FREE AND EASY Brian Donaldson picks five shows costing zero cash

Austentatious Best Newcomer nominee Cariad Lloyd takes time out from her solo character show thing with a return to her free roots. In which a crew of similarly expert improvisers make up an hour- long tale in the style of Jane Austen purely from audience suggestions. The Counting House, 667 7533, 2–26 Aug (not 14), 1.30pm.

David Mills The 2011 winner of what used to be called the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year is a cabaret performer turned stand-up who has been the co-pilot on Scott Capurro’s chat show. The Hive, 226 0000, 2–27 Aug, 3.45pm. Trodd En Bratt This pair met on the improvised scene through the acclaimed Showstopper! and are glad to have their past lives behind them: Trodd was in advertising for seven years and Bratt previously earned some keep as a London tour guide. The Free Sisters, 622 6801, until 4–26 Aug (not 13), 5.45pm. Previews 2 & 3 Aug.

Sam Fletcher Sometimes you should just let someone’s blurb do the talking: ‘Right, so here’s my first proper thing on the Fringe. I will be delivering a handsome collection of uplifting, charming drivel involving jokes, drawings, conjuring, a song about shoes, etc.’ For your info, Fletch used to be Tim Key’s sidekick sound-man. Bannermans, 226 0000, 4–25 Aug, 12.30pm. Mace & Burton Lizzy (Mace) and Juliette (Burton) wonder whether love is just a big fat fraud in their storytelling show Rom Com Con. This busy pair also host the Heartbreak Hotel, a free comedy chat show at Buffs Club. The Canons’ Gait, 226 0000, 4–26 Aug (not 7, 14, 21), 1.15pm.

42 THE LIST 2–9 Aug 2012

JAMES ACASTER Scouting for giggles

Stand-ups get their first taste of the comedy stage in different ways. Some might be forced by their long- suffering partner into doing an open mic night, others might have done some stand-up in their student days, a few have ditched their well-paid but mind-crushingly tedious jobs to take the plunge. ‘I did some sketches in The Gang Show,’ is not a phrase you will hear very often when you speak to a stand-up about their debut comedy performance, but it’s one that James Acaster is far from ashamed about. And good for him. ‘I was a cub when I auditioned, which was a pile of bollocks really, because they’re not mean and so everyone

gets in,’ recalls the Kettering comedian. ‘Every year I ended up in the musical numbers but eventually I got in a sketch because the usual people had left. There were three people auditioning called James and the director thought it would be funny to put three people called James in a sketch together. I think the scouts may have inspired me more than I thought.’ After a successful Fringe solo debut in 2011, Acaster is back with Prompt (‘I like the “mpt” sound’), and is

promising no dramatic change of tack from last year; so we can expect chatty, semi-surreal banter, some silences while a scene is played out for its visual comedy and a general recurrence of the ‘daft and whimsical’. But his playful audience interaction might be down a few percentage points. ‘I won’t be jumping on people’s backs pretending to be a jetpack. If I did that two years in a row, I’d just be known as the back-guy and every year I’d have to think of a new way to mount a member of the audience.’ (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 4–26 Aug, 8.15pm, £10–£12 (£8.50–£10.50). Previews until 3 Aug, £5.

CELIA PACQUOLA Mother superior goes on a journey

‘It was like walking into a fairytale. There’s a castle!’ Celia Pacquola fondly remembers arriving in Edinburgh for her first Fringe in 2009. Since moving to London two years ago, Pacquola has had a frenzied itinerary, which feeds into this year’s show, Delayed. ‘After a while my body physically rejected the thought of getting on a plane,’ she shudders. ‘I saw the airport, and everything inside me went, “turn around!” It was like tricking a dog and taking them to the vets. I got out of the cab and was like, “hang on, this isn’t the park!”’

Although travel is this year’s focus, relationships have always formed the backbone of her material. ‘All my stand-up is personal because that way no one else can be doing it. Also, I can make fun of it and not hurt anyone’s feelings.’ Once described as ‘Adam Hills with ovaries’, the supremely affable Pacquola is particularly keen to mother the new kids on the block. ‘I’ve got friends coming over for their first year and I’m going to turn up at their flats with water and fruit.’ (Murray Robertson) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, 4–27 Aug (not 14), 7pm, £9.50– £10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). Previews until 3 Aug, £5.