FESTIVAL COMEDY | Reviews at a Glance
Guy Masterson ●●●●● Fringe legend Guy Masterson tells us that, in January this year, he didn’t have a good idea for a show. After over two decades of staging productions in Edinburgh – some award-winning, some a bit naff, many utilising his skills as the performer in one-man productions – he’d hit a bit of a dead end. As far as comedy goes, he’s lost his mojo. (Jonny Ensall) Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 5.40pm, £10. Harriet Kemsley ●●●●● Kemsley opens with news that she got engaged on Christmas Eve. It’s a big relief as she’d been unhappily single for a long time, and she’s now very in love. It’s fantastic news for Harriet but it’s also not a thrilling premise for a megalols hour of stand-up. Whenever more thought-provoking sections crop up, the safer, smug Facebook-i ller stuff returns instead. (Claire Sawers) Just the Tonic at the Caves, 0330 220 1212, until 28 Aug, 9.25pm, £5 (£3) or Pay What You Want. Jake Yapp ●●●●● Yapp’s observations and l ights of fantasy veer wildly between Adam Curtis documentaries, the origins of public relations and a curious segment on PTSD sufferers from WWII. He seems to think his material needs embellishment (it does) but he achieves this by climaxing anecdotes with bizarrely obscene punchlines wholly out of kilter with what’s come before. (Murray Robertson) Underbelly George Square, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug, 6.50pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Jamali Maddix ●●●●● Maddix’s mocking banter is funny at i rst but soon gets repetitive as he constantly cajoles us for not laughing enough or getting into the show. Which is frustrating as the actual material is strong. Maddix philosophises on race, slavery, immigration and feminism, a couple of his points are brilliantly sharp, highlighting some uncomfortable truths from a fresh and unexpected perspective. (Henry Northmore) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 8.15pm, £8–£10 (£7–£9). James Meehan ●●●●● A failed acting audition drove Meehan to explore classism in this debut solo show. Although he’s an engaging performer, much of Class Act comes across as a diatribe against injustice rather than an hour of comedy, which he himself admits. (Murray Robertson) Just the Tonic at the Tron, 0330 220 1212, until 28 Aug, 6.20pm, £5. James Nokise ●●●●● There’s a lot to like in this clever show from Kiwi, Nokise. The version of himself that he presents when skipping on stage – wrapped in a dandyish scarf with matching pocketchief – isn’t quite the real Nokise. He lets his hair down mid- show, transforming right in front of your eyes, and his anti-gangster polemic takes an unexpectedly topical turn towards the end. (Jonny Ensall) The Stand 2, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 10.40pm, £9 (£8). James Wilson-Taylor ●●●●● Wilson-Taylor hits back at the stigma attached to his fellow gingers with a series of amiable songs, jokes and stories. There’s nothing too dark in here: he makes no serious detours and the extent of the bullying he describes is pretty slim, which makes his wordplay on topical movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ slightly incongruous for an otherwise breezy show. (Murray Robertson) Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug, 5pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). Jamie MacDonald ●●●●● As you’d expect from a blind comedian there’s a fair bit about his condition in this Glaswegian’s show and provides a humorous insight into his world, divulging a bit of cheeky ‘blue badge banter’. The Aberdeenshire hotel in which he spent his honeymoon is creatively detailed and mined for laughs with its oversized key rings and Polish staff made to dress up in a preposterously Scottish manner. A performer of great warmth and 50 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
wit. (Marissa Burgess) Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 9.05pm, £10–£11 (£8–£9). Jane Postlethwaite ●●●●● Postlethwaite takes her native Cumbria as an inspiration for her debut character- i lled show, and by the looks of it there’s plenty going on: space debris, arson and attempted murder. In this pleasingly neat plot, i ve well rounded lives interact through a mixture of familial relations or a ménage à trois. Postlethwaite swings about conjuring each character, each one perfectly realised and with plenty of audience interaction to help. (Marissa Burgess) Sweet Grassmarket, 243 3596, until 28 Aug (not 24), 1.10pm, £8.50 (£7). John-Luke Roberts ●●●●● Describing himself as ‘from the world of nightmares’, our host prowls the stage in a fatsuit constructed with balloons. He carries a voodoo doll of ‘John-Luke Roberts’ and explains that he’s here to cover the comedian’s set-list. A show as bafl ingly stupid as this should rightly divide an audience down the middle but through some strange alchemy the crowd absolutely lap it up. (Murray Robertson) Voodoo Rooms, 226 0000, until 28 Aug (not 24), 6.55pm, free. Johnny Cochrane ●●●●● Just in case you were wondering, this is not the Johnny Cochrane who defended OJ Simpson and a screened montage sets the record straight. Close your eyes and you can almost hear Russell Brand’s voice; there’s a similarly scamp-like demeanour at play here as he delves into what makes a Fringe show. It all gets a little pedestrian by the end, but he has a neat twist to bring the curtain down on a decent debut. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 9.45pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10). Njambi McGrath
Jonny Pelham ●●●●● An adorable misi t, Pelham describes himself as a ‘socially anxious man’ and details the misadventures his unease has got him into over the years. Calling to mind a young Daniel Kitson, Pelham launches into a funny tale about how he failed to thwart a robbery happening to a girl he fancied. Proceedings come to a slightly abrupt end and it feels like a more considered conclusion would have been i tting. (Murray Robertson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 8.30pm, £8.50–£11 (£7.50–£10). Ken Do’s Success For Losers ●●●●● Ken Do (Jack Kelly) clowns about in a skinny suit and obnoxiously orange tie, waving some balloons at us before he hits us with his motivational pledge. Small print was never more poetic, as Ken Do burbles on in a lovely cross between Edward Lear’s nonsense and Chaucer Middle English tales. (Marissa Burgess) Cowgatehead, 226 0000, until 27 Aug, 3pm, free. Kieran Boyd ●●●●● Once described as ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’s lesbian sister’, Boyd turns the gags on himself, mocking the silver spoon in his motivationally challenged, Southern Jessie mouth, and revealing his embarrassing tendency to faint at any sight of blood, even in a i lm. His impression of his blustering, rude great uncle is a dei nite highlight, but there’s not enough of the funny stuff to carry along his hour of sports-based jokes, Masterchef deconstruction and heavy metal appreciation. (Claire Sawers) Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 4.45pm, £5 or Pay What You Want.
P H O T O
D A V E M C G R A T H
Low Hanging Fruit ●●●●● Based on the premise of a failed i ctional sketch show, Not Quite Write bravely embraces the world of not-so-brilliant comedy, with bad jokes and cheap puns in tow. What follows is a series of random and occasionally daft sketches, eventually descending into chaos as the four writers struggle to negotiate the many awful suggestions they receive from the wider public. (Arusa Qureshi) TheSpace at Jury’s Inn, 510 2381, until 20 Aug, 8.40pm, £7.50 (£5). Matthew Highton ●●●●● Hoping that no one will blame his temporary tech for the show’s failings, Highton might want to look a little closer to home if he seeks improvement. His sub-sub Boosh antics l ag badly in a tepid story about string puppets Claude and Maria, and the tedious Q&A in which every audience members probe his character (The Universe) for wisdom delivers little joy. (Brian Donaldson) Heroes at the Hive, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 2pm, £5 or Pay What You Want. Maureen Langan ●●●●● Raised in New Jersey by a bin-man dad and an Irish immigrant mum, Langan’s still trying to square certain things with herself, like how come most people work like animals and get nowhere, while Kim Kardashian, with ‘her ass like a ski slope’ gets a book deal and is rolling in cash. Her theatrical monologue is a little stiff in places, but the overall effect is like listening to a wise, entertaining broad ruminating on life. (Claire Sawers) The Stand 5, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 10.15pm, £9 (£8). Mavericks ●●●●● This female double act from Cambridge Footlights bill themselves as a ‘sketch show (of sorts)’. There’s a wait until we see any sketches as the pair open with a bland and low energy introduction, including a wikiHow on warming up an audience that seems to lack irony. The audience are receptive to the personable performers but it doesn’t cover the glaring gaps in a script that needs to ditch the tropes and embrace their darker, surrealist moments. (Rowena McIntosh) TheSpace at Jury’s Inn, 510 2381, until 27 Aug (not 21), 9.30pm, £5. Mawaan Rizwan ●●●●● ‘This show relies heavily on imagination’ insists our ‘gender neutral concubine pirate’ host as he manfully mugs his way through an hour of semi-torture comedy, only leavened by the energetic and occasionally winning surreal business he attends to. The ‘baby wipes’ routine and an obsession with R Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ just about save the day. (Brian Donaldson) Laughing Horse at Dropkick Murphys, 225 2002, until 28 Aug, 5.15pm, free. Michael Burgos ●●●●● Can funerals be funny? It might not seem like the most obvious premise for a comedy show but Burgos gives it his best shot as he inhabits a number of bizarre and unusual characters in this hour-long mediation on the life, death and legacy of our corpse: Thomas. Burgos is a wonderful chameleon, inhabiting their physical quirks and vocal ticks, including a particularly impressive turn as Thomas himself as a greedy young boy. (Henry Northmore) Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug, 8pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). The MMORPG Show ●●●●● Paul Flannery knows his audience. Only a room full of World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings geeks would actually cheer a giant 20-sided dice. The MMORPG Show is an interactive role- playing game as three members of the audience are plucked from obscurity and whisked to a time of myth and legend. It’s all incredibly nerdy, expect in-jokes about elves, orcs and Skyrim, but a whole lot of silly improv fun with an RPG twist. (Henry Northmore) Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 28 Aug, 9.30pm, £8 or Pay What You Want.