Festival Comedy

Telephone Booking Fringe 0131 226 0000 International Festival 0131 473 2000 Book Festival 0845 373 5888 Art Festival 0777 169 3470 HOTDOCTORS Slick DJs, slack comics ●●●●●


As the old saying goes, if a job’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well. So when it comes to the likes of musical comedy, you get your gems like Spinal Tap or Flight of the Conchords; elsewhere, subversive satire has brought us comedy gold panned by figureheads like Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci and South Park, all of who are cited as influences by HOTDOCTORS, the crew behind The Downage downer.

A series of sketches and ‘comedy’

songs, with ‘randomosity’ the buzzword, it’s really just a load of celeb names and non-sequiturs stuck together in a post-modern blender to see what comes out. Admittedly there are a couple of all- too-brief instances when they hit the jackpot. Their hip-hop dressage video clip is totally inspired, for example, followed by the Cheers video game which gets a silver medal. And their accompanying DJ-ing throughout is impressively slick, the antithesis of what is a predominantly shambolic and sometimes offensive effort. (Emma Newlands) Apex City Hotel, 0870 241 0136, until 16 Aug, 11pm, £7 (£6).

NICK DOODY Playing it safe with all-too reasonable show ●●●●●

MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE Preaching to the converted ●●●●● In God Collar, Marcus Brigstocke treads the well- worn path of questioning religion, albeit with wistful curiosity rather than a Dawkins-style damnation of all things spiritual. Brigstocke wants something to fill an empty space in his soul, which lends this thoughtful show a pathos missing from other God- doubting offerings. It also allows him scope for some stunningly bilious attacks that spring from that middle-class Radio 4 mouth like acid. This is Brigstocke at his intelligent best, and although preaching to the converted, he is a master at

retaining his point while meandering into other comedy territory, such as a beautiful segment about his children. His delivery is all that you’d expect from such an

experienced performer, with biting metaphors and a personable style that eases through the occasional lull in laughter. Comedy has long been aware that the best way to belittle religion is to poke ever- increasing holes in ecclesiastical logic, but somehow Brigstocke manages to keep this an insightful, joyful and fresh addition to the genre. Hallelujah. (Siân Bevan) Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17), 8.40pm, £14–£16 (£13–£15).

Nick Doody worries he might be too reasonable. He’s the kind of guy who sees both sides of the argument, or tones down the truth to be tactful. But he’s got a hunch that makes for really bad comedy. So, he announces, he’s decided to ‘fuck subtlety’ and do a show with black or white opinions. Based on what an audience laugh-o-meter would have told him, his instincts are spot on.

Playing it safe with plenty material about London’s municipal transport (not good), and the current economy (in trouble) raises polite smiles (Doody’s also a regular comedy writer for topical radio and TV shows) but it’s when he unleashes his inner Mr Unreasonable that he’s at his most likeable. He might come off as a child-fearing,

God-shunning, coffin-kicking grump,

but from a comedy point of view, the darker, cheekier stories are his best bits. Bill Hicks invited Doody to be support act on his final UK tour, and if he’s looking down from comedy heaven, you imagine he’d tell him to drop the reasonable, and just go with the rage instead. (Claire Sawers) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 19), 9.45pm, £11–£12 (£9.50–£10.50).