Festival Comedy

Telephone Booking Fringe 0131 226 0000 International Festival 0131 473 2000 Book Festival 0845 373 5888 Art Festival 0777 169 3470 SEYMOUR MACE Weird and wonderful game show antics ●●●●●

CELIA PACQUOLA Laughing it up with a messed-up stand-up ●●●●● Am I Strange? asks Australian comic Celia Pacquola at the top of the debut Fringe show which has done wonders at festivals back home. ‘Not especially’ might come the reply. Delightful, fragile and needy are more like the traits wrapped up into her stage persona as she recounts the tale of the bloke who screwed her over by messing around with an untold number of females. The central gimmick is for Pacquola to click her fingers, signalling a darkening of the room as she allows us entry into the workings of her increasingly


fraught mind. Eventually, this becomes a little distracting and actually spoils any rhythm which Pacquola has developed, but there are still enough moments of penetrating joy and poetic anxiety to leave you fulfilled at the climax. Whatever becomes of her and her comedy career, Celia Pacquola joins the likes of David O’Doherty, Jason Cook and Josie Long as a band of stand-ups people want to reward, not just with applause, but with a reassuring hug. (Brian Donaldson) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 17), 7.45pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).

Like a surreal Vic and Bob bomb colliding with a kids’ TV show, Geordie nonsense-peddler Seymour Mace leaves his crowd uplifted, entertained and laden with charity shop-bought gifts. Packing in group puzzle-solving, ‘horrorscope’ readings, dubious money-saving tips and his insights into vegetable racism, Funshine! is silly but delightfully done. Mace’s show should probably be quite irritating, considering it’s based on non-stop optimism and audience participation, two factors that would make some crowd members want to throw themselves out Stand II’s open windows onto the roadworks below. But he avoids any cheerleadery cheese by dishing out Northern- flavoured affectionate abuse for his crowd, and shaming those who balls up his home-made games; ‘Name that Spoon’ comes with a truly unimpressive DIY theme song, and his clipboard is fashioned from a cereal box and clothes peg, but the flimsier things get, the funnier they become. There are other places on the Fringe to have your brain cells tickled, or funny bone stimulated with satire; Funshine! is about enjoying something laidback and wearing sticker name-tags saying ‘Gary Werewolf’ and ‘Tony Seabird’. Warm, original and weird. (Claire Sawers) The Stand, 558 7272, until 30 Aug (not 17), 1.45pm, £7 (£6).

Online Booking Fringe www.edfringe.com International Festival www.eif.co.uk Book Festival www.edbookfest.co.uk Art Festival www.edinburghartfestival.org

JANEANE GAROFALO Hack material just about given the right twist ●●●●●

This year’s big hitting easily misspelled US comedy star (is it Leifer or Liefer? Are you sure Pinette hasn’t got two ‘n’s?) had much to prove on her arrival in Edinburgh. Maybe not to herself (the public Janeane Garofalo persona might have some psychological flaws that are merrily played on but a cocky assuredness is not among them) but certainly to those who shelled out for tickets in advance of her recent Latitude disaster (blame it all you want on the noisy stage, people, but it didn’t prevent Ed Byrne going on straight afterwards and staying longer than scheduled).

‘You know, man, I really don’t know what to expect here’, pipes up one North American voice behind. Whatever was expected of her, it’s fair to report that Garofalo’s hour may not have written itself into Americana Fringe folklore the way last year’s Louis CK shows did, but at least she didn’t read her whole act off a crib sheet à la Carol Leifer. Leaping off the stage and

running down the aisles as an intro seemed a mite Vegas for one with such a counter-culture, grunge-left background but she soon got into her stride with material about the anti-Obama brigade and Bush, all of which was routinely agreeable. Though being so exasperated with her compatriots for allowing the Republican party to rule for so long may understandably leave someone lost for words, it’s less understable when that someone is a comedian and you’re awaiting a punchline.

Predictable but moreish material about the weird things she’s discovered while on British soil included cricket (what’s that all about?) and deep-fried Mars Bars (yep, really) while themes of her ageing and the frailty of the human body (men and their tough skin: what’s that all about?) were picked at. Yet not once did she make you wish you were elsewhere. Sometimes amiability, rather than blistering material, can actually carry the day. (Brian Donaldson) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 15 Aug, 8.30pm, £12 (£11).