Stand-up white Canada

No one has noticed, but the Canadians are coming. Eddie Gibb finds out that

Canuck is a term of abuse.

More by chance than design. Fools Paradise has put together a mini- showcase of Canadian stand-up comedy: it’s Mike MacDonald's third Fringe but he still hasn’t made the programme, and Brian Hartt was the twelfth man pulled in to replace the no- show American Rich Hall. Only Harland Williams gets a proper billing, though the Fringe programme describes him as ‘USA‘s fastest-rising star‘.

So hardly a Mountie-like charge on Edinburgh audiences by the Canadian contingent, even if madcap threesome Corky And The Juice Pigs led the assault two years ago. But this year the three solo stand—ups are playing successive time slots each evening, interrupted only by the peculiarly English musical comedy of Earl Okin, which gives comedy fans a chance to mug up on the state of Canadian stand- up with little more effort than it takes to

visit the bar.

All three originate from Toronto but style-wise they have little in common. Williams is the Nicolas Cage of comedy, a stand-up for the slacker generation who invites you into an amiable world of fantasy. Mike

MacDonald is an altogether tougher cookie whose jaundiced view of life, and America in particular, builds on the ‘life is hell' premise. A transatlantic Jack Dee goes some way to describe his act. Hartt is the only one to do characters and because his show is chopped up into segments he is


Mike MacDonald: Canada dry

probably the most television-friendly of the three.

Ironically it is Hartt that has stuck it out in Toronto while MacDonald and Williams headed offto Hollywood in search of recognition on the American networks. ‘If you want a springboard into films and TV you’ve got to be


there because that‘s where you get seen. that's where the grease hits the frying pan, so to speak,‘ Williams says.

MacDonald agrees: ‘It’s a necessity living in Los Angeles. But it‘s a terrible city if it wasn‘t for Hollywood there would be no reason for being here.‘

Despite the high profile Montreal comedy festival, which has proved to be a mixed blessing for local talent, Williams and MacDonald take the view that Canada is too small a country for a comic with television ambitions. They have very mixed feelings about leaving the country and adopt a similar stance to many Scottish comedians who find themselves in London knocking on Channel 4‘s door.

‘Canadians are treated very badly at Montreal, they’re ignored a lot,‘ reckons Mike MacDonald. ‘Canadians work the same amount of time and get half wages and I think people in Scotland can relate to that. It‘s that hometown thing and I see the same thing happening to some of the Scottish acts.

‘I think Edinburgh is what the Montreal Festival used to be, it used to be very experimental but now it‘s just big business and it‘sjust a case of doing your best five minutes and no time for experimenting.‘

Could this be a warning directed at certain major venue operators not to squeeze out the small guys?

I Mike MacDonald, Brian Hartt, Harland Williams (Fringe) Fools Paradise at Moray House (Venue 108) 556 5184, until 4 Sept, llprn, 9.45pm, 7pm respectively, £6.50 (£5) each.

I Corky And The Juice Pigs (Fringe) Music Box (Venue 50) 220 4847, until 4 Sept (not 30 Aug), 11.15pm, £6.50 (£5).



Baby-boomers are easy to amuse. Simply dig up a successful TV programme or film from the 60s or 70s and hey presto!, they fall about laughing at their former naive and mesmerised selves.

Taking Bond, James Bond, and milking it. Double-O-Rodge’s production has all the familiar trappings: a villain with a fluffy white cat. female nudes in silhouette against coloured backgrounds, and some frilly shirts and flares. The plot, like the films. is instantly forgettable and involves a series of girls, spies and gadgets.

Yet this spooferama is very funny. The acting, by five actors from the RSC. is spot on. The script is sharp. The special effects are cheap but efi'ective. It's also worth seeing for a Roger Moore with a stunning resemblance, “visually and stylistically,

to a young Gene Wilder.

g (Beatrice Colin)

' I Never Say lever . . .

5 Ever (Fringe) Double-O- Rodge. Cafe Royal

; (Venue 47) 556 2549. until 4 Sept (not Suns).

10.30pm, £5 (£4.50).



It's post-modern. Obviously. It‘s the ultimate post- modern. meta-Fringe, jam-packed experience. Ex-Vicious Boy Angelo Abela careers through several hundred theatre. comedy. cabaret. musical, mime and children’s productions. And the

Tattoo. And the fireworks. In an hour.

Aided only by his own speed-freak adrenalin. Abelo manically grasps for laughs in the first week of his 1993 Fringe; but like the real thing. into week two and he begins to hit his stride. He flashes his Audience Participation trump card and the momentum builds. By week three the Gilded Balloon has been transformed into the Castle Esplanade, the audience into the Royal Scots Guards, and the entire Fringe into a bite- size spurt of gibberish. Exactly as it should be. Fringe Fever-a-go-go and not a leaftleteer in sight. (Craig McLean)

I Edinburgh Squash (Fringe) Angelo Abela. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 4 Sept. 10pm, £6 (£5).


And cavort is the operative word for this four-strong alternative acrobatic circus act. Hold the glitter. Hold the greasepaint. Their

unmasked clowning and warts-and-all trapeze work may be unusual in the Big Top but that doesn‘t stop their antics being funny or the high bar work being

slick sketches.

been sucked in, swilled about in a vat of liquid Oxbridge humour. left to mature for twenty years. Thus is hunt a series of

Featuring among others

latent blatant. And a unashamed psychosis is never more dangerous than when in the hands of the truly talented.

And Corky And The 3 Juice Pigs have talent


The Chinese State Circus this is not, so you get to appreciate the difficulties involved in the fine arts ofjuggling, unicycle riding and other skills which usually appear effortless. At just under an hour the whole act ends too soon, although as the tent is rather chilly, this has its benefits. (Thom Dibdin) I Cavort (Fringe) The Pack. Zippo’s Big Top (Venue 109) 662 0352, until 4 Sept (not 2 Sept). 10pm, £5 (£4).


The grandsons of Python. the nephews of The Comic Strip, and the distant relations of Hale And Pace are this trio‘s genealogy. The absurd and obtuse gapes and routines of alternative comedians, (see entrail and offal references) have

‘The fastest phlegm in the West‘ and two spitting wine-tasters, at times they verged on being too damn smart-ass and clever-dick for their audience‘s own good. However, expect Radio 4 to come begging with a show in the not too distant future. (Ann Donald)

I Crotch (Fringe) The Calton Centre. Montgomery Street (Venue 119) 661 9121. 15 Aug—4 Sept (not 31 Aug. 2 Sept), 10pm, £4.50 (£3.50).



What are they on. and where can I get some? Their obsession with tiny donkeys, cheese and nipples evidences a latent psychosis. Their faces (melting rubber and bug- eyes) and stage gear (posing pouches and nauseous shirts) make this

dribbling from their every orifice. Their songs are slippery skits on everything from pandas to. Suzanne Vega, dolphin- boys and basketball- buttocked men. In between they flaunt flesh and flash flab, transmogrifying before our very eyes from a surreal Monkey sketch to the world‘s seamiest Chippendales act.

You’ll laugh so much you‘ll pop a vein. Pass the cheesey donkey drugs. (Craig McLean)

I Corky And The Juice Pigs (Fringe) Music Box (Venue 50) 220 4847,

until 4 Sept (not 30 Aug), 11.15pm. £6.50 (£5).

: psycho thrill


The List 27 August—9 September 1993 43