Out of the heats

Philip Parr goes talent-spotting as Fringe hopefuls pick up the comedy accolades.

Amid a concerted effort by The List‘s contingent to knock as many works of art off the wall as possible. The Perrier award winner was announced on Saturday 25 August at The 369 Gallery. After last year‘s hiccup of awarding the prize to Mr Fanshawc there was general agreement that 1990 marked a return to form for the Perrier panel.

They had reinstated the tradition ofchoosing one of the Fringe nice guys: on this occasion. Sean Hughes. This was a relief to most who were at the bash for Sean was the only possible winner if the Perrier was to retain any credibility. The other nominees were Dillie Keane. Pete McCarthy. and Jimmy Tingle who. by most accounts. are all slick and polished acts. But they‘re hardly new or up and coming and none of them is producing material which is stretching the barriers ofcomedy. Thankfully. Sean fits the bill on all

three counts. but as he explained r‘fg/jy’ll {n

The Three Men Trio Bros Troupe


after winning the award. there will be some at least who are mystified by the panel‘s choice.

‘It was funny because at tonght‘s show I thought that I was pretty crap. All of these Perrier people barged in with cameras and everything and just a few minutes before. a couple of people had walked out. That sort of thing keeps your feet on the ground.‘

I suggested that the cxiters must have just been the comedy equivalent ofGeoffrey Howe reactionary conservatives. Many people have gone to Sean‘s show expecting straight stand-up and been surprised by his dallying with comedy acting. Those willing to leave their expectations at the door. though. have been treated to one of the best shows on the Fringe. I wondered if Sean now. with this recognition. felt like a star.

‘No. it‘s a strange feeling really. When I‘ve been here before and seen who‘s won I always think that they must be so good. I don‘t think that I‘m good at all really. I just want to come back next year and try something different again without all ofthis fuss. Hopefully. I‘ll be able to fall on my arse and nobody will care.‘

After the professionals were acknowledged. the ‘real‘ up and comers were given a go in the third So You Think You're Funny at The Gilded Balloon. It was a night of ironies, not least that the award was presented by last year‘s victor. Phil Kay. This was ironic because the 1990 standard was so much higher that Mr Kay would not have stood an earthly this time round. There was only one ofthe squirmingly embarrassing acts which consistently punctuated 1989‘s show and she probably would have made it to runner-up a year ago.

The rest were very slick. professional and quicl.-witted (they had to be as they were only given six minutes each). Herein lies the second irony ofthis ‘amateur‘ night. epitomised by the winners. "The

Sean Hughes

Three Men Trio Bros Troupe'. This Canadian. English and Scottish combo have been gigging around the ; smaller venues in Scotland for the

I last six months. One has to ask

3 '\\"hy'." From as much as you can tell

from six minutes (which in this case is : quiteabit)theyhaveoneoi'the


funniest and original cabaret acts in the country. They are now off to play four nights at The (‘omedy Store. Don‘t be surprised if they return playing to audiences which put The Allstars to shame. Like Sean. they may not admit it. but these guys are goingto be stars.


So long as survival of the fittest can be applied to Fringes as well as finches, Kit and the Widow will keep going longer than most. As Darwin fans will know, adaptation is the key and K 8. W are ‘different this year.‘

As a basis, they use Saint-Saen's ‘Carnival of the Animals’. Kit (sporting ringleader‘s iodhpurs of luminescent yellow and an appalling French accent) regales us with songs broadly inspired by Saint-Saen‘s originals whilst Widow (dressed as a peaky looking dachshund) accompanies on the piano and tellsthe occasional joke. If showing a little imagination in shunning the tuxedos, it all sounds

routine enough, n’est-ce pa?

Not a bit of it. Widow delivers his lines beautifully whilst Kit builds a great rapport with the audience. But it is the songs that reveal the duo‘s vast talent. The material is more topical than that of many a newspaper-touting comedian whilst the interweaving of a vital message without resort to didactlcs is hugely impressive. 80 confident are they in their ability to hold the audience that the final song is not one for belly laughs or even smiles but rather thoughtful contemplation. That takes bravery. The fact that the audience demanded more is an indicator of the rich benefits which can be reaped from risk-taking.

There's more bravery on show from Dave Cohen. Not, though, in the same way. It probably demands a similar level of nerve for him to take to the


' i

boards at all as it does for the precocious Kit to veer away from typical review material. His

conversation with the audience is punctuated with numerous errs and

umms and he constantly fidgets.

Overall, though, Cohen is also worth

a visit. Whilst his topical material often misses the mark and his delivery lacks the assuredness needed to make his audience feel totally comfortable, his songs display a true talent. They are witty. often raise laughs as well as smirks and create a warmth which Cohen can enjoy throughout his next prose section. if it was a straight survival match between these two shows. though, lthinkyou can guess which would win. (Philip Parr) Kit and The Widow (Fringe) George j Square Theatre (Venue 37), 667 3704. l until 1 Sept, 10pm. £6 (£5). ! Dave Cohen (Fringe) The Wee Red Bar (Venue 73), 2291003. until 1 Sept.

l 10.30pm, £4 (£3).

The I.l.\l .‘il .\iigusl l3 September l‘llllln