list.co.uk/festival Reviews | FESTIVAL COMEDY
TOMMY TIERNAN: OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND Another potent hour from the Irish master ●●●●● LUCA CUPANI: THE ADMIN OF DEATH AND OTHER CONFESSIONS Guilty pleasures abound ●●●●●
JOE DEROSA: ZERO FORWARD PROGRESS Death, anxiety and social media ●●●●●
This not only marks the first time Tommy Tiernan has performed a full August run since he won the Perrier Award, it’s also the only time he’s appeared in back-to-back Fringes since that victory in 1998. Could it be that after the relative failure of his 2015 improvisational experiment, he feels he owes it to his fans as well as himself to strike back with a storming show of scripted excellence? Unsurprisingly, this true master of stand-up delivers on that and some. Anyone familiar with the Tiernan schtick will recognise the structure: quiet bits of poetic contemplation followed by almost violent outpourings of opinionated rage, while there are silly bits, childhood memories and controversial moments where you become nervous about where it’s all headed. So, Tiernan’s take on the Irish vote for gay marriage and his reaction to being accused of racism by the traveller community are a potent mix of logic and lunacy.
He may have returned feeling he had a score to settle, but after an hour of rabblerousing stand-up, Tommy Tiernan once again leaves the rest trailing far in his wake. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 28 Aug, 7.30pm, £15–£16 (£14–£15).
Poor Luca Cupani’s strict Italian-Catholic upbringing may have burdened him with a complex, multi- layered stack of reasons to feel guilty on a daily basis, but it’s given him plenty material for his stand- up act. A glimpse inside the tortured mind of this call centre worker is a troubling thing, particularly when he is determined to convince the world that he is ‘a good guy’. The more he protests, the more suspicious it sounds, he simpers, with a slight air of despair, a bit like the vain attempts to label North Korea ‘the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’.
Not only is he distressed by ingrained dogma about not having sex before marriage, avoiding condoms and condemning trans people, he’s further beset by an inability to say no to things he doesn’t want to do for fear of seeming rude, an issue he’s discussed at length with his therapist. His polite angst makes for a well-rounded if
nervous comedy persona, though, and his bumbling storytelling about botched attempts to visit an Amsterdam sex worker, or dealing with the admin of Italian mortuaries, carries his show along with awkward, original charm. (Claire Sawers) ■ Heroes at Bob’s BlundaBus, 226 0000, until 29 Aug, 5.45pm, £5 or Pay What You Want.
Therapy has helped US comic Joe DeRosa overcome crippling anxiety. It’s never made explicit but this is comedy as therapy, and DeRosa has much to get off his chest. ‘I shit on myself for a bit and then I shit on other people,’ he says. But perhaps he’s already told his therapist all there is to say about himself as there’s little biography here. He has a distinctly morbid fascination and he
opens by working through his feelings about death in general and suicide in particular, as well as the tortuous necessity of the funerals which follow. His infatuation with the macabre continues with some nice material on Jeffrey Dahmer before DeRosa sets his sights on what’s really bothering him. He decries Twitter as a strange privilege that society has yet to earn and he follows up with an interesting take on how dot communism has liberated internet pornography at the critical expense of feminism. Concluding with a fine routine about the hypocrisy with which celebrities are worshipped, DeRosa has a loose but controlled style of measured rage and his ability as a writer shines through. (Murray Robertson) ■ Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug (not 22), 9pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).
KATY BRAND: I WAS A TEENAGE CHRISTIAN An understated show about losing faith ●●●●●
This has been quite the year for celebrity deaths. Like many of us, Katy Brand keenly felt the passing of luminaries such as Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne. Unlike most of us, she inadvertently found herself on the speed dial of Sky News and was repeatedly summoned to share her grief with the wider public. As the Grim Reaper sowed its bumper harvest, Brand thought again about her past dalliance with organised religion, and I Was a Teenage Christian details her casual membership of a church group for young adults.
Describing herself as an uncool child, she explains how church gave her somewhere to fit in. She was never entirely convinced by the ideology but it was a safe place to hang out and she quite fancied fellow member Ben. But a viewing of Martin Scorsese’s controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ first begat a crisis of faith. And later, when her church chose to censor the Harry Potter books, Brand experienced her own Damascene conversion. She explains that although the church was capable of raising her as a teenager, it was unable to bring her up as an adult. After leaving the young Christian group, she went on to a secular university, studied theology and left that life behind her.
Brand doesn’t look entirely comfortable on stage and her yarn is neither interesting nor funny enough to fully engage. She’s chosen to tell this shaggy dog story without embellishment and it meanders with scant incident and to little consequence. There are no last-minute twists here, no great revelations or larger-than- life characters. Unlike most long-form stories at the Fringe, it’s easy to believe that everything relayed here happened exactly as she claims, and fans of her TV show may be surprised by her understated performance. (Murray Robertson) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 4.45pm, £10–£13.50 (£9–£12.50).
18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 39
T T E L W O G A L R A K
O T O H P