FESTIVAL COMEDY | Reviews
T T E W O G A L R A K
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P H O T O
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SOFIE HAGEN: SHIMMER SHATTER Gently powerful hour about awkwardness ●●●●●
To Sofie Hagen’s shock and bemusement she was recently nominated as Comedian of the Year in her Danish homeland, up against three acts who were established names before she’d even started in stand-up. That lavish ceremony takes place right at the end of this Fringe and given her fear of social situations (‘all people are too many people’), you wonder whether that prospect has ruined her month in Edinburgh. Being on stage is where she is at her most comfortable, and despite, or perhaps because of her softly-spoken way, there is a gentle power to much of Shimmer Shatter. The follow-up to her Best Newcomer-winning show
Bubblewrap is another sombre treatise on solitude and betrayal. Last year she cursed Brian McFadden for ever leaving Westlife, and here she opens up about a father who abandoned her at an early age only to return and bolt once again at the worst possible moment. The final punchline is a withering put-down of her dad who is tracked down by the Danish press, much to the surprise of Hagen herself, annoyed that a journalist succeeded in finding a phone number for him when she had long failed. Despite the occasionally bleak subject matter (she reveals depressingly abusive behaviour within the comedy industry), her show merrily skips along aided by a willingness to open up about the sillier details that mask a sadder truth (her own early marriage to a piece of wood being a prime example).
She might prefer to take refuge in the corner of any room (and she suggests you don’t invite her to a party unless you want to hear her vibe-dampening views on the patriarchy), but in the world of comedy, Sofie Hagen is deservedly centre stage. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Liquid Room Annexe, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 7.50pm, free.
SCOTT GIBSON: LIFE AFTER DEATH Sweary humour from a rising Scottish star ●●●●● BILAL ZAFAR: CAKES Story about online insanity crumbles ●●●●●
A big, gallus Glaswegian, Scott Gibson demonstrates why ‘men’s first aid’ can need a wee bit of back- up from the NHS where sudden headaches are concerned, especially ones that make you go blind. From his description of a proper stag do in Blackpool and the greatest hotel ever created for heavy drinkers, through some inappropriately performed shaving to a disastrous shower with nurses, he delivers constant big and hard laughs.
He’s unapologetically sweary, but no more than
most blokes down the pub, which is what he resembles: a born raconteur who can hold your attention for an hour without flagging. Gibson knows his material so well even a phone ringing in the front row was worked into the routine without malice. He has a swaggering confidence that’s not overbearing, but suggests he’s exactly where he wants to be (although he deserves a much bigger venue).
Life After Death is definitely not for the squeamish, with one moment in particular (involving a matron and a pillow) that is swift yet chillingly clinical and grotesque. And there’s a valuable lesson about always asking the right questions when a consultant visits your bed. (Craig Naples) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 2.45pm, £9–£10.
42 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
The use of multimedia tools has a long, proud and occasionally glitch-heavy history in Fringe comedy, and the likes of Alex Horne, Noble & Silver and Dave Gorman have elevated the form. In recent times, ambitions seem to go about as far as Bilal Zafar attempts here: collect and display a long and ever-increasingly nonsensical spat on Twitter. Rather than cultivate and produce a show, Cakes feels almost curated by Zafar. It’s a funny enough premise as a jokey online comment (that he has opened a Muslim-only cake shop in Bristol) gets completely misunderstood and escalates into a bigoted tit-for-tat with various racists (a conflict blighted by awful grammar).
BETHANY BLACK: (EXTRA)ORDINARY Charming, filthy idiot on brief notoriety ●●●●●
In a charming – yet occasionally quite filthy – hour describing the downs and ups of her past six years, Bethany Black has plenty of clever lines that elicit marked ripples of diffused laughter, timed according to just how clued-into LGBT issues the audience is.
It's a tale of drink and other drugs, heartbreak and bankruptcy (almost: apparently, being that broke is too expensive) followed by sobriety, love and minor screen stardom. It could have been milked for pathos but she has no time for self-pity or redemption, happily describing herself at any opportunity as an idiot. This is exemplified by ‘getting her priorities right’ over a broken leg.
Zafar has an engagingly downbeat manner There’s a segment about her brief, accidental
which contrasts neatly with the hysteria of a story that gets steadily out of control despite the clear evidence to anyone whose mind isn’t warped by hatred that the whole affair is the result of a comedian’s prank. Zafar has a winning way about him, but getting laughs from the crazy things some people say on social media, often without even passing any comment on them, is taking the biscuit. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 3.40pm, £4 or Pay What You Want. press notoriety in a spat with Germaine Greer, prompted by her compulsion to say exactly the wrong thing, and she’ll probably dine out for the rest of her life over her experience on the set of Doctor Who. It’s all very personable, good-natured and well-rehearsed, and builds to a quiet yet politically strong conclusion, even if it’s not ground-breaking. And you’ll never look at a Pringles tube or a Jack Russell in the same way again. (Craig Naples) ■ The Stand 2, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 6pm, £9 (£8).