list.co.uk/festival Reviews | FESTIVAL COMEDY
P H O T O :
R O B Y N V O N S W A N K
HORACE: WE ARE FAMILY Technical hitches and script problems ●●●●●
ERIN MCGATHY: LOVE YOU LOUDLY Repetitive musing on a disastrous love life ●●●●● ARI SHAFFIR: ARI S-P-E-C-T Gleeful, brutal hour of mischievous banter ●●●●●
Things go wrong all the time at the Fringe but even the most serious technical hitch can usually be overcome by a resourceful performer. As we’re ushered into We Are Family by its stars (siblings Jack and Anna Harris), we’re warned that their projector has broken down. We’re told they will struggle on regardless; the Dunkirk spirit is invoked and expectations are slightly lowered. This likeable pair have created a ramshackle
sketch show based around a family wedding. From here, various characters flit around; it’s a weak excuse to gather a variety of oddballs and no one sticks out since, excepting gender, there’s almost nothing to differentiate one person from another.
Occasionally, a sickly chuckle will puncture the air, mainly when the performers make reference to the blank projector screen behind them. Pity over their technical failure raises their only substantial laughs, and when two audience members are dragged on stage for an excruciating (and wholly unnecessary) finale, the look of horror on their faces is impossible to forget. Perhaps it is all the projector’s fault and Horace should be given the benefit of the doubt. The second star here is that benefit. (Murray Robertson) ■ Cowgatehead, 226 0000, until 27 Aug, 7pm, free.
While there’s little doubt that Erin McGathy has experienced a tough time in the love stakes, she hasn’t come anywhere near creating a show that makes you care a whole lot. She may have our sympathy in gently batting away the unwanted interruptions of a disappointingly drunk elderly Scot, but even if this blunts her hour’s final section, it’s fairly clear by then that Love You Loudly is not the sharpest knife in the Fringe comedy drawer. With sections informally marked by the repetitive
phrase ‘and then after that, I went out with . . . ’, you feel as though you’re looking over a teenage girl’s shoulder and reading the least interesting entries in her diary. Everyone she hooks up with is either a ‘ding dong or weirdo’, and she recalls a fight she had with a boyfriend during their podcast as though it’s the most relatable thing in the world. Plus she leaves phrases like ‘I then had the opportunity to volunteer on a farm in Ireland’ hanging in the air with no awareness that it might be worthy of some context. At this Fringe, much potent comedy has been
cultivated from despair. McGathy’s contribution will only irritate and bore. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 2pm, £5 or Pay What You Want.
As Ari Shaffir notes at the top of his show, he’s here to deliver it ‘American style’, with a straightforward hour of solid gags and no theme. He certainly delivers on the gags front, but one theme does actually emerge: a vicious honesty, however close to the bone it gets.
Children, and his lack of desire to have any, come in for a lot of attention. He's gleefully and hilariously brutal about orphanages and his friends’ life choices when it comes to having kids. His Jewish heritage is a source for gags too, deciding to piss all over Germany in the absence of Hitler’s grave; there’s a routine on visiting Anne Frank’s house and probably the most subtle impression of an orthodox Jew you’re likely to see. But there’s a worldly wisdom to be found here, too, and the Anne Frank house obviously moved him: how could it not, especially given that his father survived the Holocaust?
And he’s obviously right about one story: you don’t wait until you’re eight and a half months pregnant to meet up with the father of your child to tell him. A savagely honest yet mischievous show. (Marissa Burgess) ■ Heroes at the Hive, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 6.30pm, £5 or Pay What You Want.
NISH KUMAR: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, UNLESS YOU SHOUT THE WORDS REAL LOUD Mr Consistency strikes again with a hilarious, insightful hour ●●●●●
So many modern-day dilemmas to unravel, and only one hour to do it. And yet, Nish Kumar has done it again, with plenty big laughs in there among the enjoyably head-scratching stuff. He loves history, for example, but also loves Britain. How can both things possibly sit right with him, given that his Indian ancestors were colonised by the Empire? He was recently heckled onstage on the day of the EU referendum announcement, he explains. Someone in the crowd told him to ‘go home’, despite living just along the road in an increasingly gentrified London (the hipster effect also gets a healthy slagging from Kumar, but he clarifies that it’s important to get angry with government and policy, more than at the men with Victorian moustaches).
A large chunk of his show has been duly updated with searing commentary on Brexit, from the alarming creep of overt racism to the failure of neoliberalism, and Bojo’s ‘racially not ideal’ views. It’s not as if Kumar can be accused of bandwagon- jumping to get bums on seats either, as he’s been building a name as a consistently witty and wise comedian for over a decade now, deftly fusing race issues with playful bits about 90s lad culture and the Spice Girls. It’s only after a very deliberate warm-up section with chummy,
self-deprecating stuff about making a tit of himself at a Prince gig that he’s relaxed the room enough to launch into his much knottier, insightful material. And then he’s off and flying. Kumar’s skill is casually shoehorning in very weighty, problematic issues to a set of memorable pub banter. A consistently class act, he’s very much at home on his comedy soapbox. (Claire Sawers) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 8pm, £9–£12 (£8–£10.50).
18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 43
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