LLOYD LANGFORD Schoolboy whimsy misses the mark “r; 1; ..

What do you get if you combine misanthropy and anthropology. as Lloyd Langford promises at the start of his routine? The answer is a disappointingly mixed bag of punchlines from the baby—faced and constantly chipper 24-year-old. The material, delivered in a gentle, singsong Welsh lilt, constructs a self- deprecating, easy-going persona who states that he avoids confrontation at all costs. ‘I don’t want to be edgy or offensive.’ he insists at one point. “i just want to make people laugh.‘

But this rings hollow for the scripted riffs on rape. disability and paedophilia, which cross the line on more than one occasion, and prompt one audience member to walk out just as a disapproving hush enters the room. Controversial material has its place in the hands of an experienced and subversive stand-up who wants to challenge the audience's perceptions. But when it morphs into schoolboy jokes then something has definitely gone awry. (Emma Newlands)

I Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug (not 12), 6.35pm, 98—29. 50 (27—28. 50).


Sweating out life’s problems COO

Mark Watson is no longer the hardest working performer on the Fringe. That accolade may actually go to Emily Watson Howes who just so happens to be the popular stand—up's good lady missus. Not only is she the creator and director of World War II drama How it Ended, she writes and stars in Gym, the follow-up to last year's WC, with the action occurring exclusively in a health club. While WC took place in a Fringe Portaloo, Gym's run is at the Pleasance. albeit in one of the venue’s less breeze-friendly rooms. the perspiration of the fitness fanatics

Wendy Wason

pretty much matched by those slumped in their seats.

A series of sketches gallop by as characters spill their guts while stretching their limbs; many of them are obnoxious. shy, cheated. scared, weird or lonely, either in search of some meaning to life or running away from the ghastly truth. Beautifully performed. the sketches don't worry about being all-out hilarious, preferring instead to focus on life's little woes and finding a precise and humane wit within. (Brian Donaldson)

I Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 7 Sep (not 72), 6pm, £8. 50—29. 50 (E 7—28).


Comedy catharsis lacks bite


Inspired by Donald Bumsfeld’s infamous ‘known unknowns' comments that were beyond parody. Wendy Wason takes the audience along the rocky path of her marriage break-up (from Steve Furst of Lenny Beige and Orange cinema advert fame) and the lessons it has taught her. It is undoubtedly a classic heart- warming story of seizing triumph from the jaws of adversity. but for every cathartic stride she takes, explaining what she now knows she didn't know she didn’t know before the split, comedy value is forever forsaken as a result.


Repeating funny comments that friends or children have made do not. unfortunately, shrewd observational humour make. nor does resorting to more outrageous material. The prolific voiceover artiste is nevertheless an extremely warm, likeable host; but just as Rumsfeld and co failed to track down weapons of mass destruction, sharp jokes delivered at a steady pace also prove to be frustratingly elusive during this show. Although, to be fair, I now know I didn’t know I didn’t know that until it started. (Emma Newlands) I Gilded Balloon Teviot, 668 7633, until 25 Aug (not 72), 8pm, 2850—2 70 (537.5049).


Song and spoofs about the saucy snack on.

With unexpected Hamlet undertones. Pot Noodle The Musical spins the story of the dastardly Alan Little. who kills his noodle-farmer brother Barry in order to get his mitts on prostitutes and cars. The plot is a happy blend of cliched musical (Barry's beautiful daughter Sandy plotting to overpower her evil uncle) and sumptuous farce. A slow beginning gives way to a tightly packed and beautifully timed hour of song and spoof. The strength of the lyrics lies in their surprises: sperm donation and bestiality both make an appearance to the tunes of happy-go-

lucky ballads that sound as if they've been lifted straight from a West End score. The disappointed patron I heard requesting a soundtrack will not be the last.

Proving themselves as adept improvisers. the cast rejoice in the tipsy interjections from the audience, successfully building them into running jokes. As the audience giggles beneath a swinging spaghetti-like back-curtain, the resounding message is to ignore the health warnings: Pot Noodles are great Saturday-night fodder. (Natalie Woolman)

I Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 7 7, 78), 70. 30pm, £7 7-£.‘72 (73950—27050).

ECO-FRIENDLY JIHAD Saving the planet with fun on

lrish columnist and comedian Abie Philbin Bowman. creator of Jesus: The Guantanamo Years, returns for a second coming. This time, he wants to save the world and like his famous father (Irish broadcaster and historian John Bowman) he believes that real solutions can only be found through the application of historical knowledge. Hairy, scrawny and shoeless. Bowman perches himself on a high chair and issues forth an 11th hour fundamentalist environmental agenda to drag us out the hole we’ve dug for ourselves.

The laterally thinking and immensely intelligent Bowman seems to take inspiration from both the late comedian Dave Allen and Al Gore. He meanders his way into the subject matter and tells how a chance meeting in a mosque led him to believe that only by the systematic slaughter of the biggest consumers of energy (us, basically) can we really rescue the planet. It’s a fantastic gambit, which Bowman then wastes in a flurry of rushed delivery and shambolic attempts at bathos. (Paul Dale)

I Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug (not 7 7, 72, 78, 7 9), 3.55pm, £8. 50—29. 50 (27.50—28. 50).