For whom the bell tolls

He’s got a prop and he’s not afraid to use it. Brian Donaldson can’t stand the heat of the Teviot but he can bear much more of ALUN COCHRANE.

ohnny Vegas had his porters wheel. Billy ('onnolly had some

johhics; Rod Hull owned an emtt and Harry llill donned that hig

collar. Many a legendary comic is known for the originality of their prop and the more the items you can tise iii the name of freshness get nahhed by someone else. the harder it is to he rare. .-\lun (‘ochrane has his hell. ()K. on first hearing. that doesn't sound tip to much; htit you should see his hell. It's a right hig clunky dingy thing that truckloads of (‘u// My lilirlfhuffs would kill to get their palms on. In My [iii-nitrite Him/x in My Best Stories Cochrane uses it to excellent effect.

So. what does he need a hell for'.’ Well. quite simply to ring it when he mentions one of his favourite words —- which he then proceeds to talk of with great fondness. Again. it doesn‘t sound like great shakes. hut trust me. this man (‘ochrane is a star iii the making. With a Scottish mum on his side (allowing tis to claim him for our own when he succeeds). lllis eloquent Yorkshire lad (allowing us to disown him iii the unlikely event of his failure) has had words coming out of his ears and a love of language running through his veins from childhood.

An ex—drama student. his first post-grad joh was on one of the toughest huilding estates in his rough home town. It certainly taught him a lesson or two. especially the way they inserted swear words hallway through another word. for example. It was ati ‘a—fticking-ma/ing' experience for him and a profound sweep on his own learning curve.

But what is truly amazing ahout (‘ochrane is his uncanny ability to make you forget the hell/.apoppin' atmosphere you are stuck iii. I arrived in a stnall hall of the (iilded Balloon Teviot and within two minutes of taking my seat was convinced I would he dead frotn heat exhaustion shortly. Like sotne skinny human air conditioning system. (‘ochrane made us all forget the tropical environs. sucking the humidity from around the flesh and making tis wet ourselves through laughter instead.

Actually. I‘m selling (‘ochrane slightly short; he has a second prop. A chair. The debate over the exact colour of his chair takes tip tive solidly amusing minutes. But either way (red or orange). it‘s a really nice retro number which he has been accused of having bought in lKliA. (‘ochrane has some good stories ahotit the Scandic home discomfort store. To he hltiiit. he has funny things to say about everything that comes to his mind: elderly people being competitive in the street was certainly among his best stories.

Let‘s not ptit any extra pressure on all of tis. hy saying that (‘ochrane should he leaving lidinhurgh with some kind of hauhle under his arm. All I know is that over a weekend of seeing shows which had my faith in comedy nearly extinguished. I could quite easily have gone through the exact same hour immediately. Please let him ring your hell.

Top 0, me props Gilded Balloon Teviot, 669 1633, until 29 Aug (not 15), 6.45pm, £8419 (£7428) um


The revolution will not be satirised 00.. lot at politics

‘A little bit of politics. a little bit of politics.‘ A phrase made famous by that one-time righteous red wedgy humorist Ben Elton. It's strange to think. given Elton's Current posmon as an execrable West End muSical- touting Klondike. that he is the godfather to Mark Thomas' Vitriolic political polemic. But unlike Elton's gradual drift towards middling mediOCrity. Thomas' stand up has shifted from politically laced rambles to full- on. turbo-charged manifestos With gags thrown in.

Thankfully, for even a mixed crowd like this. he's still extremely funny. and whenever his message begins to weigh too heavy and given the tawdry state of our world. that frequently happens he brings us back With something human and hilarious. For the first half of his tOO-minute show ic0uld this be the best value for money comedy at the Fringe?l he tells the faintly ridiculous CirCumstances of his first arrest at an anti-war protest in Edinburgh. Given his rampant activism, it comes as a surprise that he's never made it to chokey befOre now but his ranting wideboy diatribes are a delight. The second. more structured and far more serious half sees him take on one of the biggest and baddest multinationals of them all: Coca-Cola.

With political comedy being very much confined to lazy stipes at George Bush this year. it's refreshing to see someone able to cast their net having not been Jaded by years of struggle against indifference and c0rruption. In the case of Mark Thomas: don't have a Coke. have a smile. iMark Robertsoni I Bongo C/ub. 557 2827, MW 78 Aug, 7pm. £72.50 (£8.50).