GILDED BALLOON COMEDY NIGHTS – Edinburgh

The Studio at Festival Theatre
Sat 4 April 2015

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Have you heard?  Not only can we enjoy some of the best comedy from the Gilded Balloon during the The Edinburgh Fringe in August, now they are spoiling us to monthly comedy nights at The Festival Theatre, The Studio!  Each month The Studio play host to four comedians for us Edinburghers to sample some well established and up and coming newbie’s breaking out into giggle scene. This Saturday night we saw Aisling Bea, Ray Bradshaw, Chris Forbes and Joe Hart take the stage.

Our compare for the night (who had to provide his own backstage announcement) was a Mr Ray Bradshaw, a 25-year-old comedian from Glasgow.  A likable guy who instantly started to get to know the audience through friendly chit chat.  He ended up giving therapy to a daughter and mother, a Copenhagen patron openly marked himself 5 out of 10 in the bedroom department and instigated an uncomfortable engagement proposal between a young couple in the audience, but it was all in a light hearted nature.  His warmth and engaging storytelling of a drunken Aussie trying dry his hands under the condom machine, skydiving with a small instructor with a limp who looked like a roll-on deodorant and early memories of an awkward sexual request, were all very amusing.  Having made his comedy debut in September 2008, Bradshaw has rapidly established himself as exciting new act on the comedy realm. A two time Scottish Comedian of The Year finalist, Bradshaw been making a name himself and is much loved as an MC for several promoters.  Easily one of the best comedians of the night, I would be definitely go to see a full show of his material. Although I found it somewhat odd that Bradshaw requested the audience not to heckle the other comedians, only himself, which took some of the interactive enjoyment, which comes naturally with comedy.  The three comedians who proceeded seemed staged and scripted in their delivery, preventing the much loved (but sometimes loathed) rapport between audience and comedian.

First up was Chris Forbes a stand up comedian, actor and writer from North Scotland.  Forbes has starred in and written various TV, radio and stage productions.  As a stand up comedian, Chris covers the UK circuit and has performed in Pint Sized Comedy and The Canadian Comedy Network within The Great International Laugh Off.  In 2012 Chris supported Kevin Bridges on his UK tour and performed at festivals T in the Park and Rockness.  Forbes regaled stories of his childhood in a heavily religious town and suggested religion should be made more fun by creating Top Trumps for religious characters.  We hear stories from his travels and how he got a toe scar in “Vieeetnaaam”.  Among his other travels, he follows the Tartan Amy and their various drunken exploits and hooliganism.  Forbes has a down beat view of Scots and repeats well-rehearsed easy jokes at Scotland’s expense.  He could do better by setting his sights higher instead of base line jokes. They are mildly funny, but also insulting at the same time.  We have heard them all before.  He redeems himself slightly by moving on to tales of his practical joker brother who pretends Forbes has been in a four-year comma after coming to from an appendix operation.

Penultimate act Joe Hart, was placed third in the So You Think You’re Funny? new talent hunt 2014 and semi-finalist in the Chortle Student Comedy Award the same year.  A 22 year-old student at Goldsmith’s University, he self claims to be a nerd and gay, or a ‘gurd’ as he likes to call it.  Hart and his fast track comical anecdotes were funny and loveable.  He has a lot of offer with his cheerful delivery, stage presence and an idiosyncratic outlook that creates family relations out of Einstein’s relativity theory and his obsession with space and time.  He yearns to be a gay activitist, but only from the security of his laptop.  Hart is not your typical gay guy, but when people learn of his tendency it is often followed by a flurry of questions, he proclaims, which he amusingly answers afore us, and his reason for being gay? “Because my parents didn’t let me go melon hunting!” or maybe it was just his “lust for cock”!  Hart is only at
the beginning of his comic career however he is one to be watched, he definitely has potential.  He is growing into his own and I would like to see how he progresses over the next few years.

Aisling Bea is an Irish actor, award winning stand-up and writer. In 2012, Bea became the first woman in 20 years to win the esteemed So You Think You’re Funny? competition for new comedians. A year later, her debut solo show, C’est La Bea, sold out in three days at the Edinburgh Fringe and she was nominated for the Foster’s Best Newcomer Award (formerly The Perrier Award).  In December 2014, she was awarded the British Comedy Award for Best Female TV Comedian. Since then she has performed at Live At The Apollo (BBC1) and Channel 4’s Comedy Gala.  Bea also has a few TV appearances in panelist shows under her belt such as 8 Out of Ten Cats (Ch4), Qi (BBC1) with Stephen Fry, Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2) and Would I Lie To You? (BBC1).  She supported Ardal O’Hanlon on his UK tour at the end of 2013 and in February 2014 performed at the renowned Improv Comedy Club in Los Angeles.

Aisling’s name is pronounced Ash-leeing Bee. She lives in London but is originally from Ireland.
Being Irish supplies the much of the meat for Bea’s set.  Her rural upbringing meant that any one passing by a car or tractor would be met by fast-passed banter, which would explain the way he delivers her routine, in lightning quick patter, that and the fact her mother is a professional jockey.    Bea is blessed with the gift of the gab, she races through stories of her mothers confusion between diabetics, vegetarians, gluten intolerance and lesbians, claiming they are all fussy about what they put in their mouth!  Discussing the nature of confidence and body language in Hollywood and the similarities between actors and rats. Not every punch line sails, but her charisma and charm means the lost jokes are soon forgotten.  The velocity and high energy of her delivery, and the multiplicity of her accents lends to the polished performance.

Overall an entertaining night, however the compare, Ray Bradshaw, stole the show with his friendly open demeanor.

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis

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