Naomi Petersen ●●●●● She lives in a theatre and she’s got agoraphobia. You won’t be allowed to forget this running theme of Petersen’s debut stand-up show, a big-hearted hour of wellbeing, strength and Pizza Express. It’s ambiguous just how much of her manic, clingy persona is a character, but you’re never not on Petersen’s side, and when the earnest climax arrives you‘re happy to go with it. (Kirstyn Smith) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 3.30pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£8.50). Nath Valvo ●●●●● Basing a show on nothing other than the hilarities of his own life, Australian comedian Valvo takes to the stage with bags of coni dence. Having hit his 30s with the realisation that he is turning into his parents, Valvo rel ects on watching gay porn whilst in the closet, his mum’s persistence on buying a school blazer he will grow into and accidental orgies. His reliance on cheap laughs about his naivety of what it’s like to be straight can get a tad repetitive, yet he manages to bounce back with hilarious content that continues to please. (Louise Stoddart) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 28 Aug, 6.45pm, £10.50–£12 (£9.50–£11). Nick Cody ●●●●● One of the most affable comedians on the Fringe, Cody celebrates the simple joys of beer, sport and Subway sandwiches in a show that’s cleverly structured to build to an emotional crescendo before the ultimate gag descends into applause. It’s the type of show where you leave with a positive outlook, a thirst for a beer and the intention of seeing Cody again. (Rowena McIntosh) Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 9.20pm, £10–£12.50 (£9–£11.50) Njambi McGrath ●●●●● Wondering whether ‘honesty might not be the best policy’, this comic discusses a brutal Kenyan upbringing at the hands of her father (who believed himself to have a touch of the Idi Amins about him) with a fearless jollity. Her family tale is mixed with withering discussion on Oxfam, Trump and, more surprisingly, Malala: ‘that bitch is fair game’. (Brian Donaldson) Laughing Horse at Espionage, 477 7007, until 27 Aug, 2.30pm, free. Orlando Baxter ●●●●● Sometimes a theme can get in the way of a corking show. US comic Baxter clearly has talent to burn as he displays in his opening and closing observational banter but the real meat of his debut revolves around his time as a high school teacher. It’s potentially fertile ground, but despite the crazy things that happened to him, there’s a l atness here in comparison to the edge he brings to more topical material. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 7pm, £8–£10.50 (£7–£9.50). Patrick Melton ●●●●● Melton gets off to a l ying start but falters with a gag about a ‘midget’, a crude joke about Hillary Clinton and other borderline remarks. Quickly, his series of simplistic statements change the tone of the show altogether. If things weren’t tense enough, he tells the audience to ‘lighten up’, which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t sit well with an already agitated group. (Louise Stoddart) Underbelly Med Quad, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug, 10.50pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50). Paul McMullan ●●●●● Over the years, many stand-ups have done shows about their alcoholism and while some of his material was very familiar. What’s unusual here is that rather than focus on his drinking antics, McMullan spends a good half of his hour talking about how good sobriety can be without being preachy or self-pitying. (Craig Naples) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 9.15pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10). Pernilla Holland ●●●●● For infectious energy alone, Norway’s Holland tips the balance in her favour with a series of mainly wild characters who wear her crowd down. The biscuit-

Reviews at a Glance | FESTIVAL COMEDY

offering church worker and manic Eurovision failure are the cream of her crop. With the aid of sharper writing, Holland could have some good places to take her madcap creations. (Brian Donaldson) Just the Tonic at the Mash House, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 1.20pm, £8–£9 (£6–£6.50; £20 family ticket). Phil Dunning ●●●●● A collection of wigs sit poised on mannequin heads at the back of the room, ready for Dunning to work his way through his complex characters. There are some genuinely hilarious laughs to be had, including a Les Miserables striptease and some bizarre slapstick material that nobody’s quite sure what to make of. Dunning’s unique delivery and eccentric manner hasn’t yet found comfort in an entire room full of people, but his ability to switch between acts is undeniably l awless. (Louise Stoddart) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 11pm, £7–£9 (£6.50–£8.50). A Plague of Idiots ●●●●● Clowning, physical theatre and really awkward silences make up A Plague of Idiots’ show. The group pile a lot into their hour: drama, music, acrobatics and general oddballery. At times the show seems to be frantically searching for its place, but the Idiots’ ability to run with ideas that almost don’t land is a testament to their skill. (Kirstyn Smith) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 5pm, £10–£11 (£8–£9). Robert Newman ●●●●● Admirably full of respect for his audience’s intelligence, and refreshingly free of navel-gazer stand-up narcissism, Newman’s show is still slightly too dense, crushing in academic observations, a romantic subplot and ukulele numbers with a pair of cuddly, l ashing squids. Dotted with interesting trivia, those seeking laughs may i nd his over- ambitious show doesn’t always stimulate. Sarah Callaghan

(Claire Sawers) Summerhall, 560 1581, until 28 Aug, 7.15pm, £12.50 (£10). Rowena Hutson ●●●●● This is a show about what action heroes like Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis mean to us and how, with a massive dollop of irony, they taught Hutson both to be a man and to be a woman. Threaded through cheery placard-waving dances is the story of her life and if you don’t want to be best mates with ‘Ro’ by the end, you’re either dead inside or have passed out from the heat. (Craig Naples) Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 28 Aug, 6pm, £5 or Pay What You Want. Russ Peers ●●●●● Here is the classic example of a comic who is no doubt perfectly comfortable doing 20 minutes in a club having to double that for a Fringe show. Eminently likeable, Peers wonders whether he’s a Bad Gay? but ultimately drowns in a desire to chat with a crowd who give him very little to work with. (Brian Donaldson) Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 10.30pm, £5 or Pay What You Want. Sam Campbell ●●●●● Rumour has it that James Acaster is a big fan of this shambolic young Aussie and there’s something in the delivery, manner and dress sense that hints of a mutual admiration. Tottering permanently on the verge of alienating his crowd, Campbell pulls it all back with a nervy approach and genuinely intriguing stage persona. (Brian Donaldson) Assembly Roxy, 623 30300, until 28 Aug, 8.15pm, £9–£12. Sam Savage ●●●●● Perhaps it’s a testament to Sam Savage’s power as an actress, but around 15 minutes in, she transforms herself from the Essex housewife who greeted us all to the venue and into an American motivational speaker. Sadly, that moment of intrigue buckles under the realisation that there’s barely a joke to be had in a l at show

of confusing character comedy. (Brian Donaldson) Cowgatehead, 226 0000, until 27 Aug, 5.30pm, free. Sarah Callaghan ●●●●● It’s not a show about Adele, Callaghan promises, but about the passing of time and what can be achieved in 24 hours. She zeroes in on one specii c day where her boyfriend planned a surprise trip for her. As a premise, this is all i ne, but Callaghan’s talents lie more in asides and one-liners than intricate storytelling. (Kirstyn Smith) Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 8.20pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11). Scott Agnew ●●●●● Gambling, booze, sex and drugs: Agnew’s been addicted to them all. A classic case of addictive personality, every time he kicks one habit he gets sucked into another, and over the course of an hour, he goes into gloriously sordid detail to describe his extraordinary escapades. This is an unpredictable, extremely personal and passionate show, its impact heightened by the intimacy of the venue, and it leaves everyone with much to think about. (Murray Robertson) Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 10pm, £5 or Pay What You Want. Susie Youssef ●●●●● A perfectly likeable act, Youssef is warmed up by her lookalike support Anya, an eastern European who can’t stop l irting with her front row. Naturally this leads to a stream of subtle insults before the main turn takes to the stage and gives us a series of rather lame sketches: she acts against the lyrics of popular songs (‘Luka’?!) while her version of a car ad has us limping from the scene. (Brian Donaldson) Assembly George Square Studios, 623 30300, until 28 Aug, 5.15pm, £10.50–£12 (£9.50–£11). Suzi Ruffell ●●●●● Rather than disingenuously ingratiating herself with a show titled Common, and occupying a niche space in an overwhelmingly middle class scene, it really feels like Ruffell is just telling her story so far, and doing it very well too. Warm, honest and plenty funny, her chatty tales of being a ‘massive gay’, getting her head round NHS cuts, and an impending wedding make her delivery anything but run of the mill. (Claire Sawers) Just the Tonic at the Mash House, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 8.20pm, £6 (£5) or Pay What You Want. Tom Walker ●●●●● It’s a surei re sign that a Fringe performer is onto a good thing when he splits a crowd in the way Walker does. Prancing along a narrow tightrope between genius and inexcusable stupidity, he manages to persuade most of this evening’s audience to believe in his clowning, leaving just a few naysayers to mutter ‘a tenner for this?’ under their breath. (Jonny Ensall) Underbelly George Square, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug, 8.10pm, £9.50– £10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). The Travelling Sisters ●●●●● Maybe it’s something they put in the water in Brisbane as this Aussie trio seem to take the notion of surrealist comedy and push it one step beyond. Surprisingly, in the main, it works creating a distinctly otherworldly vibe. We’re almost half way through before the three i nally unleash their full crazy with paintings that come to life, potatoes and a giant lady. (Marissa Burgess) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 10.45pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£7–£8.50). Viv Groskop ●●●●● Groskop has set out to try and understand what it is to be middle class, a label she self-identii es with, and wants to encourage people to be the ‘good’ type of middle class, not the ‘bad’ kind who voted Leave. A difi cult relationship with her Tory councillor mother is referenced but not examined on a personal level. An hour that starts well ends up feeling like we’ve essentially been read an unremarkable version of the ‘Overheard in Waitrose’ Facebook account. (Rowena McIntosh) The Stand 4, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 5.55pm, £8 (£7). 18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 53