Festival Comedy ROB BROWN Comedy straight outta Kabul ●●●●●

Rob Brown has a thoroughly Australian aversion to the politically correct. His show includes jokes about holding a midget upside down, getting turned on by a nurse performing an ultrasound scan on his ex-wife, and telling Christian cancer patients the happy news that they are nearly with God. Alongside this confidently- presented diatribe, Brown shows documentary films of the four months he spent as catering manager for a ‘facility’ in Afghanistan, and how he fed leftovers to local children whose tent village swiftly grew to 150.

Brown comes across as a good bloke but these sections sit uncomfortably together, especially as his ultimate message is that ‘everyone has a chance to make a difference’, whether that’s taking a job in a war zone and feeding the hungry or just making someone smile. It is moving to see these children of war, their worry lines already ingrained, but the films feel mawkish not helped by Brown’s choice of Dido and Cat Stevens music and like the holiday footage of a traveller who tried to do his bit, but soon vanished into the arid, Biblical sands. (Senay Boztas) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 30 Aug (not 17), 7pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50)

RHYS DARBY Crafty characters and weird sound effects ●●●●● In case anyone had forgotten which country brought us Bret, Jemaine and Murray from Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby aka band manager Murray, opened with a Crowded House song. Grinning like a dolphin, banging his heart with pride and lip- synching ‘Hey Now’, the New Zealand Consulate would have been teary- eyed if they’d seen it. There’s plenty more Kiwi pride too; Darby brings three dopey new characters to his one-man show, all with the accent that’s created so much confusion for him; with voice recognition phones in America, and ordering cabs especially.

DIE ROTEN PUNKTE Otto and Astrid aim to rock your world ●●●●●

Over the past few years, the piano-playing Tim Minchin has captured hearts at the Edinburgh Fringe while Kiwi double-act Flight of the Conchords also began their rise to super-stardom on the city’s hallowed streets. Die Roten Punkte a pseudo-German post-punk/electro/rock band don’t have the same folksy charm as the latter, but there is certainly an underlying sophistication to their novelty musical act that belies its camp, clown-like surface. Brother and sister duo Die Roten Punkte ‘The Red Dots’ are Otto on guitar and Astrid on drums: can you see the parallels yet? But while their first couple of songs do emulate the raw, angular beats of Jack and Meg White, their repertoire is much wider. ‘Straight Edge Girl’, Otto’s ‘middle-of- the-road ballad’, is a perfect send-up of the winsome guitar melodies that pepper the pop charts, while cheeky homages to Nick Cave and Kraftwerk are performed with serious gusto. These genuinely well-crafted songs are interspersed with comic dialogue and audience interaction, creating an atmosphere that’s unashamedly fun.

He’s keen to remind his audience But it’s not a formula that’s likely to win over everyone and any

complaints that the show over-relies on those hilarious German accents for humour may have some justification. What’s more, the performance is a little too long and the encore thrust upon the audience a rendering of the band’s new song ‘Super Musikant’ (with emphasis on the last syllable) dilutes some of the enjoyment of the previous hour. That said, if you’re looking for a late night comedy show that isn’t stand-up, Die Roten Punkte’s graceless blend of expressive comedy, will leave you ready to rock. (Yasmin Sulaiman) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 17), 11.11pm, £10–£11 (£8.50–£9.50).



(mostly FotC fans, as a crowd cheer demonstrates) that he built his stand- up career before the Conchords’ rocket took off, and is not just a one- trick pony. No sir, he’s also a dinosaur, a robot and a bluebottle fly being resuscitated by a tiny ambulance, as he drops in the impressive sound effects that were his trademark before people started shouting ‘band meeting’ at him. As lovable and sincere as Murray, but with many more skills, and a surreal twist, finally it seems Darby’s spaceship has come in. (Claire Sawers) Udderbelly’s Pasture, 08445 458 252, until 15 Aug, 10pm, £15 (£14). ANNA & KATY Inventive, anarchic, satirical sketches ●●●●●

Previously seen at the Fringe under the collective moniker of Penny Spubb, Anna Crilly and Katy Wix return under their own names after successful individual stints on TV in Lead Balloon (Crilly) and Not Going Out (Wix). While the show’s title may be simplicity itself, attempting to evoke the sheer joyful lunacy of the hour on offer is not. Pythonesque is a term widely overused in the comedy world but one that has rarely been more apt. Like Cleese and co, the pair combine the anarchic with the satiric as they set about lampooning everything from Middle England to working class misogyny in a series of skits that lurch wildly from the surreal to the bizarre. Terry Gilliam’s animation has been replaced by little video clips that serve the dual purpose of amusing us and allowing them space for costume changes. Like all sketch shows, it’s a hit and miss affair, but the latter are few with the show hurtling along at such a pace there is little time to reflect on those that don’t work so well. At it’s best, utterly hilarious. At it’s worst, just wildly inventive. (Gordon Eldrett) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug, 6.40pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8-£9).

Telephone Booking Fringe 0131 226 0000 International Festival 0131 473 2000 Book Festival 0845 373 5888 Art Festival 0777 169 3470