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NEWS & REVIEWS 2017

This page contains the news stories and reviews for The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017...  Check 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 2017 reviews

August 19, 2017 Three Weeks
Article about I Can Make You Tory
If the title of this show puts you off then you might be pleasantly surprised by the result or, then again, you might not. Leo Kearse doesn’t hold back with his criticisms of the supposed hypocrisies of the left-wing and he certainly doesn’t totally subscribe to political correctness, which at time leads to a frosty reception from some audience members. However, the show is all meant to be in good humour and isn’t intended to purely offend. In fact, Kearse quickly moves away from the political subject matter and instead focuses on a few more personal anecdotes. With some sharply accurate observations, the show definitely benefits from these moments. A controversial choice for some Fringe attendees, but Kearse does make some interesting points. Click Here

August 18, 2017  Black Diamond FM
Review of Andrew Roper's Superhero Secret Origins: The Movies
Do you love superheroes and consider yourself a bit of a geek? Well, if so, this show is for you. Come along to this hour-long presentation to find out how Superman ended up lifting weights for Darth Vader, the six degrees of separation theory from Robert Downey Junior and the main causes of NERD Rage?

Taking you on a tour of the superhero world, Roper makes you question the things that you thought you knew. The show covers not only the origins of the original superheroes but also touching on the amazing similarities between certain characters and the rivalry in the comic industry between Marvel and DC, complete with funny anecdotes.

There is no denying that Andrew Roper knows his stuff. This carefully researched show is presented in a hilarious fashion complete with multimedia movie clips and sound bites. Charting the course of superheroes and their movie debuts from Captain Marvel to Wonder Woman, this show is funny and informative with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Alongside his 20 years’ experience as a comedian Roper’s genuine enthusiasm for the subject shines through causing you to get swept up in the world of superheroes, Marvel and DC. Click Here

August 18, 2017  One4Review
Review of For Godley's Sake!
Janey Godley is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws in Scottish comedy and it is always difficult to see her shows as the queues build up way before show time, often with many turned away.
It is not difficult to understand why. Ms Godley is a down to earth no nonsense comic who tells things like it is and takes no prisoners along the way. She majors this hour on her family and herself, her husband’s autism, her daughter still living at home, the onset of her menopause for example, all give her scope to write bitingly funny, delightfully observed material which has the ‘upstairs cellar’ she plays to in stitches.
The recent loss of her much beloved father however showed her in different light as she recounts anecdotes from their times together bringing a touch of pathos into the humour of the situations related.
He accounts of Twitter spats, the attempt to get a dog, opinions that she may be a spy, her much publicised Trump protest and Janey’s solution as how to tackle Isis are all topics that she paints verbal pictures of, with genuinely laugh out loud results.
This is a show you wouldn’t want to miss, so get in the queue early. Click Here

August 18, 2017  The List
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
Packed room for politically passionate show about what freedom really means

'Make yourselves comfortable', says Ahir Shah, with a sarcastic emphasis on the adjective, as he beckons another two dozen punters into an already packed Cabaret Voltaire. To call it a tight squeeze would be putting it mildly, but what Shah lacks in stern queue-management skills (and concern for health and safety regulations), he makes up for with a sharp and passionate show about today's political climate.

Control is an hour of quick-witted comedy that takes on a new layer of poignancy a few hours after Shah comes off stage, with the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville. He questions what 'taking back control' really means. Is it fantasised nostalgia? Is it a smokescreen for racism? Is it in any way a proclamation of substance?

Shah's intellect never comes at the expense of humour. His routine about colonisation contains a great gag about cartographical oddities, he launches an hilariously exasperated attack on Liam Fox's attempts to airbrush centuries of British history, and, for the sake of balance, he offers a pop at 'your absolute boy' Jeremy Corbyn.

Control concludes that we've seen it all before. The rise of Trump and the like is akin to hearing a bad cover version of a song that was horrendous the last time round. This is a terrific hour of comedy. No wonder everybody's desperate to get a seat. Click Here

August 18, 2017  One4Review
Review of Sarah Bennetto: All My Life's Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume 1)
Sarah Bennetto is lovely, and delivers a lovely show. It contains the stories of fifty mistakes she has made in her life, dealing with twenty-seven of them in a one-er with much glee, delight, and wonderfully evocative imagery. I’m sorry to have missed her arrival at Edinburgh Waverley pre-Fringe.

While the mistakes are numbered, and listed on a clipboard, they aren’t recounted in strict numerical order. There isn’t necessarily any link between the mistakes, and the nature of the mistake and the accompanying story varies, so the pace and level of frivolity also keeps changing, keeping the show dynamic and interesting. Frivolity is utter silenced by the last mistake however, and it was totally unexpected and unheralded – and all the more powerful for being so.

You know you’re on to something good when the ad-libbing makes the tech laugh. Sarah is an excellent performer, frank and genuine, telling relatable stories which are fun and funny. Ms Bennetto, despite the bunker and the venue challenges, is something good. Click Here

August 18, 2017  To Do List
Review of AUNTIE
A comedy-drama challenging African attitudes to homosexuality.

Gavino de Vino is a powerhouse performer with a sensitive soul. His website tagline states that he is ‘making the world turn one stomp at a time’.

The show is less sketch show than the poster suggests, and is really about the attitudes of his mother – aka ‘Auntie’ – and a dysfunctional array of characters telling his own struggles with being gay in ‘Kengeria’. There is certainly a lot of humour in the show, and at times poignancy.

This young renegade is destined to go far, and we think he could easily become the next Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) or Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel… RD Click Here

August 18, 2017  The Telegraph
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
Ventilation is often a problem at the Edinburgh Fringe, as comedy fans pile into airless cellars in hope of catching the next big thing. The staff of Cabaret Voltaire do their best, but no air-conditioning unit in the world could cope with the heat of Ahir Shah’s righteous ire.

In a free show at this subterranean cavern, the 26-year-old delivers a searing hour of political invective, punctuated with enough sharp jokes to prevent it from becoming a diatribe. Indeed, Control confirms Shah’s place as one of his generation’s most eloquent comic voices.

His last show, Machines, was grimly informed by his experience of being caught in Paris during the November 2015 terrorist attacks. This year, faced with a surge in white nationalist movements, he sees “Charlottesville the world over”, asking whether tolerance was a historical blip.

... Click Here

August 18, 2017  Black Diamond FM
Review of Stephen Bailey: Can't Think Straight
I'm breaking my own self imposed rule by reviewing the same act three years in a row but catching up with Stephen Bailey has become a start of Fringe tradition for me.

Despite the venues and audiences getting bigger Stephen still greets his crowd at the door welcoming everyone into his world for a hour.

He acts as his own warm up guy with the right amount of self deprecating humour and charm to get the audience on his side before running to the back of the room to make his grand entrance. What follows is a hour of tales, some his and some embellished from others that has the audience poorless throughout.

Being a Free Fringe show the audience is varied with many not knowing what they are letting themselves in for but Stephen wins them over one by one testing their boundaries each time, prepare for some filth and sometimes brutal honesty but you'll let Stephen away with it because it's always delivered with a sly look and never malicious intent. Click Here

August 17, 2017  Fresh Air
Review of Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
Harriet Braine’s debut show at the Golf Tavern is a slow and gentle one. Braine slips in and out of character as an art history professor, occasionally playing parody songs about artists and the art world. The show is slow and meandering, but her charm holds her audience. While the pace of her show may be too listless for some, her wry sense of humour is woven into her songs well, and her stage persona is well-conceived and genuinely funny.

Unfortunately, Braine does not use this persona to the fullest. We only get snatches of the professor character, which I would have preferred to see developed further. The songs themselves are performed with style and pleasant to listen to, but some could have used more gags. The show feels a little aimless at times, although this may be due to Braine’s character being aimless, not Braine herself. In all, the show has a few small flaws for some, but may be more appealing to gentler tastes.

I feel that the show is a good choice for anyone who needs to relax (or feels hungover) at lunchtime. Harriet Braine's debut definitely is an enjoyable hour, and I hope we see her return to the fringe. Click Here

August 17, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Hivemind presents: Playlight Robbery
Choosing a title from the loose flyers offered up by audience members, Hivemind’s quintet compose two improvised half-an-hour jaunts. In this instance, we are shown a murder-mystery featuring a stolen ruby and a re-imagining of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.

Quick-thinking comes in large helpings from this young cast, and they are able to compose a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit odd, plot from their dynamic, polished interactions. Dropping consistently hilarious one-liners from naming a Machiavellian German cat ‘Herr Ball’ to colour conspiracy theories (white gold dress or blue black?) we are constantly delighted as they pull through, with innovation, the tougher demands of improvisation.

Although the venue is not forgiving when it comes to warmth and noise-bleeding, the cast are not deterred; they tackle this problem and introduce Peer Gynt A Musical. No Hall of The Mountain King but still a fabulous effort all trolls considered; our Peer Gynt sings an impromptu ballad of fjords and swords only to cement the bar high. Somehow, the next song is sung by a marionette lamenting that he will never find love, shortly followed by The Ballad of Satan; yet still everything manages to work. The performers abilities to form a strong, entertaining spectrum of characters would be the envy of any improv troupe.

Worth a visit for adults and kids alike, Hivemind provide a fun hour of entertainment. The venue, as mentioned, is tricky and perhaps next year they will find somewhere that does justice to their skill and musical projection when serenading the fall from heaven. This talented lot have the potential to go to high places and should applaud their own expertise in what is a notoriously difficult concept. Click Here

August 17, 2017  One4Review
Review of Can't Dance, Won't Dance
Sometimes an audience can make or break a show, and sometimes it’s all on the performer. The show was full, but the audience was a strange one; Mr Kingsley dealt with the unruly as if he were a teacher at one point (and lost the audience a bit), and then got us all on side again ten minutes later. An odd show, for the wrong reasons.

Damian has a phobia of dancing, and the show is about the impact of that phobia on his life, and his attempts to conquer it. The show is interesting, bringing in some really well-executed novel elements – like the argument between Damian and his video-projected girlfriend, extracts from emails, and the dance training.

The dialogue and the writing is pithy and realistic – I felt like I was listening to arguments I have actually had – and when he gets going, Mr Kingsley can be verbose and eloquent and deliver intelligent punchlines. At other times, it felt like he hadn’t completed the ‘dealing with a living audience’ part of comedy school and was on the verge of losing control of the class.

An ambivalent viewing of a show which is probably very good when it has a compliant audience. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The List
Review of Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother
An uncategorisable but definitely troubling show which will be different every night

Critics and audiences have been unsure what to make of Lewis Schaffer's new show. But what chance do they have when the man himself is scratching his head. 'It's not exactly comedy' he repeats as we troop in, leaving us wondering just what on earth we've let ourselves in for. Unopened Letters From My Mother is arguably one of the most self-explanatory titles in this year's Fringe programme: for one hour each day, Schaffer discovers the contents of an unopened letter from his mother, and attempts to riff (or at least not get upset) on the details within.

He dismisses his conceit as neither therapy nor performance art (as has been suggested previously in the run), but he would like it to be considered for a comedy award, thanks very much. Trouble is, even the most innovative and off-kilter shows to have been nominated for the big prizes in Edinburgh were funny at their core.

There are few laughs to be had on the night of this review, as a newspaper clipping of a knife advert spills out of the envelope alongside a cryptic message from Mrs S (in a brief Q&A session launched when it becomes clear Schaffer can't really carry on with the chit-chat, one audience member posits that there could be subconscious violent fantasies at play). The point of all this remains rather unclear, but you have to admire the gall of the man. Unopened Letters From My Mother could be brave, brilliant or baffling. Chances are it's all three. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The List
Review of Old Jewish Jokes
Dodgy meets edgy as an old joke book is dragged out one more time

Among the swathe of contemporary stand-up types in town this August, there's an amusing spot of old-school going on in a pub backroom that's well worth investigating. Ivor Dembina started writing and performing jokes just at the moment when alternative comedy was taking hold in Britain. He was desperate to get in on some of that action, but his father warned against it, advising him to take his comedic inspiration from the big book of old Jewish jokes.

Over the course of an hour, Dembina shows just how close to the bone some of the old gear can be, though, admittedly, a lot of the time the targets are mithering women and their brow-beaten men. The narrative thrust centres around the night Dembina was drafted in to provide entertainment at a fundraiser to rebuild a synagogue's leaky roof. Trouble is that the rabbi keeps advising him about the topics that he shouldn't go near under any circumstances (pretty much everything including the Holocaust, Israel, money and sex).

In the end, you're fairly certain that Dembina will breach such censorious attitudes, but his ultimate pay-off might not be the golden moment that you feel everything is building towards. Whether you conclude that some of Dembina's material is edgy or dodgy will be a matter of opinion, but the Jewish gags book thrown at him by his father seems to be serving him well. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The List
Review of Sunil Patel: Titan
Baring his teeth in a set that fluctuates from edgy to easy-going

Sunil Patel has picked himself a warm little room for his second show at the Fringe, immediately enabling a bit of self-deprecation: 'we've had some sleepers', he notes. Not because of the humour surely, as Patel keeps the laughs coming throughout, but maybe because he cultivates such a comfortable atmosphere. He opens on a suitably low-key note with a great gag comparing the events in his life at the early part of this year with that of Jay Z's when he gave up music, thus cultivating Patel's easy-going image further.

With the audience on-side, he divulges his current obsession with badminton, one that has sadly been thwarted by his fellow players' selfish decisions to procreate. Patel's bemusement at their preference of spending time with a creature who owns no neck muscles rather than him is the first sign of the edge in his material. The laid-back demeanour is placed aside for a moment as Patel bares his teeth and shows his bite. It's a solid show of comedy that zigzags nicely between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. But be warned: he's actively looking for a new badminton partner. Click Here

August 17, 2017  Fest
Review of Africa Weird and Wonderful
The dank confines of The Three Sisters isn’t exactly the dream venue for a kids’ show, particularly one marketed as being suitable for age 0 and up, but Njambi McGrath works hard to conjure a cheery atmosphere in this whirlwind tour of the performer’s home continent.

It’s all pretty ramshackle—McGrath waves around pictures of her favourite tribes, animals and lakes printed on sheets of paper, and plays us songs from a phone plugged into the PA—but charming nonetheless. The Kenyan comic is doing 50 minutes of standup for adults elsewhere this Fringe, and a handful of gags—some silly, some gently satirical—can be found scattered through her stories about the dance moves of the Himba people, Rastafarianism, and Nigerian superstar musician Fela Kuti, providing parents in the crowd with the opportunity for a few gentle chuckles here and there.

The show contains plenty of interesting nuggets, but it’s McGrath’s openness and genuine enthusiasm for her topic that make Africa Weird and Wonderful such a pleasure. We’re up on our feet and dancing—the cramped seating and unfortunate layout of the room notwithstanding—on several occasions, and a moment of audience participation involving an ugly face contest ends up being far funnier than you might expect. That said, there isn’t much here for the under-5s really, so think again if you’re wondering about bringing smallies.

It’s a shame there’s no live music, and that the show ends with a whimper rather than a bang, but this is good family fun from an extremely likeable act. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The Edinburgh Reporter
Review of Inheritance
There are some comedians that just seem to be nice people with a nice turn of anecdote and phrase. There doesn’t appear to be a career trajectory, just a desire to get up on stage and be funny.

If you have been attending the Fringe for over 35 years (as this reporter has) then you get the impression that this type of comedian may have a longer life expectancy than others.

Ben Clover is an engaging comedian who immediately engages the audience from the start. His show meanders but at its heart is the Inheritance proposal made to him by a sort of friend.

Ben’s show is one of those that a sideways look at life as opposed to a sideways swipe. The type of comedian that you would like to drop in on in a couple of years and find out how married life is and being a father.

This is a “Pay What You Can” show and we do implore you to put it into your itinerary at 3.15 at the Royal Overseas League in George Street. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The Edinburgh Reporter
Review of Show Up
Peter Michael Marino (Desperately Seeking the Exit, Late with Lance!) turns the often vilified clichés of the solo show genre on their clichéd heads. Using an arsenal of Post-it® Notes, Pete transforms the real-life audience experiences into a comedic, vibrant, life-story that’s daring and different each time. You get to control the content, set and sound for this improvised solo show about your tragic life. And there’s a party!

Picking a show at the Fringe is never easy. Sometimes you go if it’s a performer you know, have heard good press about or because somebody wants you to chum them. Sometimes a poster or a flyer has enough in it to draw you in. Occasionally you’ll get a performer who’s flyering and does such a good pitch that you go and see their show. Peter Michael Marino did that to me yesterday in the street; in around 90 seconds he’d convinced me to take a chance on Show Up and I’m glad I did.

Over the course of an hour, Marino examines what the solo confessional show is about and entails. He’s no stranger to the genre and this performance is sharp, witting and engaging.

Instead of dealing with the performer’s hang-ups, neuroses or past failings, the audience is presented with an amalgamation of the audiences’ experiences. If anything, it proves you don’t have to be artistic to have a tragic life that can be mined for comedic results.

Despite the appearance of being an improvised show, I’d say Show Up is the result of a keen and witty mind who knows how to take different ideas, meld them together and run with the result. I really enjoyed the show and laughed from start to end. I was also pleased to learn that the rest of the audience is even more screwed up and scarred than me, which made me feel good inside.

Do not go and see this show if you want to sit back and have a show fed to you by a straw; this is one you’re going to have to contribute to.

However, enter it in the right spirit and you’ll be well rewarded. Marino knows the format and how to play with it, as well as how to judge an audience. If you think you get what you pay for at the Free Fringe, go and see Show Up and realise how wrong you are. Click Here

August 17, 2017  The Edinburgh Reporter
Review of IlluminArchie
IlluminArchie is the hilarious new show by ‘super cool, super smart storyteller’ (Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard) and award-winning comedian, Archie Maddocks. He is described as ‘poignant, inventive and razor-sharp’ (BroadwayBaby.com) and as having ‘a corking, almost cinematic story’ (Chortle.co.uk). Join Archie for his new show, which looks at, but is not limited to, how he wishes someone would take control of his life so he didn’t have to, an accidentally racist girlfriend, a killer doughnut and an altercation with a monkey.

I saw Archie Maddocks on Tuesday night as part of Bringing to Book, which was a benefit for two legal charities working on the Grenfell Tower Fire. I was really impressed with him, especially for reciting the poem written by one of the surviving residents.

You could tell it was hard for him and not how he is used to performing but he did it well and I was touched by it. Here as part of the Free Fringe, I ended up seeing his show my chance as I was in the area and remembered I had his flyer in my bag. I’m glad I took that decision and for once was happy I got the library’s opening hours wrong.

Deep in the depths of Espionage, Archie Maddocks delivers an hour’s worth of comedy during IlluminArchie. Given the size of the venue, he warmed the crowd up with a few “Who are you and where are you from?” questions. OK, this is a comic’s standby but he did it well and remembered the people’s names throughout the show. That alone was impressive as I’ve seen others forget them by the end of a sentence.

After relaxing the audience a little – we didn’t need a warm-up as the room was roasting, even for the Fringe – he got into his show and stride proper. From what I could tell he partially tailored the show based on the audience’s reaction to some of his more boundary pressing jokes. Personally he pulled back too much and I would have liked to seen where he would have gone.

Maddocks treats us to a little of his personal and family history, shares information about his relationship and treats the audience as friends. He even let go a loudmouth eejit spoiling the punchline of one of his jokes; I apologised afterwards and he accepted it graciously.

He is a young comic who, while not the finished article, is well on his way to being a polished performer. He is personable, clever, able to think on his feet and has thought about how to bring material together to create a show.

I look forward to hearing more from him and hopefully seeing him next year. Preferable in a cooler room. Click Here

August 17, 2017  Fest
Review of Sunil Patel: Titan
Perhaps it’s his perch high in the balmy Counting House Attic, heat rising from all those other shows down below, but there’s a languorous feel to Sunil Patel’s second solo hour, as if he’s aware that everyone had to climb numerous stairs to get here, so he’s going to take things fairly easy on us for, say, the first 50 minutes or so. That last 10 though: that gets pretty exciting.

Patel hasn’t really got a thrilling story to tell here, as he clearly hasn’t been up to much over the last year or so, so that becomes a theme in itself. And it’s certainly one that many modern folk can relate to: should he be troubled by his lack of innate motivation or boast-worthy achievements? This relatively contented comic’s lack of any genuine angst about it is really quite refreshing in a Fringe that can sometimes feel fuelled by naked ambition.

Now, having ascended all the way to the attic, eschewing flashier shows along the way, some audience members may wish for more than stories about his brief dalliance with a sugar-free diet, or his renegade approach to badminton. But something about Patel’s measured approach is enormously appealing, the comedy-show equivalent of going round to see that mate who you can always rely on not to have done anything that’s going to make you insanely jealous, when your own ego is at a low ebb.

True, there is a gear-shift toward the end which is mildly pulse-enhancing, but even his bucket speech is pretty undemanding. Perhaps he just fears change. Click Here

August 16, 2017  Chortle
Review of Charlotte Gittins: Mirror Image
Legend has it that come Armageddon, nuclear submarine commanders will try to tune to Radio 4 before assuming that London has been destroyed.

And that sense of plummy, British stiff upper lip in the face of adversity pervades Charlotte Gittins's dystopian character comedy hour, situated, appropriately, in the Espionage nightclub's airless Bunker rather than the genteel coffee shop promised by the Fringe brochure.

As you might expect from an alumni of the Austentatious improv troupe, Gittins does a very credible RP accented BBC news announcer, relating events in a world where President Trump has commandeered all aspects of the US media for propaganda purposes. And Brexit has seen the letters 'E' and 'U' expunged from the English language.

Though set in the near future, the atmosphere harks back to the Second World War, as widowed single-mother Eunice writes lovingly to her paramour Pierre in France, hoping that soon they can be together.

Meanwhile, North Korea has targeted Sesame Street as Trump stamps his personality cult on popular culture, as an Hispanic actor complaining to soap opera bosses about her character's sexing up and the storylines' ever-more blatant, anti-immigrant bias. A White House press secretary admonishes the press for publishing fake news, listing the oppressive directives they must adhere to now in her aggressive Russian accent.

... Click Here

August 16, 2017  Fest
Review of Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
Before this show, it must be confessed that this particular reviewer knew very little on art history. Step forward Harriet Braine, (in guise as Professor Braine) to sing her way through a pop music-infused lecture on the seminal painters of yesteryear.

Armed with a guitar and a surprisingly good vocal impression of a trumpet, Braine reels her way through the familiar hallmarks of the genre. What's different in this case is that she's pairing her aesthetic-history satire with established pop songs (rather than patchy original tunes), so there's recognisable ditties to hum along to.

There's a romantic ode to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Dolly Parton-inspired Henri Matisse tribute, and the pick of the bunch is an ABBA hit reworked with recourse to 19th Century French Impressionism ("Monet isn't Manet, ils sont différents"). It's cultured whimsy, with gently funny parodies intercut every so often with her art history lecturer persona. She goes for breadth, rather than depth, in her targets, and some of the lyrical remixes only last a couple of verses once she's stumbled upon her killer rhyme.

Actual art buffs may find the references a little too broad, but for everyone else it's an enjoyable and educational waltz through both modern and historical pop culture. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The List
Review of Carabet
Amusingly innovative show of cinematic comedy-theatre from physical trio

Lobster Quadrille's Carabet is an hour of absurd theatre from the Philippe Gaulier-trained trio that (as you'd expect) is low on traditional jokes and punchlines, but is gripping and disarmingly funny nonetheless. The universe that Carabet operates in is an unsettling one: compliments are taken as a threat, waiters don't acknowledge your ghostly presence, and a walk in the park contains a few surreal Blue Jam-esque twists. In the innovation stakes (and with its creators showing a similar penchant for wonderfully bizarre costumes), Carabet calls to mind the world created by superb double act Beard, last spotted here in 2015.

The trio, made up of Firdaws Fourcroy, Paulina Lenoir and Alasdair Saksena, have crafted an hour that's almost always amusing, and occasionally strikes gold. They're magnificent physical comedians, but what really sets Carabet apart is the soundtrack which lends it a cinematic flow.

Saksena's renditions of 'Blue Moon' and Peter Sarstedt's 'Where Do You Go to My Lovely?' are genuinely tender and impressive, with Fourcroy and Lenoir harmonising to great effect, while the whole show is backed by a soundscape of flamenco guitar, creepy piano interludes and slices of operatic singing. Those prepared to take leave of reality and get lost for one hour should look no further. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The List
Review of Jenny Collier: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Jen
A measured mix of full-frontal assaults on body image and lovely family portrait

By the time you've left the room, you'll know Jenny Collier's personal 'downstairs' habits and health pretty well. She certainly doesn't hold back. It's all enjoyably funny, frequently stepping over the polite conversation mark, but why the hell not? It's not as if there aren't plenty male comics who do that all the time. Still, there does feel something joyously liberating about Collier's frankness.

There's also a good amount of material time spent on the nonsensical relationship us ladies (and some men) have with their body hair or its removal: Collier has a particularly brilliant line about one of the advantages of a full, uncultivated garden. Indeed, the more she mentions our obsession with plucking, shaving and waxing, the more ludicrous it all seems.

Elsewhere the material is less corporeal as she creates a lovely picture of her slightly eccentric, potter dad plus a handful of tales about growing up in a small North Wales village. Though there are some diversions to chat with the crowd, overall Collier's delivery is measured, almost matter of fact, which only serves to emphasise the cheeky bits. Click Here

August 16, 2017 Three Weeks
Article about We are STILL all C*nts
You might be a vegan, give lots to charity and think you’re a pretty good person as far as things go, but chances are you’re probably still a c*nt. Ashley Haden returns to the Fringe with his satirical political commentary on the shit unfolding around us. If you think the title of this show is offensive, then his jokes about rape, child refugees, paedophilia and suicide will probably emotionally scar you. Haden is like a drunk, tortured prophet of truth with his sharp, acute and, at times, strangely poetic musings on the state of the world and British politics. Deeply distasteful yet liberatingly transgressive, Haden delivers a set so dark you’ll need to bring a torch. Click Here

August 16, 2017  One4Review
Review of Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics 4**** - One4Review
This show has lots of threads: it’s a lament for a friend and for society, it’s a cry for compassion, it’s an essay on radical left-wing politics, it’s excellent storytelling and very funny in lots of places. It addresses challenging issues like mental health and grief, and it makes intelligible, real-world, connections between private troubles and public issues. It’s really good and well worth seeing.

Technically, the show is excellent: Ms Pressdee is a confident orator, (even doped up on flu medicine), the stories intertwine and complement each other, each bit holding the next one in place like the blocks of an arched bridge. The visual aids add to the show and to the veracity, and there’s a good smattering of political theory and theorising.

It is comedy (despite how this review may make it sound) – and there are some bit of tits and smut (wonderful bits) – but it is also heartfelt and personal. Ms Pressdee had a nice way with the audience, and though there weren’t many of us, it never felt awkward – I even really wanted to give Ms Pressdee a hug at the end.

Laughing Horse @ 48 Below (Broughton St), 19:30

Reviewed by Laura Click Here

August 16, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of LoveHard: Murdered by Murder
LoveHard return to the Fringe after their award-winning 2016 show House On The Hill with a new comic offering that is literally the best of both the theatre and comedy worlds. A show unparalleled in comedy writing and delivery, the question only remains – what can’t they do?

Every now and again you will dig up one of these hidden gems, the sort of show that makes you excited about the Fringe again. With so many big names playing big venues getting big cheers it feels like the “Fringey” fare, or at least anything that is worth watching, is harder and harder to find. But in a little room past Waverley station you will find such a gem. Word has spread about LoveHard who have packed their room out to the gills, with punters squatting down on every surface available; from the bar tops to the floor and crammed into every corner.

Written and performed by comedy-duo Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding, Murdered By Murder tells the tale of a party of eccentric characters who find themselves at Lord Titan’s manor one Christmas Eve for a game of murder mystery, when suddenly the game becomes reality and one of their number is found dead in the (fourth) kitchen. I shan’t give away any more plot points, as it would ruin the fun.

All-in-all I counted ten characters deftly executed by the duo who multirole with such fluidity it honestly sometimes feels like you are watching a TV show. Their characterisation is masterful. They themselves take a crack early on at the liberal servings of stereotypes bandied about but it is played perfectly, creating such despicable characters you just can’t tear your eyes away from the action. Not to mention that the two comics move so swiftly between the parts with a subtle, verbal “whoosh” that blink and you will certainly miss it.
Not a word is wasted in this piece, it seems every line was written and rewritten to get the maximum dosage of humour possible. They pull apart and mock every convention of the genre and scarcely miss a chance for some word play, or a twist and turn or a piece of physical comedy.

Lovick and Harding don’t seem to take themselves, or their show, too seriously. As with House On The Hill they routinely break character to comment on the confinements of working in a space set up to drink, not perform a play. They take stabs at each other and critique each other’s improvised jokes mid-show. Lovick’s continued exasperations at one of Harding’s running gags achieved particular roars of laughter from the audience. Often these sorts of breaks and corpses can seem self-indulgent, but with LoveHard it’s all part of the treat that is their show.
As part of the Free Fringe Festival you’ll pay whatever you think it is worth; with this in mind you would be mad not to catch it. A pastiche of a pastiche, I’m not sure you’ll find anything quite like it. Click Here

August 16, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of A Singh In The North!
A likeable character with an easy San Francisco drawl, Sid Singh is an American comedian who has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for five years now. This year’s show is a natural crowd pleaser, with enough laughs to keep you entertained throughout.

Singh opens his set with a selection of rules: the gist of these is to ensure the room is relaxed and ready to not take themselves too seriously, a good idea when potentially flammable topics such as racism at school and sexism in the gym are floating on the horizon.

This gig is described as a collection of “best bits”: well-timed jokes are woven into slowly-escalating stories, with Singh the butt of each joke as always. There’s no doubt he is a gifted storyteller: layer upon layer of one outrageous event after another is expertly built up to keep the room poised in anticipation, and the punchline is almost always a pay-off for the giggles you have along the way.

Outside of these stories, frequent pauses risk disrupting the easy flow of the set: it’s not always clear whether this is a man in control of his thoughts or simply lost for words, but I’m inclined to believe the former. Singh doesn’t disguise his awareness of how closely he fits the high school cliché: references to bullying in his American college come thick and fast, and are shrugged off in an easy casualness that makes the audience comfortable to join in with his laughter.
Some of the material towards the end of the set starts to lose its potency, particularly with an overuse of crude language, but remember the rules: this is a show that doesn’t take itself seriously, and neither should you. A Singh In The North! is a perfectly enjoyable set that had the halls of Dropkick Murphy’s ringing with laughter on a rainy afternoon. Click Here

August 16, 2017  One4Review
Review of Sajeela Kershi - Fights like a girl!
There can be no doubt that award winning comic Sajeela Kershi is a born raconteur who always has an interesting and funny story to tell. So that it is of no surprise that she has yet another hour of quality material ready for her audience this year too.
It was a really good device that opened the show and warmed up the chuckle muscles prior to the substance which was how she has always been, up for a scrap, be it at brownies as a child, the ban on the burkini, ban the ban on Muslims entering the USA the Women’s March against Trump or even for a career given her ethnic background.
I suppose the harrowing story towards the end of the set shows off these tendencies, she paints the scene so vividly with her words that one feels they are there that really showcase her talent and the slightly less dangerous story that followed the funny side.
Ms Kershi has stories to spare, with her smiling persona, the well written material and stage presence, all interspersed with audience interaction it is a very good way to spend an early evening hour. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Mae Martin: Dope
"You feel flat right now because you're not addicted to anything or anyone," Martin's mother casually slips into conversation. It's true, the comedian admits, as she takes us through the many obsessions and addictions that's made her the person she is today.

Martin gives a magnetic performance as she charts her fascination with Bette Midler, to low-level comedian stalking, and rehab. The intricacies with which she recounts these periods of time make her story even more watchable, whilst her evident improv training keeps her delivery bright and breezy – always ensuring it's never too dark a show with wry asides galore.

It's an all round fascinating account of both substance abuse and the idea that you can be addicted to people; Martin even compares a breakup to initial sobriety. There's even a lesson about brain chemicals thrown in, with brain shrimps that niggle when a new obsession begins. This is a fantastic, stimulating hour which will rightly earn Martin a new horde of fans. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Sarah Bennetto: All My Life's Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume 1)
A cheerful paper donkey piñata sits on stage at the start of Sarah Bennetto’s All My Life’s Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume One). It’s hardly much of a spoiler for us to reveal that, by the end of the show, Bennetto and her audience have conclusively smashed that ass. Given how much work was involved in getting her fleet of donkey punchbags to Edinburgh in the first place, Bennetto could forgiven if she refused to allow them to be breathed on heavily, let alone destroyed (the saga of #27donkeypiñatas made quite a splash on social media at the start of the Fringe).
Bennetto’s show is structured around a list of the biggest mistakes of her life. The piñatas, unsurprisingly, are on the list, and Bennetto gets good mileage from recounting the saga for the first few minutes of the show. The concept is clever, and Bennetto uses it well, picking items from her list apparently at random. Some of the items on the list seem a bit purposeless, and the stories surrounding them don’t always reach a satisfactory conclusion, but her enthusiasm and natural charm never let up.
Her room at Espionage, even by the eclectic standards of Fringe venues, is just plain awful – dark, echoey, and near hot enough to boil an egg. That’s hardly Bennetto’s fault, though, and she copes admirably.
Bennetto is unflinchingly honest, almost as if she’s incapable of being otherwise. She’s poured her heart into this story, and it shows. In the hands of a lesser comedian, her conclusion and finale would feel cynical and manipulative. Coming from Bennetto, though, it’s heart-wrenching and heartfelt in equal measure. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Delusions.
John Scott presents a well-prepared set with two distinctly political themes to an audience split quite literally in two. The Kasbar comprises a stage with chairs arranged at right angles which splits the audience into two separate groups – a move which initially threatens to overwhelm the night’s proceedings. In ensuring that he engages both sides of the room, his comic muscles seem a little stretched and at times he has to remind the crowd that “this is not a rally”, as certain punchlines are met with cheers instead of the more favourable sound of laughter.
Scott gets stuck into the current government, elitism, Trump, critics of Corbyn and his own take on the chequered history of mental health provision in the UK, all the while adding his own Scottish spin. He links austerity and cuts to welfare to his own struggles with wellness but reserves true anger for Conservative government insensitivity and inhumane handling of disability, as he presents an elegant metaphor of an ailing pigeon (with one wing) failing the occupational assessment and only passing it once it has died.
His inclusion of his journey through an initial diagnosis of schizophrenia which then was re-diagnosed some years later as bi-polar could represent an original viewpoint within political comedy, but unfortunately the standard of the material is not consistent. Perhaps a greater focus on his own perception of mental health challenges would bolster this set, but instead it is diluted by understandable but somewhat rote indignation of the current political landscape, which leads to the aforementioned cheers instead of guffaws.
For every interestingly presented observation (see ailing pigeon above) there is a more facile jibe; “I thought Brexit was what happens when a fat bird sits on a chair”. The lively room was perfectly content with the mix of satirical political observations and mental health anecdotes and with the right audience, Scott will deliver a satisfying show. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Scotsman
Review of Frank Lavender: Fragile Masculinity
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Frank – I am sure he wouldn’t mind me calling him Frank – is a genial bloke who works his audience like an Italian mama with pizza dough.

For ten minutes we are alone together, which is pleasant, but then they start, in Frank’s words “piling in”. “Its like Calais in here,” he cries.

He has a proper set list to get through and tempts us with the promise of London Underground jokes and possibly some “off the wall comedy”. Frank also has props (thank you, Lidl) and a recording of a rimshot, just to get the comedy feel going. For his younger fans, he has some Taylor Swift material and for traditionalists, a whole bundle of fun about people he has met in doctor’s waiting rooms. In many ways like a less manic, more articulate Count Arthur Strong, Frank is a considerate type, not giving us the socio-political rant he could have because it would ruin “the lighthearted atmosphere I have cultivated”. Much of his show is pin-sharp material woven from the audience, not banter, much classier and finer.

His morale is, he tells us, “at a crushing low”, so go and see him and cheer him up. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Scotsman
Review of A Singh In The North!
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Nothing fazes Sid Singh. Not even the woman in front of me loudly clipping her nails.

“There’s never a bad time to look your best,” he reassures her. He is like that, friendly, funny and smart. Some of his one-liners are little peals of genius and around them we get an explanation of Asian Guilt vs Catholic Guilt, a tale of school bullies and karma that would make Buddha cry, a horrific tale about a “diverse gig” in Birmingham that went hideously wrong, and getting called Gandhi at school. Singh seems like such a jolly sort, it is a surprise when the hour suddenly goes all sex‘n’drugs‘n’being a gentleman in the face of an unexpected penis. It is wonderful stuff.

Sid has a lovely way with words and it is what unites all his stories of Grandma trying to arrange him a marriage, the accepted response to terrible drag, racism and why we should marry as young as possible. Sid is too nice to name him but I think this show could be called How Patrick Monahan Ruined My Career. The story is a good one. Do go. Don’t self-manicure in the front row. Click Here

August 16, 2017  Funny women.com
Review of Cheekykita-Somewhere in the Ether..
Cheekykita Review funny women
No object is safe from becoming a Cheekykita prop. When you venture into the ether of Cheekykita’s dream anything can happen. And I am not being whimsical about the power of imagination; I mean this woman will make audience members do things with hair accessories you can’t even contemplate. Let alone dream.Cheekykita is very committed to her dream theme, where animals can go to discos, lobsters hunt down their wives and we can visit a restaurant that has anything you like on the menu. All the while wearing very comfortable pants.

Joyfully shambolic, Cheekykita can charm her audience into venturing anywhere.

★★★★ Click Here

August 15, 2017  The List
Review of C'est La Vegan
A smart and savvy hour about food, philosophy and mental health

You may well be wary of seeing a show that so boldly wears its colours on its sleeve: 'how can you tell if someone is a vegan?' and all that. Dave Chawner's playful herbivorous title belies a humble, thought-provoking hour. Having lived with anorexia, Chawner has a complicated history with food; indeed his 2015 show was about that journey. He speaks candidly and honestly about mental health and how failing to maintain control over his food meant also losing his identity.

He is smart, but not condescending, citing his favourite philosopher as Spinoza due to his belief that everything in the universe is made of the same substance manifest in different ways. It's with this attitude in mind that Chawner tries to live his life.

Throughout, he is at pains to stress that he's not trying to preach or convert, and self-deprecation is more prevalent than barbs aimed outwards. The gags come thick and fast as he worries over what he can and can't do, use or eat as a fairly new vegan, and realises that the only true vegan is a dead one. It's a shame that Dave Chawner might miss out an audience because of some people's perception of the 'preachy vegan'. This show is a gem and deserves everyone's attention. Click Here

August 15, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of The Burning Gadulka
This hour-long dramatic and comedic monologue is a persistent exploration of why the existence of the gadulka – a traditional Bulgarian folk instrument – is the worst thing that ever happened to a gadulka player. The three-stringed instrument is constantly berated and insulted by sole actor Miro Kokenov throughout this fascinating stream of consciousness. It is ugly and depressing, and fits into Bulgarian folk songs only when drowned out by the tupan drum and bagpipes.

The script of this play, written by Rayko Baychev and translated into English by Angela Rodel, is an oddly enthralling glimpse into Bulgarian folklore and traditions. Kokenov is the perfect fit for this part: energetic and engaging, he is seen screaming and wailing at the instrument, encapsulating self-indulgence, mania and heartbreak with skill. He perfectly captures the typically Bulgarian self-flagellating humour, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the performance. A particularly memorable scene is where Kokenov, lying seductively on his side, tries (unsuccessfully) to avoid telling an imaginary lover that he is a gadulka player. He also goes on to recount the Bulgarian folk orchestra’s madcap adventures on tour in France, and a lot of the comic delivery is achieved by how the obsessions of the Bulgarians are totally out of step with any of the musicians from anywhere else in the world.

It is a shame that we did not get to hear Kokenov play the gadulka for a more extended period, treated only briefly to an intentionally terrible rendition of Für Elise. Then again, giving the gadulka its own space and time to shine would defeat the very point of this one-sided polemic. At once a nostalgic ode to the traditions that are being killed off by the mechanisation of music, and a screaming good riddance. Click Here

August 15, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Slug
Dave Green is a compact performer with a measured tone and confident demeanour which suits his less stream and more consciousness motif. Unlike other performers who purport to indulge in spontaneous absurdity, he allows ample space for his ideas to percolate throughout the room. His well-written material encompasses relationships, death, socialising and sentient AI but the resounding theme is one of wry curiosity at the everyday.
When discussing fashion that has curled up and died he explains cargo pants to a couple of young art students as the internet in your pocket. Next, he ponders the possible cultural appropriation of doing a robot dance in front of an actual robot in a vignette from a dystopian and sentient future. His set-ups are timed to near perfection allowing Green to control the room with aplomb and evoke complete comfort within the medium.
The intimate confines serve Green well and he clearly benefits from the eye-contact that can be achieved in such close quarters. One suspects that his crowd work would be minimised in a more corporate atmosphere, but his polite enquiries allow an organic approach to material that on paper would seem clinical and disparate.
He finishes his set with a potentially barnstorming allusion of the sun as a bully. Green is cajoled then forced along with the rest of society to leave their homes with solar invocations such as “get your clothes off…or i’ll blind you!” Whilst the tone he sets could be described as deadpan, his smiling and benign presence adds warmth to what could be reduced to a series of set ups and jokes.
Green makes his subtle and slight observations work by sidestepping an overtly other-worldly persona and by throwing in some physical clowning which he juxtaposes with stillness for comic mileage. With a little more attention to the stronger moments in the set Green could become the accessible face of the absurd. Click Here

August 15, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Cow
From a small attic room in the Counting House, Jane Hill is on a mission to prove that she is not the ‘lovely’ lady in a cardigan which review after review has branded her as in the past. Through a series of joyful confessions, Hill does a great job of showing off her inner cow, but even now I feel like she’s secretly trying hard to please.

A flip chart takes prominent place as the method used for keeping track of the show: Hill actively encourages shout-outs in response to her anecdotes that help gauge the feeling in the room, but this has the very real danger of backfiring if it continues to affect the pace of the set. For example, there are several occurrences of unnatural pauses that are clearly being held in anticipation of an interruption, and every shout-out is met with a “thank you” that belies a restrainedly polite nature, regardless of any attempts to convince us otherwise. It’s a nice idea, however, and the atmosphere in the room is so relaxed that it’s one of the most successful pieces of audience interaction that I’ve seen so far.

The examples of bad behaviour do get noticeably darker as the show progresses, and if intentional, it’s a great structural decision that could be perhaps incorporated more heavily into the set. At the beginning we are inclined to disagree with Hill’s insistence that she is a “cow” – but by the end there’s no such protest.

This is a highly relatable show for anyone who has ever felt fed up of being invisible. Whether it’s barging your way through a busy London street or sitting up and telling the patronising do-gooders where to go, Hill’s entertaining tales are an empowering experience in many ways and a refreshing reminder not to judge a book by its cover.
Jane Hill is flawed, just like the rest of us, and listening to a seemingly serene and collected individual disclose these flaws is a real relief. She’s not lovely, but she’s certainly not a cow: I’ll leave the rest for you to judge. Click Here

August 15, 2017  Chortle
Review of Sidekick
Ben Van der Velde has a strong, dynamic presence on stage. He is, as he says himself, very persuasive: he talks and you listen.

Sidekick was a good showcase for his skills – personable and interactive with the audience in the way you’d expect of a compere, and personal and autobiographical in the way you’d expect of an Edinburgh confessional-style show. He certainly has enough meaty material on being Jewish and living Jewish, with some cultural input to contribute.

Over the hour, topics ranged from the mundane - stuff about his name, foreskin (is any Jewish set complete without a circumcision reference?) – to braver and more personal stuff about his privileged start to life and his marriage. Then there are the obligatory Trump and Brexit references.

There were occasional, unnecessary vulgarities here and there, all the more unexpected because he’s clearly sharp as a tack. He has the skill to win over an audience and this evening’s lot were thoroughly convinced by the performance. Accessible to everyone, this was reliably entertaining, if not a Fringe stand-out. Click Here

August 15, 2017  Fest
Review of The Brain Is In The Heart
Comedy shows are like babies: whatever love and care you throw at them, no-one ever really knows how they’re going to turn out.

Russell Hicks has less idea than most, as his show is "70 per cent improvisation", but even this seat-of-the-pants American is thrown slightly by the first few minutes of this busy weekday-afternoon show. It turns out that the Frenchman right in the centre of the front row speaks no English, and when Hicks tests that by tossing out a few gentle insults, his amis takes offence and gets right in Hicks' face before they both storm off. And thus the show’s theme is in place.

Lots of comics might lose the plot after such an up-close altercation, but Hicks insists that he’s faced worse – such are the risks of crowd-work, and he’s a hardy exponent of it, using the exotic-to-him home-towns that crop up in these discussions (Ennis and Whitley Bay this time) to conjure wild stories about the people concerned.

Actually his name is oddly appropriate, as he rustles up numerous hicks along the way. That’s his default accent for anyone who voted for Trump, or even Brexit. In Hicks’ mind anyone with UKIP sympathies who cheered a little too loudly when that French couple stormed off earlier are basically mid-western hillbillies. Which puts a novel new spin on things.

Each show is bound to vary in quality, of course, but if the rigid sets and formats elsewhere start to get tiresome, this ever-changing hour should be a highly effective tonic. Click Here

August 14, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of IlluminArchie
Fear not, this is a show for more than just the conspiracy theorists out there. Armed with a pun in the title and a range of tones to please all audiences, Archie Maddocks has put together an enjoyable collection of anecdotes for his Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut; it just needs a bit more polish to really shine.

From escapades in South Africa to living with both mother and girlfriend, this is fairly easy-going material with a good structure. Leaning casually on his mic stand, Maddocks gives the impression of relaxing into his set, laughing with us and handling more disruptive members of the audience confidently without being rude. I particularly enjoyed several strong characters who were created out of nowhere, delivered with a self-assured confidence that brought belly laughs to the room.

There’s a sense of a scattered mind here, especially in the first half of the set: sentences begin strongly but tend to digress and don’t always arrive where they are supposed to, often leaving a weaker punchline than intended. The stories themselves are great fun, and it’s only when Maddocks loses control of the narrative in this way that the pace begins to fall flat. It’s also confusing that the climax of the show is revealed on the back of the flyer, which removes any sense of suspense from what could have been an outrageous finale.

Overall, this set still feels very self-aware – Maddocks makes references to using audience members as his back-up, and seems to have a lack of confidence in his ability to keep the crowd on his side, which in itself reveals a lack of trust in letting us enjoy his set. It’s a shame, because I really enjoyed the material itself, which dances the line of innuendo with some excellent one-liners. It's a free show and definitely worth a chance; Maddocks is a good entertainer, and I hope that his set only continues to improve. Click Here

August 14, 2017  Voice
Review of Robyn's Bad Decision Time
There's always a danger with comedy that tries to mix another not-so-related form into it. Some comedians attempt to dress down the audience with a serious address of the facts, which can either enthuse or diffuse the comedy. Similarly, there's a delicate balance between facts and explanation against comedy that means just a little too much explanation can bore an audience. We're fans of Baba Brinkman for this precise skill.
Unsurprisingly, Perkins has the knowledge of stage presence to pull this off, too, enabling her set to be well-informed and getting this across to the audience. In so doing she managed to keep the audience's attention through hard science in a sweltering room – no mean feat.
You could hear Perkins talk about her past all day – there is no end of audacity, shock and perceived growth. Though not all jokes landed, you could see what needed to be done so that each one would.
She has enough ammunition just from her life experiences to carry a solid hour of comedy without needing to resort to the comedy trifecta – gender politics, racial politics, or actual Politics. A golden performer whose charisma alone on stage is refreshing. Click Here

August 14, 2017 Three Weeks
Article about D'Arcehole
Swearing, extremely inappropriate jokes and a string of technical glitches, or is this the winning recipe for Jo D’Arcy’s colourful school lessons? The “D’Arcehole”, as her pupils lovingly called her during her short-lived teaching career, brings you the lesson you always wanted but never had. Using a “basic” powerpoint presentation, the “D’arcinator” will teach the kind of uncensored lessons that got her in the shit back in Stoke-on-Trent. She’s hoping that by the end someone can help her decide whether to stay in comedy or go back to school. What D’Arcy’s act may lack in refinement, she makes up for by being undeniably likeable, sincere and, as Miss Trunchbull once wisely said, “too good for children”. Click Here

August 14, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Myra DuBois: DuBois Entendre
Perhaps the definition of late-night Fringe; the ever-talented and always vulgar Myra DuBois will have you reeling off your chair – both from laughter and from shock. Holding the audience’s attention in the palm of her gin-soaked (and man-sized) hand, Myra holds no prisoners when it comes to her humour. Wasting no time in informing us of her appearance on John Bishop’s show last year, it is clear that we are in fact in the same room as an A-Lister: a bundle of talent whose repertoire includes acting, singing and dancing. And that’s at the same time as being stunningly beautiful: it seems some just have it all.

A generally strong character, Myra jokes about the moment when her shows seem to become ‘hostage situations’. And it’s true – a couple of girls went to leave the auditorium and she thanked them for their time with enough blasphemy to cause a cathedral to crumble. But that was the style of the performance – out there, inappropriate and filthy. Myra lamented at the things she had to do for money in the modern climate: with the worst of the worst being children’s entertainment (cue a joke about how the name Myra generally doesn’t mix with children). Following soon after was a failed – and admittedly hilarious – magic trick sequence.

Talented as she is, when it comes to cracking jokes there are a few topics which will never – under any circumstances – be funny (or even vaguely acceptable). Racism and the disappearance of Madeline McCann both feature on this list, but unfortunately also feature in tonight’s set. Myra DuBois: DuBois Entendre manages to venture where anyone with an ounce of decency decides not to, and places a flag of ignorance in its place. I thought it a shame to include such puns, especially as her other material had us in stitches without being so needlessly boorish.

Becoming more inebriated (and more toxic with her audience-based slurs) as the night progressed, Myra joked about how she wanted it to end. I must admit, though hysterical at the start – I felt as though she had put more effort into the opening part of the act. It takes more talent to come up with one-liners and to formulate witty stories than it does to swear and be crass, even if it did make us laugh. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable night, though, and it was well-placed (if a little superfluous) in the proceedings of the set.
A humorous night combined with mild fear, Myra and her tonic will take you to the raunchiest pits of farce: leave your inhibitions at the door and – whatever you do – don’t be late. Click Here

August 14, 2017 Beyond the Joke
Article about Mae Martin: Dope
UK-based Canadian comic Mae Martin has been building up an impressive head of steam in the last few years and she has really come good with her latest show, Dope. Martin’s material has always been pretty personal, but here she digs deep into past obsessions to produce easily her best set yet.

This skinny, energetic performer reveals quickly onstage that she has an addictive personality. Some of those addictions have been more damaging than others. Being hooked on certain singers is not against the law, but some of the other things she got up to in her youth might have been more questionable. She looks pretty innocent, but it turns out she was a bit of a fiend back in the day.

There are various big things Martin has been obsessed with too - from comedy to love (and the title of the show is a clue to something else). And, as she suggests towards the end of Dope, perhaps we are living in a society where being addicted to something is becoming the norm. We crave the Dopamine hit of pleasure we get from highs. Look at the way we can’t resist sneaking a peak at our smartphones all the time, hoping for a retweet or like.

If this sounds like a serious show it certainly isn’t. Martin has grown into a formidable, charismatic performer, nervily jerking around the stage and making a funny buzzing noise to represent the “shrimp in her brain” that needs to be fed by a fix of something.

There is lots here to enjoy, from her flirty banter with the audience to her stories about being a teenage oddball on the Toronto stand-up scene. She went to so many gigs – and dressed so weirdly – that she was famous even before she was a performer. The club had a special seat for her and a local paper wrote about her. She even has the cutting to prove it.

I’d like to have had a bit more background about why Martin thinks she has an addictive streak. Is it nature? Is it nurture? Her parents – who she has also talked about in previous shows – sound pretty bohemian. Maybe being off-the-wall is in Martin’s genes. Maybe nobody knows the definitive answer anyway. This is a small criticism though. Dope is a show where you leave not just with a smile on your face but where you feel you have really got to know the person you have just been enjoying. Click Here

August 14, 2017  Young Perspective
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
Summary
A clever mix of impassioned argument and effortless wit, perfect for a politically engaged audience needing to vent.

In the historic, underground chambers of Cabaret Voltaire waits Ahir Shah: a man who could not be more different to his surroundings. A self-confessed member of the liberal metropolitan elite, Shah is bitter that he hasn’t gained the wealth and power that the Daily Mail promised. This sets the tone for an hour of witty, politically focused observations.

Shah uses evocative allegories and extended metaphors to swipe at both extremes of the political spectrum, deconstructing the oversimplifications of which all parties are guilty. It is to his merit that Shah manages to confront some of society’s most striking problems in a smart and powerful way, whilst still being able to elicit a laugh from the audience. The accessibility of his comedy (to an audience attuned to Western political developments, at least) aids this. Despite his confidence and ideological focus, Shah manages not to put himself on a pedestal. Much. He is able to poke fun at himself, and avoids pontificating.

The relentless speed with which Shah performs is impressive. His intensely passionate delivery keeps the audience buzzing from the first joke to the last. That being said, Shah’s energy can occasionally work against him, sometimes delivering his most satirical jokes so quickly that the audience struggle to process them before he moves onto new material.

At Fringe, it is common to hear variations on the predictable theme of political jokes about Scotland. However interestingly enough Shah eschews this path, having little material aimed at an audience from Edinburgh. This is a refreshing approach for a political comedian plus, as Shah himself points out, not necessarily a flaw amongst the theatre-going crowds in August.

Shah’s view of the world is cheerily pessimistic. Arguably the only way to respond to the aftermath of 2016. His reflections on society both entertain and lead to poignant moments. It is rare that a comedian can make an audience leave both upbeat, and angry with current affairs. Though the shining institutions of the world might be crashing down around us, we can be grateful that Ahir Shah is here to keep us smiling. Click Here

August 14, 2017 Fringe Review
Article about Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling
Highly Recommended Show
Low Down

Wilby weaves comedy, memoir, love letters and Richard Hawley music to investigate the aftermath of a separation.

Review

This is a beautifully orchestrated show that describes Wilby’s break-up with her partner, Sarah. She asks her audience if there is anyone who hasn’t been dumped and she says “if there is I usually tell them to get out.” She then appears with a mock sword and cape and tell us she is the ghost of our romantic futures “The way you end relationships has become less and less humane,” she says. “This is the day everything went wrong. January 5, 2011.”

In this show, Wilby reads a series of e-mails Sarah sent her and her response. As the audience listens, we realize that Wilby did not see the break up coming and is trying to understand what happened. It is obvious that she feels an e-mail is an impersonal and not very comfortable way to end a relationship. As we hear Sarah’s responses we realize that actually she was afraid to face Wilby and tell her directly that their romance was gone for her.

There is wry comedy in the show. Wilby says, “I should have seen this coming. She got me a nicer present than usual. She got me a flat.” And there are several truly beautiful moments. Wilby says that when they fell in love “For a moment time stopped and opportunity unfolded before us like a magic carpet.”

But she punctures the romantic balloon with ”There is nothing so romantic as someone who isn’t there.”

The show is a pastiche of readings from Wilby’s book and her e-mails, alternating with commentary and music. Through it all, we feel the combination of sadness and injury that everyone feels when a five-year bond is broken unexpectedly. “After almost five years, I feel I should have been consulted.”

But even as Wilby expresses her surprise that their relationship is no more, we can see the breakup coming. Sarah’s parents never accepted Wilby and she says “I realized I couldn’t fit into the construction of her (Sarah’s) life,” and she asks us if romantic fantasy could actually be a psychoses. “I wanted us to be amazing together,” she says. “How could I save this moment….did she even feel it.”

This is a thoughtful show. The pace is rapid and varied and Wilby gives us a polished, confident performance. It poses unsaid questions about the validity of romance in a relationship…is it only in the eyes of the beholder? Do we weave a gossamer web of meaning in a gesture or a remark that doesn’t exist only because we want it to be more real than it is? The Conscious Uncoupling is indeed a fascinating hour that leaves us thinking about our own relationships and what we should expect from them. . Click Here

August 14, 2017  Fringe Guru
Review of Stephen Bailey: Can't Think Straight
Head into Can’t Think Straight with a full drink, and you will be in genuine danger of laughing so much that you spill it. Stephen Bailey is an exceptional performer, and this hour of stand-up about everything from dating to working-class culture to his own family is well-written and achingly funny.

Bailey warmed up the audience with a charismatic introduction and continued to interact with us throughout the show, with shout-outs, questions, and comments – sometimes friendly, sometimes ruthlessly harsh but always hilariously funny. This constant engagement gave the performance an intimate feel, and offered Bailey a chance to ad-lib a little with excellent results.

I was glad that I hadn't brought my grandma, as a lot of the humour was blush-inducingly filthy – though that said, the vast majority of the audience fell outside the demographic I would have expected for this type of show, and seemed to be loving it. The jokes are crude, but not offensive, and Bailey is a very likeable performer. His material draws a lot on sweet and seemingly genuine stories about his family members, which endeared him a lot to the crowd.

The show took a surprisingly serious turn when Bailey addressed the issue of homophobia around the world, drawing the audience up short and making us stop and think. There was a moment of serious, laughter-less reflection, then Bailey cracked a joke and the room erupted again. It felt as if he were a puppet master in perfect control of his audience, bringing the mood up and down, forcing us to laugh whenever he wanted to and then to be serious when he didn't. Bailey has wonderful comic timing, and he changes the rhythm throughout the show – sometimes delivering short, snappy jokes, and sometimes building the audience up over a period of tension before realising with a brilliantly funny punchline.

There was an incredible energy throughout the hour, and Bailey seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. He wasn’t alone in that: the room ceaselessly resounded with laughter. It's clear that Stephen Bailey has a bright future as a shining stand-up talent, and I look forward to seeing what this comic genius comes up with next. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Andy Stedman - Parental Guidance
Andy Stedman has written an EPs worth of songs which he hopes will guide his boy, Jack Elvis, through the trials & tribulations of adolescence, and has decided to share his songs with the world as well. Among these, he sings about his son’s first day of school when mummy will give him a last hug, and his new mates will shame him for it. Andy’s also written a song about the ‘birds and the bees’ for his son, from the perspective of a sperm. In case Andy should die before Jack becomes a man, Andy has composed a sentimental letter with his final words of wisdom on life.

Parental Guidance is sweet and hilarious. Andy is a real master of the stage, thriving on interaction with his audience, even inviting them to take the piss out of him. The show I attended was in a grumpy mood, I thought, the Free Fringe roulette ball had landed awkwardly, & even though the crowd was tough can handle a bit of awkwardness and if just a few people are willing to have fun, Andy holds the space for fun to happen. In a recent interview with the Mumble, Andy told us why he likes to be up front in the room;

Connecting with people. I don’t have a script at all, although I know what I am generally going to say and have edited it down a lot. I really like people generally, which is why i also do a fair bit of MCing, It’s just a lot of fun when something genuinely happens in the room.

Andy thrives off real life. He’s not just going up and doing the proven script, time & time again. He’s there to have fun, kick back, sing some wicked songs & get us all right comfortable in his kitchen sipping a G&T. Andy Stedman is a cool guy, & damned good at what he does, which is essentially be… Andy Stedman! Click Here

August 13, 2017  A Younger Theatre
Review of Mr Danger's Really Safe Show
Mr Danger’s Really Safe Show, a one man comedy family show for all ages performed by Sam Quinn, is a clowning dare devil performance show, using puppetry, wacky tricks and plenty of sound effects to entertain its audience of primarily under-9s and their parents.

Mr Danger is a dare devil in training, under the teaching of Master Bang, an evil black cloaked puppet with a claw. He had an accident during one of his last performances. Will we ever find out exactly what happened and why his tricks shouldn’t be tried at home? Maybe we’ll never know.

Quinn has the energy of rocket fuel, whizzing around the tent with wide eyes and a selection of voices. He bravely captures a big blob of poo with a black plastic bag with dramatic cartoon-esque music as accompaniment. He walks around with a metal detector, bleeping it against volunteers from the audience, before scanning it over a mysteriously placed bag and finding…a spoon. Then…a bigger spoon. Then…a really big spoon. And finally…a bomb! Which he sort of defuses successfully; that is, no one is hurt anyway.

... Click Here

August 13, 2017  One4Review
Review of A Singh In The North!
Singh is an established comedian with over 8 years’ experience of performing to a global audience, he also has an established internet following..
Sid currently has a bestselling comedy album on i tunes.
According to Sid its depends on where you live as to whether he is American, Indian or Mexican.
As we are in Scotland we will stick to American His accent plus his vivid recollections of his high school traumas in San Francisco tend to give the game away.
Sid dives headlong into heavier matters, the bullying, the trips to the gym, the arranged marriage, all are dealt with in a humorous observational style. In the show I watched Sid handle the occasional heckle in masterly fashion. He then recalled a previous stressful heckling experience in Birmingham. All in all, a thoroughly refreshing and entertaining artist that deserves more recognition.
We learn that Sid’s dad wants him to give up the comedy. I, for one, hope not as I look forward to seeing more from Sid Singh in the future. Click Here

August 13, 2017  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Sean McLoughlin: You Can't Ignore Me Forever
Sean McLoughlin is back at the festival with his fifth new hour of stand up, and it’s definitely worth catching him while you’re still lucky enough to see him on the Free Fringe.

This show talks about McLoughlin’s experience of being in love with his girlfriend, although he’s not told her yet, and his struggle with sexual inadequacy. He hates his penis and boy, does he want you to know about it; although slightly heavy handed on the self-loathing comments, you’re still able to laugh at the gags without guilt. He has a lot of opinions on porn and even Trump and these make for brilliant listening.

He frantically jerks about the stage as he works his way through his set, and is able to work the audience like a charm, delivering material with a captivating quality that makes you lean in to listen. His observations and little quirks have the audience roaring, if only he could draw breath long enough to enjoy the praise. McLoughlin goes on frequent tangents which make for the highlights of the set, tackling topics from porridge to Canadians and anything else in between – they’re the jewels in his crown that make him a true professional.

You Can’t Ignore Me Forever has everything you need from an hour of comedy: big laughs, both at McLoughlin’s own expense and occasionally at the audience’s, as well as the expert delivery required to keep the crowd on side. McLoughlin is a seasoned comic, capable of playing to a small room as if it were a stadium – with a little more confidence he’d be unstoppable. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of All My Friends Are Dead
Conor Drum‘s All My Friends Are Dead is not, thankfully, quite what it says on the tin. Certainly, Drum’s friends and acquaintances are vivid enough in his comedic anecdotes as to give a convincing impression of life, and Drum’s delivery is upbeat, albeit never annoyingly so. Within moments of his hour-long set, the audience has relaxed into receptive mode, and the laughs come easily and often. While the jokes occasionally enter 16+ territory, they are never gratuitously vulgar, and Drum’s ready smile and ease of manner lull the audience into regarding him as somewhat of a mate, as if we are hanging out with him “down the pub”.
The backbone of the show is ostensibly about “being the only remaining singleton in a world full of weddings,” and the opportunity these latter occasions afford those of a certain age to reflect upon their lack of achievements in life. While ripe for observational and relatable humour, this “hook” is hardly original, but – as with all truly talented storytellers – this does not matter. There is a trend nowadays for comedy to be edgy and “brave”, pushing boundaries of political or social commentary, with the “funny” aspect tossed away with the bathwater. Drum doesn’t tread this tenuous and tedious path, but there is skill in the pared-back and deceptively simply construct of his show, and bravery in the act of putting himself before an audience and telling us stories. And they are funny stories, about ordinary people; and poignant ones – always amply laced with humour – about himself. While these anecotes and their attendant punchlines are well-crafted and delivered, Drum’s ability to handle latecomers with humour and grace showcases his skill in spontaneity, giving a strong early reassurance that this comedian is truly funny, and not just a good teller of tales.
Drum is possessed of that ephemeral and seemingly effortless charm of the successful comic: natural likeability. By the set’s climax, he and the audience are firm friends. Happily for all parties, this two-way accord is healthy, with neither the act nor the onlookers pronounced dead, prematurely or otherwise. On the contrary, this is a potted hour of perfect Fringe stand-up, and Drum leaves the stage with the timing of a pro, and a roomful of new fans, who are very much alive – and clapping. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Carmen Lynch: LYNCHED
Carmen Lynch squeezes past people sitting on the floor to get to the front of her loft venue, an international comedian playing a glorified cupboard, but she seems unfazed by it all. In fact, the intimacy of the venue seems to allow some of her routines an extra level of bite, even though having such a friendly rapport with the front row also serves to lighten some of the more nihilistic tendencies of her bleakest punchlines.

With her sharp comic mind and impressive timing, Lynch skewers her own frailties and weaknesses – a segment about the pros and cons of being a light sleeper is a particular highlight. While a young New Yorker airing their multiple neuroses (and a refreshing hatred of cats) via an hour of well constructed stand-up might not be about to change the comedy world overnight, it's difficult to fault funny and Lynch certainly delivers. Click Here

August 13, 2017 Squirrel Comedy
Article about Adam Vincent How Not To Kill Yourself When Living In The Suburbs
It’s been I while since I have caught the stand up of Adam Vincent, probably before he moved to London five years ago. His show How Not to Kill Yourself When Living in the Suburbs sees him present his quirky world view to a regularly packed room (my tardiness saw me standing up the back of the dungeon type venue). The title pretty much covers what you can expect – tales and jokes about living in the suburbs – being unfulfilled with your lot and feeling generally frustrated with the world. He tells amusing stories about spousal grumblings, the drudgery of work, free loading mates and technological issues.

Adam regularly presents us with bleak material but his friendly stage manner makes it easily palatable. He tests the boundaries early on but as he plows on regardless, he doesn’t lose anyone. Vincent has a bit of a world weary, downtrodden vibe to him that is delivered with a cheeky smirk. He does mock outrage well and gives us a bit of “having a breakdown on stage” ranting. He talks of anger management issues but his laid back Aussie attitude hides it well outside of the odd comical outburst.

It was a nice touch including some appropriate songs as intro and outro tunes. Singing along the words “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” (the original NOT the Angels version!) is a cathartic release for everyone and hints at what is to follow. This is a note perfect exploration into the dark yet hilarious undercurrent of suburbia. Click Here

August 13, 2017  Fresh Air
Review of Olaf Falafel presents 'The Marmosets Of My Mind'
Olaf Falafel’s show is odd, but sadly not as odd as it thinks it is. The start of the show goes as absurdly as you would expect from the title and the poster; Falafel goes on stage playing a Toilet Duck as a saxophone, “performing” a deliberately awful version of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. The show has great bursts of creativity throughout it, and I'm a sucker for absurdist comedy, so I love it. It's a show that weaves in and out of genres, whether it’s prop comedy, musical comedy, or stand-up. After 20 minutes, it unfortunately became clear that much of Falafel’s act is relatively standard observational comedy.

Falafel’s style does distinguish itself when he is doing observersational material, however. The first half-hour is an interwoven series of callbacks to set-ups that had been dropped minutes before. Non-sequiturs are shown to have been set-ups to punch-lines delivered 10 minutes later. His use of multimedia also shows Falafel’s flair for absurdity and experimentation. Although some jokes seem like they could have been part of Tommy Cooper's act, this retro character seems strangely fitting for Olaf Falafel's stage persona.

However, Falafel’s actual content is sadly a little lack-lustre, and the topics themselves are somewhat well-trodden. For a comedian with such an off-beat style, his content does seem too pedestrian for him. The show itself did seem to be lacking more absurdity as it went on, and this sadly never happened

Falafel still shows signs of real promise. His prop comedy, crowd-work, and use of multimedia add a lot to the show, and there is a lot of charm to his more old-fashioned jokes. I hope we see more of him in the future, and that he gets a lot stranger. Click Here

August 13, 2017  Chortle
Review of Sarah Bennetto: All My Life's Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume 1)
Cordial Australian comic Sarah Bennetto confesses that she hasn’t traditionally felt comfortable revealing much about herself on stage, tending to favour shows that put stories over emotions.

But in the last year she’s been through something pretty grim, and felt that she needed to lay out those experiences in her work. And while that story has impact and resonance there’s still some feeling of distance in the way it emerges from nowhere in this show. Getting over the huge emotional hump needed to open up is hugely laudable, though perhaps there’s still an understandable wariness about going all-in on stage, and a difficulty in finding the funny therein.

Leading up to this big reveal, All My Mistakes Catalogued (Vol 1) is, as you’d expect, a list of 50 bad choices small and large, The larger ones tend to be glossed over in favour of the smaller faux pas in a trick of misdirection, though the balance isn’t quite right.

Carrying 27 piñatas up to Edinburgh earlier this month is counted as 27 of the mistakes, for example, and even though she injects the anecdote will all the storytelling tricks she can muster, it can't transcend the fact it’s only a yarn about travelling with bulky luggage. Even if it does name-drop Ed Byrne. Yet other of the incidents caused by her innate clumsiness are amusing as they must have embarrassing.

Throughout the show there’s a generous serving of sterling gags and some astutely witty observations – the ‘but’ is that the quality’s not consistent. Bennetto’s chatty, and he likeability shines through: we root for her through tales of relationship woe and dating misadventures and share her happiness at becoming a doting aunt.

Bennetto has possibly made a handful of her more minor mistakes in putting together this show, but it marks a small but significant change of course for a comedian who’s been around for yonks.

She’s just finding her feet in this new direction, and probably could have done with a little more assistance in focussing and structuring her first show to properly display such frankness – but, make no mistake, there are plenty of laughs along the way. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Alcohol is Good for You too - Sam Kissajukian
The Wee Room is an intimate and uncomfortable proposition tonight as Sam Kissajukian arrives. With two competing queues he encourages the stragglers to sit on the floor and zeroes in on a Lithuanian IT student who seems simultaneously content and nervous to be facing the audience. Instead of mercilessly focusing on his inscrutable presence he ensures that the eager gathering are not excluded. A performer with less warmth and personality may have opted to eviscerate this low-hanging [sitting] fruit but Kissajukian is more of an anecdotalist than improviser.
A brief introduction of himself and the louder members of the audience is followed by some stories of embarrassment of wiping out as a thirty year old skater near a primary school: “My face decided it wanted to see what it’s like to be a foot for a while…”. Later a story about the marijuana Shangri-la of Nimbin in New South Wales could have represented a rich seam of stoner gold but Kissajukian doesn’t capitalise on the inherent surrealism and retreats from any particular viewpoint.
He favours an anecdotal delivery with light-hearted observations lacking heft or much invective. There is however an interesting moment where he describes the experience of having an older mother who shares his artistic bent and serves to regulate her son’s aspirations with healthy jibes. The relationship has been codified in a tattoo depicting Kissajukian’s various passions on his right bicep: “a skater in a tree on the ocean”.
Kissajukian delivers a perfectly serviceable set which may be too specific for certain audiences (he admits as much) but matches the interests and tolerances tonight. With more preparation and writing he could introduce some slightly weightier themes but The Wee Room’s topography almost impels audience participation and Kissajukian acquits himself admirably in this unenviable performing space. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Mumble
Review of John Porter - Five Years Time
There is nothing more life-affirming than doing what you want to do, & so the Fringe welcomes back John Porter for another wee stint of doing his comedy. The guy was struck with Cerebal Palsy in younger years, which provides the gagline to about half of his material. The rest is a gentle float through his say-to-day life, his dreams, his expectations, based around the premise of a question he was asked himself half a decade years ago – ‘What do you want to do in five year’s time?’ Shortly after that he decided he would notch being a comic into his belt, & thus we are presented with something likehis Match of the Day highlights show. As for subject matter, in a recent interview with The Mumble, when asked, ‘upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?’ John replied;

All of ’em! That’s the entire show this year. In my life I’ve been (and still am) disabled, depressed, in love, broken hearted, inspired, lonely, and all kinds of things. My experience of love, depression and comedy all come through in my work at different times. In one sense I try to let my feelings out on stage, because suddenly when you can laugh at them, they don’t seem like the big deal you thought they were.

‘We’ve all got differences,’ says Porter, ‘we’ve all got different tales to tell… & this one’s mine.‘ His tale will be worth hearing yes, but for me it is a tad too early. John is only 27 & needs more life experience from which to draw his hunour. To imagine the experience of watching John as a comedian, picture a hot day in the Kalahari desert, & your comedy meter is a buffalo, & Mr Porter’s jokes are the buffalo’s tail occasionally flicking out to squat a fly. Yes, its a very calm, almost tame outing, but Mr Porter is an immensely likeable Mancunian with a genuine love of life, & being in his company at 11AM is actually a pleasant way to start a day at the Fringe. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Sidekick
There’s hecklers in. Not nasty ones; just ones that can’t hold their booze or their tongue. Van der Velde is rightly irked, as is the rest of the crowd. As the set begins, the hecklers’ cries for involvement reaches crescendo. Van der Velde satisfyingly shuts them up (for now) with a fun jibe about them ‘jizzing crayons’.

But it doesn't derail the hour. There’s some well-trodden Jewish stereotypes smartly worked into a piece of social commentary and dark fun-poking at why some relatives can’t accept a wedding invitation. There’s also, however, some a few dodgy accents and material about Isis that doesn’t seem to gel with the rest of the set, while the religious material seems overlong.

Van der Velde’s clearly an experienced comic whose audience interaction works a treat. Upon discovering a 7ft Stonemason is the hecklers’ minder, the comedian works him into the show, drawing comparisons of ‘David and Goliath’ which flows into the rest of his set and more than once he puts the relentless, childish hecklers in their place. Click Here

August 13, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Jenny Collier: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Jen
By turns fantastical and sincere, Welsh-born Jenny Collier brings a new hour of stand-up to the Fringe that explores growing up, dating, looking after your body and generally letting out the Fantastic Beast within. Collier is linguistically creative, slowly building up a secret language that draws us into her world, and talks us through the odd societal pressures around us with a cheeky air and eloquent turns of phrase. From the off she warns us that this isn’t a show full of satire and high-falutin’ comedy philosophy, and it transpires that these aren’t things that she needs to entertain us with, either.

Collier loses control of her audience at times, but when she stays on course she charms us into following her into both smutty and whimsical material very easily. She goes over some old ground with regards to the comics’ favourite of internet dating, but acknowledges that she’s doing so and adds a healthy dose of sarcasm to the mix. A friendly stage presence allows Collier to talk sex, dating and creative insults without edging into any dangerous territory, and creates a fun disconnect between the fun persona and stories about the Mile-High Club and new menstruation technologies. Click Here

August 13, 2017 Three Weeks
Article about Paul McCaffrey: Suburban Legend
Paul McCaffrey was asked by the Welsh Big Issue to write a letter to his 15 year old self, telling him not to worry and that everything works out okay. This has caused him to reflect on how his life is going and how, now in his forties, he can’t be bothered with the things he used to enjoy when he was younger: big nights out replaced by evening trips to the local supermarket. Looking at McCaffrey’s recent experiences, including a car boot sale, a boat show and some fitness classes, this is a solid hour of stand-up about getting older from a confident performer, but it doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been covered before. Click Here

August 12, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Darius Davies: Road To Wrestlemania - The Director's Cut
Darius Davies wanted to be a WWF superstar when he was eighteen and if proof were needed he preps the throng with whoops and hollers creating a boisterous atmosphere which momentarily befuddles some patrons who leave having presumably expected a straight comedy set. The presentation which is raucous and authentic immerses the room in iconic wrestling imagery and expresses a true affection and understanding of the entertainment (as it is preferred to be known).
Using flat screens at every angle of the viewing area Davies bewitches the audience with a short deconstruction of the “wrestling is fake” argument thusly: the punches may be fake but the physicality is undeniably brutal and bruising. Much like the wrestlers Davies admires (he provides short summaries of each) this show requires excellent timing and synchronisation relying on split second replays of wrestling moves and of home movies that evoke the wrestling spirit of the teenage Davies.
He revisits some classic moments of WWF and ridicules the choreography with “how can anyone think this real?” not forgetting to lampoon the more intimate physicality with the observation that “using a firework in an opponents bottom to win the fight” is a justifiable strategy and not remotely homo-erotic.
A real highlight is the original audition video he sent to WWF as part of its Tough Enough audition series for raw talent. It depicts a spare room and a young man stumbling through an ill-conceived series of tough guy tropes whilst bizarrely talking about the wrestlers he admires and love for Trish Stratus. Davies’ preparation allows him to rinse all the potential laughter out of such moments and keep the audience onside for a slightly downbeat ending in which x-rays are used to illustrate the extent of the injury that ended Davies wrestling career. Wrestling’s loss is comedy’s gain. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Jordan Brookes: Body Of Work
Jordan Brooke’s Body of Work never really starts, not does it really end, and there’s definitely no middle. Brookes aims to provide a show under the pretence of wanting to tell a story about his gran, but he can’t sit down, let alone stay sat long enough, to tell it. Typical of his style Brookes has a sporadic delivery of his hysterically absurd ideas and physical impressions.

The audience has no choice but to erupt with inappropriate laughter as Brookes’ impressions kickstart. The show then reaches to the extreme, offering the audience a strange combination of satisfaction and slight discomfort as Brookes dares to take things one step too far.

This is a performer that, despite lacking empathy, knows no physical limits. Join him on the exploration of his body, accompanied by the hilarious impersonations of the appendages and orifices you would least choose to listen to. Brookes’s obscure manipulations of his face and body are gross, but impossibly captivating. The grotesque and shockingly inappropriate gestures physically depict his darkest and most unwanted thoughts with hilarious glee.

His Gran will be glad she never lived to see this tribute, but no one else should miss it. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Fest
Review of Jordan Brookes: Body Of Work
Jordan Brookes' latest hour signals a minor evolution in Fringe comedy, beyond the sincere dead relative tribute but also the mockery of it. In terms of intent, his stated aim of acknowledging his late grandmother feels heartfelt. But he's also conveying it quasi-physically, with his lungs, arsehole and eyes rolled right back into his head for example, this expressive comic delivering a bizarre panegyric that's as much about exercising control over his body as exorcising the demons within it. Featuring the basest elements of familial, self and animal love, Body of Work is a magnetic display, with Brookes' limber, often grotesque performance too big for his intimate venue.

His proximity to the crowd remains a boon though, as it lets him truly force a connection onto them, even as he's mouthing obscene vocal warm-ups. The suggestion that any one of us could storm the stage reinforces a sense of risk, regrettably confirmed by a smattering of walkouts. Such self-indulgent strangeness won't be for everyone.

For the most part, Brookes is gamely playful, messing about with the conventions of mime, character and confessional comedy, seemingly with no great intent beyond seeing if he can get away with it. But his animated eyes and, indeed, complicit other body parts are windows into his troubled soul. As in previous years, he raises his mental health without browbeating you with it, his cartoonish delivery keeping it light even as he explores what can only be characterised as some extremely dark and truly fucked up shit. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Carmen Lynch: LYNCHED
On the Richter Scale of humour, if your threshold doesn’t reach the level of sick and sadistic then Carmen Lynch is probably not for you. The American comic’s UK debut hour was crammed with her twisted thoughts, spanning everything from childbirth to drugs, religion and family, and while there were some outstanding, slick one-liners, if the show was a sport it would be white water rafting – with Lynch riding us through the rivers, drops and rapids.

Death is a central theme, which Lynch flirts with throughout her set. Her style is to move minimally while delivering lines with a deadpan tone. This most certainly works for the type of comedy she is offering and the set begins well with three deliciously dark jokes on the morning after pill, why she’s happy Donald Trump was elected and dating men in their 40s. These three gags were strongly executed with wit and style and offered high expectations for the show ahead. It is such as shame the cluster of jokes that followed immediately after, did not reach the same level.

That must be the difficulty with writing jokes of such high quality – it is often hard to keep the momentum. Lynch did however bring up the energy level again, with what I believe to be her best piece of storytelling in the set — it involves her nieces who live in Spain and their dad, Carlos. In fact, all her observations of Spain, the culture and the people, including her mum, were well-delivered. One of her closing pieces about her dramatic mother is a story that you’ll be relaying back to your friends.

Overall the weirdness and dark nature of Lynch’s humour prevails in her UK debut hour, but not in the quantities that one might have hoped for. That being said, this is a comic I will continue to watch because her humour speaks to the sadist within us all, and in very few other circumstances are you going to hear controversial opinions delivered with this level of self-deprecation and panache. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Chortle
Review of Juliet Meyers: This Flipping Rescue Dog Has Ruined My Life
Probably the only comedy show at the Fringe to include a warning about dog allergies at the top, Juliet Meyers latest hour is a double-act with Homer, an endearing and placid Portuguese Podengo Médio.

With the hound stealing sips from Meyers' water when she's not looking, loping around the venue and just generally ingratiating himself with the audience, the comic is aware that she's very much 'the Ernie Wise to his Eric Morecambe', his nascent celebrity attracting a cadre of dog lovers to boost her numbers.

This isn't merely a cutesy contrivance though, as Meyers and her rescue dog are essentially joined at the hip, with Homer's separation anxieties impacting heavily upon teh comedian’s personal and professional life, robbing her of opportunities to be spontaneous and compromising her perception of herself as a 'lone wolf'.

... Click Here

August 12, 2017 BBC Edinburgh festival
Cheekykita at BBC Tent!
Alternative Edinburgh
Cheekykita will be on at The BBC tent..
Tuesday 22nd: 9.30pm - 10.30pm
John Kearns hosts a night of the strangest and most unusual comedy from around the Fringe, for the unconventional at heart. Click Here

August 12, 2017  The Scotsman
Review of Cheekykita-Somewhere in the Ether..
Review
Fancy a proper, full on crazy, no idea why but I will wave my glowstick in time to Abba anyway because this all seems like fun experience?
Then come and let Cheekykita take you on a weird but wonderful quest you will never forget.

The first thing you might notice is that, if you close your eyes, you would swear Johnny Vegas was in the room. Open them and it looks like someone has emptied a skip of weird props into a room and Cheekykita is making a story out of them. I say story, I mean she does strange and occasionally pointless things with them for a bit and then throws them away. Floating trolls and oven gloves, cuddly toys and a magnifying glass lead to animal impressions, a lizard ballet and some unexpected fisting. She would probably skip that if there were kids in. Along the way we meet Trollem, have a singsong and an animal disco.

It is incomprehensible from start to finish but great fun and exactly the kind of thing you should be doing at the Fringe. Spoiler alert: it all turns out to be a dream!

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 2:45pm.

 Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Sean McLoughlin: You Can't Ignore Me Forever
There’s a slightly rabid quality to Sean McLoughlin – his ever-shifting grip upon the mic, a wild set to his eyes, a sense that amid his rapid-fire quips he might start frothing at the mouth and still not stop for breath. Underneath it all, he’s probably a puppy. He certainly has both bark and bite in a set that drags his every insecurity out into the light for a good laugh. It’s a vicious, aggressive, delightful picking apart of himself, his exes, and the occasional audience member.

It’s McLoughlin’s fifth hour of fresh material for the Fringe, and there’s barely a duff moment in it. The pacing is quick, aside from a section on his penis that’s brought up (or, rather, not) again and again. He deftly balances sleaze with shame for a set that’s grubby, but never off-putting. McLoughlin runs through relationships, sex, porn, and even a fresh take on Trump. If he claims to avoid national pride but relies on national stereotypes for a short bit, it’s easily forgiven – there are plenty more great jokes to come. His closing gag is a masterclass in callbacks, and puts the lie to his show’s title, You Can’t Ignore Me Forever. Sean, we were listening from the beginning. And we loved it. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Vicki Sargent: One Woman Army
Vicki from Dartford has slipped into a mild depression & fallen into a sofa-coma munching on digestive biscuits, flicking through the channels & barking at the telly. Modern existence in its most opiate form, but this young lady wants to rouse herself from her life-funk & do something, something cool. So we set off along her biopic, through dodgy jobs, dodgier romances, all suffered in pursuit of her chosen artform, to perform. From throwing up jagerbombs in a Dartford gutter, through supermarket counter politics, past her bumbling attempts to find love, to doing her glittering solo show for a full fringe, following Vicki’s journey is a frolicking odyssey of fun. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Vicki told us;

One Woman Army is a storytelling comedy show. I tell and act out stories from my life and play all the characters within them. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and this show started as me thinking about all the things that stress me out so I talk about awful retail jobs I’ve had, bad dating experiences, feeling out of depth in the acting world and the joys of living in Dartford. It’s basically me having a very relatable, witty moan about things. I perform the whole show in my dressing gown and it centres around me watching telly on my sofa and eating snacks.

She buzzes between scenes & characters with flawless accents & auras & faces, & she shows her scars to the audience, & she’s a wee hip-hop ninja, & she’s just, well, she’s just cool. A one woman sitcom, with a love of life in all its forms, I loved her, ‘these days its all about playing the field.. playing the game, but in the end we all end up playing with oursleves,’ a drop of wisdom making sense of the world we live in, as Ms Sargent is also trying to do, but she’s turned it into comedy gold! Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Siân Docksey's Totally Casual and Freewheeling Mystic Comedy Lemon Torpedo
Siân Docksey’s Totally Casual & Freewheeling Mystic Comedy Lemon Torpedo is an intelligent and meaningful way to spend your noon hour at this year’s Fringe. Our artist presents a smart metaphor for the difficulty of being an “ab”normal person in western society. The material deals with gender fluidity, sexism, sexuality and privilege. Her show started a tad slow, and at first I could not tell if Siân was actually doing a satire of comedians who try too hard to be funny OR was just plain trying too hard to be funny. But Siân was soon on her comedic feet, finding her groove, which peaked in a soliloquy on her grandmother’s immigration. It seemed to me as if Siân had stolen away from trying to be funny and started speaking directly from her creative spirit.

During her set Siân managed to make fun of both my sun-sign and my nationality. These gentle insults actually felt like a rock hitting the bottom of my stomach, and for a moment I stopped smiling or having fun. An unexpected & momentary awkardness which made me realise such emotions were mere trivialities in life, & I should just laugh off the digs & hold on tight to Siân’s torpedo as it hurtled through the comedy ocean. So I did, & I enjoyed it, & as I stepped out into the Broughton Street sunshine I thought to myself, ‘I aint ever seen anything quite like that!’ I highly recommend going to see Siân Docksey this Fringe. The show is fresh, thought-provoking and I can’t imagine there is anything better happening at noon. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
“I said that because I'm good at comedy.” Ahir Shah is a clever guy, and knows it. His very first joke contains a fallacy and a fake fact, which he points out almost immediately after receiving the expected laughs. In an era of internet bullshit, half-hearted political propaganda and fake news, this seems wildly appropriate. Control demonstrates a comedian in full, well, control, of his edgier political material while thankfully at the same time understanding that there’s no harm in taking the odd cheap and easy route for a laugh – it’s this delicate mix that is the key to keeping a sizeable audience engaged and he mostly pulls it off to great effect.

As a young British-Indian stand-up, the talk almost inevitably comes around to race and to Brexit, but from a much less conventional point of view – not many comics would attempt to genuinely examine pro-Brexit arguments onstage and expect a young liberal audience to stay onboard, but Shah is committed, focused, articulate, emotional and ready to bring up tough questions without necessarily having the answers. The mix occasionally veers too far in the direction of political monologue, but for those who require a call to action this is an engrossing hour from one of the best young political comedians out there today. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Mumble
Review of A Pessimists Guide to Being Happy
Matt Duwell – pronounced duel – is a lithe gentleman in his 30s with something like a Persian beard quite unlike the one on his poster. What does remain from his poster, however, is the glass of beer, which I actually bought the fellow before he took to the stage,which he kept clutched in his left hand throughout his set in the fashion of an old-styles comedian. Indeed, Matt is a fine example of what is becoming a rare bread at the Fringe, a classic comedian who tells jokes without any gimicks. There is a central theme, of course, which Matt elaborated upon in a recent interview with The Mumble;

It’s a stand up comedy show about how pessimism can sometimes actually help us to be happy and optimism and memes about unbound potential are not necessarily a good thing. It’s also a show that has some crowd interaction and of course a lot of jokes that are quite glib about the world we live in. I’m very proud of the jokes and in many ways, it’s the result of my entire comedy career so far.

Matt’s chief strength is the ability to work an audience; rapid-fire-patter & quick thinking enables him to help us to laugh at ourselves as well as him. There was one stony faced turnip who refused to laugh, & Matt noticed this & just like we tickle our toddlers he was determined to make said turnip laugh – it took a while, but the microsecond the turnip smiled, Matt pounced like a classy jaguar & announced his victory! Another reflection of Matt’s razor-sharp ability is when a long time after discussing with a couple how they met, on some website called Hot or Not, then near the end of the show he asked her her name. The lady replied Lacey & Matt immediately recalled that this was a perfect name for someone on Hot or Not.

Matt has been a permanent resident in Edinburgh just a couple of months now, & his show is the distilled quintessence of his comedy career so far ‘down south‘. Its good, the boy’s got talent, & I look forward already to next year when the Scottish osmosis kicks in & his material begins to be penetrated by living in one of the world’s finest, & windiest, cultural capitals. Of his recent arrival in the city, Matt told us;

It’s amazing and I absolutely love the city and the beautiful surrounding area. Best pubs, great cinemas and theatres, amazing people and plenty of discount supermarkets (I live next to a Lidl/ Iceland combo store!). I even enjoyed visiting Dunfermline. However, I am still not used to having conversations with neighbours that last 20 mins or having the heater on in July, but I’m sure I’ll get used to that. Right!!?? Click Here

August 11, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Show Up
Peter Michael Marino greets the audience as we arrive. He’s bouncing about with a nervous energy that he uses to work the crowd and ensure everyone is settled in before he begins his one man show. It’s a one man show with a difference though; Marino is going to tell the story of our lives, not his.

The first half of Show Up is part stand-up, part group therapy as Marino shares with us his theory that showing up is 80% of life. He tells us a bit about his past failures and the daily struggles of dealing with his social anxiety and fading memory. He’s a likeable fellow who clearly wants us to feel at ease and, when a (to be honest) very well framed joke on the subject of Alzheimer’s causes some slight offence from a trio of ladies in the audience, he is quick to apologise for their discomfort and assures them that, in the context of the rest of the show, they’ll understand the placing of the gag. It’s an awkward moment handled with grace and respect and, although the ladies remain unconvinced and eventually leave early, the rest of the audience obviously side with Marino and warm to him even further.

The second half sees Marino explain the concept of the show; we are to provide him with stories from our lives that he will use to craft a typical one-man show. With some assistance from an audience member to stage manage and another to handle the sound design, Marino launches into a hilarious improvised tale (based entirely on audience suggestions) that tells the story of one man’s struggle with violent, cheese-making parents, an obsession with cemeteries, a run for political office and a final, happy marriage to a lesbian ex-con. There’s even a couple of songs thrown in.

Marino has created a unique hour of entertainment buy taking the overplayed solo show format and fashioning an improvised comedy routine that works all the better for the audience’s connection to the source material. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Jamie and Dan Work On Progress
A near full house awaits as Daniel Audritt explains the premise of the show in the tent of the Free Sisters beer garden. An hour will be shared in a showcase of some new material sandwiched between older established routines. After a short intro Jamie is invited onto the stage and begins explaining the many pros and cons of being a polite and pleasant sort of chap – the type who, had he a superpower thrust upon him, would resemble “a beta superhero who takes off his cardigan to reveal a… cardigan”. Self-deprecation is woven throughout his set as he addresses the issue of class in the arts in London in a confident and pleasingly organised fashion.
He uses his polite persona to engage the audience in a friendly routine with no apparent disparity between the new and old material. Some nice crowdwork with the younger members of the audience (DC vs Marvel) displays a sensitivity that not all Fringe performers will possess and gets the audience on side early.
Daniel follows and as the more experienced performer he has a distinct pattern in his delivery with pauses and laughter breaks punctuating his views on social media, gender conflict and festival venues (which is becoming somewhat of a theme for this Fringe). His confidence allows him to venture into slightly more challenging territory which reflects his television writing background. A re-imagining of great moments in history as clickbait articles resembles a link on late night TV and is very suited to the assembled crowd.
Audritt demonstrates a readiness for a solo show and the combination of the pair make a perfectly serviceable comedy hour. The appearance of new material is acknowledged and appraised in a confident and honest fashion and Audritt’s material is substantial enough to weather some puns and gags that fail short. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Ashley Storrie: Morning Glory
Born into Scottish comedy royalty (Janey Godley is her mother), you might think Storrie would want to shy away from the microphone. Happily chatting away to the audience as they file in, commenting on dungarees dresses and crepes, she effortlessly puts the room at ease. For a show about love for her family, it’s a comforting start. Storrie excels at being candid and Morning Glory emphasises this skill. Tales of living with a father with autism and his knack for terrible gifts are fantastically frank, as is her account of a naughty school incident. Despite her childlike demeanour, there’s also a reading of presidential erotica and sexpeditions, all delivered with a gleeful giggle.

It’s heartwarming at times too; the admiration for her parents is overwhelming, as is the affection for her non-gangster Granda’. It’s not a super polished, high concept hour, but there's a quality to Storrie's storytelling. It’s a well-executed set of genuine, enjoyable stand-up from a breakout star of the Scottish comedy scene. Click Here

August 11, 2017  One4Review
Review of Cow
Jane Hill is a cow – or at least, she’s trying to be. Not entirely successfully, as she has a charm and likeability, as well as a twinkle in her eye during her more bitchy tales that make it hard to believe she’ll succeed in being a cow, however sick she is of being called ‘lovely.’

Throughout the show, we get to vote if something she says, or has done is ‘cow’ or ‘lovely.’ Today, lovely won. However some of the audience considered her a cow about hiking poles, ukuleles, National Trust rules, and parking spaces.

Nevertheless, Hill debates whether to ‘embrace her inner crone’ as the self help book suggests, or stick with going for ‘mardy old woman’, who incidentally does NOT look like Theresa May, despite what’s been said about her.

Then she experiments with more being ‘lovely’ as a way to de-stress. She tries a good turn every day, but the first goes wrong. Finally, Hill wonders how to save a life, and when her chance will be, before realizing she’s done that already. Click Here

August 11, 2017  One4Review
Review of The Breakup Monologues
Compere, or possibly therapist, Rosie Wilby is a genial host who has made a whole show out of her recent break-up (Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling, 18:30 at the same venue), and found in doing so that many, many other comedians had their own break up stories that they seemed desperate to share – and being comedians, not only share, but milk for every laugh possible.

Today’s guests were Brennan Reece, Rachel Creeger, Marcus Ryan, and Sooz Kempner. Although the theme is intended as people being dumped, Reece started with a tale of ‘dumping’ a stalker who thought they were an item, and who got quite scary. He then followed that with the love of his young life dumping him by text.

Creeger tells how, as a young Jewish girl, she ended up dating a Rabbi’s son, who was ready for marriage at 18, while she decidedly wasn’t. It all came to a head at a Kibbutz in Israel, but he continued to pester her for years.

In this very city, Ryan was offered no strings sex from a very persistent, determined fan, who wouldn’t take no for an answer. A short while later, he had a gig at the Glasgow sister comedy club to said fan’s original visit, where the staff pretended she’d been in contact to try again that very weekend (yes, we are looking at you The Stand!)

Kempner’s worst dumping was a guy who joined the Navy as a way of leaving her. Now that’s commitment to it being over.

As I read down that list, it doesn’t sound anything like the fun it was. These are, indeed, sad stories, but the way they’re told, with plenty of self-deprecating humour, and quick wit from the performers / therapy patients, this was an emotional, but very funny show. Click Here

August 11, 2017  One4Review
Review of The Pigeon Dying Under the Bush
At the tender age of 25 Sarah Callaghan is suffering a quarter life crisis she states. This self-described London ladette is in a good place in 2017 though and when it came to writing her show this year bemoaned the lack of anything happening in the world to write about!!
So she wrote her show about other events, her love for all things animal, well except butterflies, zoo visits, and being a ‘jobbing comedian’ form the basis for her hour.
She has a bubbly enthusiasm for her work and it is well written and performed but somehow it didn’t really seem to capture the imagination of the busy afternoon show I attended.
The show title is explained in a couple of stages throughout the set and unlike some others it did occur. This together with the more personal stuff, being in love, the serious car accident she was involved in, Australian gigs skydiving, her weight and the aversion to crazy ice cream names, again nicely presented somehow failed to leave there mark unfortunately. Neither did the strange ‘hobby’ she has with pub glasses.
Maybe it was the crowd, I thought it a good set and just maybe on another day when they were with her she would have really shone. Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
Samantha Pressdee is a cherub-cheeked enigma. A sweet lass from the Black Country who finds herself in Edinburgh via a mad stint in London as a feminist & anarchist of some repute. Passionately anti-establishment & honest to her core, she has decided to channel her political identity through the medium of stand-up comedy. Political comedy is usually satirical, concentrating on the sexual misdemeanors of our MPs & the suchlike, but Samantha’s muse is that of benefits Britain, not in the sickeningly voyeuristic reality shows that disgrace our TV screens from time to time, but that of the London squatter scene & her place in that vibrant theatre of life. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Sam elaborated upon her status as an anarcha-feminist comic;

I think confrontation can create comedy, or just enemies. Confrontation with bare breasts is very funny, but also very serious. We are serious comedians. I was actually a comedian before I became an anarcha-feminist, before I was just ‘a feminist’ but I had to separate myself from the ones who hate men and sex positive women. Anarchy is about challenging hierarchy, feminism is about challenging patriarchy. So it makes sense that feminism shouldn’t turn into a matriarchy. We need equal ground!

Samantha sets off as a comedian, full of child-like innocence in her deadpan delivery, but it is not long before we enter her main theme & the comedy is replaced by a self-therapeutic dissertation on her life as an activist. She brings us battles with bailiffs, encounters with Russell Brand & heroin addiction among other set-pieces, her words occasionally backed up by video clips on a big telly. There is also high emotion from the lass as she reaches the end of her show, & on the occasion I saw she could hardly hold back the tears. Her creation is a curious hybrid, where nostalgic reminiscences are laced with intermittent gags & savage attacks upon the patriarchy. Quite the roulette wheel, her material sometimes lands on a funny number, & sometimes not, & as the show progresses the funny numbers came up less & less. But Back to Basics is no ordinary Fringe Show, & for that I applaud her. It is definitely an experience to spend an hour with Samantha, one that transcends the often silly banality of the mainstream Fringe. Click Here

August 10, 2017  Fresh Air
Review of Mae Martin: Dope
4.5*

Mae Martin’s new show gives her audience a first for her: an autobiographical show. Martin’s new show is definitely carried by her distinctive voice, fizzing with energy yet uncertain, enthusiastic to get to the point, yet not sure where that point is. Her bittersweet show is peppered with absurd asides, and although this can make the show feel almost flippant, Martin still manages to drive the emotional impact home. On top of this balancing act, she doesn’t sacrifice the high-energy mood that she usually brings to her shows; impressive considering the show is about her struggle with addiction.
Martin’s show ends with a narrative ambiguity that is oddly fitting for the arc of the show, and her finish is one of the most memorable I’ve seen in ages. Her scattergun energy gave her routines a force that is hard to find elsewhere. A freewheeling hour is brought to a close with a routine that ratchets up faster than I could register, and despite some loose ends, the ending feels oddly satisfying. Martin’s show would be a great choice for anyone looking for mile-a-minute narrative stand-up, or perhaps something with a more optimistic outlook. Click Here

August 10, 2017 Squirrel Comedy
Article about Sarah Bennetto: All My Life's Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume 1)
This show is exactly what it says on the tin – Sarah Bennetto presents us with a list of mistakes that she has made, telling the story behind each or making a short joke. While they seem to be ranked according to the importance she gives them, the order in which they are revealed works up to the core message of the show.

I could be pedantic and say that not all on the list are “mistakes” (we have regrets, circumstance and character traits in amongst them) but they do fit in perfectly with the overall story Bennetto is telling. We hear about embarrassing social faux pas, wacky hijinks (see Sarah’s social media for coverage of the Rainbow Unicorn Piñata Saga), cute familial rituals and many missed opportunities.

Things take a sharp turn into serious territory with a shocking revelation and the laughs come to a halt. It does seem that this issue is still a bit too raw for Sarah to scrutinise too closely as she hasn’t found a way to successfully find the humour in it. This tends to push this performance firmly into comedy as therapy territory but it’s an important issue that she needs to talk about. Thankfully some comedy relief is in sight with the cute but doomed colourful fella who has been sitting on her table throughout the show.

Bennetto is a charming and delightful performer. Her storytelling skills are top notch (unsurprising as she is creator of the regular Storyteller’s Club night and touring concern) but her observational stand up is just as strong. This is a immensely personal show and she steps up to the challenge of finding humour amongst the disappointments. Click Here

August 10, 2017  Chortle
Review of Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother
Look beyond the star rating here, for this is one of those shows that it's hard to judge by the standards of a conventional Fringe offering. For some, the fact that this is quite unlike anything else in the programme will be enough to make it a must-see.

Unopened Letters From My Mother isn’t so much comedy as an affecting performance art experience, in which comic Lewis Schaffer prods away at the scab over a deep emotional wound, just to see what might happen.

It’s the sort of uncomfortable reality not seen since Kim Noble was in town, with his transgressive, uncomfortable work. And, as with Noble, you come away thinking Schaffer is not the best of people.

Born in New York, Schaffer moved to the UK almost two decades ago in pursuit of a woman and career success. Neither worked out. His marriage, to an agent, collapsed – but not before producing a child to tie him to the UK, while his brand of chaos comedy proved unsellable.

This is a story he’s told many times before, and the opening ten minutes or so of this show is a very funny recap of that history and his current situation – in a wonderful Woody Allenesque line he explains how he oppresses himself. It’s all delivered with his unique combination of supreme arrogance and gnawing self-doubt. ‘I’m Lewis Schaffer, and I’m funny,’ is his opening line, an assertion that’s as much for his benefit as it is ours.

... Click Here

August 10, 2017  Fest
Review of Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
What does a good comic do when he's been gigging for decades and wants to mix it up a bit, explore new creative territories, but within the confines of an Edinburgh hour? He turns to animation: or at least that’s what Markus Birdman did in the runup to this show.

A part-time artist too, Birdman was conjuring illustrations to lob into this year’s set, then decided to make them move, which proved much tougher than expected. He must have got it done in good time though as some notable comics add vocal support: Rhod Gilbert makes an early cameo, Tom Stade plays a Trump-like King, Phil Nichol is Rumpelstiltskin, Lou Sanders voices the young girl he tempts into a pact, and Birdman plays her father. He’s a court jester: quite a stretch.

The non-animated bits here are also about doing deals with the devil, and ambition generally – how this respected comic is relatively happy with his career, despite his daughter's protestations that if he were funnier, “I’d have a horse". She's the inspiration for Sanders' character in the cartoons, which are peppered throughout, and they work fine. He’s still a much better standup than he is a cartoon director though, so you can’t help but hanker for more of his devilishly good talky bits. Shorter bursts of animation might be more impactful.

Then again, this is what the Fringe should be, a platform for new concepts, and a standup show with added Rumpelstiltskin animation is definitely that. Aardman, Birdman: they all started somewhere. Click Here

August 10, 2017  One4Review
Review of Gráinne Maguire: What Has the News Ever Done for Me?
Gráinne Maguire is a bouncy, friendly compere, who has assembled a panel of comics to explain why we should care about their news story, all the while not assuming too much topical knowledge. She describes it as a show “for people who mean to read the news.”

Our guests were the quick-witted Jenny Bede, the quirky Helen Duff, and the token male on the panel, Tez Ilyas… I kid you not – a panel show where the women outnumbered the men! And the world didn’t end. Or if it did, I was too busy laughing!

Courtesy of YouGov polls, we worked out how in touch the panel were with what young Brits are thinking – the panel were more optimistic than right, and learned a lot from the Daily Mail readers comments section.

The tricky decision came down to which topical story we cared most about, from the panel’s choices. Their options were less varied than I’d have liked, but that can happen when panelists make their own choices – and it is, after all, live comedy.

Finally, the panel needed to answer the audience’s pre-written questions, while Maguire Paxmaned them. Yes, that is a real word now.

A fun way to spend an hour, but no guarantees that you’ll come out any the wiser about how to solve world debt, Trump, or Brexit. It makes a relaxing change! Click Here

August 10, 2017  Fresh Air
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
Ahir Shah’s comedy is somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster. He moves from impassioned rants to slow, difficult silence suddenly, and then will turn to you with a knowing look in his eye. This is what makes it all work; little acknowledgements of humility that bring Shah’s audience round to him. Shah could very much be an unlikeable figure, and he could have been, in another life, a more aggressive, adversarial comic. In this show, Shah uses these moments of vulnerability to help deliver a surprisingly powerful show on Brexit and the rise of the far-right in the UK.
Shah focuses his show around the role of history in the political life of the UK, and in his personal life. T the role of the British Empire in the story of his family takes a central position in the show, ridiculing the ignorance that many British people have about this part of their history. If you’d like to see one of the sharpest shows on today’s political tides, Ahir Shah is a smart choice. Click Here

August 10, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Hari Sriskantha: Clown Atlas
An alumnus of the Edinburgh Revue, Hari Sriskantha brings his first full-length solo show to the Fringe with a spring in his step. Sriskantha aims to teach us about happiness, the things that keep us back from it and how we can get closer to it. Freshly married, Sriskantha was recently faced with the prospect of having the Happiest Day Of His Life ruined by his own mind, but managed to turn it around. A few nerdy asides add an extra flavour to an hour of stand-up where storytelling stands front and centre.

Acknowledging how clever his audience is, Sriskantha takes us through an imagined story of a cave-woman searching for her own happiness, and goes back and forth over his own material to fact-check and re-arrange. His treatment of racial topics is simply hilarious and passed off with a shrug, and he is acutely aware of how the changing political landscape affects which jokes he can and can’t tell.

Touching on the political, the surreal and the structure of his own jokes, Sriskantha avoids getting too philosophical by bringing us back down to earth again with puns and simple observations of the world. Click Here

August 10, 2017 British Comedy Guide
Article about Dino Wiand - Yorkshire Ripper (Self Sabotage)
First Gig Worst Gig
 Click Here

August 10, 2017  The Wee Review
Review of Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling
Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling
Returning to the Fringe, Rosie Wilby brings her new show The Conscious Uncoupling – a companion-piece of sorts to newly-published book Is Monogamy Dead? Commissioned by London’s Southbank Centre for Festival of Love, the title of the piece is of course hijacked from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s seemingly amicable separation in 2014. Wilby’s own breakup, however, was somewhat less gentle, and this is what The Conscious Uncoupling allows us to delve into.
Via a series of emails, she lets us retrospectively eavesdrop on the demise of a long-term relationship with ex-partner Sarah. This is accompanied by Wilby’s comical commentary and wry quips. However, the show is more than a simple spoken transcript of emails. The performer cleverly creates context by switching positions (literally) to recite to us from “the past”, delivering touching and beautifully lyrical memories from the beginning and the middle of the romance. It is this dual-narrative that creates emotional impact for the audience, highlighting the root of the heartbreak. In fact, as well as arousing our empathy, Wilby provokes thought on what the nature of breakups is, could and should be.
It is also the comic’s presence and nature that warm us to her. Softly-spoken, she is an engaging performer, pulling us in with her charming narration, confiding in us as if we are the only audience to ever hear the show. Wilby even has to deal with absconding audience members – mistakenly in the wrong venue. While other standups may have found this flustering, Wilby uses the opportunity to reveal another skill as she responds, interrupting herself with hilarious on-the-spot jokes that have the remainder of the audience laughing along delightedly.
The Conscious Uncoupling is another great vehicle for Fringe-returner Wilby and is not only funny, but rather moving too. Click Here

August 10, 2017  One4Review
Review of Jem Brookes: Pull Yourself Together
Jem Brookes is a lovely man, and this year’s show he describes as no-holds-barred and brutal. In many ways, it is, but that doesn’t stop it being funny. At one point, I cried, but at many points, I also laughed hard.

The show is Brookes talking about his recovery from, and probable causes of depression, from childhood bereavement to difficulty finding the right career path. So this is depression not in the “feeling a bit sad” sense, but in the deepest, darkest, sense – is suicide avoided because you just can’t get out of bed. Yep, cheery themes.

But, like many people with mental health issues, at his better times, he can well and truly see the funny side, and he successfully shares that humour with an audience. I would like to assure him that mental health support is a little better these days than it was at the times he talks about – but as he comments, it is a long way from equal treatment with physical issues.

So a good show, almost certainly better with a bigger crowd, as it was a small number in a cozy room that day, but Brookes will do better with a bigger crowd to bounce off – and truly deserves better. Click Here

August 10, 2017  The List
Review of Sean McLoughlin: You Can't Ignore Me Forever
Feisty if often distracted set from a man who loves a tangent

From the off, Sean McLoughlin promises the crowd he won't address them directly but within moments the tortuous drinking habits of a young punter have him going off at a delightful tangent. It's a shame he doesn't indulge the audience much beyond that because he has a nice line in skittish banter.

McLoughlin laments that his fifth show in as many years is his first born outwith crisis, although that's not to say he's in any way happy with his lot in life. He's certainly not coasting by on braggadocio. Taking self-deprecation to a new low, he paints a rather pathetic portrait of sexual inadequacy, career stagnation and underachievement in general.

Most of McLoughlin's funniest material deals with sex, with a routine on jealousy generating some of his biggest laughs. He has an annoying habit of breaking off mid-set, concerned by what he deems to be a muted response to the material ('it's a Tuesday night!' he exclaims, confusingly, as a call to arms), and also has a distracting habit of chuckling under his breath at his own jokes. But that's part and parcel of this excitable and feisty performer. Click Here

August 10, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Ivor Dembina Show
Every so often an 80s legend will drop back into the Fringe with a lot fanfare and retrospective hoo-hah. This year it’s Alexei Sayle. But there’s plenty of comedians of similar vintage who slog it out year-after-year on the Free Fringe. Charmian Hughes is one. And this man, Ivor Dembina, is another. He first turned up in 1988, compering for Jo Brand and others at the Pleasance. Now, he perennially turns up with his main show, Old Jewish Jokes. This one, in the revamped lounge of the Counting House, is something he’s working on, he says. It’s not clear to what end. It’s too stop-start to merit the title “show”. It’s a very informal comedy kickabout.
To see Dembina is to get a flavour of Fringes of old. He’s old school dark with few concessions to modern comedy fashion. This is a good thing. He has a book, presented to him by his fellow comics after the aforementioned Pleasance show, full of the jokes they got audience members to submit during that show. He reads a few samples, and they’re savage. There’s some close-to-the-bone sectarian material, gags about Edinburgh being the AIDS capital of Europe, all stuff that would be self-edited these days for fear of offence. Dembina maintains that spirit to this day. He’s probably the only Fringe comic who’d attempt (and succeed with) a “too-soon” Grenfell gag, and a paedophilia joke that’d have other comics thinking twice.
So, when he gets his act together, he’s very good. But, as mentioned above, this is all very informal. He tries not even using a mic, but some older members of the audience get him back on it. He has us all guessing how much he took in his last show’s bucket collection – a primer in Fringe economics for those who don’t know. And in a similar participatory spirit, he has us guessing the political affiliations of other audience members; all just a set-up for another moment of inappropriateness.
Today’s show also has a perfect “wind-out-of-your-sails” piece of audience interaction:
Dembina to couple in audience: “Where did you two meet?”
Woman of the couple: “At his wife’s funeral”
The indecorum of it is of a piece with the rest of the hour. There’s nothing flash or fully-formed or even much of a show, but it’s an opportunity for younger audiences to learn and older audiences to remember what it’s like not to self-censor everything. Click Here

August 10, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Nai Bowen is Brave!
Doing a show about all the things that have scared her has given Nai Bowen both a title and an accompanying costume for her show. By the end of it, she’s a fairly bedraggled version of the Disney character, ginger wig all matted and falling in her eyes, but this only heightens the humour.
There’s no Disney here though. The jumping-off point is that she’s “braved” going solo. Finally, she’s plucked up the courage to do what she first promised herself she’d do in 1998, and brought her own show to the Fringe. Or is she brave? It turns out to have been a choice thrust upon her; her comedy partner from double act Titty Bar Ha Ha simply went off to have a baby. And what else is she brave about?
Bowen’s prop for the show is her “feely box”. Audience members have a grope around in her box (cue an “ooh-matron” or two), and select a mystery item which represents one of her fears or something she’s bravely overcome. No spoilers as to what they are here, in case you too want to have a rummage in her secret hole.
It makes a good framework for what otherwise is a simple, straightforward theme. Props (literally) to her for snazzying up what could have been straight stand-up. The only hazard is that in the half-dozen or so “brave” moments she explores, some are stronger than others. With no control over the order they come out, the flow of the set is a hostage to circumstance. Thus, the best moment – a take-down of NHS mental health treatment set to I Will Survive ends up in the middle today, rather than the showstopper it could have been. Other moments, like her fear of jelly, end up elevated to a prominence the material doesn’t quite justify.
Brave‘s a well-prepared show and Bowen’s an engaging presence with the odd hint of the late Caroline Aherne about her. No bravery needed to be an audience member – you’re in good hands. Click Here

August 9, 2017  Fest
Review of Stephen Bailey: Can't Think Straight
Camp, effeminate, flamboyant. These are the words Stephen Bailey doesn't want me to use to describe his show. Or, more accurately, he insists on them being starting points for an understanding of him, not the sum. A clear concern arises here of being pigeonholed as another camp comic, just the next in a long line of representations of homosexuality deemed acceptable by a mainstream straight audience.

Towards the end of the show he therefore delivers his message of self-realisation and tolerance. He notes he's come to terms with who he is, and doesn't care what others think. And he encourages the audience to do the same, seeing self-identity as something inescapable. Unsurprisingly, the audience cheers this exhortation for tolerance.

That said, there's no denying that the comedy here is powered by the camp, effeminate and flamboyant persona he presents. Gags often hinge on his superficiality, and he flirts with male members of the audience, bitchily dismissing their female partners. This is not to deny there's skill in doing this effectively, and one of the problems of the long history of camp comedians is to undercut the talent of those who do it well. Stirling adds a class inflection—often referring to himself as "council"—that supplies an edge to the worldview he presents. So there are tales of working in supermarkets and all-inclusive family holidays that complicate the persona he's concerned about being trapped within. In a culture energised by debates about identity politics his exploration of comic identity has considerable heft. Click Here

August 9, 2017  One4Review
Review of Pam Ford Pants and Pantsability
Pam Ford is a quirky Brummie brought up in Australia, now living in the home counties. She’s led a varied life, with plenty of challenges, not least, being brought up full of British inability to ask for help and support.

As an adult, through varied careers, she’s also worked her way through a range of self help books, somehow just trying to make life better – from Dr Ruth, through Men are from Mars…, the Alchemist – she’s even gone in for the full Tony Robbins experience. Always searching to make her life better, but brought up to be totally independent and not need help.

Until one day, she was finally forced to accept support, and in doing so, slowly create a life that makes her – and those she works with – happy.

I’m trying not to give spoilers, so I wont tell you just how important the pants are. Music plays a vital role too. Overall, I’ll stick with saying it’s a show full of emotional ups and downs, but with a feel good ending. I couldn’t quite imagine anything else from the fabulous Pam Ford. Click Here

August 9, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Ivor Dembina Show
Every so often an 80s legend will drop back into the Fringe with a lot fanfare and retrospective hoo-hah. This year it’s Alexei Sayle. But there’s plenty of comedians of similar vintage who slog it out year-after-year on the Free Fringe. Charmian Hughes is one. And this man, Ivor Dembina, is another. He first turned up in 1988, compering for Jo Brand and others at the Pleasance. Now, he perennially turns up with his main show, Old Jewish Jokes. This one, in the revamped lounge of the Counting House, is something he’s working on, he says. It’s not clear to what end. It’s too stop-start to merit the title “show”. It’s a very informal comedy kickabout.
To see Dembina is to get a flavour of Fringes of old. He’s old school dark with few concessions to modern comedy fashion. This is a good thing. He has a book, presented to him by his fellow comics after the aforementioned Pleasance show, full of the jokes they got audience members to submit during that show. He reads a few samples, and they’re savage. There’s some close-to-the-bone sectarian material, gags about Edinburgh being the AIDS capital of Europe, all stuff that would be self-edited these days for fear of offence. Dembina maintains that spirit to this day. He’s probably the only Fringe comic who’d attempt (and succeed with) a “too-soon” Grenfell gag, and a paedophilia joke that’d have other comics thinking twice.
So, when he gets his act together, he’s very good. But, as mentioned above, this is all very informal. He tries not even using a mic, but some older members of the audience get him back on it. He has us all guessing how much he took in his last show’s bucket collection – a primer in Fringe economics for those who don’t know. And in a similar participatory spirit, he has us guessing the political affiliations of other audience members; all just a set-up for another moment of inappropriateness.
Today’s show also has a perfect “wind-out-of-your-sails” piece of audience interaction:
Dembina to couple in audience: “Where did you two meet?”
Woman of the couple: “At his wife’s funeral”
The indecorum of it is of a piece with the rest of the hour. There’s nothing flash or fully-formed or even much of a show, but it’s an opportunity for younger audiences to learn and older audiences to remember what it’s like not to self-censor everything. Click Here

August 9, 2017  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
Ahir Shah has a tremendous knack for making people laugh uncontrollably while simultaneously forcing them to confront a bleak political reality. His whole set, in fact, is an exercise in cultural and political critique. At breakneck speed – and with boundless passion – Shah gets his teeth into issues like racism, the grimness of the housing market, Brexit, and what it’s actually like to belong to a marginalised group when it’s a “difficult time to stay optimistic”.

This might be a stand-up comedy show, but Shah does an impeccable job of never once trivialising the injustices he addresses. His impossibly energetic delivery doesn’t detract from the gravity of the problems described. Even when he’s abstractly comparing failed relationships to weak trade agreements, he’s still making a sharp, intelligent observation.

‘Intelligent’ is a key word here. Shah’s branch of comedy is shrewd and insightful, and lexically marvellous; his gags are presented in flowing, elaborate language that captivates the room. His jokes about existing as a millennial will be painfully relevant for some, and thought-provoking enough to make the previously unconvinced think, “actually, maybe the media’s frequent criticisms of young people’s brunching habits IS political, after all!”

Shah knows how to weld wit with social consciousness, and he demonstrates this for the entire duration of his set. He’ll have you chuckling hard – and possibly thinking even harder. Click Here

August 9, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Vicki Sargent: One Woman Army
An Interview With Vicki Sargent
...You are bringing your show One Woman Army to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
One Woman Army is a storytelling comedy show. I tell and act out stories from my life and play all the characters within them. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and this show started as me thinking about all the things that stress me out so I talk about awful retail jobs I’ve had, bad dating experiences, feeling out of depth in the acting world and the joys of living in Dartford. It’s basically me having a very relatable, witty moan about things. I perform the whole show in my dressing gown and it centres around me watching telly on my sofa and eating snacks. I share biscuits with the audience when they arrive so they feel all nice and cosy, because I certainly am!

How are things going so far?
Good! There are of course highs and lows but thats to be expected with the Fringe. I’m just happy if people enjoy my show and so far audiences seem to really like it…or maybe they just like the biscuits. Either way I’m chuffed to be a part of the most exciting festival on the planet and to be making wonderful friends all whilst making people laugh along the way. It definitely beats working on a meat and fish counter which you learn all about in act one.

Last year Vicki performed at the Fringe as part of a double act in ‘Jiggle & Hyde’ with Jen Wakefield. This year you are both going solo. What has been the motivation?
We just can’t stand each other. Only joking! Jen and I are still the best of friends and we are actually sharing a flat together for the Fringe. We both wanted to explore our own unique comedy voices and have a go at going solo. It’s really great because we are so supportive of each other. I’m a huge fan of Jen’s work and it still feels like we are part of a team, we just have our own shows. But don’t tell her I said any of that.

Can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
It requires lots of resilience, strength and comfort eating but a good show makes it worth all the calories.

... Click Here

August 9, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Siân Docksey's Totally Casual and Freewheeling Mystic Comedy Lemon Torpedo
An Interview With Sian Docksey
...You are bringing the rather fabulously titled SIÂN DOCKSEY’S TOTALLY CASUAL AND FREEWHEELING MYSTIC COMEDY: LEMON TORPEDO to the Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
It is a stand-up show about me turning myself into a lemon, and persuading everyone that this is the only sensible option.

This is not your first time at the Fringe, what are the secrets to surviving the Edinburgh in August?
Don’t panic. Focus on doing as much promo as you can manage, but mainly on doing your show(s) every day as well as you possibly can. And make time to hang out with other acts and see shows you wouldn’t come across otherwise. There is this consistently cool thing about the Fringe : apart from how HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE it is to come up here, which is shitty, Edinburgh has this kind of mystic quality where you get back what you put into it. If you stay focussed, do a good show, put the effort into marketing it and remember to have fun, then it will be great.

... Click Here

August 9, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire
Martha McBrier brings to this year’s Fringe a truly British and up-lifting comedy story. As a U.S. American, I have at times felt excluded from the British jokes I have witnessed, but I found Martha’s jokes to be educational and universal, as an entirely native crowd had the same grand load of laughs as I did.

Martha is a Glaswegian, but has lived in England for many years now. Her perspective on two regions of Great Britain taught me a lot about British culture. Martha’s story starts out with hilarious insights on being a teacher and dealing with bureaucracy. She has a great command of the stage, probably from her time as a college teacher (Martha’s words showed me it means high school in American English). The story takes a serious turn when Martha reveals that she went through some medical problems in the last year and ends with a cheery message about kindness. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Martha gives a brief but comprehensive account of her show as being;

Last year, I nearly died, was the victim of false allegations, tried to stop terrorism, found the man who attacked me years previously, lying in the street, and learned to play the didgeridoo. It’s a show about kindness…

For me, a tourist experience is where you pay money to observe another culture, while an authentic cultural experience is one where you are invited to feel how it is to exist amidst another culture. Martha’s show is an authentic cultural experience. The great thing about such an inviting spirit is that you see a truthful universality in which the vast majority of people want the same thing: to share kindness and also to have a darn good laugh along the way. Click Here

August 9, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Sarah Bennetto: All My Life's Mistakes, Catalogued (Volume 1)
Sarah Bennetto is a Catholic – one of her many, many mistakes is being too Catholic – and so it’s not surprising that her show is confessional. The premise is simple, and she sticks to it: in list form, she owns up to her greatest errors, in a particular, but not chronological order. Her breathless, pink-cheeked delivery steers the show more towards shameless gossip than guilty secrets, and it’s almost impossible not to giggle with her.

Her scope is wide-ranging, but generally she flows well from one bit into another. Here the list structure helps and hinders, in turns – she’s sometimes too dependent on her clipboard for the next gag, but at other points it provides a neat segue. An improbable amount of her material seems to spring from the past two weeks, so the show may become slicker as the Fringe goes on.

It’s easier to forgive errors because her presence is so warm and engaging. Her audience interaction is, in her own words, empathetic and inclusive. In this set, the only target she needs is herself. In sharing her litany of mistakes, Bennetto covers huge, emotive topics with the lightest of touch and a lightning fast wit, rattling through stories and quips so quickly that they don't have the opportunity to land too heavily. She’s also in perfect command of the pacing, so when she does want to touch hearts as well as minds, it’s with a quiet, slow section that keeps the audience spellbound. Click Here

August 8, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Show Up
Billed as a one-man show “about your shite life”, Show Up subverts the clichés and tropes you might expect from a solo performance. Creator and performer Peter Michael Marino is practically a Fringe veteran. Previous shows include the critically lauded Desperately Seeking the Exit and Late with Lance, so at this point Marino knows how to work the crowd.

Show Up is really two or three (or four) experiences in one. The set begins with Marino unfolding the origins of the show and he is immediately frank and honest about himself and the mindset that drives his work; this improv show isn’t just fun and fluff. The performer is direct about his own social anxieties and experiences with depression, drawing on personal memories to engage and provoke us. But this is never morose or self-pitying. The comic consistently punches out jokes, even at his own expense and has us cackling. We subsequently dip into audience participation and this is what informs the crux of the show. We are now the co-writers, creating the next act as we are probed for information from Marino about crucial memories and life moments – preferable funny or heinous, sometimes both at the same time. Of course this often results in hilarious combinations as the audience calls out their suggestions.

And then the show really begins. Crowd members are also recruited as sound technicians and stage managers, given free will to design the improv show’s set and atmosphere, which Marino skilfully navigates with ease at the change of each scene. Today’s show involves a dancer who lives with autism and a taxidermied cat who discovers a talent for personal training. It’s bizarre, manic and hilarious. And every other performance during the run will produce an entirely new and wacky mini-play.

It is during this main section of the show that it becomes clear Marino isn’t just skilled with standup and audience banter. He is also a compelling actor, drawing us in with moments that are funny, ridiculous and even poignant at times. And Marino’s key strength is his seemingly endless energy, making The Counting House’s Lounge space feel like a packed theatre.

Show Up provides brilliant laughs and is worth repeat visits to fully appreciate its ever-changing nature. However, it also channels an optimistic message to the audience about seizing opportunities and ‘showing up’ to your own life. Click Here

August 8, 2017  Fest
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
With the urgency of someone who's had their world view shattered and is desperately casting about for answers, Ahir Shah comes out hard and fast with a great opening line about his name and a winning alignment of his relationship status to that of the UK's with the EU. The fact that neither routine is wholly based on hard fact is no impediment to this sharp, impassioned and skilled gag writer, who appreciates that the value of an effective simile lies not in its accuracy but its power to lodge in the memory and to move, even if that's out of a trading bloc with our nearest neighbours.

While still reeling from Brexit and the accompanying tolerance of racism he perceives marshalling in its wake, Shah explores the cases of intelligent, decent people he knows who voted Leave. And as a heart-on-sleeve left-winger, takes a swipe at the inexplicable anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party.

But these are momentary diversions from the main business in hand, which is his relentless pillorying of the Right's yearning for a return to some nostalgic fantasy age, exemplified by trade secretary Liam Fox's insistence that the UK is one of the few countries in the EU with nothing to be ashamed of, conveniently whitewashing the ravages of Empire. History would seem to support Shah's insistence on learning from our mistakes lest we be doomed to repeat them. And he makes his case comprehensively and consistently hilariously, even if his impact beyond the politically like-minded is open to question. Click Here

August 8, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Anything Can Be a Podcast Podcast Returns AGAIN for the third time!!!
John Hastings starts the show early and greets his audience briefly before guiding them to his upstairs room. This is a nice touch which allows the audience to acclimatise to Hastings’ infectious energy and sets the tone instantly: accessible observations coupled with an enquiring mind and a readiness to improvise and have fun with all. He asks questions… and they are not rhetorical. They are intended to be answered and explored which suits an audience that likes to get involved.

Such a freeflowing approach can easily be hijacked by over-eager participants but Hastings launches into a quick meet and greet which zeroes in on a trio of young Swedish men in the front row. These jocular but inscrutable fellows provide a suitable platform for the bulk of the riffs: the perennial stoicism of the Swedes; the merits or otherwise of snus; and their calm and controlled demeanour, which makes them somehow exotic.

He confidently segues into an interesting theory about the Quebec Referendum, demonstrating that deceit can be necessary in matters of diplomacy. This political tangent illustrates that Hastings can allow more serious topics to intrude on the japes and is comfortable in the knowledge that he can revert to silliness and bawdy observation if necessary.

The podcast element involves picking suggestions from a jar and throws up some evidently pre-written themes; the rebellion of silently farting at the high school girls who ignore the outsiders, and the propensity for intimidating people to be left in charge of children’s fun. You get the impression that he could forgo the jar and just recount his day and satisfaction would remain intact.

Hastings is a genuinely enjoyable performer capable of dealing with barbs and off-hard remarks without alienating or stigmatising and his other show will no doubt benefit from his many skills. Click Here

August 8, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
The Brothers Grimm's Rumpelstiltskin, the Faustian tale of greed and ambition, is used by Markus Birdman in reference to both himself and his 12-year-old daughter. He asks, are we too aspirational, or not aspirational enough? Should we follow our dreams at any cost, or should we teach our children and ourselves when to give up on those dreams?

Birdman’s own ambitions and experiences as a comedian take up a sizeable chunk of the show, and detract from interesting sections around his relationship with his child and with the story he’s trying to tell. Similarly, the animated sections dotted through the hour take the wind from his sails a little. When he gets going, though, Birdman is a confident and clever performer, setting up his own rules and breaking them with great control. The animated scenes projected behind him need this same gift of comic timing, though they remain humourous, monstrous and have their own distinctive, nightmarish style. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Fringe Review
Article about Puppet Fiction
Highly Recommended Show
Low Down

“The award-winning cult show from New Zealand returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with more miniature madness and mayhem. Combining the joy of live puppetry with an iconic piece of pop culture makes for a unique and hilarious theatrical experience.”

Review

Inspired by the award winning film Pulp Fiction, this puppet show by Present Company Live from New Zealand is homage to the filmmakers, and to pop culture. Right from the start the atmosphere is intriguing: Puppeteers working the two main marionette characters (played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in the film) wear stylish dark suits, crisp white shirts with dark ties, and speak with gritty accents. A small set comprising two tiny sofas transform into other objects and scenes, and the gangster talk from Vincent and Jango, is fast and furious. Seedy characters appear and disappear, punctuated by car rides through town and fascinating conversation.

The puppets are marionettes, 40cm tall with strings. Three puppeteers are in full view as they bring several characters to life by pulling their strings to make them move and gesture together with sharp comedic timing. Characters are drawn from the famous film and recreate edgy moments, catchphrases, with the company’s own spin of wit, spontaneity and local references.

An interesting element is the digital screen backdrop of the little stage, which changes images several times during the show. It’s a very clever prop and offers a variety of locations as well as a high tech juxtaposition to the hand crafted materials and finely sculpted heads of the marionettes.

Jon Coddington, known as a master puppet maker created and built the quirkily lifelike puppets, which are light, springy and alive, suggesting a presence with subtle breathing, even when standing still, no mean feat in puppetry!

Time flies by in this fifty-five minute show because of the energetic performances of the puppeteers and their skill manipulating the puppets, while speaking the fast paced dialogue, changing characters and accents so effectively. If things go a tad awry, this company is controlled chaos and the performers are very adept at adjusting on the fly, adding more humour.

A line spoken by one of the characters in the show “Personality goes a long way” is insightful because it is the vibrant personalities of the puppet characters and the dynamic puppeteers that make Puppet Fiction work so well. It’s an entertaining, tongue in cheek, creative and fun show that will certainly appeal to fans of the film and pop culture. What’s more it’s part of Freefestival. Sit close to the action – or watch on the large screen above, which gives a wonderful stop motion animated effect because the strings don’t show, it’s quite special.

A fascinating aspect of the show is its interactivity. While we may remember what this meant when watching childhood puppet shows, Puppet Fiction has several inventive ways to help everyone connect – to find out go and see Puppet Fiction. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Fringe Review
Article about Carmen Lynch: LYNCHED
Recommended show
Low Down

In her UK debut hour Lynched, Carmen Lynch (Inside Amy Schumer, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan) shares her twisted, singular stand-up comedy, which frequently dips into the dark side.



Review

Carmen Lynch is an accomplished comedian who charms her audience with her vulnerability and her honesty as soon as they manage to walk into the Counting House loft, gasping for breath and winded from the climb. She adjusts fans so we don’t end up in a pool of sweat and she says, “This feels like an intervention.” And so she begins her monologue about life as a single, childless woman in New York City. She is 6’2” and speaks at length about the challenges of being tall and the attitudes people have about tall women. She says,” I still have a vagina. When you get so tall, do they take it away from you?” and continues, Because she is tall, “short guys follow me around. It makes me feel like Snow White.”

She discusses how we all want to be what we are not. For example, she dreams of being short. “I want to fit in someone’s pocket . But I don’t fit in anyone’s trunk.”

She is from America and she cannot resist taking a few jabs at the mess that country is in. “I’m happy Trump was elected. They say you need to do something scary every day. Now it’s living.”

Every single girl has to discuss the morning after pill and Lynch is no exception. She tells us the medical profession doesn’t tell you when it will kick in or how you know when it has worked: “I burped and that was the baby.”

And of course, she has to discuss dating as a single woman in our two by two society. “Break ups are worse than death because he is still alive.“ she says. And continues, ”I stopped on-line dating. Now, I just walk outside and hope.”

Public displays of affection annoy her because it is so embarrassing to see, she says, and when it comes to finding the right man, she prefers the older ones because they are so desperate. She talks about the difference of dating as a single person compared to when married people go out on date nights. When married people go out on a date, they always say, “Remember when we didn’t hate each other.”

Her parents were very religious but she is not. “I don’t go to church anymore,” she says. “I go to therapy. Religion is cheaper.”

This is a laugh-filled hour full of observations often too true to be funny, but Lynch twists them into something to laugh at. It is a well crafted show, well worth the climb to the top of the Counting House in the rain and wind of Edinburgh during the fringe. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Fringe Review
Article about Funny Stuff for Happy People
Highly Recommended Show
Low Down

Master clowning and silliness from a practitioner at the top of his game, technically tight and jolly good fun.

Review

Entertaining a bunch of noisy, excited under-tens in a big space, with no seat raking seems like a big challenge for any performer. How do the kids get to see? How do you get them involved? How do you attract their attention in the first place?

Simple. Start very, very quietly. Wear an eccentric looking costume. Sport a wonderfully luxuriant beard. Have a silly hat. Possess a face that contorts into weird and wonderful expressions. Act like the local cleaner, shoving your broom around the feet of the front row. Then “catch” a child’s shoe with your brush and start waving it around as if it’s the smelliest thing on the planet.

Then get a couple of gullible parents on stage and, with more mime, get them to do something daft, ensuring squeals of laughter from the junior end and much guffawing from the upper end of the age spectrum. So by the time we were five minutes in, we had kids standing on every free chair to see what was going on, or being hoisted onto parents’ knees to get a better view of the action.

Eventually Martin “Big Pig” Mor switched to speech and his booming, commanding baritone voice quickly engaged just about everyone in the packed Counting House venue down in West Nicolson Street. By then, his audience was hooked. Completely. And whilst this show is aimed squarely at the 4-10 year old range, it was hard for Mor to stop the adults sticking up their hands as stage volunteers.

Mor’s extensive background as a clown, mime artist and circus performer is perfect for his show. He’s very adept at handling the audience, particularly the quirks uninhibited young volunteers can throw into proceedings. His patter is infectiously amusing. And he knows how to get children really laughing. Which child doesn’t laugh at farting jokes, things to do with bottoms, bogeys, pee and poo? Mind you, which adult doesn’t either? Getting a parent and child up on stage and making them do silly things is a great way to break down barriers. I mean, wouldn’t you like to whack your Dad over the head with a sponge stick to make a yoyo bounce around? Of course you would. It’s funny!

This was a very well-constructed, physically clever and genuinely funny piece of theatre. Mor is a master of his craft, technically very proficient at clowning and mime, quick witted, misses no opportunity to get people involved and has this magical way of relaxing his young audience.

Mor really does know all the buttons to press and exhibits such a sense of fun himself that he will brighten the lives of any who turn up at this free Fringe show. Go along to it, and release your inner child. Or take one with you as an excuse to get in and have a really good laugh. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Fringe Review
Article about Breaking Black
Recommended show
Low Down

“Njambi McGrath’s Breaking Black is an exploration of a black British/African woman’s experience in a hostile post-Brexit Britain and a highlight of the struggles and fragility of immigrants who are too often used as political bait but are a necessary backbone to the functionality of modern Britain. The Black African woman is either completely ignored or too often portrayed in a one dimension paradigm of the victim of disease, war, or in need of saving from primitive cultural practices.”

Review

Billed as “a black British-African woman’s experience in a hostile post-Brexit Britain”, this fifty-minute stand-up comedy show more than delivers on that promise as we also get some very funny and cutting insight into life in Kenya. So, we have a story abut being the only black African living in a white neighbourhood in London, set in the larger context of the impact of the British Empire on Africa and other parts of the globe, and how that has come back to haunt us today. That makes this a satisfying layered show and it’s that deeper context that gives the show its strong punch. Laughter is certainly there for the many one-liners rooted in observation, but also there’s a deeper more tragic laughter at the nature of Britishness and the consequences of forcing that culture onto other peoples and nations.

So, the impressive impact of the show comes from its core argument: That immigration to the UK is partly the result of Empire, of the imposition of British culture abroad. Our negative stereotyping of black Africa is a long-term P.R exercise to assuage our own guilt at slavery and exploitation, by painting a negative picture of people who enthusiastically struggle to get into the UK – a UK that imposed itself into African culture over centuries – with good and bad results.

Delivery is confident, with plenty of observational comedy. This performer has done her research (Her own book was lightly mentioned). The time races by, the audience laugh and are often shocked and surprised at what is revealed. We are informed, taught, comically berated and often shocked by the experiences of this confident comedian. She has done her research and crams a lot of revealed facts into the show, pointing out our double standards with an ease that creates the cutting edge. Set pieces are fired at us with deceptive gentleness. It’s hard-hitting edutainment, yet it is all crammed in a bit too much. Sometimes the delivery is too “whoomphy” via an over-loud microphone for such a small performance space and there isn’t time to digest it all before we are onto the next set piece or bit of observation.

I laughed, sighed, and occasionally felt frustrated at the lack of clarity in some of the delivery, almost wishing we had a show with no microphone at all in the small, intimate space of the Attic at the Counting House. This was an engaging, revealing fifty minutes, enjoyable and, for its chosen material, important. A show that deserves to be seen. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Squirrel Comedy
Article about Pottervision!
PotterVision is pretty much what a fan wants from this sort of Festival show, a crowd pleasing comic enactment of several key scenes from Harry Potter & the Sorcerers Stone with gentle digs and silly hi-jinx.

The conceit of the show is not wildly original but cute and it works; that this performance was created by a quartet of players but 2 of them have buggered off with all the props and costumes leaving Lukas Kirkby & Tom Lawrinson to cope. They’ve popped out to the shops for some silly wigs & turned some sticks into wands and are doing the best they can. The packed audience is fully on-side and raring to go with them, just as well they are able to deliver.

Lukas and Tom make a good double act with Lukas is more of the organised straight guy trying to keep Tom from heading off the tracks onto his own loopy ideas of how to do the show. Tom is relaxed but also naughtily cunning in getting to do his own thing which gets some big laughs. They both have a lot of energy and commit fully to the show. They also clearly know The Sorcerer’s Stone novel backwards.
There is some gentle audience participation – I was invited on state to be sorted into Hufflepuff – some rude innuendo that never goes too far and a fabulous finale.

Yes it pokes fun at some of J K Rowing’s ideas but this does not denigrate the work or sneer at the fans in any way. It is pretty funny and you can take your teen Potterhead kids for a laugh. Click Here

August 8, 2017 Chortle
Article about How To Suffer Better
Comedy Makes us Suffer Better
Amanda Miller on the power of her artform Click Here

August 8, 2017  The List
Review of The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Zeitgeisty exploration of an all-too recognisable condition

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is when a person's confidence in their own ability far outweighs their actual ability and Stoph Demetriou plans to explore it in a riot of short films and oddball stand-up. Luckily our act does have genuine talent so he's not likely to stumble into a snarky bad review about the undeserved faith in his own ability.

Demetriou's particular skill lies in the plethora of films he's created to punctuate the show such as meetings with his ambivalent agent and a spoof TV detective drama. Meanwhile, manifestations of his paranoia and confidence fight it out on screen for dominance.

The show is a bit loose at the seams in places with the straight stand-up sections a touch uncertain, but this free-wheeling chaos is part of its charm. There are a fair amount of solid gags, including some nicely ridiculous moments, like the Diet Coke break and Demetriou's problems with abusive London public transport. Overall, there are uniting threads as the show encompasses zeitgeisty themes, given that Trump certainly seems to suffer from the condition and its sister symptom of distrusting expertise. Click Here

August 8, 2017  Chortle
Review of Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
A strange show on paper, but a good one in practice. Seasoned club comedian Markus Birdman has decided to make use of the animation skills learned at art school a few decades ago, and incorporate them into his latest show.

He’s done this by producing a video animation of Rumpelstiltskin, or at least a twisted version of it featuring Donald Trump, his 12-year-old daughter, and the eponymous troll thing (or whatever Rumpelstiltskin is). Birdman flits between doing stand-up, and playing this video, over which he makes some witty interjections.

Stay with me …

Rumpelstiltskin was his chosen fable because it’s about greed and ambition, and doing a Faustian pact to get what you want. The name of the show, Between the Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, is a metaphor, he says, for being stuck between chasing your dreams and being held back by the brutal realities of life. Perhaps as a reward to the audience for getting on board with a high-concept show, Birdman has kindly included some knob gags.

... Click Here

August 8, 2017  
Review of Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire
Mumble review
Laughing Horse @ Finnegan’s Wake
Aug 3-27(17.00)

Material: five-stars.png Delivery: five-stars.png Laughs: five-stars.png

Martha McBrier brings to this year’s Fringe a truly British and up-lifting comedy story. As a U.S. American, I have at times felt excluded from the British jokes I have witnessed, but I found Martha’s jokes to be educational and universal, as an entirely native crowd had the same grand load of laughs as I did.

download (2)Martha is a Glaswegian, but has lived in England for many years now. Her perspective on two regions of Great Britain taught me a lot about British culture. Martha’s story starts out with hilarious insights on being a teacher and dealing with bureaucracy. She has a great command of the stage, probably from her time as a college teacher (Martha’s words showed me it means high school in American English). The story takes a serious turn when Martha reveals that she went through some medical problems in the last year and ends with a cheery message about kindness. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Martha gives a brief but comprehensive account of her show as being;

Last year, I nearly died, was the victim of false allegations, tried to stop terrorism, found the man who attacked me years previously, lying in the street, and learned to play the didgeridoo. It’s a show about kindness…

For me, a tourist experience is where you pay money to observe another culture, while an authentic cultural experience is one where you are invited to feel how it is to exist amidst another culture. Martha’s show is an authentic cultural experience. The great thing about such an inviting spirit is that you see a truthful universality in which the vast majority of people want the same thing: to share kindness and also to have a darn good laugh along the way.

Reviewer : Michael Beeson

five-stars.png Click Here

August 7, 2017  The Scotsman
Review of Awake
A strong virtuoso performance by Miranda Colmans
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A strong virtuoso performance by Miranda Colmans anchors this debut solo show which impressively evokes the twilight world of the insomnia sufferer.

Three separate, and seemingly disparate, characters – a teenage girl, a significantly older American insomniac who runs a chatroom for the similarly afflicted, and a former stewardess struggling to cope with her newborn daughter on her own – all speak about their difficulties in trying to sleep. The causes are all different; some born of addiction – to drugs or simply the disruptive blue light emanating from their phones – while the worries caused by the difficulties of caring for a newborn may strike a more familiar chord.

The narrative is initially fractured – a kaleidoscope of fatigue – but it doesn’t take very long before the three women’s stories begin to coalesce into one larger story; a tragedy. Performing her own, remarkably strong script, Colmans is excellent and handles the transitions of voice and character and accent exceptionally smoothly. It’s a deft achievement – not least because of the momentary distractions endemic to many free Fringe venues – to which she seems oblivious. It’s rare to see such a confident debut solo show from a young actor but, in this case, that confidence is merited.

Until 27 August. Today 6:45pm.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/edinburgh-festivals/theatre-review-awake-1-4524674 Click Here

August 7, 2017 Chortle
Article about Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire
Didgeri-don't
Didgeri-don't!

Comedian rapped for posing with a 'men's intrument'

Scottish comedian Martha McBrier has been criticised for posing with a didgeridoo on her Edinburgh poster.

The stand-up has been accused of disrespecting aboriginal Australian culture for the image, since the instrument is traditionally only played by men.

And she was accused of cultural appropriation for posing with the didgeridoo, also known as a yirdaki.

She received a message via her website saying: ‘Are you aware the picture of you with the didgeridoo is very disrespectful to First Nation Australians?

‘The yirdaki is not played by women and has been that way forever. It's a men’s instrument, only used by men. By you doing this is shows you have a complete disregard for other cultures, traditions and beliefs.

‘Aboriginal people have been treated worse than second class citizen in our own country. Cultures, languages, lands stolen. Mass genocides, stolen children..... And it continues... still treated like the scum off the bottom of the white colonials’ shoe. Yet they make no effort to learn, to understand our cultures and traditions that remain. Unless a quick buck or a funny photo can be made.’

But McBrier, who plays the didgeridoo in her show, Balamory Doubtfire, says she has no intention of dropping it.

‘I would never agree with a culture that bans women from playing an instrument, and perhaps there is a little bit of me that took it up for that reason.’

She says she also took up the instrument for its health benefits. The circular breathing required strengthens the larynx and the muscles supporting breathing, and helps reduce snoring.

McBrier added that she ‘meant no disrespect’ with her photograph and admitted that she was upset by the criticism, but added: ‘However, I will continue to play my didge, as I love it.’

Whether women should play the instrument has been a source of much debate, and opinion varies between the various aboriginal people of Australia.

Dane Simpson, a comedian from the Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay culture, said he would not allow a woman to play his personal didgeridoo but added: ‘Personally, I respect people's right to choose whatever they want to do. But I don't like it when they are taking the piss out of the culture.’

He explained that the issue rises partly songs and dancing are used to teach young people about their sexuality.

He said the Wiradjuri people have a story in which a woman who practised the didgeridoo became infertile because she was using muscles in her stomach which she wasn't used to – but another nation has a story in which a didgeridoo is blamed for making women pregnant.

‘That's why you'll always hear conflicting yarns about the didgeridoo in Aboriginal culture,’ he said.

Janet McLeod, producer of the Melbourne Comedy Festival show Aborigi-LOL, which features only indigenous comedians, likened the issue of a woman playing a didgeridoo to tourists who climb Uluru, despite it being disrespectful to the local people who ask visitors not to do it.

‘You won't be stopped from doing it, but if you do it then you are definitely a dick,’ she said. ‘Martha's idea that not using a didgeridoo is a patriarchal directive is like saying that being asked not to walk on Uluru is a restriction on human rights. It just isn't the same thing.’

In 2008, Nicole Kidman angered indigenous Australians by attempting to play a didgeridoo on a German television programme. The same year, publishers HarperCollins had to apologise for including a section on how to play the didgeridoo in The Daring Book For Girls and vowed to remove it from later editions.

Published: 7 Aug 2017

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Today's shows

FAST FRINGE

Thursday August 10: Urizilla Carlson, Bec Hill, Flo & Joan, Carmen Lynch, Lou Conran, Catherine Bohart, Kat Bond, Harriet Braine, Njambi McGrath, Cally Beaton, Saskia Preston, Helen Bauer, MC Kiri Pritchard Mclean

PLEASANCE DOME, 6.40pm. Tickets.

BEST OF STUDENT COMEDY

Thursday August 10: Matt Winning, Stephen Ryan, Harrison Charles, Riordan DJ, MC Ian Smith,

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 9.15pm. FREE

This year's final is at Pleasance One on August 14. Tickets.

FULL FRINGE LISTING

Live comedy picks


Gig of the day
Omid Djalili
Stratford-upon-Avon ArtsHouse
From 20:00


Book Now
Milton Jones
Lincoln Engine Shed
Thursday 30th Nov from 19:30
BOOK NOW


Gig of the day
Jonny And The Baptists, Josie Long
York The Crescent
From 19:30


Book Now
Sarah Millican
Durham Gala Theatre
Saturday 27th Jan from 20:00
BOOK NOW

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August 7, 2017  The List
Review of Marie
An actress loses herself in the role of Mary, Queen of Scots

A one-woman show about Mary, Queen of Scots sounds like the most generic of lo-fi fringe fodder, but Marie, a new play created by actress Sarah MacGillivray and director Phil Bartlett manages to dodge the expected clichés and come up with something fresh.

As a play, Marie isn't a biopic of Mary; the central character of Marie is a Scottish actress who enjoys playing the part of the Scots queen at a regular, historically themed booze-up in a London pub called the Prince Arthur. The pub itself is run by Liz and her husband Barry: as Marie's search for acting work grows more and more frustrating, the young actress finds herself retreating into Mary's character, and tensions begin to rise between Marie / Mary and Liz.

Confusing a stage persona with real life is nothing new; the Oscar-winning 1947 film A Double Life features an actor who mixes up Othello's problems with his own to tragic effect. At first, this variation on the theme seems content to make some trenchant remarks and score a few easy gags about the difficulties of a girl's endless auditions and the problems of finding good acting work. 'It seems that Girls Gone Wild isn't a feminist survival show after all … ' Marie laments. But MacGillivray soon gets stuck into the real drama and extracts tension from the domestic strife between Scottish Marie and English Liz, reflecting a traditional historical animosity, and she and Bartlett skillfully build the material to a Gothic, dark, and violent climax.

Marie is a free-to-enter show that's got a lot more to offer than many costlier alternatives; with only a dress, some minimal lighting and a lot of energy, MacGillivray manages to ensnare audiences with a well-told tale, with wry observation and caustic humour giving way to a deliciously twisted story of obsession. Click Here

August 7, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Shaggers
Around two minutes into this show, MC Nik Coppin explains that the comedians you are about to see will be performing stand up on the topic of sex, and not actually shagging on stage. Obviously, we were outraged. However, once we got over this initial disappointment, we were treated to an hour of solid comedy.

As is pointed out early on, the sort of material on display here is usually confined to late night slots with a generally more inebriated audience. As far as we’re concerned though, it’s never too early for some good jokes about fisting, and there are certainly some here! It warmed our filthy little hearts to see that we were far from the only ones to have this mindset, as the Espionage Bunker was full to bursting, with standing room only due to the number of like-minded perverts looking for a spot of afternoon delight. This does give the room a bit of a sauna like quality but, if you’re anything like us, you don’t mind getting hot and sweaty with a bunch of strangers for the sake of good comedy. Or for any other reason for that matter.

There are four comedians on the bill, plus the MC, so a varied selection of filth is on display, not dissimilar to our internet search history...

...Ultimately (and despite the disappointingly misleading title…) the show is a good toe dip for the start of your Fringe experience and a great way to see some acts that, otherwise, might have passed you by. If you like your jokes dirty, this is the mid afternoon slot that you need (not a euphemism). Click Here

August 7, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Carmen Lynch: LYNCHED
New-York comic Carmen Lynch enthusiastically gathers the audience in from West Nicolson Street into The Counting House, and her gregarious attitude continues inside for the next hour of stand-up. Without any extended introduction, we are launched into both frivolous and dark observations about her life, and Lynch effortlessly and swiftly wins over the crowd.

Although dating, family and children might not be ground-breaking topics, Lynch has witty, new and acerbic perspectives on each of them: her opposition to dating apps and return to the “old way” of finding love; her childhood-borne phobia of guns inadvertently instilled by her mother; and musings on why she doesn’t particularly like children yet finds them unintentionally wise.

What Lynch wins on is her delivery. She has the audience grasped throughout, even when the tone shifts into touchy or risky territory (abortion, religion). The jokes are consistently cleverly constructed and don’t always rely on a single finishing punchline, often rolling on and bringing the laughter with them. Lynch also has a knack of firing out hilarious micro-stories that instantly demand you memorise them in order to pass them on afterwards.

... Click Here

August 7, 2017 Mumble Comedy
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
An Interview With Samantha Pressdee
 Click Here

August 7, 2017  The List
Review of Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
An educational and entertaining musical meander around the history of art

Musical comedy is a genre of the laughter business that, somewhat ironically, gets quite a bad rap. Despite the likes of Bill Bailey, Flight of the Conchords and Bo Burnham giving it a credibility boost down the years, there remains a certain waft about it that puts a lot of people right off. Just a bit too clever-clever, some critics would say, as though a little bit of intelligence is a bad thing.

No one who hates musical comedy is likely to despise it any less upon encountering the work of Harriet Braine, who showed that the form can still make in-roads after her 2016 success in scooping the Funny Women competition and earning a spot on the So You Think You're Funny final lineup. Dressed up as an art history seminar, Professor Braine is here to educate us on the great artists and, more importantly, show us how their names can fit into instantly recognisable tunes.

So, without giving too many of the surprises away, Matisse is merged with a classic country number, The Police put on the red light for Cezanne, Da Vinci meets Kate Bush on a moor and the longstanding confusion some might have with Monet and Manet won't be helped by being mashed up in an Abba standard about cash.

The number which perhaps best sums up the experience of being at a Harriet Braine show is her version of a Lou Reed classic in 'Walk on the Mild Side', penned for one of her contemporary art heroes, Grayson Perry. Clearly Harriet Braine is never going to have the coursing energy of a Bo Burnham but while she has a perfectly delightful act, there's just that little something missing that could take her onto the next level. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Old Jewish Jokes
Ivor Dembina is very funny and manages to entertain the audience for an hour by conforming to as many stereotypes of a Jew as he can. Jewish comedy is not a new concept and despite Demina playing to stereotypes, he does so very well.

Dembina starts by telling lots of quick-form, traditional jokes. He is witty and his comic timing is perfect, with facial expressions adding to the comedy. This is something which many comics have moved on from, trying to do more anecdotal humour, yet this traditional manner suits Dembina well and provokes great responses from the audience.The comic repeatedly jokes that despite his three decades in comedy, this is only his second performance. It is clearly not true as Ivor has a fantastic repartee with the audience and knows how to deliver a joke.The majority of the show is based on a conversation with his Rabbi, who wants him to perform at his synagogue as part of a fundraiser for a repair to the building. The Rabbi discusses with Dembina what jokes he can and can’t make. The comedian goes on to base the remainder of the show on different areas which the Rabbi has asked him not to speak about. This is a very clever way of structuring the performance. While the jokes continue to be based on unoriginal cliches, they continue to work. Sometimes the old jokes are the best.


Audience interaction, at times, was coarse. His brilliant stage presence was let down in part by an introverted audience but moreso by an awkward atmosphere which was brought about when he began asking people about their religious beliefs. The lack of control Dembina had over this segment was evident. All in all, though, this is a fun hour full of jokes which Jews and Gentiles can enjoy alike. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Fest
Review of Paul Revill: Revillations
The "revillations" on offer here chart Paul Revill's journey to standup. His narrative begins as an only child growing up in Luton and, later, a nondescript English village. It's once he gets to his teenage years and discovers drink and drugs that his life course changes, opting to study drama at university, much to his parents' ire. From that beginning we are led on a journey that aims to explain why someone might choose to spend their August gigging for free in a tiny room in Edinburgh. This, then, is an origin story.

Given the focus on booze and narcotics this has the potential to be boorish and laddish. And there is a veneer of that as Revill outlines his techniques for chatting up women. But the twinkle in his eye points to tales of regret and missed opportunities that highlight the consequences of debauchery. This isn't an apology, but it is at least apologetic.

A keystone for the show is Revill's experiences as a drama student, and he sends up the theatrical games pretentious acting teachers foist upon their charges. His blokey demeanour means he was never going to fit into that milieu, and it is comedy that offered him an escape route. It's unfortunate that the physical humour that peppers the show isn't as tightly honed as the verbal, for there's a notable charm in the gag delivery that shows skill with a punchline. The show is an agument for Revill's decision to be a comedian, and it's a convincing one. Click Here

August 7, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Odette!
There is a certain young lady out there this Fringe called Marina Margarita, a fast-talking, bizarrely brilliant, ‘cleaning lady number seven’ from Australia who you may see flyering in the Broughton Street area the New Town in the most unfashionable of attire. I mean, she’s funny before she even opens her mouth, & when she does open her mouth, revealing a set of saintly & exceptionally well-polished teeth, she gets even funnier. Her attractive & colorful rapid patter is like receiving a loose fist beating of a really good masseuse, hitting those tight spots of social anxiety & releasing them all like starlings from a trap. Her command over our comedy pleasure-zones is both instantaneous & continuous & I really don;t have any choice to award her top marks. In a comedy world full of jokes & stand-up comedians who think they’re funny, when they’re clearly not, its refreshing to know that ‘clowning about’ & acting silly has the same effect on we moderns as it did, lets say, Will Sommers had upon Henry VIII.

Marina is a brilliant actress, a fantastic singer (tho she uses her sweetly resonating voice quite frugally) & a complete master of the mop, which swept us up into whatever the hell planet her creative genii lives on. In a recent interview with the Mumble, she described her education at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier, also the origins of Odette;

A mother of 4, my Mum had a lot on her plate when we were kids so Portuguese mother and daughter team, Odette and Erbelina, used to come and clean the house for us every few weeks. When I was first toying with the idea of Odette as a character I recorded several Spanish and Portuguese friends to try and develop a convincing accent but the minute I stepped on stage in character, a broad ocker Aussie voice came out! I’ve had a ball developing the show through trying 10 – 20 minutes at various comedy cabarets across London. She hasn’t always brought the house down, but I’ve kept all the bits that have and woven them into the show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Her snippets of spellbinding audience interaction work so much better than the vast majority of others. I mean, my wife was involved & had a jolly good time of it. The next morning, I’m like, ‘hey, you should do your own fringe show, it was cool’ – shes like nah, then, ‘y’know, I might have to have a think about it;’ this is the power of Marina Margarita. Her mind has been an ingenious rock-cutter that has found a wee niche in the Mount Comedy corpus, a cave of delights we should all take time to explore. Her creation, Odette, represents a rose-like blossoming of her substantial talents, & for anyone in Edinburgh this month, at the perfect time of night between tiddly & pissed, go see Odette at 48 Below. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of The Rat Pack presents...
If the illustrious names that have performed as part of The Rat Pack Presents is a guide, then it is worth heading along to the Cabaret Voltaire during this year's festival. As part of the Free Fringe, they have a great track record of bringing through acts who have gone on to bigger things. Sara Pascoe, Romesh Ranganathan, and Phil Wang are just a few few of the names that have played this night.

Luke Stephen was the compere for the today's performance and his opening routine highlights the perils of being bald. Let's just say that there is not much sympathy, even from within the bald community. There was a great routine about Superdrug's liberal policy in giving out change and the unheralded Meal Deals that they offer.

Given the revolving roster of names appearing each day throughout the Fringe, it is worth dropping down from the beaten track to see what the Rat Pack has to offer. Click Here

August 7, 2017 Three Weeks
Article about Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling
TW:TALKS with Rosie Wilby
With Edinburgh Festival 2017 up and running, we TW:TALK with Rosie Wilby about her new show ‘The Conscious Uncoupling’, which completes a trilogy of shows about relationships. Wilby explains how her music career led to comedy, talks us through her Edinburgh Fringe experiences to date, and tells us all about her new book.

To listen follow the link... Click Here

August 7, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Puppet Fiction
In order to snare the attention of an average jaded and time-poor festival-goer, you’re going to need a pitch that can stop them in their tracks on the Royal Mile and accept the flyer that you’re thrusting into their hands. And as pitches go, ‘Pulp Fiction, but with puppets’ is a winner. The film is now over twenty years old (don’t bother checking Wikipedia, you really are that old), and has passed into legend of soundtrack CDs and movie posters. So if you do your own version, there’s a bit of pressure to get it exactly right – even if everyone in the audience can see the strings.

As befits a highly quotable film, there are major chunks of this show that are pretty much lifted verbatim from the movie. As one of the puppeteers comments: ‘We haven’t been sued in six years – so fuck ‘em.’ This – as you might expect – hints at the content warning you may have been expecting. Yes, this is a puppet show, and no, it’s not for kids: there is swearing, drug references, gunplay and liberal examples of the Tarantino love affair with certain offensive words.

If you’re a fan of the movie, there’s frankly no reason not to like this: as I’ve indicated, you already know most of the script. That said, the show really soars when it’s brave enough to blend the pulp with something more substantial: there’s an excellent moment in which a certain mid-90s Jane Campion film gets a side swipe, as well as a pertinent answer to Jimmy’s question regarding signs outside his door. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Chortle
Review of Erich McElroy Tops Trump
Erich McElroy maintains he didn't want to do another show about US politics. But then Donald Trump became the 45th President. And the American comic found himself being repeatedly asked to explain the outcome for smugly incredulous parents at his children's school.

Originally from Seattle but residing in the UK for the last 17 years, McElroy makes a convincing case for still being an outsider. He's a harassed family man, burdened by the many clubs he needs to ferry his kids to, failing in justifying his career to his wife and just generally being bemused by the British middle-class milieu he's reluctantly embraced in affluent Kingston-upon-Thames. The role of tombolas in smuggling alcohol into schools prompts one particularly well observed, slice-of-life routine.

Even though McElroy owns a British passport, we Brits won't allow him to feel naturalised, with the implication that The Donald has set him even further back in this aspiration. While it was his man crush Barack Obama that cost McElroy his lucrative former job by changing the funding for an academic programme, pushing him into stand-up, it's Trump who's truly providing him with the material. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Fest
Review of Myra DuBois: DuBois Entendre
Someone as faux glamorous as Myra DuBois does not belong on the free fringe, as she is constantly reminding us. The several entrances to the ballroom in which she is based for the month being all too accessible, there are people toing and froing from the bar. She chastises them for not including her in the round and has an ongoing feud with the rather rambunctious air conditioning that seems unnecessary for such an airy room. This is all before she has managed to begin the show in earnest.

Which comes as somewhat of a blessing in disguise as this gives her acid tongue a chance to wag over all the gathered revelers for this late night drag act, a show that’s heavier on the comedy than the musical numbers. There’s a touch of Mrs Merton in her friendly/antagonistic banter with her long suffering sound tech; a Yorkshire Lily Savage vibe about the way she dominates the room; and a touch of Bet Lynch in the handling of her perceived social status. It all feels like something you’ve seen before, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch her snap at those she sees as lesser than her.

Due to the unruly nature of the free fringe and the Scooby-Doo-esque door openings of The Counting House, the show never quite gets going (DuBois perfectly sums up it as "like doing an assembly at a rough school") and a couple of magic tricks gone wrong are more filler than killer. But DuBois excels when letting loose on the naughty kids in the room. Click Here

August 7, 2017  Chortle
Review of A Singh In The North!

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Jay Richardson

Sid Singh seems to lack firm convictions, which can be a boon for a comic eschewing conventional thinking, but a hindrance when a show isn't quite going the way he hoped.

Committing the cardinal sin of suggesting he's bombing, when he really isn't, he plants the seed of doubt in your mind and begins a cycle of negative self-confirmation with the crowd that comes perilously close to flatlining the show.

Because in truth, the audience, aware of its modest size in a large venue, was appreciative but understandably quiet this afternoon, perhaps not giving the American quite enough of the love he felt he deserved. Click Here

August 7, 2017  The List
Review of Girl In Da Corner
A promising show from a bright talent with a proud heritage

Jen Wakefield's Girl in Da Corner brings together character comedy and slam poetry in a novel show that finds a way to stand out. It's a very slick and accomplished 45 minutes that positively bristles with the sort of energy you wouldn't expect from a lunchtime slot.

The premise is that Wakefield is making the shift from a career in teaching to one in broadcasting and performance. For that broadcasting move, she must decide what label she fits best, and what her USP is. It's not a simple question for this girl of Anglo-Indian descent, but the journey she takes us on to find out is a pleasure to be part of. This is a show of excellent diversity; with cultural stamps that include the grime revival, the Vengaboys and The Inbetweeners.

Wakefield takes in playground politics, encounters with casting directors and social 'misunderstandings' as she explores her place in Britain today. Following her scripted material with conviction, when she steps out in the audience to mingle mid-set you feel you're watching a natural. If there is a message to be taken, it's that we should be defined in the way we choose, not how others fleetingly decide. 'Jack of all races, master of none' is Wakefield's own conclusion. Nobody puts Jen in a corner. Click Here

August 7, 2017  The Skinny
Review of Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
There’s nothing groundbreaking about rewriting popular songs to serve whatever purpose your Edinburgh show requires – some may even regard the idea as the height of hackiness. But in Harriet Braine’s skillful hands, there is nothing to be hacked at in her deft reworking of songs by Natalie Imbruglia and Dolly Parton to tell the stories of the greatest artists in history. And if there’s any justice, Braine's hour-long show will replace most of the art history curriculum in years to come.

Braine makes for an amiable and accessible host for this highbrow, low-concept hour, which ticks along with the ease of a music gig fronted by a particularly funny and charming singer. The subject material makes an old formula seem a little newer in spite of its historical content, and when Braine is in between tracks we see a natural comic who doesn't need to rely on the ‘five-string prop’ she uses so expertly. The song-break-song structure does become a little repetitive, but with Braine in control the hour breezes past.

If you fall in the centre of a Venn diagram of musical comedy fans and art history buffs, then you’re in for the time of your life. Click Here

August 6, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
An Interview With Samantha Pressdee
...You are bringing your show Back to Basics to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
Yes, it’s about waking up to how austerity has affected our front line emergency service workers and therefore the communities that rely on those services. Particularly people with disabilities or mental health issues. After losing my Dad a few years ago the life I was trying to build in London came crashing down. I saw how short staffed the hospitals were, and lost my home in London as I couldn’t afford to pay my private landlord after all the work I’d missed caring for Dad. My husband then left after I had a mental breakdown. I ended up in a police cell because there were no beds available on the NHS. I’m talking about the importance of getting our basic needs met as a society to maintain mental health. I like the idea of an unconditional basic income and think we need more social housing. Especially in London.

Can you tell us about Tom Palmer & why you connected with him so much?
Tom Palmer was a legendary activist, anarchist and spy catcher. A true revolutionary and champion of the underdog. He dropped out of goldsmiths university to become a full time member of the occupy movement. I met him at Sweets Way Resists, the campaign against social cleansing I talk about throughout the show. He was always fighting the good fight, despite being vulnerable himself. We had both been let down by the mental health system. That mutual understanding of what it’s like to lose touch with reality and rely on a broken system to save you was probably what bonded us. He was a kindred spirit. He’d asked me for money for a bus ticket days before, I didn’t have it. I had planned to have him come stay with me in the Black Country after Edinburgh, get him under my mental health team, help him apply for his disability benefits and maybe get him into supported accommodation. Tragically, I was too late. On August 22nd I found out from a Facebook post that he had passed away. I wanted to save him but didn’t have the resources, so he fell through our disintegrating welfare safety net. My show is for him, all I can do now to honour his memory is continue our shared mission.

Can you sum up your show in a single sentence?
It’s a cry for help!

... Click Here

August 6, 2017  The Wee Review (previously TV Bomb)
Review of Juliet Meyers: This Flipping Rescue Dog Has Ruined My Life
Props are an important part of any good stand-up routine, and as the Fringe is famous for the diversity of its shows, it seems only fitting that the materials used in them are diverse as well. However, although most viewers are prepared for the odd cardboard sign or homemade snacks, this may be the first Fringe show of 2017 that includes a dog. And not just any dog; Juliet Meyer’s dog, Homer, is a rescue dog from Portugal, with the cutest ears and most charismatic face of any canine on earth (a big claim, and one which will no doubt be contested by every other dog lover/owner; if you can get through the entire stand-up routine without trying to win Homer’s affection at least once, you have won a near-impossible challenge).

Thanks to Homer, Meyers has, in her own words, become a Boring Dog Lady™. Through her stand-up routine, she explores exactly how Homer has transformed her life, including the woes of separation anxiety and the joy of having unconditional love from a furry companion (“It’s like being in a cult!”).

Although the focus of the show is clearly on Homer – which admittedly does make for a delightfully fun and entertaining hour – it sometimes feels Meyers isn’t quite hitting her stride on social and political commentary as a result. She raises very valid points about how women are pressured into becoming mothers, often by strangers, and her struggles as a feminist when she tries to work up the courage to confront particularly rude or belligerent men. But just as the women in the audience begin nodding in unspoken agreement, the tone suddenly shifts again and it’s back to discussing the way Crufts dogs are the supermodels of the animal world.

Meyer shows that a dog can really transform your life; Homer has made her into a more confident individual who isn’t afraid to tell drunk strangers on trains that if they touch her dog, she will decapitate them – with a knife from the buffet cart, no less. The duo is inspiring and undeniably funny; it just seems like there is so much Meyers wants to say in such a short period of time that the message sometimes gets a little confused between heartwarming dog anecdotes and insightful commentary on the way society treats women today. Click Here

August 6, 2017  The List
Review of Jordan Brookes: Body Of Work
Unsettling and unpredictable fare battles hard against the elements

Jordan Brookes falteringly takes to the stage and efficiently sets the tone: he's a rakish, belligerent performer blessed with an expressive face and macabre disposition.

After a hilariously inappropriate vocal warm-up, he launches into a painfully absurd explanation of the complex relationship he claims to have developed with his now-deceased gran. This allows Brookes to weave a grotesque narrative featuring deeply unsettling thoughts about his closest family members and his beloved dog.

Performing in a tiny side room within an extraordinarily rowdy venue, Brookes is seasoned enough to make significant capital from the noise bleed. He's also very capable of turning audience interaction to his favour while keeping everyone slightly on edge. Brookes is certainly wholly unafraid of drawing out silence for maximum effect, although viewers at the back (while safer from his occasional ire) may miss out on some of his more subtle physical gags.

A truly captivating comedian, Jordan Brookes is wonderfully unpredictable and gloriously menacing, but it's a shame that he doesn't have a stronger ending here. Mind you, it's perhaps in keeping with his chaotic persona that he can't more succinctly bring things to a close. Click Here

August 6, 2017  The List
Review of Iguana Mum
An enjoyably guilt-laden foray into unspeakable truths

Iguana Mum isn't really an iguana, nor is it the name of a weird parenting attitude like 'tiger mom'. Instead, Sindhu Vee is a comedian, a wife and a mother. After bemoaning how certain sources of comedy material are inapplicable to her life situation, she follows the old adage of 'write what you know', turning the focus to domestic matters.

Vee's Danish husband and their enduring marriage, as well as their three children, are fodder for her cynical worldview in which lying is necessary to happiness and children should respect, nay fear, their mothers. Her acerbic perspective and unapologetic delivery of less politically correct home truths are alarmingly persuasive. And her candour about her own culpability in times of marital strife only makes her seem more likeable.

An iguana does make an appearance, verbally rather than physically, and it's worth waiting for as Vee uses it to drive home a point about the dog-eat-dog nature of, well, nature. It's a brisk show, coming in at 40 minutes with not all of the material sticking to her theme but, overall, Vee offers a thoroughly enjoyable, if guilt-inducing, foray into some of the things we dare not say out loud. Click Here

August 6, 2017  The List
Review of Bronston Jones: God Bless Merica 3 - FREE
Incisive if laid-back riffing on a country in crisis

This is the third of US comedian Bronston Jones' shows where he 'takes a look at the state of the nation', and boy has he got plenty to chew on this year. With Trump in charge, the main problem for most comedians is that you can't always top the ridiculousness of the man's actions: who knows what he might have done even in the duration of this hour-long show?

Jones is one of the shockingly small number of Americans with passports, but venturing away from his country gives him the perspective to stand back and ask 'what the hell'? But as it turns out, of course, the political scene looks just as crazy from here as it does over there. Indeed, in some areas of the show, he only needs to relate true stories from the White House (the circumstances of Anthony Scaramucci's recent sacking, for example) to get a raised eyebrow and a laugh. Elsewhere, there's more general fodder as he takes a swipe at the oversized portions and corn syrup-doused food culture which creates a literally massive obesity epidemic.

God Bless 'Merica (3) is a loose, relaxed hour with an audience-suggestion section guaranteeing some differences every day. Bronston Jones provides some enjoyable company with laid-back yet incisive observations. Click Here

August 6, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire
An Interview With Martha McBrier
...You are bringing us your show ‘Balmory Doubtfire,’ to the Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Last year, I nearly died, was the victim of false allegations, tried to stop terrorism, found the man who attacked me years previously, lying in the street, and learned to play the didgeridoo. It’s a show about kindness

Can you sum up the Fringe experience in a single sentence?
I find trying to sum things up in a single sentence very stressful. So, no, I can’t

You’ve been performing at the Fringe for over a decade now, how has the festival evolved in that time?
It’s so big! I love that Free shows and Pay-what-you-like shows have developed in number and credibility. I was the first person to get a 5 star Scotsman review for a free show and I am very proud of that. (ooh get her)

... Click Here

August 6, 2017  Chortle
Review of Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
Harriet Braine archly sets herself up as presenting a course on art history, an easily digestible primer for those unable to take the A-level after government cuts to academic budgets.

With pressure on arts education to deliver a viable career rather than just a broadening of horizons for its own sake, it seems apposite that parody songs about decidedly niche subject matter, should find an early afternoon slot at one of the more out of the way Fringe venues.

Still, if reflections on Cezanne's marital struggles sung to the tune of The Police's Roxanne is your groove, then you'll find plenty to enjoy here.

Accompanied by her guitar and a marvellous trumpet impression that she deploys sparingly, Braine adopts something akin to a supply teacher's persona, mildly irked at the low level of comprehension before her, sternly determined to breeze through the lesson efficiently but unable to suppress her love of art and the eccentrics who've become its most famous names.

... Click Here

August 6, 2017  Chortle
Review of Ahir Shah: Control
3.5 stars

With a neat joke at the start, fiery political comedian Ahir Shah sums up his shtick: to confidently impart a lot of information, which you might only later realise is wrong. Although in truth, all seems pretty spot-on.

It’s a typically ambitious hour from the lefty firebrand, starting with the EU referendum vote which brought out a nasty strand of nationalism and put an arrow – proper English arrow, Agincourt-style – though his previously solid belief that the world was getting more progressive. But in reality, outside his metropolitan liberal bubble, it’s getting less tolerant, and more racist.

He’s keen not to brand every Leave voter the same way – he has a smart, knowledgeably non-racist friend who wanted Out – and avoids too many of the familiar complaints of remain-supporting comedians. After all, he recognises that polarising society is what got us into this pickle in the first place. For balance, he even has a pop at Jeremy Corbyn’s historic love of terrorists and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, but it’s only a brief distraction from the job in hand.

... Click Here

August 6, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Girl In Da Corner
Running through the rain to make it to Jen Wakefield’s Girl In Da Corner, I thought I was going to a standard comedy show. What I found was a truly intelligent art performance which taught me about the experience of being a mixed race person in Britain, 2017. Between tossing out the Grime Outreach program & uncannily natural Indian accents (well, she is half-Indian) her show was completely fun, like flipping through channels on TV; the main character, who is like the host of all of these channels, was the wide-eyed, open-hearted Natasha G-Storm Flex. Through this particular avatar, Jen performs some original Grime songs, whose snazzy couplets are packed full of meaning and melody performed with the startling vivacity of her youth. Through all the characters she presents we see the pressure exerted by society to be ‘normal;’ Jen easily shows that it is best to be ourselves, but it is hard to be yourself when people are constantly asking you why you look different. She is a smart cookie, culturally verteux, a fan of both the Arctic Monkeys & Steely Dan, & one cannot help but notice her intelligence blossoming into a dogmatic sense of humor. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Jen talks about her show as being;
A character comedy show about identity and explores the mixed-race experience that I’ve had. I wrote an article titled Sorry, you’re label has expired about growing up identifying as Anglo-Indian and found it was met with a greater response than expected. Lots of people contacted me to share their similar experiences, so I thought it might be a topical piece to explore in a show, and I hope there might be other people who can identify with the content or it may spark a conversation.

Jen made me question my place of privilege in society, being a white male. While I consider myself to be a very strange person, I am lucky to be able to hide my strangeness behind the body I was born into and which no-one questions as being outside the ordinary. The show gave me empathy for what Jen and other people of mixed race truly experience in life. Jen, a self-confessed ‘jack of all races master of none,’ makes a good connection with the audience, her singing and overall performance skills are elegantly cool and the content of the show is rich in important thoughts about identity. Here in Edinburgh, a lot of the natives are comfortable in their cultural awareness – they visit the Mela once a year, for example – but 45 minutes with Jen Wakefield gives us a direct hotline into the mixed maelstrom that is the global planet, & is worth perhaps a decade’s worth of Melas. Click Here

August 6, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Bleach
There are downsides to most jobs and many come with dangers, hidden or otherwise, but there are usually compensatory factors as well. Working as a rent boy is no exception. Through the character of Tyler Everett, Bleach lays bare one gay boy’s daily ups and downs on the game and exposes a shattering, dark ‘event’.

Writer and performer, Dan Ireland-Reeves, is young and fresh-faced. He has an attractive good-looking ordinariness about him that suggests he’s trustworthy and honest. These qualities validate Tyler’s story and give it credibility. Tyler speaks openly and descriptively. He comes across as just one more ordinary lad who left a dull home in a boring town to find another existence in London. Selling his body wasn't the only option open to him. He could have made money in a regular job, as he did from time to time, but he chose to become a male escort. The hedonistic life of drugs, drink and sex appealed to him and for the most part it was easy money. Most clients weren't that demanding and he came to enjoy what he saw as the kinkier demands of the few. Then, one evening, a reliable regular wanted something rather different and Tyler’s life changed for ever.

On a basement stage that accommodates little more that two steps in any direction, Dan uses the space and his luminous stool to effectively locate the various episodes; the otherwise cramped location aiding the intimacy of Tyler’s tale. He speaks eloquently and clearly, if a little hurriedly at times. Moments of soulful reflection are contrasted with adrenaline-fuelled frustration and fear. The style is simple; there are no hidden depths and nothing profound and it is all the more endearing for that. He presents himself as he, effectively saying, “This is me. This is my story. Make of it what you will. I just want you to hear it”.

Having already won the Write for the Stage award for New Writing at the Greater Manchester Fringe 2017 Dan Ireland-Reeves is clearly a talent to look out for. Bleach has certainly bump-started his career and is sure to entertain his audiences. Click Here

August 6, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Nathan Cassidy: The Man in the Arena
Having performed at the Fringe every year since 2010, Nathan Cassidy’s stage presence exudes comedic professionalism and experience. One admires Mr Cassidy in the same way one admires a great boulder balancing on the edge of a cliff, delivering rock-solid hilarity in the same way that said boulder has taken up its space on earth for aeons. In an earlier interview with the Mumble, Cassidy described his show as being, ‘about bravery in a volatile world.‘ Nathan uses the topics of terrorism, pop culture and fatherhood to explore his subject; the humor is subtle, using slight plays of language which may catch you off your guard, but sometimes explores grand themes such as the terrible events like 9/11 – certainly a brave subject to approach – and by shaking us out of our fear of saying the wrong thing about the tragedy, we can gain new perspectives on these historical events and have a darn good time doing it.

Nathan Cassidy is true, vulnerable and genuine & I had a steady stream of laughter going on throughout Nathan’s performance. Afterwards, I have kept thinking about the topics he covered, his show goes deeper than just having a laugh. I think Nathan is an authentic example of bravery for us all because he dares to go on stage and show us what he, in particular, was put on this earth to do. To see Nathan being his true self gives me courage to find my own calling in life and to be who I am capable of being. To gain such life-assuring convictions or to have a good laugh, don’t miss Nathan Cassidy every evening at the Free Sisters at 19.45. Click Here

August 6, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Matt Price : The Weed Fairy
Appearing live in the bowels of Cabaret Voltaire, you twist down stairs, bend around tight corners and finally get to a foyer with a collection off blacked-out vaults. That’s when I came across the Long Room where the Cornish born Comedian Matt Price is back at the Edinburgh Fringe with his hard hitting, in-your-face, stand-up story-telling extravaganza of a show. The man also know as The Weed Fairy takes no prisoners, and it is apparent from the start of the show that he means business. Like an out of control Tornado, he bombards you with joke after joke and tale after tale, playing the audience like a laughing orchestra. Indeed, the audience are an important part of his show as he works extremely hard to involve them in his murky world of dos and don’ts. The energy and continuous eye contact allows no-one to escape from his ultimate goal, to make you laugh like never before, which he did with consummate ease. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Matt explained how he weaves his comedy web;

I can only really be myself on stage. That’s when I think I connect with the audience the best and when I get the best reaction. I also usually end up having a great story as life seems to hand me certain gifts in that respect. So I take a story and make it into a show. And I suppose they are bit different to the norm, but I like that. I’m the sort of person who things happen to and no matter how bad or weird they might be, I eventually turn them into material.

A trip through Matt’s life is like a roller-coaster that has no way of stopping. Direct, witty and played out with a deep Cornish accent which jabs at us with stitches of laughter, Matt has you hooked with his relentless onslaught of mind-provoking gags. Like a Cornish Pastie bursting at the seams, full of flavour and meat, Matt is here to fill your stomach with Free comedy that will leave you full of joy. When his Father is brought into the fold with stories of Weed growing, you soon become aware that if you want to know anything about pop music you speak to Simon Cowell but if you want to know about Pot, speak to Matt Price and his Dad. This is a true hidden gem of a show that kicks you in the face with life as we know it… Matt doesn’t bite but he will leave you with tears in your eyes. Click Here

August 6, 2017 Beyond the Joke
Article about Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire
Didgeri-don't
News: Didgeridoo-Playing Comedian Told To Didgeri-Don't
By Bruce Dessau on 6/8/2017

Comedian Martha McBrier has come under attack for posing on her Edinburgh poster playing a didgeridoo. Apparently women are not supposed to play the traditional instrument.

McBrier has revealed what happened on Facebook. "I received a message via my website stating that I was being disrespectful to the culture of First Nation Australians because I am pictured in my poster playing a didgeridoo. The message was from a woman and stated 'it's a men's instrument only used by men' and 'is not played by women and has been that way forever'. I was upset but now I feel defiant. I play the didgeridoo in my show and will continue to do so. I actually feel like busking (which is a sentence I never thought I'd say). I mean no disrespect to anyone. But it's my didge and I'll blow if I want to."

According to Wikipedia "traditionally, only men play the didgeridoo during ceremonial occasions, although both men and women may dance. Female didgeridoo players do exist, but their playing takes place in an informal context and is not specifically encouraged by Aboriginal elders." A woman playing the didgeridoo in her show at the Edinburgh Fringe should surely qualify as an informal context rather than a ceremonial occasion.

Martha McBrier: Balamory Doubtfire is at Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake until Aug 27. Info here.

 Click Here

August 5, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of I Can Make You Tory
When you see Leo Kearse — and you should — there’s a very good chance it’ll be a four-star experience. Perhaps even five-stars, if he gets a good tailwind from an up-for-it audience and fewer distractions from passing venue staff, for whom having stand-up performed in the backroom appears to be an annoyance. However, I have to be honest about the show I saw on the night, rather than the one it’s 99% likely to become. Reviewing Preview shows is tricky, you see; especially on the Free Fringe, where everything’s that little bit rougher round the edges.

“Are you ready to become more Right Wing?” Kearse asks enthusiastically, though it doesn’t inspire an energetic response given the lack of Tories — or at least people willing to admit to being Tories — in his audience. So it’s left to Kearse to explain how a Scottish, heterosexual white male raised in Dumfries, albeit by “hippy parents” who thought Leo an appropriate first name, appears to have committed the ultimate rebellion and become one of the few people on an Edinburgh stage this August to utter the words “Thatcher” and “hero” in the same sentence — and possibly mean it. Admittedly, Kearse is also the first to describe his show this evening as “a little bit of a shambles”; and yes, it did feel like a list — of reasons why he’s hacked off by Left Wingers, all desperate for something new to get pissed off about — rather than a carefully structured set.

Nor do many of Kearse’s points — about the Benefits system, Gentrification or Global Warming — really hold up against detailed scrutiny or thought — although he’s always ready to throw in the occasional surprise to keep us on our toes. Alas, while Kearse does makes some good points about different levels of privilege and discrimination, he is unlikely to live up to the promise of his show’s title. Make no mistake, though: even when not firing on all cylinders, Kearse is a genuinely solid performer with just the right balance of on-stage bravado and self-depreciation. Adaptable, imaginative and totally assured. Click Here

August 5, 2017 The Daily Record
Five of the best free shows and events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Edinburgh Festival is finally underway with hundreds of performers and thousands of shows expected to entertain and excite the many visitors to Scotland's capital over the next few weeks.

But for some wanting to maximise their Fringe Festival experience, a couple of days in Edinburgh can turn into an expensive affair.


Yet there are several shows on offer in the city, to help save the pennies for those more expensive headline acts.

Here's five of the best shows and events at the Festival which you don't have to splash the cash on.

Lovehard: Murdered by murder
Andrew White - It was funnier in my head
Katharine Fern is in stitches
CeilidhKids at the Fringe Click Here

August 5, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Andy Stedman - Parental Guidance
An Interview With Andy Stedman
You are bringing your show Parental Guidance to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
Andy : It’s me doing an hour of life tips for Freddie, essentially. I do songs, jokes, some audience stuff. It’s silly but also I hope there’s some moving aspects to it as well. I think anyone can come, it’s not limited to parents and peopel who want to be parents.

Can you sum up your show in a single sentence?
Andy : New dad has no idea what to do now he has a son who he is expected to bring up and give guidance to! Click Here

August 5, 2017  Fest
Review of Breaking Black
Njambi McGrath is something of a rough diamond, though you would hesitate to describe her as such, with the precious gems one of the most obvious resources plundered from Africa by the West. Unpolished and lacking much of the basic stagecraft to engage an audience effectively, McGrath nevertheless has a compelling, rarely heard perspective within UK comedy – that of a Kenyan-born woman, standing up and extolling the benefits of immigration into this country, while shaming it with the racism she's experienced.

Opening with a routine about female genital mutilation makes for a difficult listen, the wry, humorous intent almost suffocated by the attendant squirming. Still, it's part of a piece that challenges the media's focus on negative stories about Africa. Suggesting it harms the continent's “brand”, she can point to the well-intentioned but patronising consequences it's brought to relations with her London neighbours. Persuasive on why immigrants are unlikely to try to undermine the British way of life, she's witty too about the foreign arrivals who want to pull up the rope ladder with their support for Brexit.

Compromised by a delivery that veers unpredictably between impassioned and dryly sardonic, she rarely delves beyond the most superficial analysis of wider social issues and is stronger with personal anecdote, delivering a shocking account of police collusion in racially-motivated exploitation. Fitfully amusing and occasionally insightful, Breaking Black would benefit from some judicious editing. But there are some decent lines in there if you strain to hear them. Click Here

August 5, 2017 John Fleming Blog
Article about What’s your name? World’s Best MC Award Grand Final
John Fleming Blog
What I have been noticing is that there seem to be a lot of posters around town for Nathan Cassidy’s World’s Best MC Award Grand Final. This is the show where I am supposedly one of the judges.

As mentioned in this blog a couple of weeks ago, it seems to me likely to be an attempt to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award and I was convinced I will turn up to an empty room. But with all these posters, there is no way Nathan can avoid real punters turning up. So I do not know what the scam (if scam it is) can be.

The Fringe thrives on uncertainties.
 Click Here

August 5, 2017 The Mumble
Article about Odette!
An Interview With Marina Margarita
You are bringing your show ‘Odette!’ to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
Clown inspired character comedy, ‘Odette!’ tells the story of a ballsy, brash, heavily pregnant Aussie cleaning lady with big dreams of romance and stardom on cheesy American daytime TV soap ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. It’s playful and fun, moving in parts, and unashamedly OTT. Oh, and there are a few songs thrown in for good measure!

How did you select your material for Odette?
A mother of 4, my Mum had a lot on her plate when we were kids so Portuguese mother and daughter team, Odette and Erbelina, used to come and clean the house for us every few weeks. When I was first toying with the idea of Odette as a character I recorded several Spanish and Portuguese friends to try and develop a convincing accent but the minute I stepped on stage in character, a broad ocker Aussie voice came out! I’ve had a ball developing the show through trying 10 – 20 minutes at various comedy cabarets across London. She hasn’t always brought the house down, but I’ve kept all the bits that have and woven them into the show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Can you sum up your show in a single sentence?
Heavily pregnant and hormonal Odette, the Aussie cleaning lady everyone loves to love, floats on soap opera bubbles and shakes her booty to win the heart of super star Ridge at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Click Here

August 5, 2017 Darkchat
Article about Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother
7/10
Well, I have seen a lot of shows over the years, starting in 1986 and I can honestly say I have never seen a show like it.

New York comedian Lewis Schaffer has been an Edinburgh comedian for many years, although I had never previously seen him. However, I was intrigued (and a little concerned) by this year's premise "Unopened Letters From My Mother". A goodish sized audience duly gathered at the Counting House to hear him unveil the story of his relationship with his parents and his sister and how he moved to London while his mother ended up alone in nursing home.

During the last year's of her life she sent Lewis a variety of letters, which until this festival remained unopened. So, in an
attempt to win an award he decided to open one every night of the run and deal with the consequences on stage. What
could possibly go wrong?

Well, the run started will as he was happy with the previous night's show though this convinced him tonight's show would
go badly which naturally, was what transpired. His concern was transmitted to the audience and this quickly became a
tense affair. The moment he opened the letter you could tell his emotions were getting the better of him and this wasn't
turning into the fun Saturday evening people were hoping for and some audience members left.Those that remained soon
became a support team for the struggling comedian who started to ask us directly what he should do, both tonight and
going forward.

This clearly doesn't belong in the comedy section but I feel this is a piece people should see. The rawness on display,
which I suspect is not matched anywhere else in the festival, (although Michelle Shocked comes close) and Lewis's
bravery should be rewarded by a supportive audience as this man clearly needs our love.

(Oddly while composing a tweet in the Press Office about the shows whose voice should I hear behind me but Mr Shaffer. The man clearly has magical powers, another reason to head to the Counting House to see him).

Hopefully, from this review you will have gathered this show isn't for everyone, but my friend didn't enjoy it. But, if you fancy something on the edge this is the show for you! Click Here

August 4, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Bleach
Bleach Broadway Baby Review
Writer and performer, Dan Ireland-Reeves, is young and fresh-faced. He has an attractive good-looking ordinariness about him that suggests he’s trustworthy and honest. These qualities validate Tyler’s story and give it credibility. Tyler speaks openly and descriptively. He comes across as just one more ordinary lad who left a dull home in a boring town to find another existence in London. Selling his body wasn't the only option open to him. He could have made money in a regular job, as he did from time to time, but he chose to become a male escort. The hedonistic life of drugs, drink and sex appealed to him and for the most part it was easy money. Most clients weren't that demanding and he came to enjoy what he saw as the kinkier demands of the few. Then, one evening, a reliable regular wanted something rather different and Tyler’s life changed for ever.

On a basement stage that accommodates little more that two steps in any direction, Dan uses the space and his luminous stool to effectively locate the various episodes; the otherwise cramped location aiding the intimacy of Tyler’s tale. He speaks eloquently and clearly, if a little hurriedly at times. Moments of soulful reflection are contrasted with adrenaline-fuelled frustration and fear. The style is simple; there are no hidden depths and nothing profound and it is all the more endearing for that. He presents himself as he, effectively saying, “This is me. This is my story. Make of it what you will. I just want you to hear it”.

Having already won the Write for the Stage award for New Writing at the Greater Manchester Fringe 2017 Dan Ireland-Reeves is clearly a talent to look out for. Bleach has certainly bump-started his career and is sure to entertain his audiences. Click Here

August 4, 2017 Daily Record
Article about Andrew White - It Was Funnier In My Head
Five of the best free shows and events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Andrew White - It was funnier in my head:
A debut performance but with much anticipation, Andrew White, just 17, takes a look at life as a parent dependant teenager.

Covering all manner of subjects from passing out in PE to travelling to China, the hour-long show is expected to be full of laughs with a mixture of stand-up comedy and poems.

As described in a review by The Poetika Echo as "An intoxicating blend of wit and amusing poetry", Andrew White's comedy act is not to be missed. Click Here

August 4, 2017  The Mumble
Review of Nathan Cassidy: The Man in the Arena
The Mumble review
'Rock-solid hilarity...Nathan Cassidy is true, vulnerable and genuine. His show goes deeper than just having a laugh. I think Nathan is an authentic example of bravery for us all because he dares to go on stage and show us what he, in particular, was put on this earth to do.' Click Here

July 23, 2017 Buxton Fringe
Article about LoveHard: Murdered by Murder
Finalists Buxton Fringe Comedy Award 2017
Comedy

Event

ACCIDENT AVOIDANCE TRAINING FOR CUTLERY USERS: LEVEL 1 (Ian Crawford)
BRAIN RINSE, PUPPETRY OF THE AUDIENCE (Mike Raffone)
KATE BUTCH IN KATE IF YOU WANNA GO BUTCHER (Kate Butch) - AWARD
LOVEHARD: MURDERED BY MURDER (LoveHard)
PUNEL SHOW (Darren Walsh & Mark Simmons) Click Here

July 23, 2017 Buxton Fringe
Article about Kate Butch in 'Kate If You Wanna Go Butcher'
Buxton Fringe Award Winner
Comedy: Event

ACCIDENT AVOIDANCE TRAINING FOR CUTLERY USERS: LEVEL 1 (Ian Crawford)
BRAIN RINSE, PUPPETRY OF THE AUDIENCE (Mike Raffone)
KATE BUTCH IN KATE IF YOU WANNA GO BUTCHER (Kate Butch) - WINNER
LOVEHARD: MURDERED BY MURDER (LoveHard)
PUNEL SHOW (Darren Walsh & Mark Simmons) Click Here

July 21, 2017 Mensa Magazine
Article about Andrew White - It Was Funnier In My Head
Heard the one about the young Mensan stand up performing at the Edinburgh fringe?
South West member and stand up comedian Andrew White is to make his first appearance at the Edinburgh fringe – at the tender age of just 17... That would be a daunting debut for most but Andrew can’t wait.
And if he does get first night nerves he’s got support on hand – his dad Marc will be on stage with him!
“My dad does the warm up for me,” Andrew says. “He’s getting to be quite good...” That last quip is part of the banter that is a life in the White household where mum Debbie has to grin and bear it when the two get going.
In this instance, however, it is more like son like father...
Andrew was the first of the pair to get into stand up, beginning at the age of 15 when he attended an open mic
evening in Salisbury. His talent was spotted by the woman
who ran the evenings and she invited Andrew to become a compere.
“Her name is Flo and she helped me a lot, she helped me develop my stage personality and how to make the one-liners
become stories and then sets.”
One of those sets, It Was Funnier In My Head, became a one-man one-hour show which Andrew took on a mini=tour of the south coast as something of a trial for Edinburgh.
Andrew says (tongue only partly in
cheek): “My dad was inspired by me...
“He had always fancied doing stand up and when I was gigging he went on some courses and then started to
come along.”
Andrew’s show mixes story-telling, observation and shorter one-liners, punctuated by passionately written and delivered comical poems. “A mix of slam poetry and Pam Ayres
– PamSlam if you will.”
This year marks a big step up all round for Andrew as he is heading out on the road for London circuit debuts and is to compete in the South Coast Comedian of the Year contest as well as making his fringe debut.
“It would be great if there are any Mensans up for the fringe and they want to come and see my show,” he says. “I’d love to see them.”
If you do, details are below...
It Was Funnier In My Head is at The
Laughing Horse @ Southside Social
(Venue No. 246) 42-44 Buccleuch St,
Edinburgh EH8 9LP. It runs from
August 3 - 13, starting at 5pm.

July 14, 2017  North West End
Review of Katharine Ferns is in Stitches
Four Stars - North West End
One of the hardest things in comedy must be to play to an audience that numbers less than a dozen. Sadly, tonight at 53Two Katharine Ferns did just that as she brought he latest show “In Stitches” to the Greater Manchester Fringe. It seems 7pm on a Friday night isn’t the most popular time of the week for comedy, however those who did turn up were treated to one of the most moving, witty and sincere performances of this year’s Fringe.

Ferns describes her show as “a comedic storytelling journey about domestic violence, mental illness with some feminism for comic relief.” The show was changed from its original path on the 21st April 2016 when one of her idols Prince passed away in Carver County, Minneapolis and it now revolves around the domestic abuse she suffered during a relationship and the effects that time has had on her life since then.

Make no mistake, this is a very powerful and emotional story told by Ferns which had me transfixed from the moment she walked on stage, for me the fact the audience was so small seemed to make this all the more personal. Countless women everyday are subjected to abuse in relationships and with many staying silent out of fear and ‘love’ for their partners it is rare to hear first-hand recollections of such despicable acts.

The ability to turn moments of absolute fear and subsequent pain into comedy gains my total respect and Ferns does this superbly. Brutally honest from the start this show just goes to prove you can make comedy out of tragedy. There are some wonderful one-line jokes throughout this 1 hour performance, many when you’d least expect them, and there is a small section on kittens to lighten the evening’s proceedings.

Ferns is a mistress of her art and someone I will be making a point of seeing again when she next returns to Manchester. At the end of the show you just want to approach her in the bar and give her a big hug such is the impact she has with her story telling. I urge anyone in town on Sunday to catch this show as it is repeated at 53Two at 7pm.

Reviewer: Paul Downham

Reviewed: 14th July 2017

North West End Rating: ★★★★ Click Here

July 14, 2017 The Scotsman
Article about Club Sol Party
One of The Scotsman's top 10 immersive shows!
 Click Here

July 10, 2017 FUBAR radio
Article about The Idiot's Guide to Kink
FUBAR radio interview
Thomas Dominique joined Ian in studio, he’s currently starring as a lead in Syfy’s exciting new series Blood Drive. The boys chatted about modesty pouches and drama schools. Ros Ballinger was also on the show, talking about her Edinburgh show ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Kink’. Click Here

July 9, 2017 BuxtonFringe.org.uk
Article about Nathan Cassidy: The Man in the Arena
Buxton Fringe Review
'A beautifully structured hour of comedy... having seen Bill Hicks I can honestly say that he is as good as him.' Click Here

July 7, 2017 Buxton Fringe
Article about Kate Butch in 'Kate If You Wanna Go Butcher'
Buxton Fringe Review
The Underground Venues bar was packed for the first performance by Kate Butch and I was in the mood to be indulgent. After all, this was a local performer making their debut, someone we’ve got to know and like over the years in a different context. So far, so patronising.

I hold up my hand to this because this show was a complete revelation. Kate Butch is such a fully-formed creation and her performance is spot-on: intimate, confessional, and very funny. She stalks around the stage, lip-synching to outrageous mash-ups, confiding about coming-out experiences, triggering Powerpoint montages, effortlessly working the audience, suddenly not afraid to wring out the tear ducts of the audience with a beautiful, heart-wrenching show tune. It’s a bravura showing, so assured and well-judged that you can’t quite believe this is a debut.

Obviously it’s rude in places, but Kate is such a warm character, so aware of the audience that she doesn’t put a foot wrong. If you see a more joyous and genuinely funny show this year, I’d be very surprised.

Robbie Carnegie Click Here

July 2, 2017 
Article about Meet the stevens
From Kebab Shop to Fringe
 Click Here

June 30, 2017 BroadwayWorld
Article about John Porter - Five Years Time
John Porter - BroadwayWorld Q and A
 Click Here

June 27, 2017 Broadway World Scotland
Article about CeilidhKids at the Fringe - Free!
EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- CeilidhKids
Tell us a bit about CeilidhKids.

Fun Scottish Dancing for all the family - jump clap, skip and twirl to the music. What better way to kickstart your day at the Fringe than with some family dancing to traditional Scottish music? It's all about joining in, but if your wee one is a bit reluctant, just sitting and enjoying the music is fine too. We're in Edinburgh and Glasgow all year round running family Scottish dancing workshops, parties, classes and fundraisers, but the three weeks at the Fringe spent meeting families from all over the world is something special.


How has it been received in previous years?

Very well - the first year with the Free Festival I had no idea how popular it would be, and so after the first day I had to double the number of sessions just to fit everyone in the room! Numbers fluctuate but even on the busiest days there is usually enough space to dance...


Which dances are covered?

It varies slightly from day to day but always a mix of old favourite ceilidh dances, adapted so that the smallest people can join in, and so that one adult can dance with two partners. We always start with a Gay Gordons and finish with Circassian Circle.

What sets it apart from other shows at the Fringe?

Because we're all about participation! Nobody sits still at a CeilidhKids event - everyone gets up to dance, adults and children alike. To quote a Fringe-going family from a previous year, 'The potential to exhaust an audience isn't something I'd have previously valued when deliberating over the Fringe programme but... it is definitely something I will look for again. Very strongly recommend.' (Entertaining Arlo, Aug 6th 2014)

Who would you recommend comes to join in?

Anyone and everyone! The sessions are aimed at 3-7 year olds and their parents and carers (5 year olds and under must be partnered by an adult or older child), but we welcome everyone at CeilidhKids - if you're happy to dance, we're happy to have you.

Timings for CeilidhKids are available on the edfringe website. Click Here

June 20, 2017 Mumble Comedy
Article about John Porter - Five Years Time
An Interview With John Porter
 Click Here

June 20, 2017 Clare McCartneys Comedy Podcast
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
Samantha is a guest on Clare Harrison McCartney's Podcast
I spoke to saucy punk opet Cherry B & Political anarchic action barbie, Samantha Pressdee on my comedy podcast to promote our opening of our charity comedy night. Click Here

June 15, 2017 Love Midlands Theatre
Article about LoveHard: Murdered by Murder
Murdered by Murder - LoveHard
As something of a Dickens obsessive, I have struggled to ever find anything on stage which comes close to his timeless characterisation and superb naming of the wealth of personalities who appear in his works. The eccentricity and perfect parodying of some of the characters in his novels have never really been replicated with any degree of success for me.

Until Saturday night.

Performing for just one night at The Old Joint Stock in Birmingham was LoveHard, a comedy duo who write and perform their own work.

Tyler Harding and Jacob Lovick's latest tour de force, Murdered By Murder, is set in the home of Lord and Lady Titan in 1930's Devon, ominously named Drenchblood Heights. The production is about 5 guests who turn up to attend a murder mystery evening at the aforementioned creepily named residence, who number Mayor Turnbridge, the local Vicar and Reverend Bellsniff and his rather strange wife, and an extremely annoying, rather dim and pretentious couple called Fortescue Butch Cassidy and Arabella Aribata.

They are all ably attended by a butler appropriately named Shivers and later on we are introduced to the detective who has to come to the residence when the murder mystery evening turns sour, Alistair Bye, nicknamed Ali Bye.

As a backdrop to the murder mystery, there is some consternation among the guests about a jewel thief who is on the prowl in the vicinity.

There is some well performed and appropriately arranged keyboard music in the background at the right moments, which adds to the quality of the production, provided by Nick Charleworth.

The two writers/performers portray all the parts between them. It is an absolute masterclass in characterisation; they move between all the characters which they are playing with ease and professionalism, leaving the audience alternately rolling with mirth and in genuine suspense awaiting the next twist in the tale. There are some beautifully choreographed moments (such as the comedic flash backs which help the audience remember the different elements of the story) and some quite hilarious ad lib-ing and improvisation, which includes them both reminding each other where the fictitious door is on the stage.

What is also astounding is the depth of characterisation which is achieved by the superb writing. As the performance unfolds, we learn of all the different foibles affecting the guests, and all the secrets which they are hiding. With shades of 'Abigail's Party' ringing in our ears, we watch as all the lives of the people unfold before us with excellent comic timing and pace, and there are no 'loose strings' at all by the end.

I must confess to never having seen anything quite as unique as this. The energy which they both inject into the performance is astounding, and it truly seems like there more actors on the stage than just the two of them.

It is not surprising that they won awards at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe runs in 2016.

It was said of Dicken's masterpiece 'The Pickwick Papers' that there was a 'sense of the Gods gone wandering in England'. 'Murdered By Murder' is right up there and wandering alongside those same Gods; I'm sure Dickens himself would have been full of praise for this production. Click Here

June 15, 2017 John Flemings Blog
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
“Frenzied tit grabbing in Wetherspoons” after throat-slitting at the Grouchy Club
Yesterday, performer Samantha Pressdee posted in Facebook: “Frenzied tit grabbing in Wetherspoons, all in the name of feminism, is where last night’s Grouchy Club wound up.” Click Here

June 12, 2017  What's On
Review of LoveHard: Murdered by Murder
LoveHard: Murdered by Murder REVIEW
Murdered By Murder, the award-winning show from talented Birmingham comedy duo Lovehard, left the crowd at The Old Joint Stock Theatre in stitches.

Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding proved themselves to be comic geniuses as they simultaneously portrayed nine totally different characters between them in a spectacularly-written whodunit-style show.

When six guests arrive at Drenchblood Heights, the household of Lord and Lady Titan, for a murder mystery party, little do they know they are in for a night of real mystery with multiple shocking (and hilarious) twists and turns.

With no set or costume changes other than a detective’s hat, the two actors cleverly portrayed each character with a simple change of voice and gait as they seamlessly went from one interesting character to the next with nothing but a 'whoosh' sound.

At times when most of the characters were all around one dining table, they successfully managed to make it hilarious, rather than confusing.

The laughs from the audience didn’t stop during the cleverly-written performance. The fourth wall was broken a couple of times, including when they occasionally made each other laugh, adding to the hilarity of the show.

Lovehard will be performing at Edinburgh Fringe festival again this year, and with the success of this show, the comedy duo are definitely ones to watch.

****

Review by Lauren Cox Click Here

June 8, 2017 The Guardian
Article about Jordan Brookes: Body Of Work
Edinburgh Festival 2017 Comedy Highlights
 Click Here

June 1, 2017 Free Fest News
The 2017 Free Festival programme is Live!
Welcome to 2017 - check out our massive new programme Click Here

May 31, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Matt Price : The Weed Fairy
 Click Here

May 30, 2017 Broadway Baby
Article about The Idiot's Guide to Kink
#EdFringe17: Ros Ballinger presents The Idiot’s Guide to Kink
 Click Here

May 28, 2017 Michael Calcott's Fringey Bits
Article about Odette!
Odette!
Odette is a piece of work! I mean that. She is as tough as nails and as soft as butter, a sarcastic shrew with a romantic streak as big as her mouth. She will make your eyes roll and your jaw drop but most of all she will make you laugh. A lot. Marina Margarita is Odette and is she ever! She takes serious chances with her show. Odette dragoons not one but two audience members into full supporting roles, incorporating them and their reactions fully into the action. And it works! Well, it did the night I attended. But who could resist Odette’s winning (and domineering) personality. She may not be beautiful but she is certainly bold. If you want a good laugh, go meet Odette before she rides off into the sunset. You won’t regret it. Click Here

May 28, 2017 Michael Calcott's Fringey Bits
Article about Odette!
Odette!
Odette is a piece of work! I mean that. She is as tough as nails and as soft as butter, a sarcastic shrew with a romantic streak as big as her mouth. She will make your eyes roll and your jaw drop but most of all she will make you laugh. A lot. Marina Margarita is Odette and is she ever! She takes serious chances with her show. Odette dragoons not one but two audience members into full supporting roles, incorporating them and their reactions fully into the action. And it works! Well, it did the night I attended. But who could resist Odette’s winning (and domineering) personality. She may not be beautiful but she is certainly bold. If you want a good laugh, go meet Odette before she rides off into the sunset. You won’t regret it. Click Here

May 28, 2017 Humans Of The Fringe - Facebook
Article about CeilidhKids at the Fringe - Free!
Humans Of The Fringe
"I've been a Scottish country dancer since I was about 5. Dancing is my passion. I set up a little class for my children and their friends, it was to last 6 weeks. Now 10 years later here we are [Ceilidhkids at the Fringe].

I kept getting asked to do parties, fundraisers and things for schools and nurseries. Eventually I thought this would translate well to the Fringe. The first year I didn't understand about the Free Festival so I shared a paid venue with somebody else. The next year I did it I went with the Laughing Horse Free Festival and I think this is the 5th or 6th year I'll be doing it with them.

Expect fun family Scottish dancing. Everybody gets involved, nobody sits down. Children dance with parents, their grandparents, brothers and sisters. My mantra is, if you're old enough to go to school you can dance with your friend and if you're not old enough to go to school you need a grown-up's hand to hold.

We do the traditional Ceilidh dances but simplified. It's very laid back, people can drop in and out of dances if they want to. It's fantastic because you never know who you're going to get. I get some of my local regulars but mostly it's people who have never done any Ceilidh dancing before or who have never heard of Ceilidhkids. I love it when they come into the room and don't know what's going to happen and by the end of the 45 minutes they've had a fantastic time and they're on a real high. I've ended up having to double my sessions.

I just love the Fringe from the beginning to the end. I love the fact that I live here and everyone else comes here to party."

Caroline Brockbank - Ceilidhkids at the Fringe - Free
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Ballroom)
Venue 170
10:15am - 3rd -15th August only.
11:15am - 3rd - 27th August (except 17th, 22nd, 24th)

#humansofthefringe #edfringe #edinburgh Edinburgh Festival Fringe Click Here

May 28, 2017 Broadway baby/On the mic UK (Podcast)
Article about It's a wretched life
(Intro to Podcast) Tomas returns to the Edinburgh Fringe to perform ‘It’s a Wretched Life’. Experience 15 minutes of stand up and chat with the ‘dark, twisted and absurd’ comedian from Sweden, as he takes his comedy one step further away from the main stream. Click Here

May 26, 2017 A Younger Theatre
Article about Club Sol Party
Club Sol Party, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club
May, the random 5th month in the year where Mother Nature is undecided, and New Years resolutions have been long abandoned. However uneventful May might be, it is full of bank holidays and occasional Spring weather, which can only mean one thing: the holiday season is fast approaching! Cue the automated ‘out of office’ replies and the sudden queuing system taking place on the treadmills at your local gym. With many counting down the days until we board a plane, on Friday, I was in another country without having to even leave the runway.

Sunny Benidorm, or so I was led to believe as I entered the doors at the Working Men’s Club, Bethnal Green, was the destination to be after a laborious end to the working week. With what promised to be a night of laughter, slapstick comedy, and the occasional frolic, Club Sol Party certainly lived up to expectations. Set in a fictional Spanish resort, the stage was draped in glitter tassels with glow sticks galore, and instantly screamed George Michael circa Club Tropicana.

And what do you get when you put four comedians on stage, fortunately not the start of a bad joke. Instead you get The Mauve Coats: the all-singing, all-dancing cabaret act who are the entertainers for the evening. Their toughest challenge was keeping a rowdy crowd entertained for five hours, and their method of attack was to perform a variety show. A warm up ‘Guess the celebrity chin’ quiz broke the ice in time for a raucous drag act, and naturally as more time passed the inflatable holiday memorabilia used for decoration, soon became accessories for many innuendos.

The blue coat style entertainment was far more raunchy than what you would expect at a Butlins, but the tongue-in-cheek humor was appreciated by the audience. Entering the room, The Mauve Coats (Mark Collier, Nicola Kill, Nic Lamont, and Adam Rhys-Davies) were already in character welcoming and creating an atmosphere that encouraged the participants to settle in and prepare themselves for a Friday night extravaganza.

The audience/holiday goers play their part in making Club Sol Party a success. The audience were receptive to the interactive nature of the show, which allowed the energy of the performance to flourish, creating an overall relaxed and joyous atmosphere. The mood allowed the entire room to ignore that we had just battled the sporadic rain travelling to East London, and the extra incentive of winning prizes (courtesy of a raffle), was the icing on top of the cake. The performers had an apparent repertoire with one another on stage that never saw the quartet individually vie for the spotlight and presented a feeling of authenticity when we saw the backstage dramas unfold.

Whilst we were not in Spain, and in walking distance from a beach, Club Sol Party was an evening full of heat, and a show full of craziness yet under complete control in its execution. Click Here

May 22, 2017 Broadway Baby
Article about How To Suffer Better
On The Mic Podcast Interview
https://voicerepublic.com/talks/episode-286-amanda-miller Click Here

May 20, 2017 Freeline Media Orlando
Article about Show Up
Fringe Review: Show Up
Staging a solo show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival offers the artists plenty of wide latitude: they can do comedy, musical performances, historic period pieces, magic shows … the sky’s the limit.
There must be a considerable amount of appeal to being a one-man band, booking a slot at Fringe and then not having to rely on other performers to make it on time. As long as you arrive at Loch Haven Park breathing and fully intact, you’re going to go.
Solo performer Peter Michael Marino, however, approaches the concept a bit differently in his production “Show Up.” He actually starts out solo, but then brings a large number of others in the mix — the audience.
It’s a lot of fun, too, and takes audience interaction to some delightful new heights.
Marino, a gay Catholic boy from Joisey, approaches “Show Up” — the title taken from the old Woody Allen line that 80 percent of life is just showing up — on two intriguing concepts: free form improv, and giving the audience a key role in the action. He succeeds nicely at both.
Marino, the creator/co-producer of SOLOCOM, a program that’s launched more than 400 comedies at The People’s Improv Theater, starts out talking about himself, who he is, why he’s here. Highly animated, quick with a clever line, and a very funny chronicler of his own life, he could probably have created a show just talking about himself. But that was only the intro of this 60-minute show. He has much more ambitious goals in mind.
That includes asking questions of the audience, selecting someone, and asking for their answer. Suffice to say that at the performance I attended, he had some audience members who were pretty funny on their own — and Marino is a fine match for them, locking them into a witty back-and-forth repartee.
He then jots down their answers, and …. well, I won’t reveal much more than that. But he does have some imaginative plans for those answers.
Along the way, Marino involves the audience in other ways — selecting one person to become his stage manager and rearrange the set pieces in-between monologues, assigning another to become the music director to play background music at key moments, and so on.
At the end, the show even transforms into a grand cocktail party. I got the feeling that most people in the audience were having such a good time, they didn’t want the party to end.
Marino’s show truly does feel like no two performances are ever going to be the same, and if you had a fun time at one of them, there’s no reason not to go back for seconds and again watch what he does with those Post-it Notes.
Or just go to listen to his hilarious recollections of growing up, and where his life is now. Click Here

May 20, 2017 Brixton Blog
Article about AUNTIE
Auntie the new one-man comedy comes to Brixton
AUNTIE, the new one-man comedy show from East London-based performer Gavino di Vino offers a new perspective on the African immigrant experience. Having already made appearances at Glastonbury, the Camden and Edinburgh Fringes and been filmed for a forthcoming BBC 3 documentary Queer Britain, Auntie makes the Ritzy her living room for one night only on 23 May.

Auntie is your stereotypical overbearing mother. Brash and judgemental, she laments the life choices of her gay, mixed-race son Mtoto, as well as the expectations she had of life in the UK versus what she got. “I thought I was going to live on a posh estate,” says Auntie, “but he put me in a council estate.”

Born to a Kenyan mother and a Liverpudlian father in Birkenhead, actor, writer and linguist Gavino di Vino moved away from his mother at the age of eight to live with his father in Wigan. Cut off from African culture in a place he describes as “famed for its pies but not so much for its diversity”, Gavino found a window back into that world through Nollywood films and Jocelyn Jee Esien’s sketch show, Little Miss Jocelyn.

“Auntie’s not based on one person” explains Gavino of his character, “but on a combination of voices. I have an East African mother, but I have this West African vision of what an African woman is – this hybrid identity.”

It’s a characteristic that Gavino plays on heavily throughout the show. Auntie came to the UK from the fictional African nation of ‘Kengeria’ wearing a gele on her head and a Kenyan flag around her waist.

It was this clash of East meets West Africa that paved the way for Auntie, but it wasn’t until Gavino moved to London for university nearly three years ago that AUNTIE would fully materialise.

“Living in East London I get inspiration every day,” he says. “You’ll have the yummy mummies pushing their prams down Ridley Road market on their way to some trendy café, then you’ll have Auntie selling her wares on a stall, then you’ll have Mtoto going and buying some things for his drag show, so all these things will be happening and I just find it fascinating.”

Jokes aside, AUNTIE doesn’t shy away from controversial issues. From immigration and gentrification to religion and homophobia, the show takes an in-your-face approach to race and identity in London.

The character of Mtoto, is Gavino’s interpretation of what he would have been like had he grown up in London. An “east London queen”, Mtoto clashes with his conservative mother and questions how growing up in London affected his own identity. “It’s placing my own experiences, and the kind racism and the difficulties I experienced, in a London context,” says Gavino.

“It’s an exciting time to be doing this.” He adds. “I think people have xenophobia in their minds, and when they see my show they’ll be able to read things into it. I’ve had people laughing all the way through and then coming up to me afterwards and saying, ‘Oh my gosh that was so intense’.”

AUNTIE opens May 23 Upstairs at The Ritzy at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5. Click Here

May 18, 2017 On The Mic
Article about No Name Show
#EdFringe17: Tai Paschall - The Funniest Guy in Dubai
Enjoy 15 minutes of stand up and chat with Tai, the US born comedian and performer based in Dubai. His urban style has been described as a comic take on a Drake / Linkin’ Park mash-up. His first stand-up comedy show ‘Half-Hood’ debuted the at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe - and this year sees the follow up, ‘Trans-Gangster’.

‘Trans-Gangster’ is appearing as part of Edinburgh’s Free Festival. For more info check out Tai on Twitter @mrfatmanswag

Stand Up comedy performance provided by the artist for promotional purposes. May contain material that some find offensive. © 2017 On the Mic. Produced in association with Broadway Baby, Fringepig and Voice Republic. Click Here

May 18, 2017  Voice Mag
Review of C'est La Vegan
4 Stars
Chawner deserves a place among the upper tiers of British comedy. This comes out in his execution, writing, and timing Click Here

May 15, 2017  Remotegoat.com
Review of Bright Lights, Big City Impro
"A Masterclass in improvised comedy"
There is no doubt about it-the assembled performers/actors/improvisers in this hour long presentation know their craft and are never stumped for words, situations or rapport. The show is brilliantly held together by compare-Alistair Thomas.

The evening is crazy, unexpected and off the cuff and brilliant-as long as you're not expecting anything too taxing on the brain. As a lady sat next to me remarked- "well it does what it says on the tin"! - it certainly does.
With the simple means of a "spin the wheel" and a lot of suggestions from an appreciative audience - time flies by in a series of improvisation set ups, drama school games and everything played for comedy - with subtlety going for nothing.

Like all improvisation - the rules of being open to suggestion, thinking on your feet, never blocking your fellow performers and razor sharp decisions are demonstrated here to perfection.

The evening is zany to say the least and I did wonder if my drink had been spiked at one point ! But-even at 1pm in the afternoon-The show works like a dream-as long as the audience plays along with you-and at the performance I attended-"the audience went wild"! A word of warning- anyone expecting a coherent evening -forget it ! If you want an open minded-"go with the moment", fun packed romp-this is the show for you.

I'd love to see this show played in "the round" or a version where they encourage audience members to join them onstage-as I have no doubt this talented crew can cope with anything. A refreshing change to the Brighton fringe-this group will surely go from strength to strength. Click Here

May 15, 2017 On The Mic
Article about Paul Revill: Revillations
On The Mic Podcast
A 15 minute podcast interview with clips of stand up from Paul Revill. Click Here

May 13, 2017 Voice Mag
Article about C'est La Vegan
Chawner deserves a place among the upper tiers of British comedy
My choice last year for the Pick of the Fringe, Dave Chawner returns with a new show very much a sequel to last year's show, Circumcision.
Dave Chawner: C’est La Vegan, work in progress
Having established himself as fearless, heartfelt, and comfortable discussing taboos, Circumcision explored masculinity and its expectations and its relationship with openness and mental health. Chawner's decision to go vegan was an extension of this and provided ripe ground to explore the stigma around veganism, specifically for men. The two shows fit nicely together.
The two also reveal a lot about Chawner's relationship with food, which he describes as 'complicated'. He reveals that his past with food and self-image and masculinity enable him to treat veganism with a pinch of salt, having dealt with worse, more damaging misconceptions in his life. All this while being able to tell the jokes about himself that you know that other people will have bored him with.
His delivery hasn't changed – it demonstrated once again how Chawner deserves a place among the upper tiers of British comedy. This comes out in his execution, writing, and timing. It actually leaves precious little to write about in a review.
It's another experience to see a work in progress. Oftentimes, as Chawner did, comedians preface the show by announcing that there'll be gaps and note consulting. Chawner continued to improvise whilst he dropped off the edge of the stage to play some music and process his notes, which served to present his impressive astuteness and professionalism.
The shattering of expectation came right until the end where, rather than finish with quintessentially British sarcasm, he took the heartfelt approach of beseeching the audience to encourage open-mindedness. What of this approach, though? It worked for an afternoon to early evening show we sat in at 16:45, above an overflowing Quadrant. The audience appreciated the intimacy. But in a primetime show, which he could also sell out, a sharper finish that puts a humorous twist on the same message could make it a memorable bit of structured comedy. Click Here

May 11, 2017 On The Mic Podcast
Article about Andy Stedman - Parental Guidance
On The Mic Podcast - Andy Stedman
15 minutes of stand-up, music and chat with musician and comedian, Andy Stedman. As the father of a young son, Freddie Elvis Stedman, and on the basis that comedians should perform on subjects that they know, Andy is coming to Edinburgh to impart some Parental Guidance. Click Here

May 10, 2017 On The Mic Podcast
Article about Andy Stedman - Parental Guidance
On The Mic Podcast Episode 272 - Andy Stedman
15 minutes of stand-up, music and chat with musician and comedian, Andy Stedman. As the father of a young son, Freddie Elvis Stedman, and on the basis that comedians should perform on subjects that they know, Andy is coming to Edinburgh to impart some Parental Guidance. Click Here

May 9, 2017 Chortle
Article about James Bennison: How to be a Winner
James Bennison: How To Be A Winner
James Bennison must have been watching a hell of a lot of Challenge TV for his latest show, which recreates some of the cheesiest game shows of the past 30 years. So don’t go expecting intellectual enlightenment.

The format plays to his talents, requiring him to ramp up the jovial energy – even in this thin-on-the-ground fringe audience – and cajole us into being contestants, sidekicks or a braying mob. How To Be A Winner is no passive experience; as Bennison points out, it’s ‘the most interactive show that claims to be comedy’ around. But from within his gold sequinned jacket, he channels every upbeat holiday rep going, with his confident bonhomie getting the job done.

Bygone trash TV may tap into a welcome nostalgia, as plenty of other producers have already noticed. Dave Benson Phillips has revived Get Your Own Back as a live show, and Knightmare Live has used the original children’s series for a knowing theatrical remake, adding plenty of ironic nods while maintaining the fun of the original.

Both these are among the 16 possible genes that could feature in How To Be A Winner. Four of them are selected by a wheel of fortune (renamed, as so many of the components of this show are, to avoid a copyright claim) for each night’s show.

It’s a bit unfortunate, then, that first out of the gate today is Bennison’s version of Knightmare, in which our bold adventurer must avoid certain random death while wearing a bucket on his head. The set-up’s good, but the limitations of the original soon become the limitations of this rehash, too, and without any TV magic to cover it, this becomes an over-long segment that doesn’t bear comparison with the official stage reboot.

Limitations also become very apparent on Play Your Cards Right, which even Bennison seems to lose faith in, How this ridiculously simple game of ‘higher or lower’ ever became a staple of primetime entertainment is a mystery. It certainly shows Bruce Forsyth must have earned his money.

These games depend rather too heavily on watching things on a screen, especially the non-random cards of this version of Play Your Cards Right. The other two segments tonight – Blankety Blank and Supermarket Sweep – fare all the better for taking place entirely in the room, getting everyone involved in the shenanigans.

The whole show is shlocky and cheerfully low-rent – adjectives that apply to the host as much as the games – yet is fun precisely because it is so tacky. Some of tonight’s segments could certainly have been tightened up without losing that lo-fi appeal, but as Bennison acknowledges, it’s hard to test this stuff out without an audience Click Here

May 4, 2017 The Plus Ones
Article about Daniel Muggleton - Let's Never Hang Out
Let's Never Hang Out at Sydney Comedy Festival
The Sydney Comedy Festival is back, and with it a whole shedload of new talent, old favourites, and emerging stars. After touring Edinburgh Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival, Daniel Muggleton returns with a brand-new show, Let’s Never Hang Out.

Comedy festivals can be a blessing and a curse. The plus side being tonnes of new acts and incredible talent right on your doorstep. The down side – trying to decide who to see. I previously picked the top ten acts worth seeing this year, and Muggleton was one of them. Law student turned comedian, with an array of comedy shows and festivals to his name, Muggleton sounds impressive.

Having never seen him live, my plus one and I headed over to The Factory in Marrickville to find out if he lived up to the hype. The matchbox theatre was full but the setting still felt intimate. Muggleton played on this by interacting with his audience — picking particularly on the front row.

After seeing the show I can confidently say that I back my choice. Muggleton was fresh, self-aware, and obviously talented. His show was an hour nonstop of laughs, and he covered an incredible amount of material. His intelligence shines through the jokes and lifts them to an even higher level.

His topics broached everything from naming DJs to the politics of voting, rich kids in Sydney, and sex. Part well-rehearsed comedy gold and part off-the-cuff witty banter, I’d been excited to see him and I found him even more likeable than I’d expected. Click Here

May 3, 2017  The Arts Review
Review of Bleach
The Arts Review- Bleach Review
In his excellent comedy show, “Smart Casual,” comedian David Mills tops his list of things that have gone out of fashion, but haven't quite realised it yet, with gay. For Mills, as for many others, gay is so over. They could have a point. Marriage equality, corporate sponsorship of Gay Pride, the Eurovision Song Contest, Graham Norton, gay has become so mainstream, it seems it practically is the mainstream. Some would even go so far as to argue that there’s no longer a need for a Gay Pride parade. So is there a need for an International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival? In light of the above, you could argue, possibly not. Yet in light of the mass shooting in Pulse Nightclub in Florida almost a year ago, and of what’s reported to be happening in Chechnya today, you might say it’s needed now more than ever.

At its best, gay theatre has produced some hugely important works and world class writers over the centuries. There are countless precedents here, from Oscar Wilde, the original inspiration for the IDGTF, through to “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Angels in America” and our own “High Heels in Low Places,” to name but a few. Standard bearers dealing with relevant issues, be that AIDS or homophobia, as well as hugely important theatrical works in their own right. With works from homegrown acts, as well as an international contingent from England, the U.S.A., Germany, Canada, Mexico and Scotland, IDGTF certainly has high ambitions of being part of that theatrical legacy. But can the largest LGBT festival in the world deliver on those ambitions?


On the evidence of “Bleach” by British writer and performer, Dan Ireland-Reeves, produced by British Exist Theatre, the IDGTF is certainly off to a solid start. A one-man performance, “Bleach” weaves a dark tale of Tyler Everett, a small-town boy in the big, London smoke, who becomes a rent boy for the money, and for the sex. You have to enjoy what you do, Tyler claims, and he most certainly does, with his quicksilver knapsack full of all the essentials he needs to make the night work. Maybe it’s because he’s now a Londoner, but money is what matters most at the end of the day, and any way you can get it is okay in the end, right? Yet in the streets and penthouses of London, the havoc a rent boy subjects his body to is nothing compared to the insidious damage to his soul, sold, like his body, for whatever he can get for it. In the end, it might all be too much, living life so close to the dark it could be snuffed out in a moment. But when the road to hell is littered with not just good intentions, but bad ones too, or no intentions at all, seeking the ultimate disconnect from yourself might just be the inevitable, final disconnect to top all those that have already gone before.

With “Bleach” Dan Ireland-Reeves delivers a powerful, gripping and intelligent script that walks through the clichés, yet avoids them in the process. Yes, there’s drugs, danger, sex, and even dangerous sex, but that’s not where the darkness lies. From the outset, Tyler Everett’s darkness is a darkness of the soul, one that disconnects him morally and personally from all that he knows should matter, allowing him to do those darker things he knows he should never accept as normal. He wants it to matter, yet he’s driven to explain why it doesn’t, to rationalise it, excuse it, and himself, begging for your forgiveness and understanding, yet not really caring enough if you do understand. Throughout “Bleach,” interest is maintained in Tyler’s struggles, for the most part, though it does slacken off about the three-quarter mark for a spell when musings become ramblings, losing a little of their impact in the process. Yet once normal service resumes, Tyler’s harrowing tale becomes all the more harrowing for being utterly recognisable. The context might be that of a rent boy in extreme circumstances, but the moral and personal experience it speaks to is frighteningly familiar.

Ireland-Reeves as Tyler delivers a deceptively understated performance, offering what almost looks like raw inexperience at times, that's utterly beguiling and wonderfully effective. His portrayal of a young man whose soul is almost extinguished, dimmed down to the point where there’s just enough light left to highlight the darkness, just enough feeling left to know he feels nothing, is always credible and engaging, showing just enough naivety and vulnerability to remind us that there is still someone here worth saving. Director Bethan Francis keeps pace moving along, delivering a production that, if it shows a little anxiousness in places, hits just the right level of intensity for the most part.

There may be something old-school-fringe about IDGTF, with its off-centre and underground venues, but sometimes that’s where precious gems are found. “Bleach” is one such gem. For IDGTF isn’t just about representing, or celebrating, gay culture through theatre, it’s also about interrogating it, questioning it, as part of the larger human experience. This “Bleach” does very, very well. Pulling no punches, "Bleach" doesn’t feel the need to rain them down on you either, and becomes even more powerful for not trying to be overtly powerful. A potential underground classic, "Bleach" could very well turn into an over ground success. Be able to say you saw it when, and go see it now.

“Bleach” by Dan Ireland-Reeves, produced by British Exist Theatre, runs at The Outhouse, Capel Street, as part of The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival until May 6th Click Here

May 2, 2017  The Outmost
Review of Bleach
The Outmost- Bleach Review
This a darkly funny and in-your-face one-man show that tells the story of Tyler Everett, a young and very unapologetic rent boy, as he navigates his way through the seedier side of modern London.



Written by and starring Dan Reeves-Ireland, in some ways this bad-boy tale may be a familiar enough one for Gay Theatre Festival audiences, but what sets it apart is the quality of the writing, along with a stand-out performance by Reeves-Ireland. In Tyler he creates a complex character who is both cynical and manipulative, but almost impossible not to like for his honesty and insight.

It’s a very fine line to tread for an actor, but Reeves-Ireland manages it with aplomb, offsetting the play’s darker moments with flashes of a barbed wit. It all makes for a gripping, shocking story. Recommended. Click Here

April 19, 2017 
Article about Marcus Ryan - ¿Hablas Inglés?
Melbourne Audience review
“This guy was really sweet and really funny. I almost wish I

would have gone earlier in the festival so I could have gone

twice. He sparks your sense of adventure and has a good

time doing it, and it’s an equally hilarious experience for both

Spanish speakers and non-speakers. Marcus is a strong story

teller and keeps you on the edge of your seat. As a Hispanic

person, I was surprised that I didn’t get uncomfortable, as I

fully expected to considering that Australians generally aren’t

very knowledgeable about Latin American culture. You are

basically losing money by not going, I ended up donating the

little bit that I had because I felt bad that I paid so little. This

show is not to be missed and I’m excited to see what he does

in the future!” (Ali R) – Audience member, Melbourne 2017

April 16, 2017 Syn Media
Article about Marcus Ryan - ¿Hablas Inglés?
Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Marcus Ryan ¿Hablas Inglés?
 Click Here

April 10, 2017  Beat Magazine
Review of Mae Martin: Dope
 Click Here

April 9, 2017  popculture-y
Review of Self Sabotage
Review: George Dimarelos’ Self Sabotage is “delightfully insightful and funny”
Everybody has that moment when they look back on life and decide they’ve completely messed everything up. George Dimarelos’ stand up show Self Sabotage is a delightfully insightful and funny take on how the decisions we make can affect our lives.

Self Sabotage starts out slow; Dimarelos flirts with his audience, he allows them to get to know him and his style of comedy. He draws the audience into the performance, but doesn’t take compliments well. By pinpointing people in the crowd and riffing off their compliments he draws them into a conversation about the ideals of masculinity and why men don’t think they can stare at themselves in public bathroom mirrors. It makes you think about where this behaviour came from before he takes everything in a completely different direction, leaving you confused and amused.

As a performer, Dimarelos is very Australian. He’s charming and quick-witted as well as being a lad who jokes about girls and feelings through a distinctly male lens. This masculinity isn’t unwelcome though; he manages to tie in how to ask a girl out and the whole club experience though a fresh and amusing perspective. He’s confident, he’s funny (and he knows it), and as a second-generation immigrant that, assumedly, has never worked in a café, Dimarelos has some strong ideas about how brunch should be handled.

Throughout the performance he pitters off into tangents; throws out zingers in the form of one-liners and offhand comments that seem as if they’ve just been made up on the spot. It feels like you’re at the pub with a friend and he’s telling you the story of his latest wacky adventure, the audience is suddenly full of his mates and everyone is in on the joke.

George Dimarelos may have a stage made of milk crates but for an hour this stand-up comedian manages to make you forget the little details. Self Sabotage is a fantastic fun-filled hour of nothing but good times. Click Here

March 16, 2017 Broad Street Review
Article about The Last Emperor of Mexico
A meaty role
More and more, it’s Fringe all year round, not just for a few weeks in September. The Fringe do-it-yourself aesthetic, as well as its unconventional storytelling techniques, performance lengths and times, and theater spaces are all part of the fun of Chris Davis’s new one-man show, The Last Emperor of Mexico.


The man, his mission, and his meats. (Photo courtesy of Chris Davis)
Historical footnote

A sequel of sorts to Davis's 2016 Juan-Winfield Escutia-Scott, or the Mexican-American War, a Butcher's Play, Davis performs this 45-minute history himself, playing the title character, an Austrian prince tapped by Napoleon III to become the short-lived Second Empire of Mexico’s only Emperor, Maximilian I, in 1864. Davis drafts audience members to play the character’s mother and wife, creating their conversations in modern language and attitudes. His talk with Napoleon about the job is priceless: Two guys joking in a bar about a ridiculous opportunity.

This makes historical footnote Maximilian I a relatable guy. Duped into thinking the Mexican people want him to rule, Maximilian takes over at age 31, deposing elected president Benito Juarez. Davis dons a red-and-gold cape, gives his wife a tiara, and reveals how this unlikely leader, who spoke five languages, made progressive changes such as abolishing child labor and reducing the work week’s customary 80 hours.

The history is all true, Davis assured me after the show, and there’s more than he could include in his freewheeling script. He answered questions while serving the audience authentic Mexican food (included in the ticket price).

Davis does it all

When I arrived at Los Amigos, a little corner deli/butcher shop in the heart of the Italian Market on Ninth Street (the same deli that hosted his earlier Mexico-themed show), Davis wore his blue double-breasted officer’s coat with tails and set props around the shop. As the audience arrived – 16 of us, busting the planned capacity by four – he greeted each party, explained the menu (tamales, quesadillas, soda), took orders, and asked us to provide revolutionary nicknames to be used later in the show. When extra seats were needed, he broke out more folding chairs, explaining that he'd brought them from home.

When producing theater almost anywhere, you need to invest in some chairs.

With a variety of techniques – narration, scenes played with audience members as characters, direct address as Maximilian, brief readings of historical documents – the last emperor’s fascinating story unfolds. Director Mary Tuomanen, Davis’s collaborator on his fine One-Man Apocalypse Now, Bortle 8, and other solo works, helps Davis build to its inevitable end this often-hilarious story about a man so proud of his lush beard that he refused to shave to save his life. He has a winking quality, assuring us that history is fascinating and fun, without drawing conclusions or highlighting parallels to today’s politics (though there are opportunities) – beyond a quick reference to our president’s trademark red baseball cap.

When this engaging play ends, less than an hour after its 6:30pm start, Davis serves Los Amigos’s treats (also available for purchase) and the little shop becomes a cozy party. Other than occurring at Los Amigos, which Davis helps with a cut of the box office and publicity (I’ll be going back for more tamales!), The Last Emperor of Mexico could play living rooms, art galleries, classrooms, or any other space. A few years ago, we would only have seen such a show in the Fringe. Now, theater is happening everywhere, at any time and any length. We're evolving.

 Click Here

March 12, 2017  The Wee Review
Review of Zahra Barri: Talk Like An Egyptian
The Wee Review Zahra Barri: Talk Like An Egyptian at Yes Bar
The title reveals one half of Zahra Barri’s cultural background, she tells us the other half is Irish, and she draws on both for a set of East-meets-West, clash-of-cultures material here at Glasgow International Comedy Festival.
Identity, immigration and Islam are standard parts of the modern comedian’s armoury, but Barri owns her personal take, both in style and content.
She keeps things light. The messy business of politics doesn’t get much of a look in. This is more about leaping from cultural assumptions (Middle Eastern women are hairy) into everyday trifles (the mechanics of bikini waxing), with burqas and virgin-seeking suicide bombers encountered in passing.
Barri has Isy Suttie‘s smiley semi-awkwardness about her, which is instantly disarming. And today, her cat jumper, tartan skirt and hair-ribbon also conspire to give her an air of young innocence. Whether it’s a deliberate part of her shtick, or just what she threw on today, it’s hard to tell, but to some extent it’s complementary to her act, which involves a degree of wide-eyed bewilderment at the ways of the world.
She has no shortage of material. Her set-ups are quick, and the pay-off lines are plentiful. On some, though, she is still feeling for the right delivery. Sometimes she seems unsure where the laughs should hit, sometimes she’s flagged us to the punchline. As she checks her notes towards the end, she apologises and says she should have billed it as work-in-progress. In truth, it’s really not that far off finished, just needing more stage time. By the time she reaches the Three Sisters at the Fringe, it should be ship-shape.
In the meantime, she might usefully gen up a bit more for Scottish gigs. A wag in the audience says he’s from Middle Easterhouse (geddit?) At first it whooshes over her head, but she manages to dig herself out OK. She also seems to miss the irony of telling us people and cultures are “better together” in, of all places, the Yesbar. A gag or two baiting Scots on that point might have worked a treat. She could probably get away with it too.
Taking a megabus to Glasgow for a tiny, pay-what-you-want lunchtime slot is the sort of barmy dedication that deserves respect. But this run-out is definitely worth Barri’s trip, and bodes well for Edinburgh.
 Click Here

March 10, 2017  BgBen.co.uk
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka – Review
The Performance The Burning Gadulka by Rajko Baichev presented by Miro Kokenov is an extremely exciting journey that reveals universal problems through the prism of folklore traditions and music.

The protagonist in this story is a Gadulka player (Miro Kokenov) with years of experience in the folklore ensemble. The Gadulka player from the outset clearly indicates the source of his distresses – the Gadulka (his own musical instrument) and the problems the gadulka has caused him. Problems like – fear of taking responsibility, self-pity, his inability to keep pace with the modern times and his inability relationship of the other gender. The Gadulka player persistently blamed the gadulka for his shortcomings and failures. He may as well have chosen a chair or a pen to lash out his inmost anger, dissatisfaction, and interpersonal inadequacy. The gadulka is a mere symbol that brings out all our hidden personal issues and fears.

The Burning Gadulka also reveals the issue with technology reducing the demand for unique craftsmanship and crashing traditions into pixels. The Gadulka player is extinguishing and computers play forever finer tunes. The folklore ensembles breathing their last breaths with last standing members who have no one to hand their skills over to. Some get by from one concert to another, making ends meet, just! Others, however, leave the ensemble and abandon their instruments. I never had the perseverance it takes to master an instrument, but I know it takes years of excruciating labour. It’s like a child that you have brought up with so much care, such efforts and pain. Now seeing it’s all been in vain, must be heart breaking!

Finally, the Gadulka player finds his strength and smashes the gadulka into pieces. Then we see him alone, waiting for the change that will never come, with all his personal issues still unresolved.

After the show I asked myself what is my ‘Gadulka’. For me it was my parents. Only if they’d not argued so much, if they’d not split up, if they’d not sent me to live and study alone at 13 years of age… I would blame them for all my struggles, all my miseries. Then I grew up and met people with perfect families, who were going through the same struggles and so I snapped out of the blame game and managed to get a grip of my life. But not many manage to do so. I wonder what’s your ‘Gadulka’? Do you also use alcohol to run away from it all? Do you use all sorts of excuses, outside of your control or buried into the past, for your failures today? People have a unique way to see beyond the cover and pierce into the depths the others’ self-worth.

On the one hand I'm familiar with technological advancements and I can’t help but favour it, but on the other hand I think of the performance I saw where the symbols of one nation - its folklore and traditions are slowly disappearing due to upcoming technological development. A sinking realisation dawned on me that this loss is irreversible. And I cherished ever more this consuming and purifying hour I spent watching The Burning Gadulka performed by Miro Kokenov. I hope the audience will take this chance to enjoy Bulgarian folklore and as well as The Balkan’s culture. Click Here

March 1, 2017  Whats On In Adelaide
Review of Jez Watts: Sex, Lies & Videogames
Overall rating: ★★★★

On a stiflingly hot Tuesday evening, Jez Watts presented us, his unwitting audience, with hilarious stories from his enigmatic life. On one hand, we met Mr. Watts, an ex-Australian Army soldier who spent an admirable eight years at university studying neuroscience. On the other, we have recreational drug enthusiast, Mr. Supreme, tackling the issues of untimtely bowel movements and horrific public toilets. It’s the fusion of both of these Jez’s that produces a hearty, solid 50 minutes of comedy with a genuinely loveable, charming character.

Despite the small crowd the evening I attended, due largely, I would imagine, to the aforementioned suffocating heatwave that had swept over Adelaide – to venture through a steaming hot city or lie comatose in front of an air-conditioner at home? – Jez was eager to work with the audience, involving the punters and creating little in-jokes that produced an air of comfort and welcomeness that is often absent in larger shows.

Jez Watts’ Smug Face was the perfect show to end a long working day – grab yourself a pint from the bar downstairs, sit back and enjoy a good, uncomplicated night of comedy with your endearing host. If anything, I just wish we had more time with Jez. I felt we only just scratched the surface of this young comedian’s baffling life and I left desperate to hear more. Click Here

February 23, 2017  Broad Street Review
Review of The Last Emperor of Mexico
A meaty role
More and more, it’s Fringe all year round, not just for a few weeks in September. The Fringe do-it-yourself aesthetic, as well as its unconventional storytelling techniques, performance lengths and times, and theater spaces are all part of the fun of Chris Davis’s new one-man show, The Last Emperor of Mexico.


The man, his mission, and his meats. (Photo courtesy of Chris Davis)
Historical footnote

A sequel of sorts to Davis's 2016 Juan-Winfield Escutia-Scott, or the Mexican-American War, a Butcher's Play, Davis performs this 45-minute history himself, playing the title character, an Austrian prince tapped by Napoleon III to become the short-lived Second Empire of Mexico’s only Emperor, Maximilian I, in 1864. Davis drafts audience members to play the character’s mother and wife, creating their conversations in modern language and attitudes. His talk with Napoleon about the job is priceless: Two guys joking in a bar about a ridiculous opportunity.

This makes historical footnote Maximilian I a relatable guy. Duped into thinking the Mexican people want him to rule, Maximilian takes over at age 31, deposing elected president Benito Juarez. Davis dons a red-and-gold cape, gives his wife a tiara, and reveals how this unlikely leader, who spoke five languages, made progressive changes such as abolishing child labor and reducing the work week’s customary 80 hours.

The history is all true, Davis assured me after the show, and there’s more than he could include in his freewheeling script. He answered questions while serving the audience authentic Mexican food (included in the ticket price).

Davis does it all

When I arrived at Los Amigos, a little corner deli/butcher shop in the heart of the Italian Market on Ninth Street (the same deli that hosted his earlier Mexico-themed show), Davis wore his blue double-breasted officer’s coat with tails and set props around the shop. As the audience arrived – 16 of us, busting the planned capacity by four – he greeted each party, explained the menu (tamales, quesadillas, soda), took orders, and asked us to provide revolutionary nicknames to be used later in the show. When extra seats were needed, he broke out more folding chairs, explaining that he'd brought them from home.

When producing theater almost anywhere, you need to invest in some chairs.

With a variety of techniques – narration, scenes played with audience members as characters, direct address as Maximilian, brief readings of historical documents – the last emperor’s fascinating story unfolds. Director Mary Tuomanen, Davis’s collaborator on his fine One-Man Apocalypse Now, Bortle 8, and other solo works, helps Davis build to its inevitable end this often-hilarious story about a man so proud of his lush beard that he refused to shave to save his life. He has a winking quality, assuring us that history is fascinating and fun, without drawing conclusions or highlighting parallels to today’s politics (though there are opportunities) – beyond a quick reference to our president’s trademark red baseball cap.

When this engaging play ends, less than an hour after its 6:30pm start, Davis serves Los Amigos’s treats (also available for purchase) and the little shop becomes a cozy party. Other than occurring at Los Amigos, which Davis helps with a cut of the box office and publicity (I’ll be going back for more tamales!), The Last Emperor of Mexico could play living rooms, art galleries, classrooms, or any other space. A few years ago, we would only have seen such a show in the Fringe. Now, theater is happening everywhere, at any time and any length. We're evolving. Click Here

February 23, 2017  Bunbury magazine
Review of Omar & Lee's Countercultural Comedic Cavalcade
Omar & Lee present: We Are All Idiots
 Click Here

February 23, 2017  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Omar & Lee's Countercultural Comedic Cavalcade
Omar & Lee - 'WE ARE ALL IDIOTS'
 Click Here

February 22, 2017 NewsWorks
Article about The Last Emperor of Mexico
Mexican history comes to life at Italian Market butcher
A Philadelphia writer and actor will perform a one-man play about the last emperor of Mexico, in a Mexican butcher shop.

It's a continuation of a previous play in the same butcher shop last year, about the Mexican-American War of 1846, which proved to be good for business.

Chris Davis performed all the parts of that play in Los Amigos Meat Market, on 9th Street in the Italian Market, using the meat case and the soda cooler as props. At a brisk 15 minutes, it was a scrappy, goofy production that ended with fresh tamales for everyone.

"My business went better," said owner Raul Aguilar. "People talk on Yelp, all the websites and Facebook. They talk about the show and ask about the food."

Aguilar, who has owned the butcher shop since 2007, is in a crowded field of butchers on 9th street, some of which have been established for many generations. He is trying to shift his business from selling cuts of meat to prepared foods unique to Mexican culinary tradition, like chorizo sausage, marinated carne asada, and tamales.

Plays about Mexican history have been a shot in the arm. His tamales now outsell his raw meat. He is adding tacos and sandwiches to the menu, giving more floor space over to tables and chairs for eating in.

This year, Aguilar and Davis doubled down with a play three times longer - 45 minutes - for a run twice as long - two weeks. Davis plays Maximilion I, an Austrian installed as emperor of Mexico in 1864 by the emperor of France, Napoleon III.

Maximilion was immediately disliked by Mexican liberals loyal to deposed President Benito Juarez, who did not want a foreign emperor forced upon them.

"Emperors are this thing that reoccur constantly. It goes back thousands of years. They rise," said Davis. "It asks questions, what is a leader? What do leaders do? What do we do when we discover they are petulant children, like my Emperor Maximilion, who just wants people to like him? That's all he wants. But he doesn't get that."

Davis wrote the script during the ascendency of President Donald Trump, who has been openly hostile to Mexican immigrants and proposed a controversial wall against Mexico.

Davis makes subtle reference to President Trump in the play - at one point wearing a red hat that reads “Has Mexico Mejor Otra Vez” (Make Mexico Great Again) - but said this is solely the story of Maximilion, whose life was a complex narrative of privilege, ambition, and compassion, and ultimately sacrifice.

After three years Napoleon III pulled French troops out of the country, leaving Maximilion's vulnerable Mexican republicans loyal to Juarez. He was imprisoned and executed by firing squad. His final words, in Spanish, called for Mexico's independence.

Few people in America recognize the name, but in Mexico Maximilion is a well-known figure who outlawed child labor and was a champion of the poor. He also was a monarch who refused a democratic process.

"He's a hero, in a sense, and at the same time he represents colonialism," said Davis. Click Here

February 21, 2017  The Front Row Center
Review of Show Up
Hilarious! Spot on!
 Click Here

February 19, 2017  The Australia Times
Review of NAKED
Diana Nguyen - 4.95 Stars
"Stripping herself back and becoming vulnerable, this heartfelt comedian has nothing to hide as she is beautifully funny – a truly lovely human being." Click Here

February 18, 2017 The Daily Edge
Meet Ruth Hunter, the 'human woman from Dublin' who is the next big thing in Irish comedy
 Click Here

February 18, 2017 The Daily Edge
Article about Conor O'Toole and Ruth Hunter are fine with this.
Meet Ruth Hunter, the 'human woman from Dublin' who is the next big thing in Irish comedy
 Click Here

February 15, 2017  The Australia Times
Review of Becky Brunning - Beaming
Becky Brunning - Beaming (4 stars)
Review by Kieran Eaton

Becky Brunning – Beaming is a show where UK comedian, Brunning, charms Perth’s FRINGEWORLD 2017 audience with her whimsical humour. Becky Brunning may appear a bit geeky but she deep down wants to be cool!

This easygoing Brit is very relatable in that she is honest about her inner dialogue. Her voices give her weird experiences and neuroses but she turns the strangeness of this into part of the everyday. Listening to her feels like learning about the psychology of the ego in a quirky way. It appears in Brunning’s world there is no right or wrong and this builds upon her likeable nature. Her amusing tales are intriguing and build up a theme of wanting to be cool. This show is a journey into believing in one’s self.

When Brunning first comes on to the stage she admits to feeling the heat of this Australian weather and is candid that she thinks the people of this city of Perth are very attractive. Brunning has a big smile and she uses this well in disarming the audience of any preconceptions of her. Her gangly physical presence creates extra love for her as a slightly weird comedian who admits to feeling more attractive when she hangs out with attractive people. Her honesty is beautiful in breaking down how we sometimes construct a reality that does not make sense. Brunning’s casual vocalisation of thought patterns is classic comedy.

Becky Brunning – Beaming is a show that will make you laugh and leave you also, beaming!

 Click Here

February 15, 2017 The Australia Times
Article about Becky Brunning - Beaming
Becky Brunning - Beaming (4 stars)
Review by Kieran Eaton

Becky Brunning – Beaming is a show where UK comedian, Brunning, charms Perth’s FRINGEWORLD 2017 audience with her whimsical humour. Becky Brunning may appear a bit geeky but she deep down wants to be cool!

This easygoing Brit is very relatable in that she is honest about her inner dialogue. Her voices give her weird experiences and neuroses but she turns the strangeness of this into part of the everyday. Listening to her feels like learning about the psychology of the ego in a quirky way. It appears in Brunning’s world there is no right or wrong and this builds upon her likeable nature. Her amusing tales are intriguing and build up a theme of wanting to be cool. This show is a journey into believing in one’s self.

When Brunning first comes on to the stage she admits to feeling the heat of this Australian weather and is candid that she thinks the people of this city of Perth are very attractive. Brunning has a big smile and she uses this well in disarming the audience of any preconceptions of her. Her gangly physical presence creates extra love for her as a slightly weird comedian who admits to feeling more attractive when she hangs out with attractive people. Her honesty is beautiful in breaking down how we sometimes construct a reality that does not make sense. Brunning’s casual vocalisation of thought patterns is classic comedy.

Becky Brunning – Beaming is a show that will make you laugh and leave you also, beaming! Click Here

February 11, 2017 ULTRA_FOX
Article about Katharine Ferns is in Stitches
Katharine Ferns - In Stitches - at the Regent Club, Leicester
But while we had been warned in advance not to expect an hour of bland unthreatening one-liners, Katharine Ferns delivers an extraordinary, challenging performance which is well received both by her devoted fan base and those previously unfamiliar with her work.

Currently based in the Chorlton district of Manchester - a former haunt and dwelling-place of Morrissey - this engaging, gregarious and surprisingly cheerful Canadian has the gift of conjuring humour from the bleakest and unlikeliest of scenarios. Such a talent, of course, is not unlike that exhibited by the Smiths themselves in their prime a generation ago.

Although - as some of us know only too well - Ferns is by no means the first person on the planet to suffer poor health from embarking upon unsuitable relationships, she possesses immense fortitude in being able to relate the most intimate (and sometimes harrowing) details to a predominantly male group of strangers.

Her capacity to endure, and survive, such physical, mental and emotional onslaughts - which sadly, as she reminds us, is a journey too many women in Canada, the UK and elsewhere are unable to complete - represents a triumph of the human spirit which deserves to be honoured and celebrated.

Given the global acclaim afforded to the aforementioned St Claudio for his exploits in the past year, it is therefore entirely fitting that Ferns should have chosen Leicester as a venue to tell her tale.

The least that the community can do in return is to ensure that it - and indeed, Ferns herself, - is heard by as wide an audience as possible. Click Here

February 11, 2017 ULTRA_FOX
Article about Katharine Ferns is in Stitches
Katharine Ferns - In Stitches - at the Regent Club, Leicester
But while we had been warned in advance not to expect an hour of bland unthreatening one-liners, Katharine Ferns delivers an extraordinary, challenging performance which is well received both by her devoted fan base and those previously unfamiliar with her work.

Currently based in the Chorlton district of Manchester - a former haunt and dwelling-place of Morrissey - this engaging, gregarious and surprisingly cheerful Canadian has the gift of conjuring humour from the bleakest and unlikeliest of scenarios. Such a talent, of course, is not unlike that exhibited by the Smiths themselves in their prime a generation ago.

Although - as some of us know only too well - Ferns is by no means the first person on the planet to suffer poor health from embarking upon unsuitable relationships, she possesses immense fortitude in being able to relate the most intimate (and sometimes harrowing) details to a predominantly male group of strangers.

Her capacity to endure, and survive, such physical, mental and emotional onslaughts - which sadly, as she reminds us, is a journey too many women in Canada, the UK and elsewhere are unable to complete - represents a triumph of the human spirit which deserves to be honoured and celebrated.

Given the global acclaim afforded to the aforementioned St Claudio for his exploits in the past year, it is therefore entirely fitting that Ferns should have chosen Leicester as a venue to tell her tale.

The least that the community can do in return is to ensure that it - and indeed, Ferns herself, - is heard by as wide an audience as possible. Click Here

January 29, 2017  LondonTheatre1.com
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka at The Etcetera Theatre – Review
“It turns out that while you’re supposedly a musician, you can’t play anything nice by yourself. This, in turn, weighs badly on your self-esteem and throughout your whole life you can never shake the feeling that you’re a total zero without the others, and that you constantly need their help.”
The gadulka in The Burning Gadulka, or indeed anywhere in Bulgarian society, for those as uninitiated as I was before seeing this show, is a string instrument, held vertically, with three strings. Miroslav Kokenov, the sole actor in this intense production, sets about explaining the place of the gadulka at an individual, local, national and international level. I’m still undecided as to whether it genuinely does sound awful (yes, the audience is treated to some gadulka playing) or if I was conditioned to think so beforehand by a long and depressing preamble, in which it is explained, in some detail, and with examples, how the gadulka has led to unhappiness in this professional gadulka player’s life.
At least twice, the musician barks directly at his instrument: initially I thought this ranting at an inanimate object is surely a sign of some form of madness. But I’ve called my computer a ‘stupid machine’ before, and sworn at a self-service checkout at the supermarket – and, on one of my first occasions to use one, said ‘thank you’ to an ATM. Anyway, I mention this being a solo performance as the show draws attention to the gadulka really being an orchestral instrument. On its own it sounds terrible. As part of a Bulgarian folk orchestra, along with everyone else, it blends into the overall sound.
“I steadfastly believe in the ensemble,” the musician tells the audience. I steadfastly believe in them, too (take them out of musicals and the live theatrical experience is much diminished), but in a solo show, it only begs the question: where are they?
There’s a whole backstory as to how this musician ended up a gadulka player – the long and the short of it seemed to be that somebody had to be. But as the complaints stack up, the line of argument seems a little like the violin player who felt the brass section in the orchestra he plays in should get paid less – that is, musicians should be paid by the note (whatever that means – some notes are longer than others, and so on and so forth). I do, however, have some sympathy with Mr Gadulka (as I shall call him), particularly when he talks about the computerisation of music, whereby the technology now exists for software to ‘play’ any instrument. It could, taken to its logical conclusion, spell the death knell for orchestras everywhere.
It’s a sparse set, with few props, one of which is a giant panda, for quite charming reasons, or rather a charming reason, which is explained during the course of the evening’s proceedings. Mr Gadulka tells his story by thinking out loud, as opposed to relentlessly sticking to the subject of the gadulka. It’s like a stream of consciousness that comes across as though improvised, or at least semi-structured (the play is, in fact, fully scripted in the conventional manner). In that regard, it’s not so much the gadulka that’s literally ‘burning’ as the gadulka player, figuratively speaking.
As times are a-changing, the play asserts that the Bulgarian folk orchestras are worthy, if such a thing were possible, of being placed on an equivalent list to WWF’s ‘endangered species’ directory. I don’t think the play will change anyone’s minds, at either a micro or a macro level. The modernists will continue to think we should move with the times and embrace the twenty-first century. The traditionalists will insist that hundreds of years’ worth of folk music can and should continue. For my part, if his instrument is seriously as dreadful as Mr Gadulka says it is, perhaps it is best consigned to history after all. To put it another way, I wasn’t sold on the old gadulka.
Still, it’s easier said than done to embrace change. The play does provide an intriguing insight into Bulgarian living, delivered at an appropriately brisk pace. Albeit mostly of a sarcastic and slightly bitter variety, there’s humour to be found in this touching production. A worthwhile experience.

****

Review by Chris Omaweng



With humour and sarcasm, the musician tells a story about his relationship with the Gadulka. An instrument often overlooked and unremarkable in its appearance, it is in fact, the backbone of the Bulgarian folk orchestra. By blaming the Gadulka and undermining its functionality and significance, the Gadulka player reveals the similarities between himself and the instrument. He takes us on a journey through the mysteries and fear we all face on a daily basis.
The performance is inspired by Bulgarian culture and reveals to the audience the characteristics of Bulgarian folklore, traditional dances and costumes.
 Click Here

January 23, 2017 John Fleming's blog – SO IT GOES
The anarchic post modernist comedy group named after the Post Office. Not.
The anarchic post modernist comedy group named after the Post Office. Not.

The interior of Cafe Diana in Notting Hill
The interior of Cafe Diana in London’s Notting Hill

Consignia won last year’s Alternative New Comedian of the Year title. The comedy group are Phil Jarvis, Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and now “newcomer Jason Bridge”.

Phil and Nathan had tea with me in Cafe Diana – a culinary shrine to the late Princess of Wales, opposite the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in London’s Notting Hill and near the brutalist Czech Embassy. It was their choice of venue. Also present was Dec Munro, one of the begetters of Angel Comedy’s Bill Murray club.

Dec has let them have an entire afternoon of six previews at the Bill Murray on Sunday 5th February – from 1.45pm to 6.00pm, unless they repeat everything twice, in which case who knows?


Consignia were performing in Swansea last night. If I had been more efficient, I could have posted this blog before then to give the gig a plug.

But I wasn’t and didn’t.

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I saw their show The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show twice. Well, I had little alternative. When it got to the end of their one-hour slot, they simply did the whole show again from beginning to end. When we met at Cafe Diana, Nathan was feeling ill and was very tired. Our conversation, under walls covered in photos of Princess Diana, went like this:

JOHN: I was surprised when you repeated the show in Edinburgh that there seemed to have been a script.

NATHAN: The Leicester Comedy Festival is the last time we will do that show.

PHIL: Yeah. Saturday 25th February.

NATHAN: And, after Leicester, we will do something new for Edinburgh this year.

PHIL: At the Edinburgh Fringe, I want to do an unofficial Dinner For One tribute show. I am trying to get the smallest room I can and put a table in it with six people round it.

JOHN: Isn’t the whole point of Dinner For One that he is serving things to non-existent people?

PHIL: But you could have someone playing the tiger rug and people playing the people who aren’t there.

JOHN: This show would run the whole duration of the Fringe?

PHIL: It would be a one-off. There would be a knees-up, because that’s what the show is.

JOHN: Is it?

PHIL: I think it is, yeah. A melancholic knees-up.

JOHN: A sort of Chas & Dave with tears?

PHIL: (TO ME) We are waiting for Bridge.

JOHN: Bridge?

PHIL: Jason Bridge.

JOHN: Like Godot?

PHIL: Mmmm…

JOHN: But, apart from your Dinner For One with six people, what is the new Consignia show for Edinburgh?


PHIL: Panopticon.

JOHN: Why is it called that?

PHIL: It has to be more pretentious than last year’s.

NATHAN: We have a gig booked in Norwich for it already.

JOHN: Oh, I’m sorry.

PHIL: We did it last year. That’s where last year’s gig found its feet. Before that, The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show was a disaster.

NATHAN: I went to university in Norwich.

JOHN: Oh, I’m sorry.

PHIL: I’m going to run a gig in Basingstoke.

JOHN: What? Into the ground?

PHIL: Probably. It’s a regular monthly gig.

JOHN: Called…?

PHIL: Goat.

JOHN: Because it will make people feel horny?

PHIL: No. It’s just a name.

DEC: Someone named their rap album Goat.

PHIL: I think there’s a band called Goat as well.

JOHN: And an animal.

PHIL: If you put the words ‘a Comedy Club’ next to it, it says ‘Go at a Comedy Club’.

NATHAN: Nobody says: “Go at a comedy club.”

PHIL: I do.

NATHAN: You should call it GOAT 2 – “Goat 2 a comedy club.”

JOHN: So why call yourselves Consignia?

NATHAN: We didn’t have a name in Edinburgh last year, but now we have retrospectively given ourselves a name.

JOHN (TO NATHAN): Are you going to fall forward unconscious into that soup or what?

NATHAN: It’s very hot.

JOHN: Why did you choose the name Consignia?

NATHAN: It was going to be the new name of the Post Office but they got rid of it, so we thought: We’ll have it.

JOHN: You didn’t think of calling yourselves The Post Office?

PHIL: It’s not as funny.

NATHAN: With Consignia, only a few people remember it happening. It was so stupid. I had to check with people: Did that actually happen?

JOHN: Ah. So it IS suitable for your shows, then.

NATHAN: We are hoping to get into a high-profile legal battle with the bloke who thought up the name.

PHIL: We like faded things.

JOHN: Is that why you invited me here?

NATHAN: We like pointless, meaningless things.

PHIL: That is why we like brutalism in architecture.


JOHN: Are you sure you are not misunderstanding the word? It is not just beating-up people in the street.

PHIL: We want to perform at The Comedy Store.

JOHN: In the Gong Show bit?

NATHAN: Yes. They film you and you can pay £5 to get a copy. We could probably use it in our new show: about us being booed off. We will just stay on stage.

PHIL: They will be gonging and we will just stay on until the bouncers come on to get us. They will think about it a bit.

NATHAN: Basically, we want them to get violent… and then we will see if we can still get the video.

JOHN: You really do misunderstand what Brutalism is.

NATHAN: He still hasn’t turned up.

JOHN: Who?

PHIL: Jason Bridge. He will be with us in Leicester. With my son.

JOHN: You have a son?

PHIL: No.

NATHAN: Do you remember anything from our show in Edinburgh?

JOHN: No.

NATHAN: The one you sat through twice.

JOHN: No. I do remember the second time was a revelation because I thought: I’ve never seen anything like this before.

PHIL: Do you not remember me covered in blood wearing a gas mask, holding my son?

JOHN: No. I thought I must have dreamt that.

PHIL: You saw my penis.

JOHN: Did I see it twice?

PHIL: Yes you did.

JOHN: I don’t remember it.

NATHAN: My girlfriend hates that.
Nathan Willcock Facebook header image

JOHN: His penis?

NATHAN: No… Nicholas. Because Nicholas is covered in egg and mud…

JOHN: His son?

PHIL: …and guacamole…

NATHAN:…but I refuse to throw it out. It’s in our cupboard.

JOHN: Why is guacamole funny? All those Al Queda prisoners in there for years on end…

PHIL: Do you not remember our show at all, John?

JOHN: No.

NATHAN: You remember we put a carrot and some humus on stage…

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: …and then played a really slowed-down version of Daphne & Celeste and then walked off stage and the audience just looked at this carrot and humus.

PHIL: One night, we couldn’t find any humus. We could only find discounted guacamole.

NATHAN: That was the night the second show happened – the X-rated one – the night you were there, John. We did everything naked.

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: And, instead of putting a carrot in the guacamole, we put Phil’s penis in it and put a microphone to it.

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: And guacamole is a bit spicy so Phil said it hurt quite a bit.

PHIL: I had a mild burn for the rest of the Fringe.

NATHAN: That’s how committed we are.

JOHN: And your girlfriend is not keen on this?

PHIL: His fiancée now.

JOHN: (TO NATHAN) Oh! Congratulations.

NATHAN: She asked me.

JOHN: How did she ask you?

NATHAN: She took me to Belgium.

JOHN: Is that a euphemism I don’t know? I have heard “took me round the world” but never “took me to Belgium”.

NATHAN: Ghent. She didn’t go down on one knee. She just gave me a ring underneath the belfry.

JOHN: Is that another euphemism I haven’t heard?

NATHAN: December 9th. The wedding. It’s going to have a Christmas theme. We had a load of crackers delivered the other day.

JOHN: In January? For your December wedding? That’s forward planning.

NATHAN: She’s very organised. We have put the soundtrack for The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show up on Bandcamp and you can buy the full album for £1,000. You can also download individual tracks for free.

JOHN: It is all commercialism with you, isn’t it?
 Click Here

January 23, 2017 John Fleming's blog – SO IT GOES
Article about Consignia's Panopticon
The anarchic post modernist comedy group named after the Post Office. Not.
The anarchic post modernist comedy group named after the Post Office. Not.

Consignia won last year’s Alternative New Comedian of the Year title. The comedy group are Phil Jarvis, Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and now “newcomer Jason Bridge”.

Phil and Nathan had tea with me in Cafe Diana – a culinary shrine to the late Princess of Wales, opposite the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in London’s Notting Hill and near the brutalist Czech Embassy. It was their choice of venue. Also present was Dec Munro, one of the begetters of Angel Comedy’s Bill Murray club.

Dec has let them have an entire afternoon of six previews at the Bill Murray on Sunday 5th February – from 1.45pm to 6.00pm, unless they repeat everything twice, in which case who knows?

Consignia were performing in Swansea last night. If I had been more efficient, I could have posted this blog before then to give the gig a plug.

But I wasn’t and didn’t.

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I saw their show The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show twice. Well, I had little alternative. When it got to the end of their one-hour slot, they simply did the whole show again from beginning to end. When we met at Cafe Diana, Nathan was feeling ill and was very tired. Our conversation, under walls covered in photos of Princess Diana, went like this:


JOHN: I was surprised when you repeated the show in Edinburgh that there seemed to have been a script.

NATHAN: The Leicester Comedy Festival is the last time we will do that show.

PHIL: Yeah. Saturday 25th February.

NATHAN: And, after Leicester, we will do something new for Edinburgh this year.

PHIL: At the Edinburgh Fringe, I want to do an unofficial Dinner For One tribute show. I am trying to get the smallest room I can and put a table in it with six people round it.

JOHN: Isn’t the whole point of Dinner For One that he is serving things to non-existent people?

PHIL: But you could have someone playing the tiger rug and people playing the people who aren’t there.

JOHN: This show would run the whole duration of the Fringe?

PHIL: It would be a one-off. There would be a knees-up, because that’s what the show is.

JOHN: Is it?

PHIL: I think it is, yeah. A melancholic knees-up.

JOHN: A sort of Chas & Dave with tears?

PHIL: (TO ME) We are waiting for Bridge.

JOHN: Bridge?

PHIL: Jason Bridge.

JOHN: Like Godot?

PHIL: Mmmm…

JOHN: But, apart from your Dinner For One with six people, what is the new Consignia show for Edinburgh?


PHIL: Panopticon.

JOHN: Why is it called that?

PHIL: It has to be more pretentious than last year’s.

NATHAN: We have a gig booked in Norwich for it already.

JOHN: Oh, I’m sorry.

PHIL: We did it last year. That’s where last year’s gig found its feet. Before that, The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show was a disaster.

NATHAN: I went to university in Norwich.

JOHN: Oh, I’m sorry.

PHIL: I’m going to run a gig in Basingstoke.

JOHN: What? Into the ground?

PHIL: Probably. It’s a regular monthly gig.

JOHN: Called…?

PHIL: Goat.

JOHN: Because it will make people feel horny?

PHIL: No. It’s just a name.

DEC: Someone named their rap album Goat.


PHIL: I think there’s a band called Goat as well.

JOHN: And an animal.

PHIL: If you put the words ‘a Comedy Club’ next to it, it says ‘Go at a Comedy Club’.

NATHAN: Nobody says: “Go at a comedy club.”

PHIL: I do.

NATHAN: You should call it GOAT 2 – “Goat 2 a comedy club.”

JOHN: So why call yourselves Consignia?

NATHAN: We didn’t have a name in Edinburgh last year, but now we have retrospectively given ourselves a name.

JOHN (TO NATHAN): Are you going to fall forward unconscious into that soup or what?


NATHAN: It’s very hot.

JOHN: Why did you choose the name Consignia?

NATHAN: It was going to be the new name of the Post Office but they got rid of it, so we thought: We’ll have it.

JOHN: You didn’t think of calling yourselves The Post Office?

PHIL: It’s not as funny.

NATHAN: With Consignia, only a few people remember it happening. It was so stupid. I had to check with people: Did that actually happen?

JOHN: Ah. So it IS suitable for your shows, then.

NATHAN: We are hoping to get into a high-profile legal battle with the bloke who thought up the name.

PHIL: We like faded things.

JOHN: Is that why you invited me here?

NATHAN: We like pointless, meaningless things.

PHIL: That is why we like brutalism in architecture.


JOHN: Are you sure you are not misunderstanding the word? It is not just beating-up people in the street.

PHIL: We want to perform at The Comedy Store.

JOHN: In the Gong Show bit?

NATHAN: Yes. They film you and you can pay £5 to get a copy. We could probably use it in our new show: about us being booed off. We will just stay on stage.

PHIL: They will be gonging and we will just stay on until the bouncers come on to get us. They will think about it a bit.

NATHAN: Basically, we want them to get violent… and then we will see if we can still get the video.

JOHN: You really do misunderstand what Brutalism is.

NATHAN: He still hasn’t turned up.

JOHN: Who?

PHIL: Jason Bridge. He will be with us in Leicester. With my son.

JOHN: You have a son?

PHIL: No.

NATHAN: Do you remember anything from our show in Edinburgh?

JOHN: No.

NATHAN: The one you sat through twice.

JOHN: No. I do remember the second time was a revelation because I thought: I’ve never seen anything like this before.

PHIL: Do you not remember me covered in blood wearing a gas mask, holding my son?

JOHN: No. I thought I must have dreamt that.

PHIL: You saw my penis.

JOHN: Did I see it twice?

PHIL: Yes you did.

JOHN: I don’t remember it.

NATHAN: My girlfriend hates that.


JOHN: His penis?

NATHAN: No… Nicholas. Because Nicholas is covered in egg and mud…

JOHN: His son?

PHIL: …and guacamole…

NATHAN:…but I refuse to throw it out. It’s in our cupboard.

JOHN: Why is guacamole funny? All those Al Queda prisoners in there for years on end…

PHIL: Do you not remember our show at all, John?

JOHN: No.

NATHAN: You remember we put a carrot and some humus on stage…

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: …and then played a really slowed-down version of Daphne & Celeste and then walked off stage and the audience just looked at this carrot and humus.

PHIL: One night, we couldn’t find any humus. We could only find discounted guacamole.

NATHAN: That was the night the second show happened – the X-rated one – the night you were there, John. We did everything naked.

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: And, instead of putting a carrot in the guacamole, we put Phil’s penis in it and put a microphone to it.

JOHN: Did you?

NATHAN: And guacamole is a bit spicy so Phil said it hurt quite a bit.

PHIL: I had a mild burn for the rest of the Fringe.


NATHAN: That’s how committed we are.

JOHN: And your girlfriend is not keen on this?

PHIL: His fiancée now.

JOHN: (TO NATHAN) Oh! Congratulations.

NATHAN: She asked me.

JOHN: How did she ask you?

NATHAN: She took me to Belgium.

JOHN: Is that a euphemism I don’t know? I have heard “took me round the world” but never “took me to Belgium”.

NATHAN: Ghent. She didn’t go down on one knee. She just gave me a ring underneath the belfry.

JOHN: Is that another euphemism I haven’t heard?

NATHAN: December 9th. The wedding. It’s going to have a Christmas theme. We had a load of crackers delivered the other day.

JOHN: In January? For your December wedding? That’s forward planning.

NATHAN: She’s very organised. We have put the soundtrack for The Abridged Dapper Eleven-Hour Monochrome Dream Show up on Bandcamp and you can buy the full album for £1,000. You can also download individual tracks for free.

JOHN: It is all commercialism with you, isn’t it?
 Click Here

January 17, 2017 Salisbury Journal
Article about Andrew White - It Was Funnier In My Head
Andrew White to start first leg of his It Was Funnier in my Head tour in Fordingbridge
SALISBURY teen Andrew White is hitting the road with his own stand-up show.

The first leg of It Was Funnier in my Head will be in Fordingbridge at The Victoria Rooms on Friday, January 27, 7.30pm.

The show was previewed at Studio Theatre in Salisbury in November, which the 17-year-old Bishops Wordsworth student says was “very well” received.

He says: “In the first six months of the new year, I’ll be touring it around the South Coast at various locations up until June, and then in August hope to be taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe.


“The show takes a look at life as a parent dependent teenager, covering everything from passing out in PE to the banes of elderly neighbours, and from accepting baldness to travelling in China. I’ll even be introduced and warmed up by my very own dad.”

Entry is free. For more information email awtickets@hotmail.com or visit facebook.com/standupaw. Click Here

January 11, 2017 Jew in The City
This Orthodox Rabbi Was Named 1 of The Funniest People in the World - about David Kilimnick
This Orthodox Rabbi Was Named 1 of The Funniest People in the World

JANUARY 11, 2017 BY SARA LEVINE

What do you get when thousands of comedians from dozens of countries go head to head in The Laugh Factory’s “Funniest Person in the World” competition? Six finalists, including an Orthodox rabbi named David Kilimnick. The competition, which took place this past month in Finland was created in the hopes of bringing peace to the world through laughter. Before the final five were selected, the thousands of applicants were narrowed down to 89 semifinalist from 56 countries.
Kilimnick grew up in a Modern Orthodox home in Rochester, NY, and humor seems to run in the family. His cousin is another hilarious frum Jew, Emmy-winning Modern Family producer and Orthodox Jewish All Star Ilana Wernick. Though he studied to be a rabbi and a social worker, after spending a short time working for Jewish organizations in the U.S., he realized that he had a flair for comedy. He made aliyah, started doing stand-up and opened his own comedy club: the Off the Wall Comedy Basement.
A few years ago, he sponsored a friend’s entry into the “Funniest” competition. This year, it was Kilimnick’s turn. He was shocked to be sponsored, supported, and break into the Semifinals. “It was an honor to make it there because there were some amazing comedianscreen-shot-2017-01-10-at-9-32-52-pms. It was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had as a comedian.” Coming to Finland, he warmed up with a show for the Jewish community. For the Finals, Kilimnick focused on comedy about being a religious Jew and living in Israel. “Tons of people can bring material about relationships. Why would I do the same thing they are doing? [We are a part of] a competition that praises being unique.” Specifically, it is his religious perspective that he thinks people respond to so deeply. “If Torah is truth, then share that and people will connect with that.”
It was the international participants who inspired him to take off his baseball cap and perform with just his kippah on. “I came out on stage and I said, ‘I feel weird being here in Europe. I bet you’re all thinking: I thought we got rid of these people.'” But while his comedy celebrated his difference, he was thrilled to discover so much in common with the others, even if they were participating from India, Malaysia or Saudi Arabia – they were all in it together.
While the other five finalists spent the last day of the competition campaigning for votes, Kilimnick choose to forfeit as it was Shabbos. “I never felt better not competing.” He might have lost the finals accordingly, but he still feels like a winner. In comparing his victory to that of Sandy Koufax not playing in the World Series on Yom Kippur, Kilimnick hopes to inspire other Shabbos observers to achieve all they can while staying true to what makes them unique. “I see kedusha (holiness) to comedy. It’s therapeutic in that sense…. Comedy is emes (truth). I’m trying to touch on [that].”
What’s next for Kilimnick is an exciting array of comedic opportunities. The next tour will take him to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and on a show about defending Israel. “The Laugh Factory wants to give me gigs when I come to America now. I’m not just doing this for Jewish groups or shuls. It’s a real thing. I’m a real person in the profession.”
Kilimnick sums up his experience in how he perceives the role of Jews in the world at large. “We can be a Kiddush Hashem by just being us and sharing our values by the way we act. If you have a strong enough foundation of who you are, it’s going to be seen by other people. I’m one of the people who was chosen to live with the mitzvos. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else… I just try to share laughs with people.”


Read more: http://jewinthecity.com/2017/01/this-orthodox-rabbi-was-named-one-of-the-funniest-people-in-the-world/#ixzz4gpLnZaVJ Click Here

January 7, 2017 The Daily Echo
Article about Andrew White - It Was Funnier In My Head
Teenage comic Andrew White embarks on first stand-up tour
SALISBURY teenager Andrew White is taking his first ever stand up comedy show around the South Coast for six months before making his Edinburgh's Fringe Festival debut in August.

And he has chosen none other than his dad to be his warm-up act for the shows.

Andrew, 17, who is a full-time student at Bishop Wordsworth School in Salisbury is also studying hard for his A Levels in the hope of gaining a place at Cambridge University.

He told the Daily Echo: " I would love to go to Cambridge to study History and join the famous Footlights as well! It'll be a dream come true if I get through these next two years with good grades. After that, comedy and writing is the career I'd love. Arts and entertainment is my passion."


Andrew's show, entitled 'It Was Funnier in my Head', was previewed at Studio Theatre in November, to an almost full house and was very well received.

The first leg of the tour in Fordingbridge is now on sale for Friday January 27 at The Victoria Rooms. Other dates and venues, yet to be announced include Bournemouth, Hastings, Fareham, and two nights in Salisbury.

Talking about the show Andrew says: "It takes a look at life as a parent dependent teenager, covering everything from passing out in PE to the bane of elderly neighbours, and from accepting baldness to travelling in China. I'll even be introduced and warmed up by very own dad!"

Andrew was just 15 when he started his comedy journey two years ago at a youth open mic in Salisbury.

" I started out with hardly any originality or style and just went out and told one-liners and puns. The woman running the mic, Flo, was in comedy and helped me work out my own style and material. I worked towards, over the last two years a more professional act which I'm very proud of now. I like to write a lot, so poetry kind of slotted in perfectly to my act."

Despite his Dad, Marc White, being his support act Andrew is not following in his footsteps but quite the opposite:

"Oddly, my Dad was actually inspired to do comedy by me! He had always been tempted and once took a course, and after I started he took to doing bits here and there alongside me.


"My biggest influences have been from other comedians and hearing them talk about writing material, going into the business etc. On a personal level Flo and Jonathan the Jester, (an Amesbury-based comedian, youth worker, and entertainer) have helped me hone my act hugely."

Certainly the future is looking bright for Andrew who apart from the tour has booked 20-40 minute slots at several charity gigs and compilation shows. He will also be on Hope FM on February 1 in the studio talking and joking with the host and another guest.

All dates on the Tour will now be Pay What You Want! Reserve a seat for free entry, and pay what you feel the night was worth on the way out!

More information on Andrew's Facebook page:

www.Facebook.com/StandUpAW Click Here

November 18, 2016 Croydon Citizen
Article about James Bone's TOWNIES
Townies: A Saturday evening on the silly side
As readers of the Croydon Citizen, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how good Matthews Yard is for a drink. But it was my first time in Theatre Utopia, and it was a really great setting for an evening of comedy.

Townies is fronted by James Bone and to sum it up in a few words, it was an hour of pretty silly humour. Luckily I like that (and the audience clearly did too), so that was fine by me.

Think more Little Britain than Have I Got News For You. Funny voices. OTT costumes. Eccentric characters. Which means if you’re after satirical, cutting humour, it’s probably not for you.

The show consists of a set of short monologues from some of the characters that come by the Townie Arms in Croydon. To get you on the right sort of lines, one of them is an Australian man with bunny ears who digs his way here. We meet a few other characters along the way too (all played by James), with the pub’s cleaner, Margaret, doing a solid job of tapping in while he makes some quick changes. (There was something a little Catherine Tate-ish about her.)

James was funniest when he was more self-aware. He had people in stitches when he acknowledged a Status Quo cover band doing a soundcheck next door. And, for me, the other points where he was improvising were probably his funniest. (I’d watch him do an hour of that.)

If you don’t like being put on the spot, don’t sit in the front row
He also did an excellent job of getting the audience involved (and by that I mean getting more than one person on stage, more than once, and getting them to wear an array of props), without it feeling awkward. A word of warning then: if you’re not the sort of person who likes being put on the spot, maybe don’t sit in the front row.

James also made a small acknowledgment of the previous week’s Croydon tram disaster. It was a very nice, respectful touch.

So, if you’re after a light-hearted hour’s break, I’d recommend seeing Townies next time it comes to town.
 Click Here

October 12, 2016  London Pub Theatres 1
Review of A Poke in the Eye
A Poke in the Eye @ Soho Theatre
GEORGIE MORRELL: A POKE IN THE EYE at Soho Theatre – Review
OCTOBER 12, 2016 LAST UPDATED: NOVEMBER 20, 2016 4:57 PM BY TERRY EASTHAM

GEORGIE MORRELL: A POKE IN THE EYEEveryone at some time has imagined the worst thing that could happen in their lives and how they would react to it. For the majority of us, these musings never get any further than a small shiver down the back and a thankfulness that nothing bad is really going to happen. However, for Georgie Morrell, the worst did happen and she is more than willing to share the story of how she coped with her one-woman show A Poke in the Eye.

Georgie was blind in one eye but managing to live the exciting life of a twenty-something in the bright lights of London when disaster struck and she lost the sight in the other eye and went completely blind. Her story could so easily be one of depression and unhappiness but somehow, Georgie, who is obviously an amazingly strong lady, manages to get a one-hour comedy routine out of it. Yes, the sadness is there – it would be impossible for anyone to be hit by sudden blindness and it not have a negative effect – but there is laughter as well. Dreamy voiced doctors, navigating the living room without kicking the dog, well meaning ‘friends’ coming to cheer you up, all of these have so much comedy potential and Georgie really knows how to bring her audience into her world where laughing at someone’s disability doesn’t feel wrong.

Watching the show, it’s obvious that Georgie is relishing every moment on the stage and it really comes across not only how strong she is but the strength of her family as the disembodied voices of her parents talk about their thoughts at the time. Although not seen, the family is there with her constantly and I have to say, her brother sounds like a really excellent guy in the way he handles Georgie and her lack of sight.

Without giving too much away, various parts of the show really stood out for me. The amazingly convoluted and bureaucratic discussion when applying for benefits was probably the biggest one for me. I’ve only, thankfully, had limited dealings with the people in Job Centres, or whatever they are called this week, but I was instantly back there filling out forms in duplicate and trying to convince the person behind the desk – who doesn’t make the rules – of the validity of my claim. You would think, being Blind, it would be pretty easy for Georgie but her interview was a wonderful example of bureaucracy at its best.

Ultimately, A Poke in the Eye was surprisingly funny and not at all what I was expecting. I, along with the rest of the audience was thoroughly entertained. In my mind, I would have loved it to go on longer but then realised that we were dealing with someone’s disability here. I have to admit that if the worst ever happens to me, I hope I can face it with half the strength of character that Georgie showed because then I know I will survive.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham
 Click Here

September 24, 2016 We Know Melbourne
Article about It's My Funeral and I'll Throw Glitter if I Want To
Fringe Review: It’s my funeral & I’ll throw glitter if I want to
As an independent woman, taking charge of one of the most significant, and well let’s face it, last, major events of one’s life is a pretty huge, albeit important task. So, ‘after a (tiny) mental breakdown, Isobel Marmion decided to throw her own funeral (fancy dress and lots of glitter) rather than wait for her untimely and obviously impending death from one of the many illnesses she’s currently suffering from…’ which she goes on to list at the start of her aptly-named show.

Pre-show we are warned to brace ourselves for what is described as an ‘intimate look at mental illness and the fear of dying alone, but in an uplifting, funny way’ – this was delivered loosely wrapped around what comes across as an intimate 50 minute long confessional.

From this description, and as the show unfolded in front of us, it became clear that it was less about the funeral, and more so about Isobel’s very real struggle with mental illness – balancing bipolar disorder in a society which demands high function, something that Isobel appears to have a hold of in the way that someone might throw forward jokes to cover up awkward and uncomfortable moments.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

IMFAITGIIWT (the official acronym) is like stepping into Isobel’s bedroom for a girly sleepover, sharing her deepest darkest secrets, fears and feelings, and watching her give birth to a three-litre bottle of milk full of glitter.

It then goes out with a glorious, pyjama-clad, boss-shoe wearing bang. Click Here

August 19, 2016 Campaign
Article about How I Said 'F*** Y**' To The Company When They Tried To Make Me Redundant
How I fought redundancy and turned it into a show at the Edinburgh Fringe.
 Click Here

August 17, 2016 
Article about How I Said 'F*** Y**' To The Company When They Tried To Make Me Redundant
Audience reviews after performances of this show at the 2016 Fringe:

‘ Redundancy is such a common and painful experience – so great to gain some satisfaction & well shared! Most company bosses & HR are all the same & your comments so accurate & relevant. Keep on sharing & inspiring.’

‘The antidote to corporate bollocks. Intelligent, human, well-written – in fact all the things corporate bollocks is not.’

‘Very real, very funny. A realistic insight into work life and the hypocrisies of faceless corporations. Loved it!’

‘Brilliant monologue – bringing to life an everyday occurrence that impacts on people’s lives in a humourous yet thought provoking manner.’

‘He speaks with such ease and eloquence. I was engaged right from the start. It is a story worth hearing.’

‘Loved it – When they kick at your door, how are you going to come – with your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun? – Guns of Brixton, The Clash’

‘Thank you.’

‘Fantastic! Great writer, love the sentiment(s). Enjoyable, enlightening, thoughtful and witty. Speaks for a lot of people and so eloquently for himself.’


‘A humourous and candid account that pulls you right there into the office with him. You are willing David to slay Goliath all the way. Inspiring. Go and see it!’

August 14, 2016  The Open Door
Review of AUNTIE
Auntie: Hackney Gospels
The hardest thing a performer can ask of a small crowd is audience participation. The smaller the audience, the harder it gets. So I was astounded to see the first thing our host Gavino di Vino do was go straight for gold, and get every member on their feet dancing. His energy was infectious and in seconds he had united his guests. We were together, and we were in safe hands.

Di Vino’s performance as Auntie, an African immigrant in the heart of Hackney, is impressive. His embodiment of the character is unshakable and honest, every word and gesture filled with humour and reality. Auntie tells us how she came to the UK, met a less than respectable Scouser (with an immaculate accent to boot) and winds up pregnant and married. Vibrant comedy is balanced with moments of genuine hardship, including a well-written story of meeting her new husbands family. This exemplifies the blind ignorance immigrants have always been met with – a topic close to everyone’s heart in the current political climate. The only flaw in this character is clarity of speech. Whilst the accent is accurate and unwavering, it can be a little too strong for the audience and some plot points were lost.

We then meet Auntie’s son Mtoto, a gay hipster trying to find his place in a clash of cultures. His story is heartfelt and relate-able, an expression of individuality when you are being bombarded by both a ghetto culture and the influence of gentrification. Whilst the writing is solid, I did feel that di Vino’s confidence flagged in comparison to the first half. It was frustrating for the audience to be invested in colourful stories, and then have momentum lost. I felt he was almost apologising to us, which was unnecessary given the strength of the piece.

I left the theatre feeling that I had been allowed to witness the early stages of bold new theatre. The text needs finesse, and di Vino needs to find his rhythm in the words to avoid dropping the pace, but I do believe that the Camden Fringe was home to the first preview of what will be a great piece. It fills me with confidence to see someone create something original and real.
 Click Here

August 8, 2016  The Skinny
Review of The MMORPG Show II - No Rolls Bard
It's only a game show
In Paul Flannery’s The M.M.O.R.P.G. Show [★★★★], three brave representatives are plucked from our midst to carry out a quest taking place in our collective imagination. This is a phrase that will either put you off entirely or have you clamouring for a seat already. This is the magic of the game: those of us who want to be there really want to be there, and it’s the crowd's enthusiasm that gives Flannery fodder for excellent storytelling.

With a skilled questmaster comes greater flexibility for the audience’s suggestions; tonight, our adventurers meet a friendly floating pineapple who has become a really sympathetic character. As with radio, the scenery is better – this show's floating pineapple is all the better for only ever being in our imagination. This show is fantastic in all the senses of the word; stomach-crampingly funny, and one to return to night after night. Click Here

August 4, 2016  EdFringe Review
Review of The MMORPG Show II - No Rolls Bard
EdFringe Review
Fantasy fans will be in their element when entering the unique world that constitutes ‘The M.M.O.R.P.G Show’. 'Lord of the Rings' jokes and 'The Hobbit' references prevail, and receive guttural laughs from audience members in the know. The self-professed and unapologetic ‘nerd culture’ around which the show rotates is a breath of fresh air, and the excitement and sense of community that specific cultural and fantastical references incite in the audience is great to be a part of.
The show, created by and starring Paul Flannery, has only one regular cast member, as the other three characters are plucked from the audience itself. The show takes the format of a fantasy roleplay game, but even those not chosen to sit on stage will have plenty of opportunity to alter the course of events should they so wish. A drink or two at the venue’s downstairs bar certainly encourages audience members to shout out and contribute to the game’s narrative, creating a friendly and immersive atmosphere that suits the Fringe down to the ground.
The unpredictability of such an organic format is unsettling at first, with the occasional lack of cooperation on the part of volunteers giving an awkward edge to the performance. Similarly, the dependence on audience contributions leads to often bizarre movements in the show's trajectory (seductive moths and mother penguins were mentioned frequently during our sitting – if you see it you may understand), and as a result the humour often became a little ludicrous.
But game-maker Paul Flannery redeems these inevitable improvised moments with a quick wit and a comedic assurance that leaves little to be desired. His confident, funny and charming monologue is consistently reassuring. Flannery seamlessly and considerately influences the game’s turn of events so that, despite the apparent spontaneity of its course, it is clear that he is always in control. The warmth with which viewers (or players) applauded him at the end is a testament to his charm. Click Here

May 30, 2016 PYT Blog
Article about Odette!
Prague Fringe Festival - Tuesday 30th May
There are a lot of female solo-shows at this Fringe that centre around relationships. Off the top of my head I can name Kontra Alt, Be More, Do Better but Don’t Change and Nothing Like Your Profile Picture. I think what sets Odette! apart is how interesting it is to see a show centring on a pregnant woman. Modern culture avoids representation of pregnant women in paintings and films and when they are depicted they’re usually hysterical and hormonal. Odette! is far from hormonally stable but underneath her erratic mannerisms she is a human being that just wants to be appreciated. The show uses a lot of audience interaction and there are always two people selected to play Shauna and Brian. In the performance I saw, I played Shauna and I can’t speak for the audience but I had tremendous fun slipping into the role of arch nemesis.
As well as being a great actress, Marina sings beautifully and one moment that touched me a lot was her final song where we see her love and devotion for the child she carries. She was thoroughly entertaining, human and relatable – not to mention bold and beautiful. Her character was wonderfully well-defined and I could picture her in pretty much any situation knowing exactly how she’d react and just hear her voice in my head. There is a hilarious evening to be had at Golden Key. Click Here

May 16, 2016  Everything Theatre
Review of Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling
Everything Theatre review
 Click Here

April 15, 2016  Theatre People
Review of NAKED
Funny, clever and incredibly entertaining, Diana Nguyen’s Naked is an absolute joy to watch.
She is a brilliant talent that needs to be seen, both here and overseas. Click Here

November 8, 2015  Greater Manchester Fringe blog
Review of The Idiot's Guide to Kink
It’s brave enough in this reviewers mind to mention to someone you have even tried BDSM, let alone talk in depth about your experiences in an hour long comedy show.

Ros Ballinger’s ‘The Idiot's Guide to Kink’ pulls no punches when it comes to anecdotes and jokes about BDSM.

A small room at the back of Gulliver’s in the Northern Quarter is the perfect setting for a show like this, intimate, but not overly so.

Props are a key component in the show, as is audience participation, with Ballinger relying on the audience to mimic the sound of a vibrator level by level, from one to ten.

Of course a BDSM stand up show wouldn’t be complete without a complete dismantling of the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey, which Ballinger does with both hilarity and vulgarity.

The pacing of the show slips slightly when Ballinger goes for her props or a swig of cider, but being a part time comedian comes with a bit of leeway and this certainly accounts for that.

Ros Ballinger would be a nice act to follow, and that most certainly is a compliment. The subject matter allows the audience to open up a bit as we are laughing at her own experiences and subconsciously our own.

Well rounded and enjoyable show from a self-professed part time comedian. Click Here

October 4, 2015 Barmoetern (Sweden)
He paints an uncompromising world : Dark, twisted absurd and seemingly without mercy. Barometern

He skillfully pushes the boundaries and expectations of the audience. Arbetarbladet Click Here

October 4, 2015 Barometern (Sweden)
He delivers ruthless comedy
He paints an uncompromising world : Dark, twisted absurd and seemingly without mercy. Barometern
He skillfully pushes the boundaries and expectations of the audience. Arbetarbladet Click Here

August 26, 2015  The Skinny
Review of Michael Legge & Caroline Mabey are Two Stupids
Fringe Comedy Reviews: Best of nonsense
The final show is in no way absurdist or surreal like the above but a mirror image of a normal comedy hour. There is perhaps a healthy concept here for any artist, with all those ideas that Michael Legge and Caroline Mabey can't fit into their main shows given a run out at the Liquid Rooms. What's more, while Fringe venues tend to sabotage comedians, every disaster here only adds a new dimension. As stalls that are meant to be closing off doorways fly across the stage when accidental entrances are made into the room, it seems like a slamming door stage farce is being plotted in front of us. Countless times Legge dutifully has to escort incomers out to the more popular neighbouring show The Coin Operated Girl. And this is before we get to any of the actual comedy material of Legge's and Mabey's B-sides. Newly invented swear words and piss takes of the faux-embarrassment of reading old diaries (the sort of thing that constitutes much mainstream comedy) stand out. But if there's a criticism of this show it's that Legge and Mabey are of such a calibre that Two Stupids [★★★★☆] is too good – their shit-lists bettering many set-lists on offer. Click Here

August 17, 2015  Broadway Baby
Review of Christian Talbot Is A Work In Progress
Christian Talbot is Shite at Being Irish
 Click Here

August 16, 2015  the wee review
Review of Left Wing Conspiracy Theorist (with Dyspraxia)
Dyspraxia & Politics: The Two Sides of Don Biswas
 Click Here

August 13, 2015  Everything Theatre
Review of Boys & Girls
Everything Theatre Review
 Click Here

August 12, 2015 A Younger Theatre
Article about Boys & Girls
 Click Here

August 12, 2015  London Theatre 1
Review of Boys & Girls
London Theatre 1 Review
 Click Here

April 23, 2015 Youtube
Article about Phi and Me
Phi and Me - Audience
 Click Here

February 24, 2015  The Advertiser
Review of Marcus Ryan - Love Me Tinder
 Click Here

September 12, 2014 review
review
He is a different kind of act all together. Completely unpredictable and unbelievably funny, I wouldn’t call him surreal because I think he is funnier than that. I’d call him a naturally funny man (We all had a beer afterwards and he had me in fits just talking about all manner of bollocks) who had the audience on the edge of their seat all the way through his set. The beauty of what Sean does is that you never know what’s coming next, from buffing (you had to be there) to cheering to singing he keeps you involved all the way through. I love Vic and Bob, the fact that his act reminded me of them inside 30 seconds of first seeing him live is testament to how good he is. Click Here

August 27, 2014  The Mirror
Review of PLAYBACK IMPRO
PLAYBACK IMPRO
'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

August 27, 2014  The Mirror
Review of PLAYBACK IMPRO
The Mirror
'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 10, 2014  Broadway Baby
Review of The Brain Is In The Heart
Reviews
You’ve got to have a bit of a thick skin to go to Russell Hicks: Unprepared. The whole stand-up show is entirely improvised off the back of the audience. Whoever you are, you’re going to end up being at the butt of at least one of his jokes. And Hicks pulls few punches. If you’re up for a bit of a roasting, it’s hilarious stuff from a comedian who has a talent for riffing off the fly.

Hicks has a sharp wit and a cutthroat style.
Hicks has a sharp wit and a cutthroat style. He’s got the pessimism of Jack Dee mixed with the deadpan aggression of Dennis Leary. He’s offensive and not particularly PC and he’s not afraid of making his audience feel uncomfortable. Nothing’s off limits. To make his stand up work, Hicks observes his audience well and interacts with every one of them, creating a stand up based almost entirely off his crowd. He has a few topics to discuss while he’s deciding his moves, including but definitely not exclusive to stuff from the 80’s. He also tends to bring up a grudge match he’s developing with a certain small performer you might find around the Just the Tonic Venues. Sorry if that gives the game away Russell, but the dark side in me wants to see that battle. Like I say. Nothing’s off limits.

So stay away if you’re particularly sensitive. But if you’re looking for a rip-roaring night of tough love from a witty comedian, get yourself over to the Tron one night for Russell Hicks’ free show.

 Click Here

August 7, 2014 The Circus Diares
Article about Grumpy Pants
‘The Little Big Show’, by Laughter House Productions
Inside the Spiegeltent’s light and child-friendly younger cousin, the Kazador, we enter to sit around the tiny stage to an upbeat Elvis soundtrack, welcomed at the door by genial smiling host Mr Vita.

We are a tiny audience, but he invests as much energy and warmth on us as he would a full house, gently getting us going, and explaining the nature of his ‘mostly silent show’. Who needs words when you have a face – and eyebrows – as expressive as his?

The morning version of The Little Big Show is a half-hour solo spot, followed later in the day by a 45 minute mini-cabaret of four various artists. If they are all as engaging as Mr Vita, I wouldn’t hesitate to book.

His generous and warm-hearted clowning doesn’t falter for a minute when confronted by two very shy children of the three in attendance, and he gently coaches them to become the next generation of volunteer superstars – whilst cheekily involving the ‘Mummy’s too.
IMG_2935
‘The Little Big Show’ at the Kazador

His object manipulation generates an awed ‘It’s floating!’ from in front of me as he smoothly rolls a large crystal contact ball over his fingertips, arms and chest; a cigar-box style manoevre with three big red balls is fun, and he loves our appreciation so much that we love giving it to him.

He balances objects on his face, launches forks that emerge from his creaking box of props into a dartboard, and is a strong and funny communicator through his mime and few words, faux-preening and showers of confetti.

Mr Vita is a consumate professional and charismatic performer who can entertain the whole family. A big personality on a little stage. Click Here

July 31, 2014  Now Magazine
Review of Dylan Gott: Cool Guy, Lots Of Friends
Stand-up supremacy
WE farted combines the talents of John Hastings and Dylan Gott, two excellent comics who, though quite young, have enough material separately for their own albums.

The production has problems: the sound levels are uneven, and for some reason they trade off after each joke, meaning it's hard to build any rhythm.

But the jokes stand on their own. The major revelation here is Gott, who completely nails his persona as an overweight, late-20s, underachieving slacker.

Some of his best material is about eating in fast food restaurants: staring down a McD's cashier when ordering four sandwiches, theorizing why Burger King doesn't have mirrors in its washrooms, getting banned from one restaurant for botching a dirty joke.

Gott, who's got a modest vibe with flashes of anger lurking beneath, knows what he must look like, and some of the best jokes re-enact physical scenarios. The image of him in his underwear eating beans out of a can and taunting a cat is one for the ages.

Hastings has great focus and energy that work well onstage. Unfortunately, that's not evident here; he seems a little arrogant. When he stumbles over a few words, he recovers but doesn't always undo the damage.

He wisely ends with a brilliant joke about nerds ambushing a children's reading of The Hobbit, and the two comics share the mic at the end for a bonus track recounting their first time performing. Click Here

July 31, 2014  Now Magazine
Review of The Family Friendlyish Stand Up Show
Stand-up supremacy
WE farted combines the talents of John Hastings and Dylan Gott, two excellent comics who, though quite young, have enough material separately for their own albums.

The production has problems: the sound levels are uneven, and for some reason they trade off after each joke, meaning it's hard to build any rhythm.

But the jokes stand on their own. The major revelation here is Gott, who completely nails his persona as an overweight, late-20s, underachieving slacker.

Some of his best material is about eating in fast food restaurants: staring down a McD's cashier when ordering four sandwiches, theorizing why Burger King doesn't have mirrors in its washrooms, getting banned from one restaurant for botching a dirty joke.

Gott, who's got a modest vibe with flashes of anger lurking beneath, knows what he must look like, and some of the best jokes re-enact physical scenarios. The image of him in his underwear eating beans out of a can and taunting a cat is one for the ages.

Hastings has great focus and energy that work well onstage. Unfortunately, that's not evident here; he seems a little arrogant. When he stumbles over a few words, he recovers but doesn't always undo the damage.

He wisely ends with a brilliant joke about nerds ambushing a children's reading of The Hobbit, and the two comics share the mic at the end for a bonus track recounting their first time performing. 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.
Click Here Click Here

August 24, 2013  Three Weeks
Review of 99 Club Stand-Up Selection - Free
99 Club Stand-Up Selection (99 Club / Free Festival)
Compèred by James Woroniecki, this comedy night delivered many laughs by four very accomplished comedians. Brett Goldstein effortlessly won over the crowd with his polished delivery, while Carly Smallman, singing with her guitar, found humour in the unlikely topic of incest, as she sang about fancying her (thankfully imaginary) little brother. Richard Todd criss-crossed all over the stage with his scraggly hair, showcasing his surrealist sense of humour with. The night was rounded off by Matt Green, who actively engaged with audience members he picked out, making jokes on the fly, as well as telling stories of his travels in Paris. A great opportunity to get a taste of four capable comedians. Click Here

August 24, 2013  Three Weeks
Review of 99 Club Stand-Up Selection - Free
Free – 99 Club Stand-Up Selection (99 Club / Free Festival)
Free – 99 Club Stand-Up Selection (99 Club / Free Festival)
By Kyung Oh | Published on Saturday 24 August 2013
Compèred by James Woroniecki, this comedy night delivered many laughs by four very accomplished comedians. Brett Goldstein effortlessly won over the crowd with his polished delivery, while Carly Smallman, singing with her guitar, found humour in the unlikely topic of incest, as she sang about fancying her (thankfully imaginary) little brother. Richard Todd criss-crossed all over the stage with his scraggly hair, showcasing his surrealist sense of humour with. The night was rounded off by Matt Green, who actively engaged with audience members he picked out, making jokes on the fly, as well as telling stories of his travels in Paris. A great opportunity to get a taste of four capable comedians. Click Here

August 14, 2013  The Skinny
Review of 99 Club Stand-Up Selection - Free
99 Club Stand-Up Selection
Presenting a new selection of four of the finest comedians from the Fringe each night for free, this show is stonkingly good value. These ripe talents will offer you a rich punnet of satisfyingly funny standup, so dig in! Tonight’s line-up demonstrated just why this show is so highly regarded each year.

First up the hilarious Dan Nightingale, who revealed how turning 32 had encouraged him to appreciate the value of reasonably priced, reasonably comfortable and reasonably fashionable clothes from Burton. It's also turned him into a Dickensian schoolteacher whenever he converses with the agonisingly hip staff in Topshop.

Second, Lee Wong, who takes advantage of his part-Chinese heritage to, among other things, shout through his letterbox and put off unwanted charity collectors coming to his flat. A witty young guy with a brilliantly dry and self-effacing humour.

Third, Michael Fabbri, who highlights how the internet can spiral out of control and off subject, demonstrating how you go from China to rich tea biscuits in just a few posts. An astute, funny comic who had the audience in creases.

Fourth, and my personal favourite, Australian Benny Boot. An energetic dude who buzzes on the stage and fires out a serious of incredibly funny short jokes. Covering everything from parrots to dynamite microphones, his enthusiasm is infectious.

Overall this foursome had the packed audience chortling throughout. Take advantage of this opportunity to see some of the finest acts of the Fringe for free – highly enjoyable and incredibly funny.
 Click Here

July 12, 2012  The Torontoist
Review of Dylan Gott: Cool Guy, Lots Of Friends
Fringe 2012: Dylan Gott: Medicine Woman
Dylan Gott is a stand-up comic, and a pretty good one. As we mentioned in our Fringe preview, he’s been the opener for popular comics like Todd Barry and Brian Posehn. A full set of Gott’s stand-up is exactly what you’ll get at his Fringe show—no more, no less. His style of comedy is self-deprecating; he kicks off his opening by shuffling out on stage and explaining how his leg was broken when he was beat up by some kids recently. The entire performance is full of references to the ways his awkwardness gets him in trouble in public. He comes off as likeable, though this is not, as the program warns, a show for those disturbed by occasional foul language and sexual references. Look at it this way: paying for a ticket to see him at Fringe is considerably cheaper than paying to see him headline at Yuk Yuk’s Click Here

July 12, 2012 The Torontist
Article about The Family Friendlyish Stand Up Show
Fringe 2012: Dylan Gott: Medicine Woman
Dylan Gott is a stand-up comic, and a pretty good one. As we mentioned in our Fringe preview, he’s been the opener for popular comics like Todd Barry and Brian Posehn. A full set of Gott’s stand-up is exactly what you’ll get at his Fringe show—no more, no less. His style of comedy is self-deprecating; he kicks off his opening by shuffling out on stage and explaining how his leg was broken when he was beat up by some kids recently. The entire performance is full of references to the ways his awkwardness gets him in trouble in public. He comes off as likeable, though this is not, as the program warns, a show for those disturbed by occasional foul language and sexual references. Look at it this way: paying for a ticket to see him at Fringe is considerably cheaper than paying to see him headline at Yuk Yuk’s. Click Here

April 5, 2012  Herald Sun
Review of Phi and Me
Phi and Me - 4.5 Stars
A MOTHER'S love never hurt so good as in this razor-sharp, magnificently over-the-top explosion of ethnic humour. Click Here

April 1, 2011 The Pun
Article about Phi and Me
The Pun - Phi and Me
If you enjoyed the material of Russell Peters, Hung Le and Anh Do and the style of The Kumars at No 42 and Greek on the Roof you will certainly appreciate Phi and Me. This show is very family friendly and would appeal to those who seek a bit more substance to their entertainment. Click Here

June 28, 2010  Remotegoat.com
Review of An Arrangement of Shoes
Walking in someone else's shoes
Abhishek Majumdar's work, An Arrangement of Shoes, is a one-woman show with a spectacular difference. Set in a small railway colony town in India, the production channels a complex web of different stories, memories and experiences through the single speaker so that, when the performance draws to a close, it is hard not to imagine grandparents and soldiers, film-stars and worshippers all rushing on for the curtain call.

With the time of her grandfather's burial just a short time away, Rukhsar hunts through a mountain of stolen shoes trying to work out which ones belonged to him. In this debuting production of the work, the truly sparkling Radhika Aggarwal drives the rich monologue of family-orientated Rukhsar through the delightful hour's performance, spinning a web of identities and belonging, with shoes at the centre.
Through the course of the work, the shoes move from coveted items which reflect an idealised urban life to something deeply symbolic and completely powerful in sculpting the past. By testing out all the stories that go with each and exploring the relevance of personal histories, Rukhsar brings the footwear to life generating a quirky breed of metonymy that sees lost shoes take on the stories of the people who once wore them.

Rejecting the rational view of others, including that of her twin sister, Rukhsar uses the shoes she has acquired to tell her family's story in a exquisitely creative way, using the footwear as a springboard for a rich and multifaceted narrative. Sometimes, her play with shoes brings out puns as homophones are drawn on for humour and meaning. Using this method, the wedges that make up the links between trains are illustrated by a pretty little pair of wedged sandals so that, with a playfully understated stroke of wit, memory and possessions are visually linked. At other points, the shoes provide the key to meaning as they take on the parts of other props, seen as Rukhsar excitedly chats into the soles, mimicking her family on a telephone. The third, and perhaps most powerful, way in which shoes function as a theatrical device becomes evident as they mimic the actions of those who supposedly wore them so that when shoes collapse off the rack and hang motionless from their heels, we are forced to imagine the unfortunately fate of the people they represent. Standing not only for the individuals whose stories they tell, these shoes also represent the absences; unclaimed, they hint at the loss felt when all is left of a person is their possessions.

As different narrative voices are employed by the solo actor, we are brought into a fascinating voyage of questioning with ancestral identity at the very heart of the expedition. Specific in its time and place, this piece takes us on a fascinating journey in other peoples shoes, broadening the narrative to provide a very familiar womanly voice and a truly warm wit. Click Here

June 28, 2010 
Article about Marcus Ryan - ¿Hablas Inglés?
Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Marcus Ryan ¿Hablas Inglés?
'Hysterical. I loved the show. Very funny stories about travelling through South America.' - Daniel C. (Audience member) Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017

June 28, 2010 Female First
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
Samantha Pressdee Discusses The Inspiration For Her New Show 'Back 2 Basics'
My psychologist Vivienne once said to me “Sometimes compassion is grabbing someone by the scruff of the neck and pulling them out of the fire.” I literally had to do that once with my friend Tom Palmer. He was dancing in a bonfire, wearing a dress. Tom had mental health issues. 1 in 4 people are affected and because like attracts like. I make friends with all the 1’s.

I met Tom at what was the Sweets Way Estate in Barnet, it’s now a luxurious new development unaffordable to its former residents. Activists, squatters and residents had united and taken the estate under political occupation. We were resisting social cleansing; the idea that the poor are being pushed out of London by gentrification. The campaign was lead by women, but backed up by good men. Tom was one of those men, but not everyone saw him that way. He arrived on the estate like a wrecking ball, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid. It was July 2015, we’d been in occupation since February. Tom came in with a squatting crew, The Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, but they preferred the acronym ANAL. Known for their mischief they were very different to the core group at Sweets Way, who had a safe space policy. That was never going to wash with ANAL, most of them didn’t like washing at all.

Tom was a kindred spirit. I could see past his wild ways as I was only a year into my recovery from a mental breakdown myself. I understood his frustration at the mental health system and wanted to help him. I’d invited him to come stay with me in September 2016, when I would return from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The plan was to get him under my mental health team and help him apply for the disability benefit ‘Personal Independence Payment’. Getting my basic financial and support needs met has helped me maintain mental stability, I was hoping it would do the same for Tom.

Tragically. I was too late. Tom died on the 22nd of August last year. He was only 28. The cause of death was a heroin overdose, he’d taken the drug impulsively. Many believe he was self medicating.

Tom believed in revolution, he’s the inspiration for my show this year. Back 2 Basic’s is about creating equal ground, the firm foundation of basic security we all need in order to maintain mental health. I can’t bring him back but I can honour his life by doing my little bit to create the future that he, myself and many others imagine.

What happened to Tom, was the ultimate social cleansing. He fell through our disintegrating welfare safety net. I like the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income, which is currently being trailed in Finland. Essentially it means no matter what, people have enough money to cover their basic needs. We also need safe social housing.

The consequences of austerity are starting to show. It’s not saving us money, it’s costing lives. Social Housing, not social cleansing was the core message of Sweets Way Resists. I’m angry that it’s taken the tragedy of The Grenfell Tower fire to bring social housing issues into the mainstream conversation. I don’t believe it was the fire that killed the victims of Grenfell. It was an absence of compassion within our political system, leading to a lack of resources to pull them out before it was too late. As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, it’s time we asked ourselves as a society. How much is enough?

Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics

Venue: Laughing Horse @ 48 Below

Time: 19:30pm

Dates: Aug 3rd-27th
 Click Here

June 28, 2010 Broadway Baby
Article about Rik Carranza: I'm a Fan
#EdFringe17: Rik Carranza is a Fan
Rik tells the story of love, life, death and being a geek. Enjoy 15 minutes of stand up and chat with the comedian who feels that he doesn’t fit in. Where is he from? Who is his favourite Star Trek Character? How has he got a girlfriend? Click Here

June 28, 2010 BuxtonFringe.org.uk
Article about Nathan Cassidy: The Man in the Arena
Best show nominee - Buxton Fringe
 Click Here

June 28, 2010 John Fleming blog
Article about What’s your name? World’s Best MC Award Grand Final
John Fleming blog
 Click Here

June 28, 2010  The Adelaidian
Review of Andrew Silverwood is "a Self Absorbed Tw*t"
Andrew Silverwood is a ‘Self Absorbed Twat’
Last year we saw Andrew Silverwood practically naked, climbing under the audience’s chairs and talking about his ‘First 10 Sexual Failures and other stories’, which caused one reviewer to label him as a ‘self absorbed twat’. Rather than letting this get him down though, he decided to name his entire next show after this review, and hence an hour of hilarious stand-up was created.

His vertically-challenged, pink-haired assistant Jamie Mykaela opened the show with five minutes of adorable singing and ukulele playing. Adorable, that is, until the lover she’s singing about scorns her for another and she manically descends into screeching on top of an audience member about how fine she is (we’ve all been there).

As Andrew tells us the unfortunate tales of his life, we can’t help but notice half of them took place in Adelaide (we are honoured to be from such a quirky city). Two of our favourites were the time a man with a live chicken in his bicycle basket gate-crashed his show down in Rundle Mall, and the time when he attempted to sleep with a woman, only to have her dog-wielding, knife-bearing ex-girlfriend crash the party.

It’s hard to determine whether Andrew purposely puts himself into ridiculous situations in hopes they will create stories to put towards a new show, but if this is true we’re glad he’s willing to sacrifice himself in the name of our laughter. His quick-wit, dripping sarcasm and self-deprecating jokes make for a solid hour of laughter. While his comedy might be on point though, we might suggest that he does not pursue a career as a rapper, as his closing song ‘Sex Face’ most definitely had us laughing at him, not necessarily with him.

As for the offensive side of his humour, well, we hate to say that some of the offensive material was in fact our favourite parts of the show. As a comedian, there’s a fine line that can be crossed in the world of touchy subjects, but Andrew manages to successfully balance right on the edge of the line that separates humorous from horrendous.

We rate: ★★★★ 4/5 stars Click Here

June 28, 2010 North East Theatre Guid
review
Sean Turner at times was absurdist and surreal, he was just as good as American legend Steven Wright. The moment when he diffused his difficult jokes by singing a song in a club-land style was Reeves and Mortimer at their finest. It was thoroughly entertaining.
 Click Here

June 28, 2010 Broadway World
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- Samantha Pressdee
Tell us a bit about Back To Basics.

Back to Basics is a show abut creating equal ground. It looks at what our basic needs are as a society and how we can meet them for ourselves and each other. I talk about a campaign against social cleansing I was involved in Sweets Way Resists. Families were fighting for their social housing in London, which was to be demolished to build luxury flats they wouldn't be able to afford. People were being asked to move out of London, away from their support networks and the lives they had created.

Lack of social housing and our complicated welfare system is not only destroYing Lives but costing lives. Without a feeling of security we can't maintain mental health. With the gap between the rich and the poor continually increasing, could giving every citizen an Unconditional Basic Income be a firmer foundation then our current disintegrating welfare safety net?

Why bring it to Edinburgh?

I feel like comedy is a good platform to get my voice heard. People are more likely to listen to hard hitting truths if you also make them laugh. Edinburgh can be a springboard to further opportunities.

I'm hoping people from the comedy industry will come see this show as I want to spread this message further. Also Edinburgh is really fun. Its the one time of the year when I feel truly part of a community. Lots of my friends are in one place and there is so much to see and do.

Why is it important for people to see it?

I'm taking about politics based on my lived experience. Its a working class perspective, which I feel is underrepresented in the arts. It's sad that it's taken for something as tragic as what happened with Grenfell Tower for social housing issues to become part of the mainstream conversation. This is an extreme example of social cleansing. It's awful that it takes an atrocity like this for the wider population to become aware of how many underprivileged people are really suffering and at risk.

I've been lucky with the support I've received from my local council for my mental health issues, a friend from the next borough to me was not so lucky. This show is in memory of my friend and respected Occupy activist Tom Palmer.

Who would you recommend comes to see you?

This show is for anyone that believes in creating a better, fairer and more secure future.

I've had people from all walks of life come to see the show in preview. It doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from if you care about community you'll be able to take something from this show.

Are there any other shows you're hoping to catch at the festival?

Looking forward to seeing Fern Brady, I enjoyed her show in preview. I always go see Mark Thomas, his show sounds very cool this year & Sarah Callaghan is someone I've been wanting to see but haven't had chance too yet.

Timings and ticket information for Samantha Pressdee: Back to Basics are available on the edfringe website. Click Here

June 28, 2010 Oxford Times, Stratford Herald
Article about DICK IN SPACE
Reviews
REVIEWS

This is the world premiere of DICK IN SPACE. Dick Spacey made cameo appearances in an earlier show CHAOS, CARNAGE AND KULTURE. “This show is anarchic, gut-wrenchingly funny and full of wonderful theatrical surprises.” Oxford Times.
“ Dick Spacey…is what Tom Waits would be like as a stage character on amphetamines.” Stratford Herald.
“Excellently funny - John Dowell meets Philip Marlowe.” Evening Telegraph.
“Funniest and most provocative show I’ve seen this year…Dick Spacey is comically brilliant – my only criticism is that the jokes and puns come so quickly you have to concentrate all the time…Poignant, surprising, very funny.” Oxford Mail

June 28, 2010 Woman Around Town
Article about Show Up
Putting it Together - Show Up Review
One-man shows are hard. Improv shows are harder. But a one-man improv show? SHOW UP, written and performed by Peter Michael Marino and now playing at 59E59 Theaters as part of their annual East to Edinburgh series, breaks all tradition by pulling together a genuinely funny one-man improv show that surprises and delights. There is, technically, a script, but Marino metaphorically defenestrates the thing within a few quick moments of stepping to the center of the performance space. It should be a recipe for disaster, but, with a few final flourishes that neatly wrap the package in a bow at the end, instead delivers an experience that leaves everyone smiling and satisfied, chatting with their new performance buddies.

Marino takes the whole thing beyond the one-man show designation because his improvised story is drawn from the real-life experiences of his audience members, though they are scrambled together in a way that makes them unrecognizable and therefore collectively funnier than their individual parts. On the night of the first performance, the story resembled a Southern Gothic, complete with matricide, lightning strikes, and broken hearts. It was further supplemented with a little disco fever and some multi-accented multiple personalities. Mystery music cues set the tone for each segment of the performance and an impressed set designer – even a reluctant one — added more than a touch of merriment to the proceedings.
Marino, for all his talk of being an unlovable black sheep, is a very endearing presence. His self-deprecating humor and earnest delivery, though it took a minute to warm up to where he was going with it all, set the audience at ease in a way only a seasoned performer can. Despite a claim of social anxiety, he was not only relaxed with the crowd, but set them at ease enough to convince his volunteers to readily offer potentially painful moments from their lives for the sake of everyone’s continuing amusement of the rest. “I get a lot of murders, actually,” he confided after the performance. And yet it all came together as well as it should, with a lot of good-natured joking and the obvious desire to see where he was going to take it all next. Everyone stayed a little late to continue the conversation started in those first moments of the performance, shaking hands, and asking each other for details of their experiences.

At an hour long, SHOW UP is the kind of performance that feels like it could go on for significantly longer, but sadly must come to an end. A few moments of exposition between the end of the improvised play and the audience mingling brought the energy down, but it was the only less-than-stellar portion of the evening. It makes this viewer wish to know what kinds of experiences the crowd in Edinburgh will bequeath upon Marino for the benefit of his ongoing experiment in shared spectacle. It’s sure to be hilarious. Click Here

June 28, 2010 Tillt Magazine
Article about AMERICANA PSYCHOBABBLE
Americana Psychobabble Shakes Up Our Patriotism
Americana Psychobabble is introduced to audience goers as “a post-inauguration exorcism, an irrational rejuvenation ceremony, a delirious investigation of American violence & emptiness. Its findings exist somewhere between sad clown song, dance in the abyss, hysterical healing ceremony, and desperate diatribe to take back ecstatic nonsense as an act of resistance.” –Broadway World Brooklyn.

On June 10th 2017 at the esteemed Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I sat down for an evening of what would be non-apologetic political theater pushed to the limit. In a combination of performance art, theater, and dance. Americana Psychobabble is truly not what you would expect from a solo act.

As the lights dimmed and the evening began, we were greeted by lead performer Alexandra Tatarsky. With smeared red, white and blue makeup that both resembled your worst nightmare clown impersonation and your drunken aunt at holiday, Tatarsky introduced herself and began the evening with a welcome speech. The high-pitched persona began with part one of a series of performed emotions that would take us for evening.

The welcome speech that grew into blurbs and mumbles, what would begin making sense, and then slowly peal off into a rant. A rant that often reminded you of some of the worst parts of the Americana culture and the funniest. Ironically enough, Tatarsky reminds us that the two elements often co-exist as one. Or rather, the two often have to co-exist so we the outsider may cope with the extremes of either one. From friendly, neighborly phrases that quickly turned gruesome and racial. Tatarsky engaged the entire body through movement and speech for this one-hour monologue and performance.

A speech that would grow into a ritual that invites the audience, Tatarsky mocks the appropriation that Americans often and so easily engage in. In doing so, the audience soon finds themselves standing, inhaling, exhaling and laughing in a mock up yoga healing ceremony. The laughter doesn’t end there as Tatarsky makes her way around the stage set, engaging with props, such as the American favorite…ketchup. While eating this ketchup on a makeshift finger hot dock, Tatarsky begins to project the sauce back up and onto the floor. And let us not forget the old radio playing familiar tunes.

The journey around the stage takes us to unchartered places of the American psyche, what feels entertaining is quickly rendered as a reminder of some of our darkest traits as a society. We begin with laughter and end with pensive silence. Tatarsky’s Americana Psychobabble is jaw dropping with both laughter and shock. A refreshing take on the things we deem “normal” called out on stage for the world to see from a white femme perspective, a truly rare and divine performance, engaging all senses.

Americana Psychobabble forces the American to take a hard look in the mirror. In times of intense political climate Tatarsky forces us to do so in the most witty, and sharp way. Co-directed by Meryl Sands, Americana Psychobabble brings us performance art meets the black box theater for an evening of comedy, shock and awe at this year’s Arts and Activism Festival THIS IS NOT NORMAL by The Brick Theater. Just in time to reflect on our Independence Day rituals, Americana Psychobabble a must see. Click Here

June 28, 2010 Broadway World
Article about Rik Carranza: I'm a Fan
EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- Rik Carranza
Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a Scottish/Filipino comedian based in Birmingham. As well as being a stand up comedian, I'm the host and creator of the comedy debate panel show, Star Trek vs Star Wars, a host at sci fi conventions, and lover of all things geek! Except Twilight. No one likes Twilight.
Why bring it to Edinburgh?
It's my home city. So basically I get to do 2 shows a day on home soil. See some friends and family. Plus I get to go to Wings again. I like chicken wings and I like beer. Wings has both of these things.

What sets it apart from other shows at the Fringe?
I love hosting Star Trek vs Star Wars. What's more enjoyable than watching 2 geeky comics try and argue which is the better franchise. Last year we had fans of both and neither, all enjoy themselves and this year the stakes have been raised with new questions and new rounds.
I'm a Fan is a lot more personal. It's a story for anyone who has changed themselves to fit in and whether or not it is worth it. Should you embrace who you are or should you bow to peer pressure. It's a story about love, life, death and Star Trek.
Who would you recommend comes to see you?
Star Trek vs Star Wars:
Definitely the hundreds who saw the show last year! Anyone who's a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars or anything in between. Even fans of neither would as it's just a really fun show. The show has also had endorsements from Rony Bridges (an admiral from The Force Awakens), and Katie Purves (mother Ewok from Return of the Jedi).
I'm a Fan:
Anyone who's ever been a fan of anything.
Are there any other shows you're hoping to catch at the festival?
I hope to see Bec Hill, Abigoliah Schamaun and Juliette Burton. I also want to see every show at my venue (Heroes@Monkey Barrel). It's such a great line up in there but if I had to pick one, it would have to be Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead.
Timings and ticket information for I'm A Fan and Star Trek vs Star Wars are available on the edfringe website. Click Here

June 28, 2010  North West End
Review of TROLLEY GIRLS
It’s a million miles away from the glamour of Hollyoaks to a small backroom theatre on deepest Salford but that’s the path Jessica Forrest has chosen.

Since leaving the bonkers Cheshire soap Forrest has been out on a long of tour of small venues in Box of Tricks’ Chip Shop Chips, which is the ideal prep for this two hander in a rough and ready venue.

To open this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe the former soap star has got together with Olivia Nicholson to devise Trolley Girls about the (mis)adventures of two teenage best mates Jess and Liv working on the tills in Burnley’s Asda.

The action jumps back and forth between their wild teenage years, and the moment when Jess realises her dream move to the Asda Megastore down in the bright lights of Manchester, but can their friendship survive its biggest crisis?

The duo are mining similar territory that Victoria Wood covered with Dinnerladies exploring the hidden lives of those who serve our basic needs, but we barely notice. Trolley Girls is far less twee as Wood never used the word spunk, which gets a regular airing in this show, as the pair deal with crap boyfriends and their limited opportunities.

Both effortlessly move through multiple characters although Forrest does overplay Jess’ mum with a bizarre Liam Gallagher style monkey walk. That’s a rare misstep from a talented comic actor which is more than made up with a very funny epic rant - aimed at her idiot boyfriend - set to the Adele’s Hello sparking some knowing chuckles from the audience who all seem to have been there.

Nicholson is equally adept at switching character, and brilliantly captures Liv’s confusion about her boyfriend’s unhealthy obsession with H from Steps, sequins and Calendar Girls. Thankfully her best mate is on hand to point out the obvious.

The other star of this show is Forrest and Nicholson’s sparky dialogue which on the whole rings true, and you can’t help thinking here might be a sitcom in this show.

At time the switches to character and costume weren’t always that slick - which a longer run will resolve - but the honest, raw dialogue and charming performances suggests they will find an audience when they plunge into the very crowded field at the Edinburgh Festival.

Reviewer: Paul Clarke

Reviewed: 30th June 2017

North West End Rating: ★★★★ Click Here

June 28, 2010 Broadway Baby
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
#EdFringe17: Samantha Pressdee Goes Back 2 Basics
Sammy describes herself as “an anarcha-feminist, who confronted the patriarchy with my tits out.” In her new show, she will be baring her soul instead of her chest. Sammy chats about the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement and explains why she doesn’t see eye to eye with some other feminists. Click Here

June 28, 2010 Cornwall Live
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics
Topless 'Action Barbie' who is sick of being treated like a sex toy is performing in Cornwall
Comedian Samantha Pressdee – who calls herself "an Action Barbie who's sick of being treated like a toy" – is known for performing and campaigning topless as part of the #FreeTheNipple campaign.
Read more at http://www.cornwalllive.com/topless-action-barbie-who-is-sick-of-being-treated-like-a-sex-toy-is-performing-in-cornwall/story-30293416-detail/story.html#V3eK5gvt4il4821C.99 Click Here

June 28, 2010 BBC
BBC Alternative Edinburgh

Tuesday 22nd: 9.30pm - 10.30pm

John Kearns hosts a night of the strangest and most unusual comedy from around the Fringe, for the unconventional at heartincluding Cheekykita! at The BBC Edinburgh Festival tent on August 22nd in Click Here

June 28, 2010  The Scotsman
Review of Clonely
Theatre review: Clonely
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: There are several ­obstacles standing in the way of the Fringe success Clonely deserves.


Its venue and timing, for one thing – the mid-afternoon slot at a ­relatively unknown bar beyond the city centre never did anyone’s audience figures much good. It’s also, arguably, miscategorised in the Fringe brochure and by the performers themselves, Me Me Me ­Theatre. With its audience interaction, surreal characters, episodic narrative and emphasis on laughs, this is the sort of ­experimental sketch comedy The ­Behemoth (aka John-Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil) excelled at.

The action takes place upon a spaceship populated ­entirely by clones of a tech entrepreneur called Don Solus. We watch two of the clones (Jasmine Chatfield and Charlie Hammond) come out of hibernation and guide their siblings (the audience) through induction, doling out nicknames in the process (Dangerous Don is to be avoided; Shy Don is nigh-impossible to find). As we become more indoctrinated in the ways of clone life, we learn about dark secrets upon the ship, including the tragic deaths of some of our antecedents (shades of Duncan Jones’s Moon) and the existence of a sinister, ­scorpion-themed cult.

Chatfield and Hammond are gifted physical comedians, conveying multitudes with a fixed grin and a flick of the eyes; the scene where they become familiar with their newly discovered bodies is an extended, dialogue-free delight. Other highlights include the most chaste-yet-raunchy sci-fi sex scene of the Fringe, and a glorious montage of death.

By any serious metric of theatre criticism, the show is a failure: the characters are (purposefully) undeveloped; the sets and props (enthusiastically) homemade and unbelievable; the small amount of pathos at the conclusion shrugged off with a smile. All of which make it a glorious success, as long as you judge it as a comedy. Click Here

 

 

      

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