FESTIVAL COMEDY | Reviews
AL PORTER: AT LARGE An old-school act in the body of a young comic ●●●●●
If anyone at the Fringe this year has that old-school star quality it’s Irishman Al Porter. In his smart suit, slicked back hair and simple but feckin’ funny gags, surely he’s going to end up with his own TV show before too long. Despite being just 23, Porter already feels like a seasoned act, blessed as he is with an apparently instinctive nose for comedy. As material goes, there’s nothing hugely ground-breaking
here, as he disclaims from the off. But what is special about At Large is that every syllable is mined for laughs, though he does have some props on stage – stool, hat stand, flowers – just in case it’s not funny. ‘I can claim it was a play,’ he insists. Not that he would need to. You certainly get your money’s worth as he races
through material at breakneck speed, leaving you out of breath while the next gag is on you. Breezily camp (he notes that he’s ‘1970s gay’), he likes nothing more than to provoke a bit of mild outrage, whether it be a gag about his wheelchair-using ex-boyfriend or waking up in the Canaries after a particularly heavy night out.
One interesting undercurrent to the material is that often his humour is derived from trying to fit in where he feels he doesn’t belong: the working-class boy from a council estate in Dublin faced with what seems like the whole cutlery drawer laid out on the table in a posh restaurant. Or he’s the boy growing up with an air force dad pointing out attractive women to his teenage son who already realises he’s gay. With natural charm by the truck load, Al Porter will go far. (Marissa Burgess) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 10.40pm, £8.50–£11 (£7.50–£10).
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MAX & IVAN: OUR STORY Fun, multi-character comedy ●●●●● DAPHNE’S SECOND SHOW The true saviours of sketch? ●●●●●
This is definitely more of the same from Max & Ivan, but they do ‘the same’ so well. In Our Story, the sketchy duo take us back in time to the moment they first met as children, when Max was learning to wrestle and Ivan was a boy scout. It’s based on real stuff too. The twosome are behind occasional Fringe treat The Wrestling and fans of that show (sadly not on this year) will already know about Max’s not-so-secret history as a pro- wrestler and there are a couple of happy nods to those skills in this set.
Cue an hour of multi-character comedy with plenty of physical gags, funny voices, a tiny bit of expertly handled audience participation, and a storyline that gently tugs at the heartstrings. It’s a formula that’s worked well for them for the last five years (particularly so in 2013’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated The Reunion) so why stop now?
Our Story is a reliably funny hour that’s swiftly executed and pacily structured. Scenes and characters transition every couple of minutes, with Max & Ivan making it look all too easy. Watching them would be exhausting if it wasn’t so much fun. (Yasmin Sulaiman) ■ Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 8.20pm, £9–£12.50 (£8–£11.50).
44 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
There’s a theory that a second Fringe comedy show is far harder than your first. A debut allows you to potentially cram in all your best routines from years of work while a follow-up requires you to create something excitingly new in around 10 months. If that sounds like a credible basis to excuse failure, then the Daphne trio simply blow this notion out of the water.
Phil Wang, Jason Forbes and George Fouracres
are continuing to thrive with gleefully daft, gag- filled routines while refreshingly avoiding the tired old trap of having one of them play the stooge: the pendulum of power swings between them all throughout. Their love of messing around with common
phrases is rife so that ‘self checkout’ and ‘black widow’ offer spot-on punchlines while you might never watch an episode of Frasier with quite the same eyes again. At the very least, Daphne have matched the inventiveness of their superb 2015 debut. In doing so, they may well have breathed life into the Fringe sketch comedy genre which has been hobbling around on its last legs in recent times. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 5.45pm, £9.50–£12 (£8–£11).
SHAPPI KHORSANDI: OH MY COUNTRY! FROM MORRIS DANCING TO MORRISSEY Entertaining but confusing comedy ●●●●●
Shappi Khorsandi felt proud to be booed at a Belfast gig. The club owner comforted her, saying they never like ‘British’ comedians. In her 16-year career, Khorsandi has covered her background in detail, fleeing Iran after her poet dad received death threats, arriving in the UK as a three-year-old refugee and settling into middle-class Kensington life. But Brexit gives her fresh impetus to discuss ‘foreignness’.
Maybe she’s paving the way for future Somalian and Polish comedians, she jokes, before acting out a very funny argument between her children: a verbose, pompous little boy with RP vowels, and a melodramatic little girl who she describes as ‘a mad Middle Eastern woman’.
She mentions her anti-racist activism, visits to Calais refugee camps and bumping into Jeremy Corbyn 20 years ago while campaigning for homeless people. Clearly she’s a principled woman with a strong urge to challenge society’s hypocrisies and her own contradictions, but some anecdotes sound too do-gooder or jar. An entertaining, if confusing, comedy voice. (Claire Sawers) ■ The Stand, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 8.30pm, £12 (£10).