Craig McLean homes in on the big guns providing last minute, late night, Fringe fun.
I Jack Dee Drier than a camel’s sandshoe, Dee is back with a brand new show. Laconic, ironic, poker-faced laughs. Thankfully, nobody else is as bored with Dee as Dee seems with himself.
Jack Dee ( Fringe ). Assembly At The Meadows (Venue 116). 226 2428. 28 Aug, 10.15pm; Queen ’3 Hall (Venue 72). 668 2019. 29 Aug-4 Sept. 10.15pm, £9 (£8).
I in Brand and Richard Morton Scabrous queen of the Fringe pairs up with stalwart of London’s ever-fertile Comedy Store. Expect brickbats and abuse a-plenty.
Jo Brand and Richard Morton (Fringe), Assembly At The Meadows (Venue 116). 226 2428. 29 Aug. 10pm. £8 (£7).
I Bruce Morton Last year Morton got all Sinful in a masonic hall; this year, having become a tip-top TV celeb, the Glaswegian is in the rareﬁed climes of Edinburgh’s classiest theatre. Angst- ridden anecdotes don’t come much more fraught and funny than this. Bruce Morton ( F ringe). Traverse Theatre (Venue 15), 228 1404, 30 Aug—4 Sept, 10.30pm, £8 (£5).
I A Picnic in Etfriopia One-time Circus 02 star turned stand-up, Judy Pascoe recounts her true tale of ﬁlming in EthiOpia with TV crew. irony and grim humour, ahoy.
A Picnic In Ethiopia (Fringe) Judy Pascoe. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15). 228 I404. 31 Aug-4 Sept, 11pm, £7 (£4).
I Mi! SM Players Messrs. Lawrence, Merton, Vranch et al indulge in cutting edge improv. And unlike Whose Line Is It Anyway?, they don’t do it with mirrors.
Comedy Store Players (Fringe). George Square Theatre (Venue 37). 650
2001. until 28 Aug. 10pm. £9 (£6).
, Rock ’n’ Rolf
You must remember this, a sketch is just a sketch. Or is it? Crarg McLean talks to Rolf Hams, the man for whom a brush with a brush was only the beginning . . .
Myself, i remember the toes best. Rolf Harris is in a swimming pool, ever the twinkle-eyed chum. it is half past 1974. ‘. . . somehow managed to scrabble me way to the bank . . .‘ he’s saying, by way of offering salutary advice on the importance of not drowning. ‘Get him, get him!’ goes a volley of shrill kiddie voices. Rolf is submerged in a sea of thrashing young limbs. His toes, though, poke up in the air and the legend lives on.
What’s your favourite Rolf Harris Moment? Those slap-dash blurs of artistic endeavour? The maudlin majesty of ‘Two Little Boys'? The Godfathers’ version of ‘Sun Arise'? The didgeridoo which, contrary to p0pular belief, wasn’t invented by Jamiroquai? The canny, revelatory simplicity of the stylophone? His cartoon time. always much better than Glen Michael’s? Those cockle- warming, cackling ‘heh heh heh’s and the oh-so-coy ‘Can you see what it is yet?’ His avuncular version of rock’s most bastard son(g), ‘Stairway To Heaven'? Or just the fact that for 40 years Rolf Harris has been bigger than Madonna? Kind of.
\‘\. ,r ‘
lieir heh heh Celebrities rise and celebrities fall;
stardom and success wax and wane.
But Rolf Han'is endures. ‘The thing is,
I never conned the kids,’ says Rolf in
that deadly familiar, gentle voice that
has my nostalgia glands engorging with
moist memories. Thankfully Rolf is
only on the phone — he’s ﬁlming his
sixth series of his Cartoon Club for HTV in Bristol — otherwise I fear l'd
take a funny turn. I digress. ‘l was always honest and straightforward. I never used kids to get kudos. Never conned them. They trust me, and I’m like a big kid myself. I’m not like the big star they can’t approach.‘
But approach they can. Not that he needed it, but Rolf Harris has been rehabilitated for the 90s by his ‘comic’ version of ‘Stairway To Heaven’. a pop
chart smash earlier this year. Since then, wacky students have been clamouring to book Rolf ’s all-singing, all-drawing show, opening up a whole new avenue of entertainment for the 63-year-old who puts the ‘all’ into ‘all- round’.
‘At the ﬁrst university show in Birmingham,’ recalls Rolf, ‘they were singing like football fans. After the show they all helped me out with my gear. And a lad about 25 years old came up and said, “I’d like to give you a big hug." I said, “Well do it!” So he did and said, “l’ve loved you all my life!” He practically had me in tears.’
Now, following a triumphant appearance at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. ol’ Rolf is bringing his show to the Fringe. Backed by some stationery, Rolf will give it some quick- ﬁre art. Backed by a rocking band, Rolf does all his own hits, plus Rolfular versions of rock classics like ‘Smoke On The Water’, ‘Great Balls Of Fire‘, ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Roadhouse Blues’. in his native 02 these are all currently to be found on a Top 50 album called Rolf Rules OK’.
So are these all classic songs from Rolf ’s youth. a chance to sing his personal faves?
‘No, they were songs I’d never heard before. I was recording ‘Jake The Peg’ and ‘Sun Arise’ when they came out, I was on a different track. I thought you couldn’t do them unless you had an American accent. But i can get away with it in my accent. And we can have a lot of fun with them . . .‘
Coming soon: Basil Brush sings punk
I liolf liarris (Fringe) George Square Theatre (Venue 37) 650 200] , 27 and 28 Aug, midnight, £8 (£6.50).
It sounded promising: the adult wing of kids theatre specialists The Clown Jewels experimenting with late-night entertalnrnent for grown-ups, using the latest computer graphic technology and video animation. A plot about a futuristic TV station in space at least sounded like it might have some quirky comedy potential. And the photos seemed to suggest a racy cross between hard-core club culture and Flash Gordon.
Alas no. Exhibit A is one oi the worst professional shows I have ever seen. That three adults (and I don’t know how many technical crew) are wasting energy on material this feeble is shocking. The company’s roots in children’s theatre are all-too- apparent, but even if I were a 12-year
Exhibit A: not to be encouraged
old I would demand my money back in anger at the pathetic attempt at cartoon comedy acting and annoyance attire empty-headed story-line.
The show has the home-baked look of the Heath liobinsonesgue gadgetry so beloved of Forkbeard Fantasy, but none of that company’s off-beat
theatrical imagination. It has technical resources to match the Wooster Group, but no idea of how to use them for meaningful dramatic effect. llaving said that, in terms of artistry and imagination, the computer-generated material is light- years ahead of the production as a whole, but all the snazzy graphics in the world would not make good
' theatre. And here they only reinforce
how inept the rest of the production is. i’ve seen shows in which the audience was excluded from the performers’ own private joke, but in the case of Exhibit A, I can’t believe that whatever it is we’re being excluded irorn could be found remoter funny even by the performers. It’s embarrassingly bad and shouldn’t be encouraged. (Mark Fisher)
Exhibit A (Fringe) Zoom Theatre, St Bride’s Centre (Venue 62) 346 1405, until 4 Sept, 10.45pm, £5 (£3.50).
42 The List 27 August-9 September 1993