_- I A theatre - dance . comedy
No Laughing Matter
A show entitled The Great Comedy Debate sounds earnestly unfunny - never judge a show by its cover. . .
'You’re a people who microwave your lives,‘ says Scott Capurro of Scotland's populace. 'The biggest selling foodstuff here is canned fucking baked beansl'
’But you can drink the water. That's nice for a third world country.‘
Just a sample of the kind of international spirit that will be shown at The Great Comedy Debate. The idea, borne out of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, is for teams of comics to do battle in a pseudo parliamentary style. There will be a topic for debate, each contributor gets five minutes to talk (non)sense, and the winners are decided by acclamation. That’s applause and cheering to you.
It's Australia versus the U.S. versus Scotland versus the Rest Of The World. Contributors will include the aforementioned Capurro, along with Phil Kay, Fred Macaulay, Rich Hall, Rich Fulcher, Mark Little, Bob Downe, Lynne Ferguson, Ed Byrne. . . the list goes on.
A fine line up and an excellent opportunity for reasoned debate and exchange of impassioned views.
Why rely on nuclear weapons when The Great Comedy Debate could start World War Three for us instead?
That, or an excuse for in-ya-face rudeness and outrageous one-up-manship.
Speaking at last year's Melbourne event, Rich Hall was diplomatic towards his Australian opponents. ’This is an extremely smart country,‘ said the grouchiest American since Walter Matthau. 'l've seen the cryptic crossword. I can’t figure out one blank...nothing. Children, bass players, anybody can figure these things out.’
Needless to say that Hall, with the assistance of Greg Proops and Rhona Cameron, destroyed an 02 team who resorted to lesbian gags and drawing a caricature of the estimable Mr Proops with a very small penis.
Shame on them.
The wonderful thing about all this is you get to see half a dozen comedians vying to out-perform one another. Some start with scripts but, after hearing the opposition, throw them away and launch into improvised gagerama.
Last words go to Mark Little who, should the subject arise, may be offering his views on the state of stand-up.
'I think comedy's lost the plot. It’s a bit reactionary, it's about getting a beer ad. I'm sick of comedians trying to sell me shit I don't want. Who do they think they are — some funny bastards?’ (Rodger Evans)
3 For details, see hit list, right.
Shuttleworth And Hurst
Free drugs but no laffs
32 THE usr 27 Aug—10 sep i998
As the millennium approaches, the strange portents become Increasingly commonplace. There's an increase in natural disasters; alleged alien sightings; and like a dog returning to its own vomit, lan Shuttleworth returns to Edinburgh.
Shuttleworth IS a theatre critic, who last year had the audacity to stage a one man comedy show about his experiences as a revrewer during the Fringe. Ian’s prospects looked bright when a chum penned a five star revrew for The Scotsman and another friend, incredibly, commended him to the Perrier panel. Fortunately opportunity didn’t knock unless you count an unflattering portrayal of the hack’s bid for fame in a recent Channel 4 documentary.
Now he’s joined by fellow scribbler Richard Hurst, perhaps reasoning that some of his pals might be Willing to sacrifice their reputations and dash off a glowing notice. Together these ’Siamese twins jonned at the ego' endeavor to take you on a ’humorous'
guide to surViVing the Fringe and inflate their own bloated seli-esteem.
Hurst, at least, has the sense to acknowledge that it‘s a sad commentary when the only half- decent laughs (ome from enlarged Synopses from old Fringe programmes. Shuttleworth, however, is apparently convmced Of his ability tO entertain, grinding Out stale gag after gag. The hour reaches its nadir when the pair perform a routine that litters the stage with the dropped names of fellow critics. At this point the comedy double act of two straight men threaten to disappear up their own fundaments in a masturbatory frenzy of in-iokes.
On the way out I couldn’t help noticing a review awarding this wank- fest five stars. Critics — what the hell do they know! (Rory Ford)
% Shuttleworth And Hurst: Critical Mass ll - Return Of The Hack (Fringe), Calder’s Gilded Balloon Wenue 36) 226 2757, until3l Aug, 7. 75pm, £6.50 (£5.50).
The feast is nearly over - fill up on the following best of the fest . . . Perfect Days Liz Lochhead’s new Fringe First-winning comedy of almost Shakespearean depth stars Siobhan Redmond (who wins this festival’s Stage Awards for Acting Excellence) as a celebrity hairdresser suffering from WOTS (Woman Over Thirty Syndrome). Perfect Days (Fringe) Traverse Theatre Company, Traverse Theatre (Venue 75) 228 7404, until 5 Sep (not Mon), times vary, £72 (£7.50).
Teleluvvies Drop The Dead Donkey meets morning TV in this surprise hit. What it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in pace and sharply observed humour. Tele/uvvies (Fringe) The Flying Pig Theatre Company, Calder’s Gilded Baloon, (Venue 38) 2262757, until 37 Aug, 2.30pm, £6 (£5).
The Last Obit Peter Tinniswood’s
comic cocktail stars Fringe First- wmning Angela Pleasence playing a bitter-sweet pixie-crone facing her last day at work. The Last Obit (Fringe) Angela Pleasence, Pleasance (Venue 33), 556 6550, until 37 Aug, 2. 50pm, £7/£6 (£6/£5).
The Great Comedy Debate See preView, left. The Great Comedy Debate (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 30 Aug,
2 70pm, 308737 Aug, 4.20pm, £70 (£9).
An Immaculate MisconceptionPlay that stretches the boundaries between science and art, written by the founder of the female contraceptive pill, renaissance man Carl Dierrassr The ethics of sexless reproduction rattled off with the quick-fire banter of romantic comedy. An Immaculate Misconception (Fringe) Djanus Theatre, C Too (Venue 4) until 37 Aug, 7.50pm, £6 (£5).