist, which is understandable, given that it's likely his greatest source of international exposure. Fortunately, Falafel doesn't dwell on navel-gazing questions about the nature of social media; he simply employs the highlights of his internet-based humour with the ruthlessness and timing of any talented standup, using his six-second absurdities as a "sorbet" to punctuate his equally charming rapidfire live material. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Fringe Guru
Review of Olaf Falafel and The Cheese Of Truth
There's something decidedly nerve-wracking about the combination of free shows and technology. The risk of things going seriously awry is seriously high – but with Olaf Falafel, we are in safe hands. Or rather, it’s iPhone that’s in safe hands, and from it he controls all of his show’s slick action and sound.

Olaf Falafel is a daft name. The Cheese of Truth is a daft title. And this is a gloriously daft show. A long attention span is not required: it’s easy-watching, lowbrow stuff. The idea of cheese being able to reveal truth, like some kind of dairy oracle, is a premise and a kind of silliness that I really enjoyed engaging with. There is a small sprinkling of subtle political satire, mostly coming from “the cheese of truth’s” revelations, but it’s heavily doused in visual gags; one of my favourites was the entirely ridiculous and very funny use of a croissant as the hair on a Donald Trump puppet (achieving a startlingly accurate likeness). Click Here

August 7, 2016  Reviews Hub
Review of Barbarians
Pzazz. That indefinable mix of pace, quality of material, energy, call it what you will, Ben van der Velde displays it in bucketloads. A packed back-room in the pub advertised as the oldest in Edinburgh was whisked through a routine covering many, many bases – and then some.

His main schtick, though, is to tweak at the multiple absurdities we have to live with, particularly the “isms”- racism, sexism, terrorism – and throw in a dose of his own personal psychological analysis for good measure. And don’t forget some cracking dirty jokes, plus debunking religions in general, and his own complicated genealogical background in particular. Along the way, he manages a fine line in audience engagement (his is definitively not a performance for those who like to sit anonymously behind that glass wall…), and he doesn’t baulk at taking the odd chance or six with their willingness to go along with him. For walking a fine line seems to be his firm intention: some holy cows don’t seem so much to be mocked as kebabbed. But he’s working so hard, and so much on form rapport-wise right from the start that he seems to get away with it. He must have one of the highest jokes-per-hour counts in Edinburgh this month already. It’s only afterwards you realise just how structured and clever his material has been. If he can keep this level up, it will certainly be exhausting, but success must also surely beckon … Click Here

August 7, 2016  Ed Fringe Review
Review of Barbarians
Ed Fringe Review
There is always a little apprehension surrounding the Free Fringe, and Ben van der Velde bounds into the room exuding a kind of nervous energy. There is no question of nerves getting to him, though, as he launches into his show and makes the energy in the room electric.

The room itself is packed, and the crowd is varied – he uses the disparity of people in the room to his advantage, addressing individuals in a gently mocking but not unfair way. I felt that he balanced his stand-up act perfectly, in that the main thread of gags running through it is intelligent, and his subject holds up well to being mined throughout the show. His spontaneous interaction with the crowd is as good as his written lines, and this is an obviously quick witted man performing fantastic anecdotal style comedy. His delivery is faultless, he is a natural – I was in stitches throughout the show, laughing along with the fifty-strong crowd.

Van der Velde takes every topic that is taboo to talk about at a dinner party and lays it out on the table to laugh at, turning lazy stereotypes and political messes into biting, personal, satire. Religion takes a hard hit in the show, but it is not crudely bludgeoned, it is just addressed in an intelligent, innovative way. He does rely quite heavily on his own Jewish identity to provide a kind of insurance against his Jewish-based jokes, but they are self deprecating enough and eventually just about safe enough to steer clear of being too unacceptable. That is not to say that he is just a Frankie Boyle of the Free Fringe. He is clever, not cruel, and he makes you laugh, not “write an angry letter to the Guardian”, as he suggests might happen.

Stand-up is brutal, and it takes some nerve and some sheer talent to do it well. Van der Velde has talent in spades; he had me laughing the whole way through the piece. It is a definite gem of the Fringe, let alone the Free Fringe, so go while you can and enjoy his sharp, observant and hilarious style. Just don't bring it up at a dinner party. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Mumble Comedy
Review of Nathan Cassidy: 42
Mumble review
Nathan Cassidy is funny and entertaining. He reminds me of the way that certain films start off slow before drawing you in completely. The title of his show is centered around the fact that he was once in a recording studio with the band Level 42, a moment caught on film for posterity and to entertain this year’s Fringe. His efforts last year were nothing short of startling, & the Mumble were keen to see what new tricks Cassidy had up his sleeve.

Bustling with street-wise banter, this modern clown worked us hard with his funky material. One-by-one, everyone in the audience warmed to him and yes, the audience loved it. Me included. I have decided to take a new look at comedians, they have nae always been my most fave to review. Divine is old school when it comes to comedy and tonight’s performance inspired me to liken the comedian to one of the greats. Tonight, Nathan had Norman Wisdom as his muse.

Cassidy’s creation also has one of the most novel finales to have ever graced the Fringe. I cannae give away the details, but there is a certain brilliance in its unusuality. This show is well worth the fiver I put in the bucket, and I sense a rising star in our midst.
 Click Here

August 7, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Nathan Cassidy: 42
Broadway Baby Review
Nathan Cassidy offers comedy fare that fits right in at the Fringe, a mixture of social observation, wordplay, ranting and anecdotal amusement. Depending on how you react to explicit language at 7.45pm, feel free to add or subtract from the star rating. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Chortle
Review of WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
Review
‘There’s no safe space here,’ Wayne Carter says, threatening that his aggressive audience participation will amount to ‘professional rape’, no less. But although he portrays himself as a predator, he’s way too amiable to create any real sense of danger. Certainly in a world of cabaret where his cross-dressing barely raises an eyebrow, his flamboyant flirting is almost (whisper it) conventional.

However he’s got the stories to convince us that he’s not, from getting off with a medical professional at work or shitting himself in a convenience store car park. It’s self-indulgent – how could it not be? – but not just in terms of the ‘me, me, me’ content. For routines often pan out in a woolly manner with Carter hoping his personality will cover weak writing Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

He opens by lip-synching to a track that plays up the idea of him as a glamorous attention-seeking vamp. ‘Flash photography,’ we are warned. ‘Is mandatory’ – how else can his fabulousness be shared with the world? But, as he will later have to admit, the show descends into a ‘slag talking about how he got syphilis’.

The show’s ideal of high-camp, waspish humour contrasts with stand-up sections, which are told without pizzazz – and often without a sense of purpose. Each set up as a round of ‘never have I ever’. they are more conversations that punchy, honed stand-up – so no wonder some of the more chatty elements of the room take their cue to engage with him, making for a very loose performance.

But he has interesting tales and background, including a big chunk of indigenous Australian DNA. While some of the more scurrilous tales are cringe-inducingly memorable, others don’t amount to much. His coming out story is robbed of drama as his okker ‘lads’ lad’ dad immediately accepts the fact, while his ‘never have I ever… had sex on a first date’ is just exactly that, no punchline, just a fairly bald, universal fact. And if you have to consider whether a thought is racist – as Carter does in an anecdote where he is astonished to find a black man being camp – it probably is.

Changes in costume – typically everyday chic more than drag queen fabulous – are covered by his stand-up guest, today Nicky Osborne, a sort of slow-mo Lee Evans, having adopted many of his nervous tics and hesitant umms as well as his penchant for quite easy observational humour, which Osbourne mixes in with cheap gags about Prince Harry being ginger, for instance, or Twitter-style puns.

As for Carter himself, despite – or perhaps because of – his willingly confessed screwed-up behaviour, he comes across as friendly and surprisingly approachable. And so, when he mock-seduces some of the straight men in he audience, it’s not with the menace he foreshadowed. He’s just being over-friendly. Click Here

August 7, 2016  TV Bomb
Review of Flo & Joan: Victory Flaps
The first archeological rummage around the Free Fringe has also unearthed its first gem. Long may such a hit rate continue. This sparkling joy takes the form of sisters Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, otherwise known as Flo & Joan; and if the title of their show doesn’t win you over (and it is undoubtedly eye-catching), then their unique and idiosyncratic take on musical comedy certainly will. Click Here

August 6, 2016  The Reviews Hub
Review of Nick Elleray: More Memories than Future
You’ve all known him, guys. The quiet pal who keeps surprising you with a quirky one-liner, but plays it down; and doesn’t want to make too much of it, because that would be a bit of a fuss. Wandering around the flatlands of his middle years (no real “crisis” – that would be far too dramatic), musing diffidently on how strange it all is: this is Nick Elleray’s territory.

Australian – but no stereotype – Nick Elleray now sees himself in the afternoon of things at the office (too late to start on any major new task, too early to pack up for the day). He comes up wry when looking over the options open to him: the advantages of dead-end jobs, disappointing his mother when another girlfriend departs, wondering what next step to take in the internet dating minefield … He turns his amiable, quizzical eye on familiar middle-aged minutiae, providing easy company in his small venue, plugging into the everyday embarrassments he notices. No real belly laughs, for his is the humour of awkwardness and repression, but many smiles and nods of sympathetic recognition, even from younger members of the audience. Click Here

August 6, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Nathan Cassidy: 42
Nathan Cassidy offers comedy fare that fits right in at the Fringe, a mixture of social observation, wordplay, ranting and anecdotal amusement. Depending on how you react to explicit language and David-Cameron-and-a-pig jokes at 7.45pm, feel free to add or subtract from the star rating. Click Here

August 6, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of 1 Last Dance with my father
Njambi McGrath’s 1 Last Dance With My Father sells itself as a dark comedy telling the story of her Kenyan upbringing and her violent relationship with her father. However the central story of the father-daughter relationship only really comes into its own in the final fifteen minutes, winding up a set that is primarily a collection of stand-alone jokes. The titular figure of her father flits in and out as one of a series of miscellaneous dark observations; ranging from comparing force-fed prisoners with foie gras, to describing the Mao Mao uprising as the London Riots, only with an actual sense of entitlement. Click Here

August 6, 2016  The List
Review of Amir Khoshsokhan: Shhhhhh
The term 'anti-comedy' has been used to describe the patently non-mainstream appeal of such diverse acts as Paul Foot, Ed Aczel, Neil Hamburger and Eddie Pepitone. But judging by the permanently awkward and occasionally static Fringe debut of Londonder Amir Khoshsokhan, this stand-up sub-sub-genre might have a brand new poster boy.

With a quivering voice shot through with the power to almost make time stand still, he gingerly takes to the floor of a truly odd Fringe performance space which merges the whispered intimacy of a pub gig with the echoey distance of an arena show, given how far away the act is from the majority of his audience.

Khoshsokhan overcomes any fears that Shhhhh is inevitably ill-fated from the off to hush his crowd into a silence that he almost replicates on his stage. After recreating a repetitive and tedious argument between himself and his girlfriend, the buttoned-up comic stares down familial objections about the lyrics of Tupac Shakur to suggest that the late rapper's published musings are equally as relatable to real human existence as Barry Manilow's 'Copacabana'. Very nearly putting the dead into deadpan, Amir Khoshsokhan will have an appeal among those seeking something a little more lacklustre in their Fringe comedy. Click Here

August 5, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of The Unflappable Troy Hawke
Milo McCabe steps onto the stage as Troy Hawke with the swagger of an assured performer. Over the next fifty or so minutes the comedian proves that both he and his creation are us unflappable as the show’s title suggests, putting in a very entertaining performance as he explores some of the foibles of modern life from a uniquely unusual perspective. Click Here

August 5, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Knock Knock
‘Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the innocent’ reads a screen at the back of the stage. Damian Kingsley’s Knock Knock is an unravelling of his identity: from his school years to his relationship with his father, all leading towards his recent separation from his partner, after which, he ‘didn’t have a pot to piss in.’ It’s a somber theme, and Kingsley doesn’t shy away from this, choosing to find comedy in the small details of each story. Click Here

August 5, 2016 Childrens Choice Award
Article about Defrosted
Defrosted Childrens Choice Award review
Defrosted is an entertaining and hilarious show. My younger daughter Emily (5) said: “I never thought it was going to be so funny” and frankly speaking I have never seen her laughing so much and continuously for so long!

It is an extremely interactive show, presented by a very talented couple - the clowns Nicko and Cat. It gives both children and adults the opportunity to actively participate in the performance. Defrosted refers to Disney’s Frozen with some well-known songs from the film, however, it is very much a show on its own. A motif of magic combined with the use of physical comedy, puppets, colourful and sparkly dresses, snow machines and even modelling balloons but most of all the enormous amount of energy provided by Cat and Nicko make this show extremely attractive especially for young children.

The performers get an undivided attention of the young audience with the giggling being continuous throughout the whole show. I would highly recommend this super funny show for families with young children.

Our young reviewer said:

Anna (8) said: What I liked about the show was that the actors’ names were silly and funny and when the maracas banged the man’s face and I also liked when snow was falling on me” Click Here

August 3, 2016 wow 247
Article about Martha McBrier : Japanese boy
50 must see shows
 Click Here

July 28, 2016 Buxton Fringe
Article about James Cook in Ready Steady James
Buxton Fringe Comedy Review
James, a chatty and engaging Brummie chap introduced himself with the intention of doing a bunch of comedy stuff for the handful of us gathered in a corner of an art gallery; he had been to Buxton before and had performed at the Buzz Comedy Club, a very different venue and much more mature audience.

However, he diluted and distilled his comedy style perfectly well for the several younger audience members and what occurred was a great deal of family-friendly giggly fun in the style of an intimate chat with a favourite Uncle. Forgiving the odd-cuss-word, you could proudly sit alongside a child and both chuckle away at the same joke…and both understand and enjoy it!

You’ll learn such interesting things as “what it feels like to eat food after midnight as the “eat-by date’ expires” and how to survive a wedding when you don’t really want to be there.”

He’s taking this show to Edinburgh - well at the age of 39, it’s about time he took a risk on his comedy persona. I think he’ll do very well there. In fact, I’d like to send him merrily on his way with a personal recommendation for a Fringe Comedy Award – he gets my vote and my wife’s!

David Carlisle Click Here

July 26, 2016  Gothamist
Review of Jeff Seal: The Goddamn Truth
News Story
Comedian, videographer, and frequent Gothamist collaborator Jeff Seal isn't here to parse words—he's here to tell The Goddamn Truth. Seal's stand-up shows always feature plenty of wry observations about life in New York City, along with plenty of reasons why no one should ever go skydiving and then open up a cupcake shop. The man is able to banter with himself in a way that's both hilarious and a little scary, but trust him: he's a semi-professional. Seal is performing The Goddamn Truth twice this week at 59E59's Theater's East To Edinburgh festival, and it'll be the last chance to see it before he brings it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, so yourself a weird, funny favor and catch his set. Click Here

July 24, 2016 buxtonfringe.org.uk
Article about Nathan Cassidy: 42
Buxton Fringe Best Solo Comedy Show - Nominee
 Click Here

July 19, 2016 The Edinburgh Reporter
Article about Nathan Cassidy: 42
Our Pick of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 – Nathan Cassidy : 42
In this show by Nathan Cassidy, the audience chooses a set list of 10 ideas from 42 options, creating infinite different shows. Can happiness be found from chaos? Can we together find the meaning of life?

Nathan performs a show that the audience will never have seen before and will never see again – and by the end of the show no one will be where they once were, thanks to an uplifting and dream-like ending unlike anything seen before at the Fringe!

There might even be an appearance from Mark King and Level 42 – anything is possible!

Nathan Cassidy loves the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and wants to give the audience a true one-off experience every night – no two shows are the same, and together with the audience he wants to create something truly special; magical even – that’s the aim!

Audiences at the Fringe are ready for something different and Nathan wants to take the audience with him, maybe literally (!), to a stand-up experience they won’t have seen before.

VENUE: Free Sisters, Cowgate
DATES: Aug 4-28 (not 15/16)
TIME: 19:42 (1 hour)
TICKETS: Free (pay what you like) Click Here

July 17, 2016 Buxton Fringe .org.uk
Article about Nathan Cassidy: 42
Nathan Cassidy: 42 Review
Take 42 things that are positive in your life. Get a member of the audience to choose 10 of them at random and use them as the basis of the show for the next hour. Simple really.

If you weren't there last night you missed a real treat. Cricket, dance, Harry Potter, the World Cup, chaos and Romeo & Juliet were among the items selected, so you get an idea of the range of comedic opportunities afforded to us. True to form, Nathan did not disappoint, and for the next hour much mirth was to be had. At times it was eye-wateringly funny and I don't think a single one of us didn't laugh as Nathan tried, desperately at times, to cope with the front row! It isn't often the front row plays such a part in events but last night was a classic.

This was the third time I've seen Nathan and each show has been put together with a great deal of thought and work. Last night showed that he doesn't just throw things together and hope something sticks. It has been rehearsed and tuned and it showed.

Just one appearance isn't enough, and if you missed it – tough. Easily the best comedy I've seen at this year's Fringe.

Ian Parker Heath Click Here

July 6, 2016 Hot Water Comedy Club
Article about Gagster's Paradise
Q&A: James Allen
Q) Where and when was your 1st ever gig? How'd it go?
A) Pro's and Coms the laundry lark lane Wasn't bad 5 people there

Q) Who/what were your main influences when you first started out as a comedian?
A) John Robins Elis James Jack Whitehall Liam Williams Jamie Demetriou

Q) What has been your biggest achievement to date?
A) Performing at Alex Bordmans new comedians night at the comedy store in Manchester

Q) If you weren't a stand up comedian what would you be?
A) Teacher or Dead

Q) What has been your favourite gig to date?
A) Beat The Frog May 16th did not win but beat the frog. Audience reaction was good and material flowed well

Q) And your worst?
A) 1. Freds comedy club Levenshulme. Tried new stuff which bombed apologised to the promoter about 20 times. 2. Rofl comedy stoke. Silence. Absolute silence. Finished quickly and mimed shooting myself in the head as I walked off.

Q) Who is your favourite circuit comedian ATM? What new comedians should we watch out for?
A) Loads. Hot Waters very own Adam Rowe is of course fantastic. More circuit people erm, James Meehan, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Phil Ellis, Danny Mcloughlin. Ones to watch Simon Wozniak is really good also Simon Lomas. Shell Byron, Yolav and Graham, Phil Lucas, Josh Jones, Jamie Hutchinson, Dan Soff, Sean Morley John Mcreadie. Far too many for me to name.

Q) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A) Hopefully, at a point where I have networked enough in the north west to do as many regular gigs as I can in Liverpool as I hardly gig their enough being wirral based. I'd quite like to be on the circuit and possibly maybe go to Edinburgh to just ask for gigs or maybe do a split bill with someone. Basically anything that brings me closer to having financial stability whilst doing comedy but also to network and meet as many people as I can. And just to constantly gig and gig.

Q) Do you have anything to promote?
A) I am going to Edinburgh this year with two other comedian friends of mine Tony Wright & Mark Grimshaw. We're doing a show called Gagsters Paradise in which the three of us do about 10-12 mins and we rotate the MC each night between us. Also hoping to have a different guest each day whilst we're down there. It's at the free sisters staff room at 20:30pm from the 4th-28th. Click Here for tickets Click Here

July 2, 2016 What's On
Article about LoveHard: The House on the Hill
No holds barred, laugh a minute comedy.
Talented Birmingham comedians, Jacob Lovick and Tyler Ross (aka Lovehard) delivered a no holds-barred, laugh a minute comedy in an enjoyable night of frights and bizarre characters in the House on the Hill at the OJS. Playing an American couple, the Kings, they move to very remote rural Scotland to receive a cold welcome from the locals who inform them of terrible events at their mansion. Desperately trying to bury their own shady past, the Kings experience all sorts of unexplained and funny events before they reach the truth. The two riotous leads never missed a beat, keeping the jokes coming with lightning quick delivery, and there were only two of them! Morphing into wildly different characters and accents in the same breath, their easy chemistry offset a remarkable comedic spontaneity and ease. I felt it started off strong, with a repertoire of wacky jokes and situations (the running joke about the babies and a certain, ahem, item was particularly good), but I zoned out towards the middle as they struggled to maintain the hilarity and pace. The genuinely creepy lights out section with the shrieking howls was also the best part, and it needed more of these moments to keep the momentum going. But the roaring audience showed a whole lot of love for Lovehard, and my very funny friend thought they were hilarious too! They managed to create a darkly atmospheric world of frights and suspense which kept us guessing in a small space and even smaller imeframe. Let’s hope the folks at the Edinburgh Festival show the same enthusiasm for this gifted Brummie duo!

Reviewed by Malaka Chowdhury Click Here

June 13, 2016 Boots n All travel publication
Article about Secrets of the Fringe - Walking Tour
A Better Way to Experience the Edinburgh Fringe (and life)
This is a story in a travel magazine about how Brooke Allen came to do this tour. Click Here

June 12, 2016 Love Midlands Theatre
Article about LoveHard: The House on the Hill
LoveHard: The House on the Hill
Fresh from its performances at the Brighton Fringe Festival and prior to its appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe this August, Love Hard present their newest play The House On The Hill at the Old Joint Stock, Birmingham for a one-off preview performance. For just an hour, the audience is transported on the journey of an American family who move to rural Scotland to live on the ominous ‘House on the Hill’. What ensues is simply genius and ends with a rather unexpected twist… followed by yet another macabre gag.

Firstly, the two actors (Tyler Ross and Jacob Lovick) must be applauded on their ability to not only present over 30 characters between them but also for their quick-witted improvisation skills. These moments became rather key to the plot and although corpsing was inevitably expected, it did somewhat add to the intimacy of the performance and made it specific to that audience – one particular moment involved a gag where Jacob spontaneously pulled out a mango which caught his co-actor by surprise and caused a few moments of respite away from the plot before moving back to the fast-paced tale.

Juxtaposition was also key to the comedy of the play with moments of utter hilarity contrasted with some particularly fear inducing ‘walkie-talkie’ moments. There was a moment where all the lights went down as the priest performed a religious act on the house and it was so cleverly put together with just the two actors that it felt as if there were lots more people in the room and really was frightening.

The technical elements of the play were simple and consisted of lots of sound effects, which played in turn with the comedy to support the 2 actors who held the show. Few lighting cues were used but were fairly effective in shifting the scenes from day to night and to, at times, add intensity to the play. The tech was completed by a line of hanging carnival bulbs above the stage to set the scene of the Scottish pier and I suppose one thing that would have been nice to see in addition, would have been an integrated set and quick costume changes. This is something that similar small cast, improvised productions, such as the 39 Steps, does particularly well and increases the comedy of the piece hugely. However, for such a small space, the actors substituted the lack of set well with their clear characterization and use of accents to move us through the story.

Thank you LoveHard for such an enjoyable evening of comedy and sadistical frights. If you didn’t catch it in Birmingham, then be sure to see LoveHard: The House on the Hill at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 4-20 August. Click Here

June 11, 2016  The Reviews Hub
Review of LoveHard: The House on the Hill
LoveHard: The House on the Hill
One of the great things about small fringe venues like the Old Joint Stock is that they can host productions that are simply not possible in larger venues as they would be too risky. The latest of these is comedy duo LoveHard’s The House on the Hill, being honed prior to appearing in Edinburgh this summer.

Running at around an hour, The House on the Hill is almost more an extended sketch than a play, part scripted and part improvised. An American family is moving into a house in a remote part of Scotland. The house seemingly has a spooky history, and the locals are far from welcoming to strangers too – but all the incomers want is to settle down and escape from their past. It’s a comedy ghost story, and the material is in some places very adult – it’s also whacky, off-the-wall and anarchic with some distinct echoes of the sort of thing you might have seen on television in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and similar sketch shows.

The duo, Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding, play more than 30 characters between them, American and Scottish, young and old, male and female. If you’ve seen the recent stage version of The 39 Steps you’ll know the sort of thing – though here the different personalities are presented using only physicality and characterisation, rather than costume. The set is practically non-existent – just some boxes and lamps with the whole effect being created using some appropriate sound effects and the skills of the performers.

Harding and Lovick do what they do well, though the improvised comedy nature of the piece makes it difficult for them to keep their faces straight sometimes – but in many ways that adds to the enjoyment of the production, and makes the audience feel part of the joke. They certainly manage to clearly differentiate the large number of different characters they’re presenting, not an easy thing to do when you have no costume to fall back on.

It’s not going to set the world alight – but if you’re a fan of Monty Python, Not the Nine O’Clock News and Rik Mayall, and you come along prepared for material that some may find distasteful bordering on offensive, you’ll have a great time.

Madcap, anarchic, and very funny. Click Here

June 2, 2016 Free Festival News
Hello 2016! Welcome to our new programme!
Our new Programme, of over 300 free Fringe shows in Edinburgh is now live for 2016. We have some new venues, two old venues with new names, and all our usual great festival hang-outs. Check out this site for who's on and where they are performing, for the very best in free comedy, music, theatre, spoken word and childrens shows! Click Here

May 31, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review of Reality Check
Athena Kugblenu: Reality Check
 Click Here

May 29, 2016  Ginger Wig & Strolling Man
Review of LoveHard: The House on the Hill
LoveHard at Laughing Horse @ The Hobgoblin
Some times the best things in life are free. In this case it was the entertaining free comedy due of Jacob and Tyler presenting us with a hysterical horror themed romp in deepest darkest Scotland. With a host of over 20 character played between the two chaps, they covered accents all across the British Isles in great style.

A young American family have just moved into their new home in Scotland, having left a dark secret behind in America. The unfriendly locals are less than happy to have another American family move in, but luckily they are moving into a haunted house. But is it really haunted or is this just another case of a militant Scottish community trying to keep yanks out?

The boys entertained us with their slick style, silly accents, and loosely structured play, that was open to the odd improvised gag. The blocked exhaust pipe had us in stitches, whilst the host of unusual pier salesman, had the whole crowd roaring with laughter. They also created some very creepy moments through the use of clever lighting and walkie talkies.

Simple and very effective. Comedy doesn’t need to be harder than this. Great storytelling and great fun. Catch them before they finish!

Highlight of the show – Vendors selling babies to throw at dildos, and selling dildos to throw at babies.

WIGS 4/5

The Ginger Wig
 Click Here

May 18, 2016 Dancing About Architecture
Article about Matt Green: Writing To Harvey Keitel
"I loved this show...Just trust me and go and see this"
I loved this show. I think one of the main reasons I loved it as much as I did was that I went into it having no idea what to expect and only a vague idea of who Harvey Keitel was. On the short walk to the venue the husbo said “he was in Goodfellas” Ten minutes later I found out he most definitely wasn’t. Just trust me and go and see this. Click Here

May 15, 2016  Arts Award Voice
Review of Circumcision
5 Stars For Dave Chawner's 'Circumcision'
A regimented routine of originality, flare, flawless comic timing, and improvisation skills. Circumcision offers up a tricky subject matter, and Chawner is a breath of fresh air, for he deals with his own truths in a way too few comedians are brave enough to do these days. Click Here

May 14, 2016  Arts Awards Voice
Review of Circumcision
5 Star Review For 'Circumcision'
He should be, and indeed was, applauded for his frankness and the ingenuity with which he pulled off the routine. A consummate professional – exhibiting a mainstream approach, which wouldn't look out of place among the oligopoly of big comedic names we have on our screens.

A regimented routine of originality, flare, flawless comic timing, and improvisation skills. Circumcision offers up a tricky subject matter, and Chawner is a breath of fresh air, for he deals with his own truths in a way too few comedians are brave enough to do these days.

Couldn't be more perfect Click Here

April 14, 2016  Funny Tonne
Review of Jen Carnovale Wronger Than You
Review - Jen Carnovale Wronger Than You
“Impressive Click Here

April 13, 2016 EatDrinkPlay
Article about The Weaning of Life
The Best of the Sydney Comedy Festival 2016
 Click Here

April 8, 2016 The Leader
Article about The Weaning of Life
Nowell ready to play the clown
 Click Here

April 8, 2016 The Leader
Nowell ready to play the clown in his 2016 Sydney Comedy Festival show Plight
 Click Here

March 21, 2016 North West End
Article about Gagster's Paradise
Anthony Wright - New Comedians at The Comedy Store, Manchester
After the break first up was an 18 year old new comedian Anthony Wright who introduced his act likened to a one night stand however this young fella definitely isn’t a one night stand as his talent was beyond my expectations for a new comedian and I'm sure he's to stay around for a long time, he confidently relayed tales of his family including a very amusing story about his seasoned veteran grandfather. This young man oozed confidence and talent as he stood on stage bravely dressed in a brightly coloured suit with a matching dickey bow in the midst of factory workers, students, poets, vets, teachers and an intoxicated audience.

He had the audience however eating out of his hands as he eased his way through his act, this young man is definitely a star of the future and one I will personally be keeping an eye out for when he is next on the circuit - so remember his name as he is a must see. Click Here

March 3, 2016  Kryztoff
Review of WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
Review
Wayne Carter returns to his home of Adelaide after several years of living and performing in London to share his hilarious and outrageous stories. From his (mis) adventures at a school camp to his sexcapades through the UK and Europe, Wayne delivers sordid and humorous tales.
The show employs a number of musical interludes, all an opportunity for Carter to demonstrate his dancing abilities. At one point he invited an audience member on stage and was clearly surprised to see the participant dancing so well and enthusiastically.
Wayne’s first solo show is a hit, he has clearly identified his audience and they laugh uproariously at his jokes. This entertainingly lecherous show is a huge amount of fun, perfect for a mid week laugh!
Head along to the Griffin’s Head hotel to see ‘the most normal member’ of the Carter family performing from 8:45pm every night except Sunday. Click Here

March 1, 2016 playandgo.com
Article about Defrosted
Defrosted Review
Cat and Nicko and are comedy clown duo from the UK who trained together in Paris as clowns. If you have seen Spot Bots on CBeebies in the UK (the ABC for Kids equivalent) then you might recognise Cat from her role as Bubbles the Mermaid.

Defrosted is a very funny show at this years Fringe; it’s very silly and hilarious. From the minute Cat and Nicko take to the stage they had us giggling. They were both so full of life: their body language and their facial expressions were fabulous, their animated personalities brought joy to the performance and it was clear that the show was being enjoyed by both the adults and the children in equal measure.

It’s a low budget set, with a story line loosely based around Frozen but it doesn’t matter if you love the film or loathe it, there’s lots more to the show than references to the film. I really liked the music and would have enjoyed a few more tunes during the show. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, with some children coming onto the stage to take part and even one poor Dad being dragged up to duet with Cat for ‘Let it Go’ whilst wearing a comedy Elsa wig. This was definitely the highlight for the adults in the audience!

We went as a family with our six year old and eight year old and we all loved it – it was our favourite kids show so far this year. So if you like a bit of silly fun and a bit of clowning around, then I am sure you’d enjoy it too! Click Here

February 29, 2016  Adelaide Advertiser
Review of Defrosted
Defrosted Review 2016
 Click Here

February 28, 2016 Stories Well Told
Article about Defrosted
This Fringe show is a MUST
This Fringe show is a MUST for any parents and children afflicted by the movie phenomena that is Frozen.

Defrosted is a hilarious comedy that parodies the Disney classic to perfection without ever actually mentioning the film!

Cat and Niko are clearly very experienced children’s entertainers who just get children and know what will engage and delight. They are also very talented singers, dancer and puppeteers! There is plenty in Defrosted for all ages with a few cleverly placed adult jokes that the kids wouldn’t work out.

Great props, fun music and lighting perfectly accentuate this fun show. For my kids, the freezer was a source of constant interest and they loved the puppetry. It had just the right amount of silly sound affects and slapstick humour to amuse the audience. I can see why this show took out awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. This is a great opportunity to expose your children to quality international theatre.

I was lucky enough to grab Cat and Niko after the show for a short interview and find out what inspired this show. Enjoy! Click Here

February 25, 2016 Broadsheet Adelaide
Article about WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
News
www.broadsheet.com.au/adelaide/entertainment/day-life-fringe-performers Click Here

February 23, 2016  AdelaideNow.com.au
Review of A+ Underachiever
Adelaide Fringe review 2016 -- Underachiever: Parental Judgement Day

★★★★

A Chinese guy with African lips, no hair and missing front teeth — who also does his own sound, lighting and introduction — Singaporean stand-up Jinx Yeo may just be the comedy surprise discovery of this year’s Fringe.

For despite his nerdy demeanour and strict disciplinarian upbringing, Yeo manages to pull totally unexpected puns, highly irreverent references and some very politically incorrect observations out of left field, if not from completely thin air.

Within the framework of the pressure Chinese parents put on their children to study hard — and his own family’s obvious disappointment at his career choice to become a comedian — Yeo cleverly uses his geek status to lull us into a false sense of security.

After milking his own physical shortcomings for all they are worth, he segues into witty routines about blood types, the advantages of compulsory female conscription, naming sexual fetishes after diseases and the history of British colonialism.

An audience comprised of both Asian students and Anglo-Australians of all ages laughed equally heartily and solidly throughout Yeo’s show, taking particular delight every time he crossed into the no-go zone.

In Singapore, he’d probably get four years’ prison for performing material like this — luckily here at the Fringe, he gets four stars instead.

PATRICK McDONALD
Chief Arts Writer Click Here

February 20, 2016 Glasgow Herald
Article about Ashley Storrie and Other Erotica
Funny Feisty women
The Glasgow comedian’s show includes a kooky collection of tales about “being my awkward self and William Shatner trying to set me up with men on the internet”. The latter, it transpires, happens on a regular basis. Storrie, 29, and the Star Trek legend have developed a Twitter banter since he wished her happy birthday three years ago.

Shatner has often attempted to play matchmaker. “He’s was trying to set me up with some guy from Outlander – a big handsome ginger fellow,” she says. Sam Heughan? “Yes! That’s the one.” Heughan, who plays dashing highlander Jamie Fraser in the television drama, frequently converses with Shatner on Twitter. “I was mortified,” says Storrie.

Jamie Fraser may have set millions of hearts aflutter, but Storrie’s devotion belongs to one man alone: Captain James T Kirk. “I have been a Star Trek fan since before I can remember,” she says. “I wanted William Shatner to tweet me so he knew I existed.” That dream was realised when Shatner posted: “Here’s what I want to know – what is Ashley’s ‘Storrie’?”

Storrie has never met Shatner and is content with a virtual friendship. She believes Shatner views her as an “odd bod” and secretly prefers her mother, fellow comedian Janey Godley. “Mum has never watched Star Trek and doesn’t care, so she talks to him like he’s Uncle Bill.”

For a long time Storrie railed against a career in comedy. Her first acting part was aged three playing “the wee girl in the metal tea urn” in the movie Alabama. At five, she was cast in an advert for Fairy Liquid soap powder, directed by Ken Loach no less, and aged 10 had the lead role in the independent film Wednesday’s Child.
“When I was a kid I was convinced I was going to be an actor,” she says. “I had this plan that I was going to die on Casualty or The Bill and that would be my big break. It would be such a compelling death that I would go on to play Evita and win Oscars.”

At 11, Storrie performed her first stand-up routine at the International Women’s Day celebrations in Glasgow. Her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut followed two years later. But then, says Storrie, her aspirations foundered as teenage angst struck.

“I did comedy until I hit puberty – literally until I got boobs – and then I was so crippled by adolescent shame I couldn’t go on stage,” she says.

Storrie was 27 before she began gigging again. A big part, she concedes, was wanting to escape being known as “Janey Godley’s daughter” and carve her own identity.

In the intervening years she studied filmmaking, wrote for radio and had “more jobs than you could imagine”. A catering assistant, karaoke host, bingo caller and a receptionist among others (Storrie was sacked from a law firm for building a pyramid of soft drinks in the conference room and dismissed by a car company for making jokes over the PA system).

“Anything I could do to avoid comedy,” she says. “I didn’t want to be compared to my ma. People would tell me I should do comedy and I would joke: ‘I don’t hate myself enough.’”

These days it’s less about hating herself and more about being comfortable in her own skin. Storrie says her style is “blatantly honest”, adding: “I don’t get embarrassed by the things that embarrass other people.”
 Click Here

February 15, 2016  Student Newspaper
Review of Twisted Edge Showcase
Twisted Edge Comedy
Twisted Edge Comedy is a new company that can currently be seen presenting a variety of stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival. The company itself gives students free workshops, training them in stand up and giving them the confidence to perform in front of audiences. The shows themselves are extremely engaging and provide something for everyone, from surrealist humour to comic anecdotes to one liners.

Andrew Sims, one of the company’s founders, hosts and warms up the audience, involving certain audience members to ensure that the various comedians receive an enthusiastic reception when they come out to perform.

The eclectic range of comedians perform a few minutes of stand-up each, with their style being mostly anecdotal. The comedians are a combination of amateurs, who have never performed before, and more experienced performers. One criticism of this style of performance is that, at points, it is quite clear which performers are less experienced and which are more so. Therefore the sense of continuity is slightly less cohesive than it could be.

Much of the humour arises from the subtlety of the performance — the taller acts taking the time to slowly adjust the height of the mic before they start their act — as well as pauses and changes in the nuance of tone which show that the performers are both confident and well versed in their individual acts. The sheer energy of the performers, the diversity of approach to comedic venture, and the pure boldness of the performers ensures the enjoyment of the audience. Click Here

January 27, 2016  Musical Theatre Review
Review of Roulston & Young: Songs For Lovers (And Other Idiots)
'Excellent witty writing'.
Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young perform their show The Best Bits of Roulston and Young at the Crazy Coqs, London until 30 January.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★

This extremely talented couple makes a triumphant return to the Crazy Coqs to celebrate their ten-year partnership of songwriting together. It’s an evening which includes both old and new original songs – a few serious ones woven amid a welter of wicked and outrageous numbers.

Roulston and Young been described as “a sort of 21st Century Flanders & Swann” but, as entertaining as those venerable gentlemen were, they never reached the heights (or should it depths) of raunchiness achieved by this pair.

The format of their act has them offering, in turn, their partner’s qualities and listing their “best bits”. Their banter allows for plenty of mock abuse with each “best bit” leading into appropriate songs – which sadly are never named.

Many compositions reflect personal issues. Perfect Match came about after repeated questioning from both sets of parents as to why they are not married to each other. Further intrusive questioning as to why she had not had any children so infuriated Young that she wrote ‘Please Don’t Hand Me Your Baby’. This number is typical of the way the pair mislead the audience. The wistfulness of the opening lyric suggests that the song is a lament for the unfulfilled maternal instinct. Oh no! It morphs hilariously into a wicked comic song.

Sung straight is the ballad ‘Over You’ which has clever variations of the word ‘over’. Looking back on her childhood days as a tomboy Young is most poignant as she sings of a child always on the edge of the crowd, looking on and believing that she is not like other girls.

Equally moving is ‘The Letter’ which is a list song of things to do as an abandoned wife procrastinates before posting off divorce papers.

But it is the comedy numbers that bring the house down. Talk of dating older men – silver foxes – leads to Young’s confession to a friend that she is dating his father, while the perils of heavy drinking, one-night stands and the morning after, are fully expounded in the riotous ‘The Walk of Shame’. ‘Get Out of My Face’ brings a touch of comic country and western. ‘Much Much Older’ is Young’s fantasy following an encounter on a train with a boy half her age.

Although it’s Young’s vocals that take centrestage, Roulston’s contribution must not be overlooked. Apart from his hand in writing the material, he provides excellent piano accompaniment as well as giving as good as he gets in response to Young’s verbal abuse. His solo ‘I Play Around’ is a delightfully funny song full of double entendres.

The excellent witty writing, the easy delivery of the patter and Young’s ability to switch vocals styles effortlessly all go to make a most entertaining evening of classic cabaret.

 Click Here

January 13, 2016 ESAF Blog
Article about Twisted Edge Showcase
Twisted Edge Comedy
ANDREA TWEEDIE MET UP WITH ANDREW SIM FROM TWISTED EDGE COMEDY TO CHAT ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES, HECKLERS AND FINDING CONFIDENCE IN OTHERS.

What are you bringing to ESAF this year?

What I am bringing is Twisted Edge Comedy which is a company that was set up by myself and James Hughes last year. We did some late night showcases back at the Fringe which was something like 2am starts until 3am. It was absolutely chaos but it was a good learning experience of putting on stand-up gigs but from then on it kind of petered out and nothing was really done about it. I then got a couple of people asking if I'd do stand-up workshops for them. These were all my friends and performer people that I knew, usually on my course. They were all asking if I would do a workshop because I had done workshop things on sketch and performed in sketch groups for quite a while. I then realised it makes the most sense to do an art form that is not actually very accessible to most people.

Then I realised it was perfect for ESAF. It really helps three types of people. Potential comedians, so people who genuinely want to do stand-up comedy or any other type of comedy. Secondly it helps young actors, performers, directors, young producers or anyone in industry who want to understand comedy to a certain extent. The third type of people are people who are not really comedians or not really performers either, they just come along and they do their stuff and they play around with things and they can really help themselves. It can help if they have anxiety and they have confidence issues or even if they are just lonely. Even if they just want to get out of the house or out of their flat and want to spend a night to be funny with people in a room. The kind of community we have created with people within the workshops has led to a very safe environment for everyone. Even if you don't think you're funny you'll still enjoy it. I will find the funniest in you! I don't teach stand up that is a very important thing I facilitate a workshop so people can be encourage to be creative.

Can you describe your work in 4 words?

Progressive, stand-up, workshops and free.

How do you prepare people for hecklers?

It's all about confidence building that I have used within my workshops. At the showcase every now and again and then there's a heckle but it is a nice heckle but the audience are mostly family and friends. They all dealt with it perfectly. There was an issue with the mic stand where the mic stand actually came out like it actually came out in half and one of my participants Nick came out and stared at it and it was one of the funniest things of the night. He dealt with it perfectly he could have gone ‘‘oh no’’ and panicked but that wouldn't have been funny. Dealing with hecklers is entirely up to the performer. I have performed in front of stag dos; it's really interesting because I was always in a weaker spot because I look like a boy. I look younger and because I look like a child they thought they would ‘eat this guy for breakfast’. To delay that thought and to get rid of that thought in their heads, for two minutes I would dance and I would straddle the stag and all his mates would cheer and go mental for it. Then as soon as I started my set and actually started speaking they had all the respect for me and so did rest audience because I dealt with it.

What do you want the participants to gain from this workshop?

I want them to gain confidence. That's kind of the most important thing because everything else is the effect of that. You can't give someone confidence but you can give them a platform to find it. Click Here

November 30, 2015  The Dance Enthusiast
Review of Jeff Seal: The Goddamn Truth
Impressions of Jeff Seal and The Raving Jaynes
“Once the audience buys a ticket, they enter into a social contract not to say anything,” says comedian Jeff Seal. He’s not wrong, but he’s not right either.

Performers expect the audience to maintain a respectful silence. Courteous applause, fervent cheering, and the occasional sneeze or cough: these stand as acceptable noises from spectators. Yet, our silence reveals much.

Nowhere is this more apparent than a comedy show. When the jokes fall flat, everyone knows. Politeness turns pained, and grins pucker into winces. We might not say a thing, but the artists feel our judgment.

In their split-bill program at Triskelion Arts, Seal and improv duo the Raving Jaynes make it their goal to elicit laughter — lots of it. Their brand of comedy isn’t subversive or political or even particularly physical. Instead, Seal and the Raving Jaynes wield wit to highlight the sweet absurdity of humanity.

With his twinkly eyes and manic hands that he shoves into his pockets, Seal resembles a dippy, dorky dad. In The Goddamn Truth, his humor — although plentifully studded with profanity — runs in the same vein. Using storytelling and stand-up, he hopscotches through a variety of hashtag-worthy subjects like #manchupicchu pictures on Tinder and JetBlue’s #tellyourstory campaign. He flaunts his stick-of-dynamite tattoo that (#whoops) ended up resembling a used tampon (#gross).

As with all comedy, the effect can be patchy. It’s fun to see what sticks its landing (a deliciously ribald story about Judy Blume and Maurice Sendak) and what doesn’t (the visceral pleasure of swear words). It’s even more fun to see on whom it lands. One brunette in the front row honks at everything. Two burly dudes with trendy glasses sit with their arms crossed; their faces remain pinched for the entire set.

Seal’s greatest asset proves to be himself. He brims with "aw-shucks" affability. Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine if we’re laughing because his wisecracks are amusing or because he’s so darned earnest. Does this distinction even matter? We’re laughing more often than not. Click Here

November 30, 2015 Chortle
Article about LJ DA FUNK's Anti-Fascist Counter-Terrorist Comedy Orgy
After the first interval, came LJ Da Funk, a character with the gold necklaces of a white Mr T and the brazen swagger of a US preacher, which might put you in mind of Scottish-based Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III. But Zak Splijt wears the creation lightly, clearly enjoying himself so much that he doesn’t mind the mask slipping, making the performance hilarious in the way of someone struggling to keep a false moustache on. It’s all preposterous, but done with such ridiculously passionate commitment that he pulls everyone along in the wake of his bluster. And there are plenty of linguistic delights to perk up the performance, including unlikely catchphrases such as: ‘My comedy’s best enjoyed… retrospectively.’ So yes, you had to be there, but the spirit of brash fun was irresistible and earned him the night’s top £1,000 prize. Click Here

November 12, 2015 The Dance Enthusiast
Article about Jeff Seal: The Goddamn Truth
The Dance Enthusiast Asks The Raving Jaynes and Jeff Seal
Mixing standup, storytelling, characters, and clowning, Jeff Seal shares his one-man show with the dance-and-comedy improv duo The Raving Jaynes at Brooklyn’s Triskelion Arts.

“They’re hilarious when they're ‘on’, endearing when they're not, and both irreverent,” says Triskelion Arts Artistic Director Abby Bender. “They border on being just offensive enough to make us laugh with them (and sometimes even at them).”

The Dance Enthusiast met with The Raving Jaynes (Amy Larimer and Jamie Graham) and Seal to talk about what makes them laugh, how they practice comedy, and what it means to fail in performance.

Trina Mannino for The Dance Enthusiast: Raving Jaynes, what sparked your interest in fusing dance and comedy improv? What are its challenges?
Amy Larimer: I thought it would be interesting to combine the two forms to bring more body in the comedy improv and bring more story to the dance.

Jamie Graham: Often, when we first began this process, we would find ourselves in scenes more than in dances, because language is powerful. Keeping the balance between them is tricky.

AL: We have to constantly ask: How does dance fit into the literal narrative we’re trying to tell? How literal do we need to be? We also explore moving abstractly in a way that still supports character development.

TDE: Jeff, how did you arrive at wanting to do comedy and physical theater?
JS: I’ve wanted to do comedy since I was very young. I started taking improv classes in high school…I used to watch old vaudeville stuff. You realize when you’re watching clips of Groucho Marx, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin that they have similar ways of moving. You can tell it came from their experience in vaudeville and performing in music halls. I found dance through clowning, but I would not call myself a dancer out of respect to actual dancers.


Jeff Seal; Photo by Nicki Ishmael
TDE: How are your upcoming premieres different from your previous work?
JS: For the first time, my process has been to sit down and write. Normally, I go to a studio with other people, and we create material on our feet.

I’m struggling with the thought that I’m more funny in life than onstage. I’ve done a lot of clowning, which is about being yourself and being vulnerable. But I still feel that it’s not 100% me. This show is about stripping away everything I’ve been trying to do for several years and going onstage with no theatrical artifice and proclaiming ‘This is me. These are the things I talk about when I’m drunk at a bar. But right now I’m neither drunk or at a bar.’

AL: In the past we’ve taken suggestions from the audience to get started, but we’re not going to do that for this show as a way to see if it really can come from the body.

We’re excited to have a real theatrical experience rather than coming out on a stage about the size of this table. Though we’re doing improvisation, it’s important that we have a trusted technician – like Andy [Dickerson] at Triskelion — because they ultimately call our end.

TDE: In comedy, sometimes the material falls flat with the audience. How do you navigate that possibility in performance?
JG: What’s difficult is that there are many ways you can fail. You can fail if nothing is happening to move the story along, or you can fail if there appears to be constant conflict. Usually, that manifests in fights. One show, we were [pretending to be] boxing the entire time.

JS: You know, comedy is failure. If you’re having fun, even in the failure, and you acknowledge something didn’t work, the audience will often be on your side. But, if you try to brush it off like it didn’t happen then they’ll stop trusting you.


The Raving Jaynes (Jamie Graham in front and Amy Larimer in the background); Photo by Mathieu van den Berk
TDE: The late Christopher Hitchens was lambasted for writing an article asserting women aren’t that funny. Amy and Jamie have you experienced any challenges being dance-trained females in the comedy world?
JG: Sometimes we get: “So you’re the novelty act?”

AL: We talk about whether we need to “prepare” the audience for what we do or can we just go out there. Our brand of comedy works to our advantage and disadvantage. Some people really love it while others may say, “you move really well, but you could work on…” [She impatiently snaps her fingers.]

I think that women aren’t encouraged to be funny in our culture. We have to recognize the times when we hold back socially or in an improv class. I think that’s more stemming from socialization than from people or performers around us.

TDE: Who or what makes you laugh?
AL: Social awkwardness. When things go really, really bad. Jamie.

JG: I feel the same way about you! I also think that the big cosmic joke — the absurdity and futility of everything — is funny. Amy and I really like the sacred and profane.

JS: I like comedians who you just look at and they make you laugh. They’re not necessarily saying clever jokes. It’s just who they are is funny.

To see someone transgressive to the point of knocking another person back into place can be satisfying. Once you put something through the grinder of comedy, it’s not the same afterward. Comedy can serve as an equalizer.

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September 8, 2015 Whats On Sydney
Luke Nowells Plight Review
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August 29, 2015  Views from the Gods
Review of Decide-A-Quest
Decide-A-Quest, Canal Café Theatre – Review
Do you remember those pick your own adventure books from when you were a kid? Chances are, if you're any younger than my generation, the reference means nothing to you, however Edwin Wright and Tim Dawkins clearly remember the genre with the same fondness as I do. Before point and click computer games really look off, we were all turning to page 63 to see if we would get any further in our adventure or if we would simply end up dead. In which case, we would all silently go back a page and save the day.

In Decide-A-Quest, our hero (Wright) - and I use the word "hero" loosely - must decide whether to go questing with an indecisive procrastinator (Dawkins) he runs into one day. Things get off to a somewhat ropy start, but the hapless duo are rescued by Limpy (a confused but good-natured member of the audience) and they're on track to find the mysterious Yeti. Or are they?

The concept itself is frankly genius, and both Wright and Dawkins attack it with enthusiasm. Questing dilemmas can be seen on our "book" projected onto the stage's brought forward back wall, but if you can't quite read the text from where you're sitting, the narrator (also Dawkins) does the honour for you anyway. As an audience, we're asked to help determine what happens next, but it's unclear as to whether the comedians were always responding to what they thought we were shouting out, or if they were always propelling the action forward according to their own plans. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that on the occasions when they did seem to disobey the audience majority, it was simply down to mishearing.

Where the show lets itself down is in the length of the sequences. Every time we choose the questers' next move, there's a long piece of action, thus making the performers the two drivers again, rather than us. Given the genre, we want to be more in control and more often - short, punchier cut scenes and more choices to be made would make this production far tighter and more engaging. Although it's only one change, it would admittedly involve a lot more technical work behind the scenes. I appreciate it's a big ask, but you couldn't accuse Dawkins and Wright of not being committed to this piece.

It really is a wonderful formula, one which like The Play That Goes Wrong could be honed to a fine art, then have a number of different themes applied to keep it fresh. The Murder Before Christmas is essentially the same as The Play That Goes Wrong, and yet I've seen both and laughed just as hard at both each time. Doing something in a similar vein would allow the Decide-A-Quest formula to be reused on multiple occasions without it ever getting tired, and without audiences getting bored. This show after all involves far more improv and has an inbuilt actual unpredictability rather than a predictable unpredictability. It lends itself very well to recycling.

All that Wright and Dawkins really need to do is increase the number of potential decisions per show. They bounce off each other brilliantly, and are incredibly endearing in their deliberately ramshackle double act. Together, they could feasibly create Decide-A-Quest: The Search for the Yeti, Decide-A-Quest: The Voyage Home... maybe not. But you see where I'm going here; there's a thrillingly exciting potential for this concept to establish itself and really have legs.

Decide-A-Quest is an energetic hour-long show packed full of laughs, plenty of costume changes and nostalgia. It doesn't quite know whether it wants to be a play, or a piece of comedy, but that doesn't really matter. I'd love to see Theatre of a Thousand Names Or... further develop and effectively franchise their idea as I had so much fun with Decide-A-Quest, if I could have skipped back a few pages again, I would have done. Click Here

August 29, 2015  Everything Theatre
Review of Decide-A-Quest
Decide-A-Quest, Canal Café Theatre – Review
Back in the days before computer games, a series of books allowed readers to direct their own adventures by making choices at key points. Do you go down into the cellar? Turn to page 68. Or up to the loft? Turn to page 74. The mechanism was crude, but the effect was engaging.
Decide-A-Quest, part of the 2015 Camden Fringe, is a comedy show based on these books. You’re welcomed into the theatre by Tim Dawkins and Edwin Wright, two larger-than-life actors with extravagant facial hair and pantomime costumes. ‘My name is Narra Tor’, intones Dawkins, imbuing the task of the narrator with a mystical significance. Wright plays the character You (as in, You find yourself in a dark forest) – a would-be explorer with a pathological fear of owls, who joins the search for the mythical Yeti and who discovers along the way that wolves can be tamed by the sound of soft rock classics played on pan pipes.
With high comedy, punning wordplay and frenzied action, the pair guide the audience through a fast-paced evening of chaotic fun. Key decisions are voted on by the audience, which then determines the action taken by the duo: it may lead from the foothills of Everest to Las Vegas, or the distant planet PaGe 69. Every evening has a different course, we’re told, as the cast jump to the page to which the audience directs them. Fortunately the actors are able to resort to the magical powers of an audience member dubbed Limpy the Finger Monk, whose outsize cardboard finger has the supreme ability to turn back the page. And indeed, some decisions have to be made two or three times, as the wrong choice can lead to sudden death – or, even worse, to the fate of being condemned to life as a peg salesman in Basildon.
The set and props are deliberately, outrageously low key. The prize for completing the quest is distributed from a Lidl carrier bag; a camp fire is printed on a couple of laminated sheets of A4; the backdrop screen is a crumpled sheet suspended from a couple of poles. Yet, projected onto this backdrop is a slick, professional series of slides and moving images, displaying both animated pages from the book and photographic backgrounds to set the scene, mixed with clips from video games during the many action sequences.
While you won’t find not a lot of subtlety here, there’s enough hilarity to sustain the audience throughout the hour-long show. It’s a fast, lively and boisterous evening that’s high on testosterone and action, as the high-energy pair of actors romp through scene after scene. While one or two scenes drag a little, some are genuinely moving: the final show tunes duet moved some of the audience to tears. A great entertainment, if not an intellectual feast. Click Here

August 22, 2015  festmag
Review of Amir Khoshsokhan: Shhhhhh
Amir Khoshsokhan: Milk and Hedgehogs
If the meek ever do inherit the Earth, a prospect that admittedly looks increasingly unlikely, then Amir Khoshsokhan would be an appropriate court jester. If he can just keep the Tupac stuff quiet.

You do worry for the softly-spoken comic at the start of this particular gig. The Espionage toilets are emitting an unpleasant odour; a sullen, sodden audience has wandered in from the rain; and the microphone turns out not to be working.

That might not be a problem for most comics in a room this small, but Khoshsokhan’s shtick involves a lot of silence: long bewildered stares, painstakingly awkward shuffling about, and important bits of dialogue where the joke is that there is no actual dialogue. It could all go horribly wrong, and yet so compelling is Khoshsokhan’s curious manner that even the most unpromising crowd seems utterly mesmerised, as startled by him as he is by life.

His opening, signature bit is hardly original – musings on a nasty break-up. But that wide-eyed befuddlement breathes fresh life into a hoary topic. Then he moves onto the deceased, and a novel comparison between the influence of gangsta rappers, notably his beloved Tupac, and the debatable allure of dead hedgehogs. It’s a fine point, weirdly made.

Those long pauses also add useful clout to his punchlines. One particular reveal leads one rainy punter—who looked an unlikely fan, to say the least—to loudly shout “brilliant!” and almost offer a standing ovation, as if he’d just seen Houdini pull off a miraculous feat. A fine escape indeed. Click Here

August 16, 2015  EDFringe Review
Review of WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
Review
“So I’m gay…” Wayne Carter offers this breathy revelation following his somewhat crazed opening routine - a musical miming montage that culminates in an energetic two-handed fellatio simulation to booming opera. He is wearing a dress and a strange sort of prayer shawl. Needless to say, his admission of his sexual preferences was hardly startling.
Wayne Carter Teaches You To Be Fabulous is an eclectic show, performed in a characterful old railway arch and attended largely by audiences who are already a few drinks down. Part Cabaret, part stand-up, part physical comedy, it is a thoroughly odd, and a thoroughly enjoyable hour.
Comedians often attempt to establish common ground to endear themselves to an audience, the humour arriving as a result of relatability and recognition. Wayne’s confessional narrative basically does the opposite. Interspersed with various ‘never have I ever’s’ that would stump even the most depraved mind, the increasingly obtuse offerings, such as the eloquent “I thought my sister was my daughter because my Mum sat on a cummy toilet seat”, had the fairly well filled war bunker of a venue in fits of uncomfortable laughter.
Consistently hilarious and perpetually bizarre, the show is a hidden gem largely due to the likeability of its protagonist who navigates his material in an utterly shameless manner, changing dresses onstage and flirting relentlessly with every male in sight.
From the story of his family blow job technique – an heirloom of sorts passed down the female bloodline for three generations – to the climactic dance onstage of two male audience members (one sporting a fetching yellow dress) the show seemed to even surprise the man himself.
Wayne may not teach you to be fabulous, may not teach you anything, but certainly leaves you with a feeling of immense wellbeing. No matter how weird you may think you are, chances are you’ve got nothing on this guy, who provides a free comedy show to rival many of its paid counterparts. A map may be required find the venue, but the search is most definitely worth it. Click Here

August 16, 2015  EDFringe Review
Review of WAYNE CARTER teaches you to be fabulous
Review
Wayne Carter’s set is one of those late night shows where everyone in the audience appears to be at least slightly inebriated. Tucked into of the old railway arches, the performance space could hardly be classified as a room – it was more of a cave. The amenities leave much to be desired (there are no proper toilets other than portaloos). And yet the rough-and-ready vibe of the space perfectly mirrored the un-veneered tone of Wayne Carter’s act. Endearingly delighted by the unexpected audience of double figures (“I have actual people!”), he proceeded to introduce himself to the audience with a twirl of his black and white striped chiffon cocktail dress, attire that was not as incongruent with his bald head and beard as one might expect.
Carter spent the first five to ten minutes of his act gleefully prancing around the stage miming along to an eclectic selection of music from Mozart to Christina Aguilera, easily winning over his (admittedly pliable) audience. The dance routine involved some explicit gesturing and much hilarity and might have been the most uninhibited thing I have ever seen. The audience was audibly disappointed by the abrupt ending of the ‘cabaret’ section to the show, however the disappointment was fleeting as Carter launched into a self-eviscerating and at times surreal set, following a quick costume change into a sparkly wrap-around dress.
Plato, Hobbes and Aristotle have all attested that the root of all humour is in somebody else’s misfortune. If so then it must be said that Wayne Carter’s greatest forte is in his ability to laugh at himself and at his own misfortune – and he has experienced much misfortune. His set was as much an exploration of the concept of masculinity for a man who happens to like wearing dresses as the most hilarious game of ‘never have I ever…’ – of which Carter was the clear champion, with some confessional comedy thrown in for good measure. Carter’s ebullient personality and lively audience interaction made for a relaxed atmosphere in the room made for a hugely entertaining show. I came away with cheeks sore from laughing and a desire to be best friends with Wayne Carter.
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August 6, 2015 Whats On Sydney
Article about The Weaning of Life
Plight Review
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October 3, 2014 Weekend Notes
Article about The Weaning of Life
Red Onesy's What More Can Be Said
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August 27, 2014  The Mirror
Review of PLAYBACK IMPRO
PLAYBACK IMPRO review
'A real standout from all the stand-up, this is comic improvisation theatre-style. Four actors each take it in turn to direct a narrative supplied by the audience.It can be anything from a mundane event on the way to the theatre, to a traumatic childhood experience. The interaction is fun, compelling and very imaginative. And the quick-witted troupe step into your story, giving it a genre and treatment in seconds - making it very slick. A show that will keep you coming back for another unrepeatable performance Click Here

August 16, 2014  Three Weeks
Review of Normally Abnormal
4 Star Review - Three Weeks
'sharp, insightful, touching, but above all really, really funny' Click Here

August 16, 2014  Broadway Baby
Review of Normally Abnormal
4 Star Review For 'Normally Abnormal'
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August 9, 2014 Guardian
Article about Joke Thieves
Joke Thieves: Cover Version Comedy
In the music world, artists cover one another's material. Should it happen in comedy? I remember Stewart Lee once joking that he planned, for his next show, to perform an entire Michael McIntyre set verbatim. Jim Davidson's current gig at the Assembly Hall, meanwhile, serves as a reminder that not so long ago, comics happily recirculated third-hand gags.

Might we ever return to those days – or get to the point where, like musicians, comics happily perform cover-versions of one another's best-loved routines? Maybe Will Mars's Joke Thieves is the canary in the mine. The format, now 18 months old, invites four standups per show to perform their own material – then perform one another's. It's both an experiment in whether a comic's material is transferable, and an opportunity for comedians to ruthlessly lampoon one another. On both counts, it's proved a big success, and is now being developed for BBC2.

I had my first encounter with it last night, and it was certainly one of the most eye-opening hours I've spent on the fringe. Introducing the show, Mars explained that participating comics usually select their least transferable material – that is, the stuff that is unique to their skills and their particular performance style. On some nights, the fun is in seeing whether one-liner merchants can deliver storytellers' sets, or how physical comics render the material of someone static and deadpan.

Last night, we were treated to two versions of how the show can work. The first pair to swap sets were Eric Lampaert and Ian Smith. Lampaert – as per Mars's intro – chose to make life difficult for Smith. One joke drew on his ability to speak multiple languages; he also performed a rap about Neanderthal man. Both comics offered a decent approximation of one another's sets, but it was a long way from verbatim. Joke Thieves isn't, it transpires, an exercise in sticking to one another's scripts. It's about taking the gist of the material, the keynote gags, and adapting them freely to one's own style. And mickey-taking shamelessly along the way.

Give or take a few barbed remarks – and some judgments traded on the quality of one another's comedy – Smith and Lampaert's tit-for-tat was affectionate. But – as the pre-publicity for the TV pilot has it – "What will happen if a blokey bloke is paired with a feisty lady?" What indeed? The other pair was Tania Edwards and (fresh from hosting the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games) the Glaswegian Des Clarke. Performing their own material, neither seemed to have made life particularly tricky for the other. But when they swapped, sparks flew. First up, Edwards failed embarrassingly to rise to the challenge. Either she couldn't remember or wasn't prepared to try any of Clarke's material, so she just pretended to have a cock, she kept telling us, and be Glaswegian. It was a long five minutes.

Then Clarke came onstage – and tore Edwards to shreds. He mimicked her jokes in the crudest way, and held up everything she'd done onstage (the way she spoke; the hack nature of some of her material; the things she'd told us about her life) for ridicule. The blokey (working-class, Glaswegian) bloke clearly loathed the feisty (posh, English) lady – or did a good job of pretending to. The audience oohed in sympathy and he shouted them down. (Edwards had left by this stage.) It was appallingly funny: deep professional antipathy reconstituted as comedy.

In music, you only cover the work of artist you admire. In Joke Thieves, you don't have that choice. The event made me think less of the opportunities for cover-version comedy than the obstacles to it – how possessive comics are of their material; how blurred is the line between a comic's material and their very soul. And how – more so than in music – antithetical ways of seeing the world are distilled into different comics' sets. Joke Thieves is a brilliant format. But whether cover-version comedy ever breaks out of that format and goes mainstream – well, I'm still longing to see Stewart Lee's Michael McIntyre tribute, but I think I'm in for a long wait.
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May 15, 2014  Cabaret Scenes
Review of Roulston & Young: Songs For Lovers (And Other Idiots)
'Comedic musical cabaret at its best'.

Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young, London cabaret’s dynamic duo, dazzled yet again debuting new material in Two Faced as part of the London Festival of Cabaret at the St. James Studio. These two artists each have robust performance careers on their own. But together, they are magic. Their easy chemistry, clever music, witty lyrics, relentless charm and ability to entertain are sheer joy to behold.

They welcomed the audience with “Happy Here with You” and solidified that sentiment with song after song of deliciously pithy, often self-deprecating observations. Songs covered topics from Facebook to Narcissistic Personality Disorder to societal expectations on relationships. However, I’m unconvinced, even after what they describe as having passed the housemate living-room test, that two wrist-slitting ballads in a row was a good idea. I think the second song, “Over You,” got short shrift as a result, which is unfortunate because it deserved as much attention as “The Letter.” Of course, we were quickly back to the stalwart humorous offerings, such as the one-night-stand anthem “The Walk of Shame.” Darkness was banished with laughter.

After the intermission, one of Young’s carefully crafted characters took the stage: Bernie St. Clair (an aging American Broadway baby/lounge singer who resembles what one would imagine would be the love child of Liza Minnelli and Elaine Stritch). She educates us with “Diva of a Certain Age,” while offering the disturbing, yet sage, parenting perspective in “I Almost Don’t Regret Having You.” Roulston took his turn on “Disappointing Sandwich,” offering insight into the pitfalls of being on the road, highlighting the tragedy of the pre-made take-out.

A few more ditties from other shows were thrown in to round out the two-set evening. Interestingly, the new material stood out as having its own distinct personality (unselfconscious, at ease, mirthful) which was summed up quite nicely when Roulston & Young returned to the stage in bathrobes for the encore, “Comfy.”

These two are at the top of their game. See them if you can, in any show they offer. They are simply London’s comedic musical cabaret at its best. Click Here

May 12, 2014  Broadway Baby
Review of PLAYBACK IMPRO
PLAYBACK IMPRO
Five actors in their pyjamas create a show from audience anecdotes, bringing them to life with their expressions, postures and words. The idea of playback impro is simple: audience members tell stories and which the actors reflect back to them in a particular style. Production company A Drunken Sailor made it seem like an easy task. But how do you become an angry wasp? You grab a stool, place it on your forehead and start chasing the target with it of course. The performance was spontaneous, ingenious and thoroughly entertaining.


One hour was way too short for this treat.

The cast proved to be solid professionals. The five strong London-based group were Julia Munrow, Kelda Holmes, Chloe Conquest, Nathan Allenby and Roderich Millan – a good mix of experience and playful enthusiasm. If I had to pick a favourite, it was young Chloe. The performance of the night goes to Kelda for her hilarious drunken Irish women, but there are no weak links. It’s evident from the quality of the performance that group have been working together for over a year.

Different formations and styles kept it interesting and soon we got used to the impro lingo: ‘short form’ is a brief moment in life, ‘free form’ means the actors decide the style and so on. We had normal chorus, diamond chorus, split chorus, pairs, and what not, with styles ranging from horror to opera. I still feel out of breath just thinking about it. Wearing identical pyjamas was a stroke of genius. It acted as an ice-breaker, dissolved gender and age, and guided the audience to the world of bedtime stories.


The show ended in an amazing medley, which formed an absurd yet intriguingly coherent narrative.

We were fortunate to have a selection of really funny stories from the audience - a 21st birthday party where a guy dressed as a caterpillar decides to drink a bottle of expensive perfume. Or a girl who cuts off her great grandmother’s plait with scissors and places the hair on her doll. The loose theme seemed to circle around childhood misdemeanours. The show ended in an amazing medley, which formed an absurd yet intriguingly coherent narrative.

Those audience members who don’t like to be involved can rest easy as well. There is no hackling or pressure to perform. But most were more than happy to see their memory played back to them. This was one of the few shows at the Brighton Fringe that I really didn’t want to end. One hour was way too short for this treat. There are still two more chances to catch the show at the Quadrant. It’s free and the afternoon matinee time means that kids can go too. So what are you waiting for? It doesn’t get any better than this.
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August 8, 2012  Broadway Baby
Review of Blueswater Presents: The Blueswater Porch Band
Spanning an impressive 90 years of blues, from its roots and founders to 21st Century contemporaries, The Blueswater Collective are back at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, exploring the incredible history of blues by storming through a selection of the very best that the prolific music genre has to offer. Delivering classics from the blues legends such as Muddy Waters, BB King, Big Momma Thornton and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the young but incredibly talented band evoke the very spirit of blues through their performance.

Frontman Felipe Schrieberg’s vocal delivery of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ was so demonic and theatrical that it would make Screamin’ Jay Hawkins himself proud. The five-piece brass section had incredibly natural talent both together and as soloists, while female vocalists Ellie Mason and Anna McDonald added more sass to the gig with their renditions of Big Momma Thornton’s original ‘Hound Dog’ and Clapton’s ‘All Your Love’. Lead guitarist Charlie Wild’s effortless shredding did incredible justice to legends such as Clapton, Hendrix and Ray Vaughan.

Progressing through time, the 13-strong collective go on to explore the realms of rock ‘n’ roll and funk, with stellar performances of Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’ before looking at the relevance of blues in the 21st Century. Crediting the likes of The Black Keys and Seasick Steve as acts currently flying the blues flag high, Schrieberg describes Jack White as ‘the most influential bluesman of today’ before the band offer their take on ‘I’m Shakin’’, a song from the former White Stripes frontman’s debut solo album, Blunderbuss.

Playing out their high-octane set with a full band performance of Muddy Waters’ ‘Got My Mojo Working’, which includes a washboard solo from drummer Paul Archibald and a duel to the death from trumpeters Luc Klein and TJ Muller, The Blueswater Collective ensure that, were there any concern about blues’ place in this new generation, they have most definitely eradicated it. Click Here

June 4, 2012 
Article about An Act of Godley : Janey Godley
Homeless scandal and poverty
FEAR. It is the overwhelming emotion Janey Godley remembers from her childhood.

Fear that she would come home to find all the family belongings in the front garden of the tenement where she lived. Fear that she would no longer be sleeping in her own bed. Fear that everything she knew and was cosily familiar with would be ripped from her.

This week, learning about the ­thousands of homeless children in ­Scotland living in cramped, soulless accommodation with sparse facilities, that fear came rushing back.

Now aged 50, and a successful stand-up comic, Janey read and immediately understood how those ­children felt.

She said: “As a child, knowing that the place you call home could be taken off you has stuck with me my entire life.

“You’re sitting in school and you’re trying to read your books and you’re trying to be a good child and sing songs for Jesus and pray – all that goodwill to all men, especially at Christmas and you’re thinking, ‘I’m going home and my dog’s going to be tied to a fence and my mammy’s going to be running about the streets trying to raise the cash.’

“Where would we stay and where would we go and how would we get the money? We were evicted a few times – put out on the streets. I remember all the furniture being thrown in Mr Woods’s front garden – our downstairs neighbour – and I was horrified.

“The fear grips you terribly. It still wakes me up. What if I couldn’t pay my rent or my mortgage? It stays with me.

“What I can’t understand is in the 21st century why this is still happening?

“They’ve had years to fix this.”

Between the ages of seven and nine, her family faced eviction several times.

And there were others. She remembers a pal of her mum’s with four kids coming up to Glasgow from Birmingham fleeing a violent marriage.

She was homeless, so along with her four children she squatted in a condemned tenement block at the foot of Kenmore Street in Shettleston, where Janey lived.

Janey said: “It was a dank old scabby place and they just stayed there until someone found it in their hearts to rehouse them.”

Raging still at the injustice suffered by the homeless a generation later, Janey believes the government should step in.

Free prescriptions and free university tuition sit well within a modern Scotland, but not when children are unable to reach their full potential because of the blight of homelessness.

A firm believer in helping others and a veteran of many a charity fundraiser, Janey cannot understand why Scotland cannot look after its own most vulnerable youngsters.

And she believes that without a basic house to live in, kids will lose the will, the hope and the ­aspiration to go further.

“Any country that can’t house its kids needs to take a good long look at itself and stop bleating about its ­achievements,” she said.

“If you can’t house the weakest and the most vulnerable amongst you, then you shouldn’t be allowed to keep pandas.

“My mammy said you shouldn’t have a dog if you can’t feed your kids, and she was right.

“I believe we should give foreign aid and any civilised country should give money to people who are the world’s poorest. That’s what civilised people do.

“But civilised people also should make sure that their own children aren’t living in unsafe accommodation or are homeless.

“It’s horrific in this day and age that wee kids are living in temporary accommodation far from their schools, either through poverty or through domestic violence or through their parents not being able to cope, and it’s the children that suffer.

“They’re ripped away from their communities, their wee school, their friends, their neighbours, their wee clique of pals and they’re flung in some bed and breakfast and they’re living out of plastic bags. That’s just inhumane. And now we’ve got a tram they can’t pay for and two pandas.

“They should strap the two pandas on to the front of the tram and make them pull it – and then it would work.”

Shelter Scotland have released the horrifying statistics that there are three times as many families living in ­temporary accommodation today as there were in 2002.

Then, there were 4153 households – now there are more than 11,000.

The disruption and the damage to children in particular is enormous.

Their health suffers since the new accommodation is often poor.

Academically, they struggle to keep up with schoolwork because of all the upheaval.

And the psychological effects could linger for years.

The SNP pledged to build 6000 affordable homes for each year of the lifetime of the parliament – but now they have cut their budget by half and in the last 12 months, only 3696 homes have been built. There is also a desperate shortage of family homes.

In the last 10 years, 92,000 homes have been lost to the social rented sector through right to buy legislation, while thousands of private homes throughout Scotland are lying empty.

The Daily Record is working with Shelter to press for more affordable rented homes to be built and for the refurbishment of homes lying empty.

Shelter also want a tax on empty homes to raise cash for the renovation.

Janey went on: “When our great great great grandchildren study this period they are going to wonder why when we had our own government, we couldn’t house our own kids. It’s Dickensian.

“It is the most fundamental right of a child to have shelter.

“When you’re a child and you don’t have a safe place to go, the foundations of your personality, your security and emotional welfare are warped.

“In the 21st century, the voluntary sector should not be picking up the slack for homeless children – it should be the government.

“They should be building affordable housing stock. I thought this finished when I was a kid but I am still horrified by these stories.

“There are still kids over Christmas living in unsafe, unsociable housing with all their stuff in a carrier bag.

“If we cannot provide the most basic needs of shelter to the most vulnerable then we as a nation are letting ourselves down.”



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June 4, 2012 Laugh Out Loud London
Article about Adventures of the Singing Acupuncturist 5: Big O conquers the FOMO
Laugh Out Loud London: Best Musical Comedy Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Adventures of the Singing Acupuncturist: Big O finds her Soul (2014 show):
Does the name alone not make this a Fringe must? I caught the singing acupuncturist (or Olivia) during her first Fringe appearance performing a free show in a pub basement in what was one of the most memorable and wonderful hours of my life. Will she take bigger notes to the bigger stage this year?

 

 

      

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