Hosted in the basement of Phoenix Bar, scene of many a drink-addled birthday celebration, the venue has undergone a revamp since my last visit. Think boudoir-kitsch complete withhipsters, guinness and cocktails, a smattering of ponces, perms and dynasty style ‘doos. It’s an intensely compact venue so if you like your personal space you will have to adapt. The close proximity of the crowd certainly makes it a good place for comic teeth-cutting and it’s good to see another venue hosting comedy nights outside the Fringe.
Tonight’s stand out was definitely Gus Lynburn who was a genuinely funny guy full of nervous energy and clearly with a head full of nonsense that he needs to let loose lest he might go a bit mental. His infectious enthusiasm got the crowd going and a mix of gags and adlibs got the biggest laughs of the night. He overran his timeslot but was urged to stay on and admirably adlibbed another few funny minutes.
He upstaged cocky headliner Liam Withnail, who let himself down with his frat-boy humour that assumed everyone at the gig was at a university fresher-week event. If you are going to come on stage boasting about being invited to foreign comedy festivals you better have the material to back up the swagger. He didn’t – more of a stagger I thought.
There are obviously different comedians every night and part of the fun of a stand-up show is you never know what you are going to get. There are also shows starting up on Wednesdays. The venue gets packed so if you want a seat – come early.
The Gilded Balloon swooped in on the high and mighty perch that is The Studio @ Festival Theatre bringing with it some of the best, belly-achingly funny, and not to mention, critically acclaimed acts. The Gilded Balloon hosts a couple of comedy shows per month in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and you’d be missing out if you don’t grab a ticket now, with the Edinburgh version held at Festival Theatre’s ‘Studio,’ a fantastic little venue that brings a comfortably warm environment to both act and audience member alike.
During Saturday nights’ showcase, we saw the comedic talents of Joel Dommet, Chris Forbes and the headlining act, and might I say the highlight of my night, Jarred Christmas. This fabulous night of tears and laughter was all held together by the fast-talking Katie Mulgrew, a nasal, quirky and engaging ‘teenager’ trapped in an adult’s body. Her presence was bright, but her material a bit dodgy, & I was relieved to see her spring into step, delivering two on the spot, (albeit far too late in her run) consecutive wisecracks in response to some of the audience’s answers, a roundhouse kick of resounding wit. This type of late served cleverness made me consider that perhaps she’s just work in progress, & I hope she ups her writing game soon so she’s not nudged off of the comedic highway by better talent.
On the surface, Joel Dommet seems to harness the power of a sprightly and more often lofty singer for a boy band. If it weren’t for fast-thinking, well formed jest and aphorism, I might like to probe his brain to see if there was more that he envisioned should accompany only a couple of his his double-shot jokes that didn’t land well on the humerus. His spouting off was a bit like sporadic artillery, but I must say, he aimed fairly well most of the time, and was agile enough to win the heart of his target audience. There were only a few missing bullseyes that lay in the shadow of his impressive feats of contemporary and imaginative storytelling. Joel is amusingly self-deprecating, and he was kind of right. He did look a bit like a French exchange student from the 90s, but forget about what he was wearing. Despite leaving a yearning to go deeper into the throws of his particular fondness of his mother’s lasagne, or his streak of absences from Uni, I wanted more to nail his mental game plan so I could better receive the full bite of precisely what he’s on about. Admittedly, quite often I was thoroughly impressed with his inventive wisecracks that he pulled out of thin air. Interacting with an audience can either work for you or against you, but in his case, this seemed to be the sweet spot of the show for Joel as he proved he can victoriously come up with a plethora of things that absolutely ticked me silly. He’s a well rounded comedian that deserves the opportunity to age and mature while on circuit.
I was impressed with Chris Forbes’ own personal brand of merriment-making, and was equally swooning after he muttered a bit of Gaelic and chopped it up and mixed it in with his other comedic ingredients. I quite like a man who is open and honest about his stranger pursuits. He shares and confides with his reception as though he were sitting in an old decorative wooden box with a priest, unleashing his sins and provoking a laugh that he really shouldn’t be able to coax out without paying a heavy fine of reciting Hail Mary at least two dozen times. The fact that he likes his dog because he’s the only one that will lick his balls for a biscuit and equally enjoys watching people slip on ice-covered pavements proves that he is a reigning immature king of a not-too-far-away kingdom we all know lovingly as Maledom. Intelligent, jaunty, and swelling with excellent ideas that you can only assume he received when sitting on the john at 3 am, this is a guy I would want to invite to my house so we can take his idea of video chopping and turn it into reality. Who wouldn’t want to combine the likes of Snow White and Scar face so we can ‘Say hello… to my little friends.”
“My birthday is the 10th of ‘F*cking Dave’.” Chimed shining star Jarred Christmas, as he suggested that we get more creative with the names of our more familiar calendar months. It’s a funny idea, made even funnier by his larger than life stage presence, and obnoxious antics that make his voice ten times funnier than anyone else’s I have ever heard. How can you say February ten times in a row and still make me laugh? How can you make me nearly piss myself when using the mic stand as a claw machine? I have no idea, but you’d have to see him in person just to hear the sound of his contorted and comical voice and enjoy his well timed, streamlined comical perfection. It was all spills of laughs and tummy aches as he never let us breathe in-between jokes. There was a perfect cadence and symmetry that graced his delivery, and he’s certainly hard not to love. One does not want to come up for air if they are enjoying themselves in the presence of Jarred. Here’s a comedian that has everything I like in a comedian. Charming, flamboyant geek peppered with pervy uncle looks, gracing Edinburgh with the privilege of hearing his captivating stories about why the orange properties in Monopoly are the best ones to buy, and then some. He sure delivers impressive and well constructed novels of material within a small window of reality-time-space.