KIERAN HODGSON: MAESTRO A solo act who hits all the right comedic notes ●●●●●

Last year it was Lance Armstrong, this time around Gustav Mahler. But Kieran Hodgson isn’t interested in mere hagiography. Instead, such towering cultural figures are the trigger for personal reflections on love, loneliness and a yearning for acceptance. In 2015 Hodgson got on his bike for Lance, while in Maestro, he picks up a violin in the often painful tale of how he attempted to pen a four-movement symphony (which he compares to a really big pizza) to commemorate the four main players in his love-life throughout his adolescent and adult years. Sadly, he is often just being strung along.

We first meet him as the young Kieran, a prodigious and

uber-swotty 11-year-old who is at school to impress teachers rather than any prospective partners, but love interests (of both genders) finally float his way. Still, despite the burgeoning passions at play, Hodgson is a sensible (and slightly uptight) middle-class lad at heart. He hosts a house party but is determined to ‘keep a lid on people’s fun’ while his unwavering sense of social responsibility becomes disastrously compromised when he rides the Paris public transport system without a valid ticket solely to impress a seductive Frenchwoman who cares not a jot for him. Mahler himself makes several appearances, though Hodgson

chooses to have him voiced by actors such as David Tennant and Andrew Scott, perhaps purely as a means of showcasing his superlative powers of mimicry.

Hodgson was formerly a core member of the perfectly

serviceable Kieran & The Joes sketchy narrative group, but now he’s carved out a Fringe role for himself as a must-see solo act. After Maestro, it will be fascinating to see what he has up his sleeve for an encore. (Brian Donaldson) Voodoo Rooms, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 9.30pm, free.


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DARREN CONNELL: TROLLEYWOOD Scot Squad star doesn’t delve deep enough ●●●●● THIS GLORIOUS MONSTER: WRONG ’UNS Disappointing set of elongated sketches ●●●●●

NAZEEM HUSSAIN: LEGALLY BROWN Indignant ire and scattershot routines ●●●●●

‘Please help me. It’s six days and I can’t feel my face.’ It’s not that doing his first show at the Fringe is getting to Darren Connell (does he know that there’s two more weeks of this?), but as someone who hasn’t had a drink since mid-December, he’s clearly on edge. The comic says he gets a lot of people, mainly

80-year-old women, turning up to his show expecting his polite character, Bobby, from Scot Squad. This is a mistake. Trolleywood is 14+ for some reason and while it’s not pure filth, anybody expecting clean-cut humour will probably balk at the story about Connell getting high and inspecting his arsehole.

As far as structure is concerned, there is no real narrative theme, just Connell in his naturally funny state, talking about the strange things that happen to him: taking up Bikram yoga and getting a colonic irrigation (OK, that one was for the show). At times, he hints at a darker side to his humour, particularly in a routine about his ex-girlfriend hitting him: it would have been interesting to explore this side more. As it stands, his cheery personality and sharp wit is more than enough. (Kirstyn Smith) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 7.45pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

46 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016

To be dubbed the ‘next League of Gentlemen’ is both a blessing and a curse. After this largely unimpressive Fringe debut, the bearded trio of This Glorious Monster (completed by a fourth non-acting member: again, very LoG) might have cause to denounce Hat Trick’s Jimmy Mulville for applying that added strain. The heart of Nazeem Hussain’s show is the weird and stupid way that countries like the UK, US and his native Australia conflate and confuse skin colour, religion and terrorism. He is particularly vexed at his homeland’s laughable attempts at intelligence-gathering in Muslim communities involving incompetent phone taps and fine dining.

It’s not that the show doesn’t have its pleasures, An affable, smart guy, Hussain seems most at

but they’re somewhat fewer and further between than anyone would like. Rather than offering up a mix of snappy skits and longer stories, they’ve plumped for routines that overstay their initial welcome. From the opening tale of a fraudulent medium going on about his third eye, to the predatory ‘human resources goddess’, it’s clear that finding a punchline is the hardest thing in This Glorious Monster’s world. Avid stand-up fans will enjoy the detailed Bill Hicks references in the ‘comedy snobs’ section, but this perfectly fine idea is wrung absolutely bone-dry by the time it’s reached an unfunny zenith. There’s clearly plenty talent floating around this gang but a trip back to the drawing board is called for. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 4.30pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).

home with routines about identity, such as his woeful Tamil, his immigrant parents’ expectations, and the way his mental integration of several cultural influences sometimes lead him to rash decisions. He indignantly mocks the sort of facile questions posed by immigration officials which, admittedly, has been well riffed-on before by others, but it’s not often you get them first-hand from a frequent guest of the authorities. Hussain is clearly righteously angry but he's careful to be, you know, not that kind of angry, which leads to some great self-correction jokes with an implicit irritation that any correction should even be needed. Outside these routines it feels a little scattershot. (Craig Naples) Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 8pm, £10.50–£12 (£9.50–£11).