Festival ComedyReviews at a Glance list.co.uk/festival
lack of wit and obvious jokes result in a potentially pleasant hour going very slowly. (Yasmin Sulaiman) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 17, 24), 3.15pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50). Mick Ferry ●●●●● There are five Mick Ferrys competing against each other in his Comedy Final. While the crowd happily indulge him in this venture, there is very little to choose between any of them, all coming across with a Peter Kay-esque bonhomie and matey banter. This is as safe as houses used to be. (Brian Donaldson) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 17), 10pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50). Mick Sergeant ●●●●● This embittered Geordie dole-blagger lost his job before the recession made it ‘fashionable’. 1993, actually. His puffed- up opinion of himself (‘ya brilliant basterd!’ he gushes, fantasising about getting his own TV show) and tweaked notions of heroism (a shipyard worker with Jason Bourne’s fighting skills) makes for great, if underdeveloped, hard- luck character comedy. His post-credit crunch ‘musical chairs’ is a highlight. (Claire Sawers) The Stand II, 558 7272, until 30 Aug (not 17), 2.55pm, £7 (£6). Nathan Caton ●●●●● Caton’s Fringe debut is an assured one, news which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him on the circuit. Though there are a handful of observations here that are a touch clichéd, he ultimately shines in such routines as anagram racism and public intimacy for singletons. (Marissa Burgess) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 17), 9.30pm, £9.50–£12.50 (£8–£11). Neil Delamere ●●●●● Breathless Irish comedian Delamere flits about the stage like a genial dervish, his quick-fire delivery and razor-sharp mind taking no prisoners. Quickly building a supreme rapport with his audience, his masterful control allows him to stray a little further than his charming demeanour suggests. Equally hilarious on and off his script, this is a hugely engaging hour. (Murray Robertson) Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17, 25), 8.50pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11). Newsrevue ●●●●● Pregnant teens, a bumbling Gordon Brown and child- hungry Madonna make too easy targets for the talented performers in Newsrevue, many of whose topical, musical sketches aren’t developed to their full potential. But select moments – like David Cameron’s attempt to make Brown ‘popular’ – ensure the world’s longest- running live comedy show is still reliably entertaining in its 30th year. (Yasmin Sulaiman) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 17), 6pm, £11–£15 (£9.50–£13.50). Nick Mohammed ●●●●● On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Mohammed pays homage to the only astronauts to have ever reached the moon with Buzz Aldrin played as a salt of the earth Northerner with rheumatic joint pain and a love of dehydrated space food. A gloriously silly and irreverent show that surprises with some genuinely moving moments. (Marissa Burgess) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 4.45pm, £9–£10 (£7.50–£8.50).
Mackenzie Taylor The Oxford Revue ●●●●● Despite a confident, animated performance from the Oxford troupe, the series of sketches on offer may curl the corners of your mouth, but fall short of a hearty laugh. At best, incisive irony comes through in a handful of the sketches; at worst – and more often than not – punchlines are disappointingly predictable and fail to push any kind of envelope. (Rebecca Ross) Underbelly, 08445 458 252, until 30 Aug (not 19), 3.05pm, £6.50–£10 (£8–£9). Paddy Lennox ●●●●● Lennox is tackling his ancestry, using it as a springboard for a gentle hour musing his genetic make-up. Poignancy points are awarded for the worthy message and sweet home movies, but the fuzzy warmth far outweighs the laughs. He’s a charming, highly polished performer but the cheesy jokes are awkwardly shoehorned in, making this more an entertaining after-dinner speech than comedy show. (Siân Bevan) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 18), 6.45pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50). Pete Firman ●●●●● He may raise an eyebrow when he describes his act as ‘magic and gags, gags and magic: a killer combo’, but many a true word remains spoken in jest. Fusing jaw-dropping tricks with a fast and furious delivery of gags, he combines old school vaudeville charm with the edginess of a modern stand-up. A killer combo indeed. (Emma Newlands) Udderbelly’s Pasture, 08445 458 252, until 31 Aug (not 17), 7.25pm, £10–£13.50 (£9–£12.50). Pete Johansson ●●●●● In Naked Pictures of My Life, the affable Johansson marches through familiar territory, from differences between the sexes to the bodily transformations of age, and he tackles it all with a solid, dependable laughter-fest. Although occasionally teetering into cliché, he consistently swings it back with an assured one-liner. In such capable hands, even the potentially hack becomes hilarious. (Siân Bevan) Underbelly, 08445 458 252, until 30 Aug (not 17), 8.45pm, £6.50–£10.50 (£8–£9.50).
Rob Rouse ●●●●● In the last year, Rouse has acquired a son Lenny and a dog called Ronnie, who just happens to be the randiest animal in the world. Talk of new babies and puppies could easily be tedious in anyone else’s hands but given Rouse’s crafted turn of phrase and enthusiastically visual interpretation, it’s eye-wateringly hilarious. Particularly when he relates the events of a memorable family Christmas afternoon spent in front of Wallace and Gromit as Jesus looks on. (Marissa Burgess) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18), 9pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11). Simon Feilder and Sy Thomas ●●●●● Feilder and Thomas are flatmates. Like the Monkees before them, this provides the basis for much of their show’s humour in Life of Si. Dispersed with short films of the pair on the sofa in their London flat, this is slickly presented and exuding chemistry. Though the script doesn’t always hit the mark, nevertheless they’re an amiable pair with whom it’s an enjoyable hour spent. (Marissa Burgess) The GRV, 226 0000, until 30 Aug (not 17), 5.40pm, £5. Socially Retarded ●●●●● You’d expect plenty of cringing in a sketch show about awkward situations, but too often this fresh-faced, well-spoken duo are the ones left shifting uncomfortably. Even their enthusiastic delivery and game attempts at audience participation can’t lift weak riffs on predictable material: the holy trinity of sex, death and Facebook. (Peter Geoghegan) Royal College of Surgeons, 0845 508 8515, until 22 Aug (not 16), 6.10pm, £7 (£5). The Sunday Defensive ●●●●● They say bad things come in threes, but two can be just as terrible if this woefully unfunny double act is anything to go by. Phil Gilbert and Jacob Edwards are both geekily handsome and deliver every line with enthusiastic intensity, but it seems clear that until they get some decent material, their potential will stay out of reach. (Emma Newlands) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 19), 4.30pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7–£8). Thankless Child ●●●●● Two decent actors get beyond some initial
44 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 13–20 Aug 2009
wackiness to offer up amusing cautionary tales in which milk is spilled and eggs are regrettably put in the one basket. It should actually be hateful, but they rescue it by pulling in the reins at the last minute. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 1.15pm, £7.50–£8.50 (£6–£7). Tiernan Douieb ●●●●● Perfectly amiable fun from a man worrying about being 28 years old, though it’s more likely he simply came up with a show title that allowed him to go mad with a poster reflecting his zombie obsession. Maybe, as the announcer stated at the end, word of mouth will make or break this show more than any review will. (Brian Donaldson) Underbelly, 08445 458 252, until 30 Aug (not 17), 4pm, £6.50–£10 (£8–£9). Tiffany Stevenson ●●●●● Stevenson has gone from modelling work to small-time acting but right now her role is as new stand-up hopeful. The London-born comic exudes confidence and has plenty of stories from her more celeb obsessed and ‘vacuous’ days. More impressive is the high rate of well -rafted jokes, that although can be hit and miss, run together into a promising debut. (Emma Lennox) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 662 6552, until 31 Aug (not 18), 5.45pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7–£8). Tom Wrigglesworth ●●●●● From the moment Wrigglesworth embarks on his extended anecdote – about a train journey in which the comic initiated a whip-round for an elderly woman whose entire savings had been gobbled up by a jobsworth ticket collector, before ending up being arrested for begging – you know you’re in safe hands. A relaxed, storyteller with a fine line in amusing wordplay, his narrative is gently funny and, at times moving, despite occasional rambling digressions that disrupt his flow. (Allan Radcliffe) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 18), 7pm, £9–£10 (£7.50–£8.50). Two Left Hands ●●●●● Charlotte Hudson and Leila Hackett may have plenty years of media experience behind them, but a future in sketch comedy surely no longer lies ahead. There is barely a laugh to be had in this lumpen affair where Cherie Blair transforms into Mr T while there are grin-free takes on such sketch staples as the wedding reception and nature programmes. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 19), 4pm, £10–£11 (£8.50–£9.50). Wil Anderson ●●●●● This sweet, excitable Aussie thirtysomething is driven to find the good in the world, no matter how cynical it gets. He definitely has his moments, but too often you can see the pay-off from miles away, and he deflates some of his sharpest ideas by explaining the punchlines. It feels as though Anderson is often carried by the good will of a like-minded audience rather than the strength of his comedy. (Mark Robertson) Udderbelly’s Pasture, 08445 458 252, until 31 Aug (not 17), 8.50pm, £11–£14 (£10–£12.50). Online Booking Fringe www.edfringe.com International Festival www.eif.co.uk Book Festival www.edbookfest.co.uk Art Festival www.edinburghartfestival.org