Festival Comedy list.co.uk/festival
SUSAN CALMAN A warm show from a friendly talent ●●●●●
Susan Calman was once heckled by a guy who said he wouldn’t shag her if she was the last woman on earth. Taking his abuse as a launchpad, the premise of the pocket-sized Weegie’s show is that we’re all stuck in a bunker after a nuclear attack, and she is giving her Guide to the End of the World. Although Calman’s side projects include writing a film, a sitcom and fronting a political satire show with Des Clarke, here she’s chatting about her girlfriend, her love of chicken bacon bakes from Asdas (all Scots add ‘s’ to supermarket names, she explains) and her obsession with Cliff Richard and Princess Di.
It’s a warm show, delivered with relaxed chuminess, but her previous schtick as a jolly wee goblin has been replaced with a more confident sexual predator. ‘There’s a lot of women in my life, sweetheart,’ she sniffs with mock haughtiness, after not recognising an audience member who she met recently. Full of cute observations, rather than any real mould-breaking stuff, it seems like she’s a big talent, delivering a medium-sized routine. (Claire Sawers) ■ Underbelly, 08445 458 252, until 30 Aug (not 19), 8.10pm, £6.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).
STEPHEN K AMOS Losing the feelgood factor ●●●●●
Irony is the currency of modern comedy, and Stephen K Amos’ show is undoubtedly an ironic experience; just not, perhaps, in the way he intended. Although it’s pitched as a feelgood experience, his hour turns out to be a very dispiriting one indeed. The beginning is deceptively promising, with rotating glitter balls and energetic dancers. So far, so light entertainment, and Amos promises the show will deliver ‘exactly what it
says on the tin’.
Some say that performing to 800 people in a venue the size of an aircraft hangar is comedy napalm, as if the entertainer has swapped credibility for cash in a pact with the devil. Yet other performers can play to a crowd this size and keep the material fresh while catering to a mass audience. Not so here, with tired observations about the weather and childhood that have been done better elsewhere. Amos is clearly a force field of good- hearted charisma, and has his sights set high, merrily announcing that he’s been given his own TV show. But his promise that ‘at the end of the show you will all have felt good’ sadly remains unfulfilled. (Emma Newlands) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18), 9.40pm, £14–£15 (£12.50–£13.50).
CARDINAL BURNS Turkish delights amid the prop failure ●●●●●
If there’s one thing you can be certain of from sketch duo Cardinal Burns, it’s a clean show. Not that there aren’t moments of splendid filth and degradation, but the opening sequence of an ironing, pampering and spraying duo fills the sweaty air with deep wafts of fragrance. Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns were two thirds of the acclaimed Fat Tongue troupe, but the loss of the female hasn’t dampened their exuberance. As each sketch gets played out with such vim and verve, even the failure of a prop or the collapse of a wig only seems to boost the charm which they exude – and the crowd never fail to adore them. Just about keeping their own giggles inside simply adds fuel to our own mirth and the blurping of a mobile early on ladles sympathy on our heroes as their concentration levels momentarily subside. Their Turkish cabbies spoofing a Kings of Leon track acts as a joyous finale with plenty delights appearing beforehand. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 17), 5.45pm, £8–£9 (£6.50–£7.50).
for GLASGOW COMEDY see non-Festival magazine
SARAH MILLICAN Facing up to gender politics and the elements ●●●●●
The unflappable Geordie lass looks a bit intimidating on the war effort- themed poster for her new show, but a minute in her company reassures us that the butch press campaign is just skylarking. Last year’s if.comedy Best Newcomer is in flying form, with an assured stage presence and solid, if shopworn, material. Typical Woman is about cleaving to and bucking gender stereotypes. Men, supposedly strong and stoical and resilient, sometimes cry. Fragile, sensitive, dainty women sometimes put up shelves. Not a thematic revolution then – a comedy show about the war of the sexes is like a rock opera about sound – but still a fine act.
And while there’s nothing literary or wordy in it, there’s no doubt that
Millican is smart as a whip. Ingenious topspins on the audience’s gentle heckles and an intuitive mastery of timing let her capitalise on some great one-liners and nifty callbacks. It is kind of sad to have to add Millican to the long list of comics who, given the opportunity to broadcast funnywomen’s liberation o’er hill and dale, end up arguing that a girl’s favourite things are shopping, handbags and shopping for handbags. Not that these are shameful activities; just that female physicists, authors, doctors and CEOs might disagree. She shows bravery though, in exposing her own physical shortcomings
without apology, sometimes in spectacularly filthy detail. Her infectious grit and ability not to be dragged down by unreasonable expectations are the show’s moral centre. The spirited attempts of this particular Pleasance oven to bake its audience to a sweaty crisp narrowly failed but Millican’s gig succeeded by a comfortable margin. With some more idiosyncratic material in her quiver, she can only improve. (Sam Healy) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£11.50 (£8.50–£10).
26 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 13–20 Aug 2009