FESTIVAL COMEDY | Reviews
K O F S E G R O E G :
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MIKE WARD: FREEDOM OF SPEECH ISN’T FREE Canadian’s shocking hour is outrageously bad ●●●●●
In July, Canadian shock comic Mike Ward was fined £25,000 for repeatedly telling (since 2010) an offensive joke about a child (now an adult) with Treacher Collins Syndrome. Ward is in the process of appealing that fine but he reasons that he may as well get his money’s worth so repeats his infamous gag here while attempting to raise much-needed funds.
Ward’s story is an interesting one and its consequences could have far-reaching effects throughout the industry and Canadian society, so it’s odd that he asks an audience member to recount the events rather than stating his case from the off. From there he launches into a series of obscene gags covering paedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, domestic abuse, infanticide and incest, often combining several taboo topics at once. ‘Jesus Christ it’s quiet in here,’ he remarks at the muted
response. He expects to provoke a strong reaction but this is a Fringe crowd and we’re not easily offended. Just saying outrageous things isn’t funny and the set-ups are laboriously executed before petering out with predictably ‘shocking’ punchlines. After explaining how much he hates his brother, he asks if
anyone in the audience has AIDS. No one volunteers but that doesn’t stop Ward urging anyone with the disease to rape his brother and infect him with AIDS. ‘That’s a joke by the way,’ he deadpans to stunned silence. The biggest shame is that Ward seems like a nice guy. He’s evidently crestfallen by his recent financial predicament and it’s easy enough to root for him when he’s being sanguine about the future. Here in the UK he’s free to speak about whatever he wants (for now). If only he had something funny to say. (Murray Robertson) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 28 Aug (not 25), 8.45pm, £10–£12.
P H O T O :
C O L N P A G E
SIMON MUNNERY: STANDING STILL Great gags are afoot in this anniversary bash ●●●●●
LANA SCHWARCZ: LOVELY LADY LUMP Australian comic tells cancer where to go ●●●●● SPENCER JONES PRESENTS THE HERBERT IN EGGY BAGEL Charming, loveable but all too-brief ●●●●●
For 30 years now, Simon Munnery has been bamboozling us on the Fringe. Few comics could get away with arriving on stage in a suit made of cider cans and accidentally (maybe on purpose) knocking over the drinks on a front-row table. As this is an anniversary show of sorts, he dips
occasionally into his back catalogue, pulling out an Alan Parker: Urban Warrior spoof of a Billy Bragg number he’s just performed straight as himself. Buckethead also makes a brief cameo but mostly it’s Munnery proving that when the mood takes him, he can be one of the finest gag-writers in the business (his line about his three daughters’ names and the real reason why his dog Leo isn’t on Facebook are corkers).
His improv riffing on an audience remark about a handbag maybe doesn’t show his talents off in the best light, while his imagining of a couple discussing skiing does drift on a mite longer than sense should allow. But when it comes to logic, Simon Munnery will always refuse to play that game. And the comedy world is better for it. (Brian Donaldson) ■ The Stand, 558 9005, until 29 Aug, 4pm, £12 (£10).
48 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
This hour from the charming Lana Schwarcz is part stand-up, part group therapy as it sticks two fingers up to breast cancer. Thanks to a throwaway comment from a stranger she met while walking her dog, Aussie puppeteer Schwarcz was spurred on to get a mammogram, which revealed a malignant tumour in her left boob. Mercifully, they caught it early and she survived, with Lovely Lady Lump her go at a comical unloading of that period in her life. Only those with the stoniest of hearts could fail to fall for The Herbert. With his sunken eyes, gormless grin and awful haircut, Spencer Jones’ blindingly colourful character bemoans in a repetitive rave number that he’s ‘a dickhead’. No one of that ilk would then create a tune which politely asks that we ‘behave in my cave’ but the gentle Herbert has everyone on his side as he goes about his blundering business.
Schwarcz is delightful, bravely bringing the As loveable a character as he is, our Eggy Bagel
audience into her world of doctor appointments and radiation therapy, seguing between tit-baring re-enactments of hospital sessions and straight stand-up. Her jokes don’t always land, and she occasionally dips into over-explaining when lines don’t get laughs, but there are some stand-out comedic moments, including a gleefully gory take on her post-diagnosis nightmares. Schwarcz doesn’t shy away from the personal
dimensions of her show, acutely aware some punters will relate to this story through first-hand experience. There’s more than a few teary eyes at the end, but plenty of smiles too. (Yasmin Sulaiman) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 4pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).
man often comes second to the array of props he’s assembled, from the exaggerated shoulder pads to the innovative drumsticks, toilet brushes and marginally creepy family portrait. Perhaps the late start and early finish are partly
responsible, but there’s a palpable sense in the room that we would have liked more. Generally at the Fringe, people are often glad to get out of some venues on time and in one piece. At one point, Jones / Herbert shrugs his shoulders and announces, ‘it’s stupid, innit?’ Unutterably daft it may be, but refreshing and charming are far more accurate adjectives. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Heroes at the Hive, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 8.50pm, £6 or Pay What You Want.