FESTIVAL COMEDY | Reviews
Y E L K N H O J T R E B O R
N A K U S L D I
MIKE WOZNIAK A wonderfully wry return to form ●●●●● Mike Wozniak’s Take the Hit is a conceptual triumph all the way down to its finest details. The modesty of the venue and the unsociable time slot run contrary to the glitzy backdrop and his tuxedo-based attire: Wozniak wants to give us a blast of showbusiness, but his sole purpose of being here is to bemoan his domestic situation.
BO BURNHAM A blisteringly big show from Boston’s Bo ●●●●●
It’s three years since American prodigy Bo Burnham burst onto the Fringe stage with an incomparable show in an intimate Pleasance Dome room. He’s here for a shorter run in a much bigger venue and while you can’t blame him for reaping larger rewards in a shorter timeframe, a little has been lost in the art. While the more expansive theatrical elements to his new show fill the space perfectly, some of the intricate wordplay and the kind of song lyrics that made his name get a little lost in the expanse. But for genuine excitement, there won’t be anything quite like it on the comedy stage this month. Although Burnham insisted that What would be a very
different show to 2010’s Words Words Words, in both form and content, there’s plenty common ground. We get the regular insistence that he is jumping in and out of character (he seems gracious and flattered to be here, but will throw in something contrary to that which leaves us not knowing how to take the next bit of humble behaviour), the flirting with his sexuality, and the one-line poem or single (dis)chord tune before he seamlessly moves on to the next bit. But there are unquestionably plenty of wonderful moments,
such as the elongated spot of eye contact with someone in the front row, and the musical interlude which follows the ‘accidental’ knocking over of his water. It’s all big, clever and very, very funny, but you do fear for how massive this kind of act could possibly go. Burnham could no doubt do a single night at the O2 and make more than several full Edinburgh runs put together. But let’s hope his sense of artistic credibility will never allow that to happen. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 19 Aug, 11.15pm, £12– £13.50 (£11–£12.50).
N Y L K N A R F M A S
AMY HOGGART AS PATTIE BREWSTER A character show gives paws for thought ●●●●● CASUAL VIOLENCE Gang with a real nose for sketch comedy ●●●●●
Amy Hoggart’s character creation Pattie Brewster is a sweeter-than-the-sugar-coated-truth self-help coach, and in this Pattie-centric show, Hoggart plays a shrill, emotionally unstable ailuromaniac (or crazy cat lady, to you and me).
As a husband and a father, he has been There’s Pattie Brewster’s Happy Cat Checklist
forced to allow his in-laws possibly permanent residence (‘until death’) at his small abode in Exeter and it’s driven him northwards for the month. Wozniak arrived on the Fringe stage in 2008 with a highly literate brand of semi-surrealism, but after a couple of wobbly subsequent shows is back with a flourish. for Human Happiness, which keeps its momentum well for a system that largely entails Hoggart superimposing her face onto the bodies of kittens. In fact, this crude slide show provides perfect – (yup, purr-fect!) – kitsch, kitty comedy, with flashes of brilliance, and the occasional cerebral quip that takes you aback.
While deconstructing the very nature of putting It’s a performance of two halves, with Hoggart
on a comedy show, he works in wonderfully wry and devilishly awkward asides on the sexualisation of children, road rage, horses and the weight of Michael Fassbender’s penis, always coming back to the subject he doesn’t want to ‘bang on about’, that of his irritating and stressful home life. It’s a glorious return to form. (Brian Donaldson) ■ The Stand II, 558 7272, until 25 Aug, 12.10pm, £8 (£7). 48 THE LIST FESTIVAL 15–22 Aug 2013
weaving in well-crafted maniacal moments on one hand, and with the other, over-egging the pudding. The pre-filmed performances are the real gems, with members of the public caught out, bamboozled by Pattie’s unique interviewing style. Pared down and sharpened up, this show could be a winner, but as it stands there’s too much that grates on the nerves. (Rebecca Ross) ■ Underbelly, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, until 26 Aug, 4.20pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).
The House of Nostril transforms a sweaty Pleasance box into a crumbly family pile, home to a dastardly clan and filled with creepy denizens. In a series of linked sketches, the members of Casual Violence embody generations of the Nostril family and those who serve them. From the cruel patriarch to the shouty chef, the characters are fully formed, with even the backdrop managing to acquire a personality by the end. The chimney sweeps, who come from the Bob ‘Oskins school of cockerney, are particularly weird, macabre and hilarious. Live musical accompaniment from a deadpan Ben
Champion keeps the production zipping along and not a second is allowed to pass without the boys finding a comedy moment. With great amounts of wit and energy, and very much silliness, they are reminiscent of We Are Klang’s irreverent mayhem. Building on the success of the last few years,
House of Nostril capitalises on the Casual Violence skill of exposing the darker side of life and coalesces into a wickedly funny show (with some oddly touching moments). This is superlative sketch comedy. (Suzanne Black) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 3.45pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£9).