Francesco De Carlo: Comfort Zone

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The Wee Coo, George Square
Aug 22-28 (21:20)

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Francesco De Carlo is an incredibly fluent English-speaker who has decided to depart from his native land – where comedians are paid in food & ‘visibility’ & try his luck at the UK comedy circuit. That he did it in the same week we voted for Brexit adds a certain cloud of uncertainty to his career move, but for now, while the UK are still European, he’s just getting on with it. His background his unusual, a press officer for the European Parliament; but this has given him a keen universality & touches of satirical political observation as good as any.

De Carlo’s social commentary is pickled with many a ticklish angle & is all actually rather delightful. For those wanting an insight into Italian culture & its sense of humour, however, Francesco is not for you; he’s more interested in Netflix than Naples. But what this ever-smiling cavalier servente of comedy does offer is a wide & funny panorama of modern life, including extremely witty observations of British culture, all packaged up into a really nice little comedy show which hovers on the edges of the Fringe mainstay. If De Carlo is not quite yet the man of THE moment, then he is definitely the man of OUR moment; being well-placed as a comedian performing across the UK to make some kind of comedic record of this tumultuous moment in European history, & I look forward to seeing him again in a year’s time where hopefully he will be continuing with his Thalian brand of journalism.

Reviewer : Damo

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Orwell That Ends Well

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Just the Tonic at the Caves
Every day 11.40am Until August 27th

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Being a huge fan of Orwell’s work, in particular 1984, I was quite looking forward to this show. I was expecting some kind of theatrical satire or the such like, but instead what I got was a rather hyperactive young lady telling us all about her experience on reality TV show “Hunted” and the surveillance state we live in. Having previously lived with a fairly dedicated conspiracy theorist, a lot of this was well trodden territory for me. The only difference being that ten years ago this was all conspiracy theories and now it’s reality. The irony of it being of course that the very medium through which most conspiracy theorists get their information, i.e. the internet, is the very medium the “Powers that be” or “Big Brother” are monitoring our every move through. Which is, of course, how they managed to capture Lolly (the star of the show) on a muddy track in Essex. And later, without spoiling it for you, how she had a particularly fortuitous encounter with Jeremy Corbin.

As a piece of narration it was all a bit of a ramble. Veering off at all kinds of tangents with no clear narrative thread. But their was a lot of very frightening, and amusing, information thrown at us which the audience seemed to be largely gobbling up with great enthusiasm. The irony of internet surveillance was not lost on her either, and she confessed she could not live without it and only one person in the audience disagreed. But we did live without it. And it was less than twenty years ago. I remember! We got along just fine. We still had friends, we still went on dates and we still made plans that worked. Remember the meeting point at Glastonbury? It never failed! Anyway, not to sound like a Luddite but I believe the internet may be responsible for more evil than good. And Lolly, despite her confession of being lost without it, seemed to agree.

Back to the show and I have to say that Lolly was an energetic and engaging performer and the audience seemed to be lapping it up. It was certainly hitting all the right zeitgeist buttons and was very well researched. I just personally left feeling a little cold by the whole experience. And bombarded with facts. Maybe I’m a little too slow, or after three years living with a conspiracy theorist I’m a little tired of dystopian prophecies. As for Lolly, I advise not going on a show where you are giving full access to a bunch of strangers for your entire internet history and then complaining about the consequences. But then, as the show states, there’s a good chance that’s happening to us all all ready. So maybe we are ALL doomed.

Review by Steven Vickers

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Abi Roberts: Anglichanka

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Abi Roberts’ show, Anglichanka, started with the comedian greeting us at the door of this bunker venue, her funny, excited passion engaging us immediately and had us laughing even before we took our seats. One of her themes for the night, gratitude, was also apparent – in fact her gratefulness almost shone through her as she took great strides down the room to reach the stage, all the time encouraging our participation as she drew us into conversation by asking where everyone had come from. There were some French people in the audience, and to Abi’s delight, a few folk over from Russia, here to take in the Fringe. This was the perfect opportunity for her to embark upon her unique brand of comedic dialogue, switching in turn between English and Russian – the first UK comic to employ this eclectic blend of languages – as she proceeded to regale us, in side splitting fashion, with tales of her time staying with a Russian family when she was a student in the 90’s, having gone to Russia at the tender age of 18 to try and study Opera. She explained that while she was there she picked up the name “Anglichanka” which translates simply as “an English person in Russia”, and hence the title of her show.

This was an evening perfectly structured between uproarious hilarity and poignant moments where Abi seemed almost moved to tears at a particular recollection, then would straight away have us bursting out in fits of laughter as she cracked another joke. Along the way she offered us insights into the impact of the choices we make, how important gratitude was and what experience teaches us. Her enthusiasm never faltered as she instantly responded to the reaction of the audience, always ready with a quick one-liner. The creative ebb and flow was greatly enhanced by passages in fluent Russian which lent the whole act a totally unique flavour of worldly revelry. All this made for a stand-up routine which was   genuinely appealing and offered up an approach which was at the same time electric, edgy and deeply touching. One of the features I particularly enjoyed was the way Abi talked about the love and gratitude she felt for her very special Russian family, who had so little yet loved life so much. This served as a contrast to the many operatic and cultured people she encountered on her extensive travels, and was all the more touching for that. There was no holding back as she shared these feelings with us and laid out before us a cunning and passionate blending of character and cultural nuances.

It takes courage for a stand-up comic to open themselves to possible ridicule and rejection and be the butt of their own jokes – not always guaranteed to work. It was an exhilarating experience to watch Abi Roberts navigate these dangerous waters and deftly keep turning the wheel to even more absurd and intense extremes. In fact Abi plainly revelled in it, winning us over from the start as a warm, welcoming and completely genuine host, inviting us to laugh AT her and WITH her in an evening of non-stop fast moving comedy that is well worth a visit. Just don’t blink or you’ll miss a joke!

Reviewer:  Daniel Donnelly

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The Stuntman

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Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
Aug 16-27 (13.30)

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Nathan Lang is a delightfully ebullient Australian fellow who creates wonderful sketch comedy as part of duo, Jon & Nath, but has now ventured into something of his own creation as well. World, welcome to The Stuntman, which is a childishly simple, subtly sophisticated & effortlessly remarkable piece of clownerie! The stuntman son of Evel Knievel, he pommels his way through his story & its set-pieces with pure enjoyment beaming from his face & investing his aura, an infectious blend which spreads through the room like a fishernet into which all of us are – quite happily – caught. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Nathan talked about his show in more detail;

The Stuntman is my first solo show, it’s so much fun and I just love doing it. Essentially it’s a clown piece – absurd, surreal, silly and interactive. There’s mime, but it’s not a silent show. It’s the story of a completely idiotic daredevil, told through physical comedy, games, actual stunts, and a few touching moments too. I decided to make it largely non-verbal so it’s accessible to everyone regardless of language.

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Nathan’s ‘largely non-verbal’ Mr Bean style-patter really does work; a tittering, chittering medley of noises which accompany the show. The Stuntman also contains the funniest moment I have seen all Fringe, ‘Gordon’s hot chocolate time,’ & the whole thing is just a great, great watch. If the Fringe is a buffet-banquet with all sorts of choice nuggets to tantalize the tastebuds, then make sure, when you reach the plate of clowning about, to try Nathan Lang’s comically outlandish vol-au-vent.

Reviewer : Damo

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Danny O’Brien : RaconTour

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Underbelly, Cowgate
Aug 20-27 (22:20)

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There is a wonderfully serene spot not that far to the south of Dublin called Glendaloch. There’s nothing much there; an ancient church, goats swarming the hillsides, & a scattering of houses, one of which was once the family home of comedian Danny O’Brien. Growing up in such an environment ensured Danny was imbued from an early age in the arts of telling stories with proper starts, asides & ends & which, most of all, entertain the listener. This is what makes ‘O’Brien’s 2017 Fringe show, RaconTour, a pleasure to watch. We laugh, but we are also taken on a ride, ostentatiously on the back of Danny’s family-inherited ‘piece of shit’ bike, a 1991 Honda Nighthawk which forms the central inspiration to this year’s show.

As a performer, Danny is a nice little vibe-builder, & flows ingenuously between his set-piece sections. His talent for story-telling effortlessly implants his adventures in our heads in the pictorial fashion, a rare ability in the comedian which I am sure sprang up from the long, drunken nights by the country fires of Wicklow. Danny is a good sort, an Irish comedian in the classic style – abortion & Catholic guilt are mentioned in extreme brevity – but not afraid to do his own thing at all. Aye, jumping on the back of O’Brien’s slightly rickety but truly sportive comedy bike is well worth the ride.

Reviewer : Damo

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An Interview with Lolly Jones

14102325_10157266941865696_1843087556399153666_n.jpgHello Lolly, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m originally from Retford in the East Midlands but I live in East London because I’m a wanker.

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?
When I was given the role of Margaret Thatcher in Cinderella at primary school. I was 8 years old and I got a standing ovation every night. It’s been downhill ever since.

What does Lolly Jones like to do when she’s not being funny?
I like to go disco dance, drink cider and go on dates with hairy chested men.

You’ve been washed up on a desert island with a solar-powered DVD player & three films. Which would they be?
Groundhog Day. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Maid in Manhattan.

You were on the Channel 4 show Hunted, how has the experienced changed you?
I now break a sweat every time I see a helicopter. I think it has made me appreciate how kind people are – so many people gave me lifts and food (and only one of the pricks dobbed me in). When you’ve been that scared, not much fazes you.

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You are bringing ‘Orwell That Ends Well’ to the Fringe, can you tell us about it?
The Snooper’s Charter passed through Parliament last year with hardly any fuss. I’m here to tell you who is looking at your data and how it is being manipulated through the medium of laughter. I also give top stalking tips and share the best videos on the internet.

Can you sum up your show in a single sentence?
A look at how our lives mirror the novel 1984, paying respect to Big Brother and everyone’s favourite housemate; Kinga.

How has it been going so far?
This is the best Fringe I have had! My audiences have been lovely. I’ve sold out a fair few times which is ace cause it’s pretty early isn’t it?

This is your third time in Edinburgh. In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in the city during the Fringe?
Too many flyerers, exes and shouty people in costume but absolutely fucking brilliant.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Lolly Jones?
I’m doing a film with Sophie Thompson but first I’ll be playing a bearded lady at a circus-themed wedding.


You Can Catch Orwell That Ends Well @ the Fringe

The Caves : Aug 17-27 (11.40)

Bentley Browning : Tinder Rehab

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Sweet Venues – Apex Hotel
Grassmarket
7th – 20th August @ 7pm

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Within the walls of The Apex Hotel in a small dark room there are a cluster of chairs awaiting the arrival of the unsuspected audience for the fabulous and flamboyant Bentley Browning’s “Tinder Rehab”. With loneliness at an all time high (according to some people), there couldn’t have been a better time to land at the 70th Edinburgh Fringe with a show on how to find Love. With more people taking to online dating nowadays, Bentley would like to educate you in the art of online seduction or as some may call it, match-making. With an over excited and zestful audience, Bentley starts to take us on his journey of love and laughter. Tapping into the emotional areas of the human spirit he unleashes an avalanche of side-splitting jokes. Like a worm on the end of a fishing hook, he tempts and teases you with intimate questions about your sexuality and availability.We know where this is going !!!

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“Tinder Rehab” is a show of comedy sketches and stand up. Delivered in a smooth, fun way you, feel the days stresses suddenly disappear, like a puff of smoke they are gone. To think he could have been a priest on Tinder looking for S.P.E.R.M. but thankfully he decided to entertain us at this year Fringe instead. Be aware, this show brings you into the act, quite literally. A single woman having her deepest dirtiest thoughts monitored and read out, a couple looking for love and me, a mime actor getting ready to go on a date. Genuis !!!!! Interactive shows are great and audiences always want to feel part of it, nothing better than being put on the spot. We have all experienced hurt, pain and disappointment in relationships, so allow Bentley Browning and his Tinder Rehab show to tickle you where you have never been tickled before. You may laugh, scream, chuckle, sneer or even cry but one thing is for sure, you will find love after this show. Well scripted, delivered and preformed this is a wee gem of a show and should not be missed.

Reviewed by Raymondo

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