Demanding star: Arj Barker

This is Ari Barker’s third Visit to the Festival and he’s decided to do something a little different from regular stand-up. This show has been written espeCIally for Edinburgh and is a one-man play set In his flat In California. The audience are greeted as friends with the warning; ’l'm a bad host and I’ll tell you that right now.’ What follows is shrouded In mystery, but Barker promises, among other things, the magic of audio-Visual technology and plenty of room for

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disaster. He's currently getting sweaty in Montreal, not because of the heat you understand. but fear of The List star rating system. ’lt's my nemesis,' he cries, ’is there any way you could sneak into the star room and put a couple of extra ones by my name?’ This year undoubtedly, he can up his star count this year wrthout any such Skulduggery. (Victoria Nutting)

rift: Arj Barker (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 6—30 Aug (not 70) 8.55pm, £9/8 (£8/7). Preview 5 Aug, 8.55pm, £3.

COMEDY PREVIEW 2000 Years Down the Drain

A major hit at the Gilded Balloon last year, Boom Chicago take improvised comedy by the scruff of its neck with their fast-talking, rapid-fire, sharp- tongued madness. Not only that but they wear costumes too. 'Our aim Is to take the spontaneity and the fun of mprowsation,’ explains producer and performer Andrew Moskos, ’but put it in a theatrical setting With higher production values so It’s tighter and more excmng than Just the old improv games.’

This year, the American team are hurtling towards the 2 1 st century, pausing only briefly for an on-the-spot analysis of the last 2000 years, 'from Jesus Christ to Jerry Springer.’ It's already proved to be an unstoppable

50 TIIFIIST 9—17 Ann 1000

The Very Best of Kit And The Widow

A celebration of sixteen years sparkling champagne comedy to excite the palate of first-timers and nostalgic stalwarts alike.


Shiny happy person: Jason Freeman

He's very animated is Jason Freeman. There's a free flow of energy in his show, Shiny Side Up, Dirty Side Down, which is contagious.

The Yin & Yang motif, as implied in the title of the show, is ’not so much good and evil as stupid on one side and really stupid on the other,’ insists Freeman. 'Long thin things are somewhat of a motif. As are cats.’ Freeman is more closely related than most to our feline cousins. He's a bit fluffy, in a good way, and the positive vibe he exudes all round makes his show one you could quite safely take your Mum to. Which is precisely what I did and I have to say she thoroughly enjoyed it.

His comedy heroes are perhaps the key to where Freeman is coming from. ‘Columbo really makes me laugh. Peter Falk is definitely really cool. Also if you've ever heard any Bob Dylan bootlegs, he was great between songs, really playing with the crowd.’ Being around Jason Freeman you get the firm impression that he is a man very at ease with himself. His show isn't an act; 'lt's me. I mean, I wear the same clothes. I'm a real big fan of laughter.’ (Ross Holloway)

e Shiny Side Up, Dirty Side Down (Fringe) Jason Freeman, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 7—30 Aug (not 10, 24) 8.30pm, £9/f8. 50/f8 (£8/f 7. 50/£ 7). Preview 5—6 Aug, [4.

gather to celebrate the road to their Mecca only to discover they don't much like what they’re hurtling towards. 60 along and get bitterly nostalgic over sideburns, flares and retro soundtracks.

’The play explores the notion that there’s something lacking in politics for young people.’ explains Hunka. ’The Retro Kids draw excessively on the past because there is no real direction.‘ Hunka believes Labour’s landslide encapsulated this perfectly: ‘While the spin doctors were pushing the future, most young people were looking back seeking comfort in things they recognised and understood.’

(Alison Chiesa)

a The Retro Kids (Fringe) Birthwri'te Theatre Company, C, Overseas House (Venue I9) 225 5 705, 5-30 Aug (not 17) 9.30pm, £6 (£5).

performance. ’They like the new show so much in Amsterdam that its been playing for eight months.’ Of course it’s different every night, but that’s improvisation for you. (Moira Jeffrey) g 2000 Years Down the Drain (Fringe) Boom Chicago, Gilded Balloon 1/ (Venue 36) 226 2751, 6-30 Aug (not 16) 8.30pm, £9 (£8).


'Tis the eve of Tony's election victory. the night everyone's supposed to remember (even it Michael Portillo‘s still trying to forget). A new dawn beckons New Labour, New Hope - and material fertile enough for a new play by award-winning writer, Emily Hunka.

'The Retro Kids is an explosive black comedy about youth culture in the late 90s,’ declares Hunka. Five students

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