The new Festival Theatre Studio is a parallel modern building with a glass frontage built for maximum space. Clearly its in a prime location for the Fringe and the treading feet of the festival as well as multi-purpose use. It feels like being in a new school building but it’ll be different in appearance when its littered with flyers and art work. The bar is makeshift so the space can be used for other things. The bar staff are a giggle, always good to have a bit of that going on. The theatre itself is big, some tables at the front which are fully occupied. The rooms not packed but there’s easily as many people in attendance as you would find on a really busy night at the Stand.
To open and compare the gig we had Ray Bradshaw a 24 year old Glaswegian comic who seizes the opportunity to create a ruck between two lads in the front row via the medium of top trumps….starting with nationality and gradually debasing it into penis size. Obviously holding onto the notion that its always a winner to attempt to embarrass people for laughs. His style of patter is non aggressive and friendly. There’s a hen party in the front row and frequent jibes about how our bride-to-be hates her mother in law gradually produced hilarity. Particular because we all knew this wasn’t true. It was obvious and these lovely Geordie ladies told me this in the toilets a break time. Really it was gentle inoffensive offenses….and that included when he asked the ladies what they were doing later. ‘Are you gonna throw a dildo out of the roof of your limo?’ was his thoughts. Dare him on his web page here.
Next up was Grainne Maquire. From the outset it was hard to tell whether she is playing a character or not. Shes dowdy and plain and a little mad. Obsessive about politics, T.V., and the Pussy Cat Dolls! Although she is Irish she tells us shes a Londoner and some of the political chat is lost on the Northerners in the crowd. The T.V. referencing was lost on me a couple of times as I dont watch much but this didnt stop her demeanor on stage from being very funny. I didn’t know who Kirsty Alsop was by name so it took a while to realize which program she was referring to. She identifies herself as a feminist and her way of portraying how to deal with feminist issues is surreal, clever and facinating. Particularly when its never obvious whether she is serious of not! She tells women they should poo in the street for feminism and how porn could be transformed into a stage for radical feminism. You don’t see how to begin with but then her words explain it, your laughing and although you know her idea is ridiculous you are left wondering whether it would work. Confusion reigned in this act as did her laughable perfomative stage presence.
After being broken up by some great travel holiday gags involving tipex sunblock and pissed Aussies drying they’re hands under condom machines enters Chris MacArthur Boyd. Hes small (he has to lower the mic stand) but dapper. Describing himself as a cross over between Gok Wan and Ronnie Corbett we are back to more T.V. referencing. He plays on his geeky personality, living with mum and dad, failed relationships and harmless perversions. “22 but a feotus” as he describes himself. Sometimes its as if he talking to himself in the mirror in the bathroom. He declares to a ex girlfriend who’s sent her bazookas to him on tinder that hes harder than it is to find a job. She doesn’t get this so he explains how hard it actually is to find a job….including government policy. Major nerd alert and she didn’t get back to him.
Headline act is Tom Stade. He adorns the stage with his brash Canadian accent and husky voice. Here again T.V. referencing plays a part but he parody’s this, he knows none of the programs he talks about would make sense in other countries. He shouts and swears about everything, he hates his kids. He doesn’t care about sweat shops, hes abusive to his wife. He doesn’t care if a man has 19 kids and has to carry her vagina around in a bucket. He doesn’t care about Monsanto or pesticides….na he don’t care about nothing. He is hilarious and informed, best of all he is lying. He’s appears like a man on the edge, who, if he doesn’t behave is going to get smacked round the head (by his wife) with a Jack Daniels bottle. I was really glad to see someone up on stage who was just cutting lose. Hes done some massive gigs so to him this must have been relatively small potatoes and to be honest its the first time I’ve seen a comedian performing drunk in a long time and I was impressed, this guy held it together. There was a lack of uniformity about it but that just made it all the funnier.
All in all there was a good mix of age and experience. Bradshaw kept the crowd going throughout out and most of all was friendly. We were welcomed warmly in and out and the crowd was buzzing as we left the building. It was fun when Stade appeared from the building and drifted off round the corner still ranting. You got the impression that his act that night had only just started.
Reviewer : Sarah Marshall