Emily Wilson: Fixed


Pleasance Courtyard: Beneath
Aug 11-16, 18-29 (22:25)


Whether prancing about her living room as a toddler in front of her parents, youtubing her teenage way thro duets with her gay friend Austin, reaching the final house of the American X-Factor with said gay friend, or performing her debut show at the Edinburgh Fringe, New Jersey’s Emily Wilson is a really watchable young lady who loves to be watched. It is the second & third of those experiences which has led to the fourth, a cathartic & stylish reappraisal of her infatuation with Austin & their journey together to the level of almost making it as pop stars live on national TV. Almost.

Emily has literally turned all that teenage angst & hope, & then devastating rejection – which could easily have turned her into a crack head or summat – into a really fun hour of video clips & some witty, melodic, catchy songs of her own. Flight of the Conchords standard. This is perhaps her best ability, & at 26 if she can bang out a few more numbers like I saw with some rapture last night, there’s a great chance she’ll be back on national TV, the main goal of her a life (that shit never leaves people really).

As multi-media Millennial art form Fixed is fantastic, as an actress Emily handles the emotional torments of teenage dreams with breathless assurity, & as old skool cabaret its proper top-notch stuff. Yet ultimately it is as a story-teller, with all its secret nuances, that Emily excels, & even tho’ she admits its still stoumach-twistingly cringey to watch what she endured, the way she sings to her younger self at the end of the show, frozen in time (2011) in an X-Factor bubble, shows she’s on her way. Where she goes next is up to Emily, & I hope she’s back this year looking to excavate fresh caves of creativity rather than hold an extremely talented candle to those she has already explored.

Damo


Chelsea Birkby: No More Mr Nice Chelsea


Just the Tonic at the Caves
Aug 8–28, 15.40


Back on the old streets of old Edinburgh it’s exciting to find your way to the next show to see. I arrived at the Just the Tonic at the caves underneath Northbridge & was there for a comedy written and performed by the delectable Chelsea Birkby called, ‘No More Mr Nice Chelsea.’ I went on to spend a more than amusing hour finding out what she had put together as she flips from being the nice girl to a ‘really nasty bitch.’ I love a good journey of discovery!

Chelsea has cooked up a good, intelligent set – her polished writing skills are laudable, a series of clever jokes built chiefly upon a solid foundation of audience interaction. We were all in high spirits on this sunny day and made her welcome with many an easy laugh in response. As she slapped down gratuitous skits on some rather personal matters – including her own mental health which was both touching & funny – her timing was generally good, if a tad off here & there, but Chelsea can definitely take an honest place among the comedians diaspora of the Fringe.

As the show progressed, Chelsea relaxed & let go a bit, but there was also a hint of befuddled nervousness here & there. I’m sure by the end of the Fringe & then going forward, she’ll be a slick comedy machine, but she wasn’t quite there the day I saw her. All the pieces are there for a great show, instead of a good one, & I would like to see this show again to see how she’s progressed. I’m sure she will accomplish a firmer grounding on which to elevate this show to the heights it deserves.

Daniel Donnelly

Horseplay Bareback


Underbelly, Cowgate – Belly Dancer
Aug 11-15, 17-28 (22:30)


There is something magnificent about a fully-flying Horseplay Bareback. I will try with words to encapsulate some of its fiery essence, but the only way to really understand, to acolyte oneself, is to attend this show in the Fringe’s Underbelly Cowgate dimension. It starts at half past ten at night – its literally perfect for folk wanting to kick-off a festivity of summer celebrations.

Horseplay Bareback begins as if you have just popped open a bottle of champagne – all fizz & bubbles & excitement. There is a man, there is a woman, & there is an afterlife populated by the fermenting primordial pools of their collaborative genius. The recently accoladed Kathy Maniura & Derek Mitchell have combined in what could turn out to be a cult classic combo – they’re young & they are brilliant. Of all their characters, Derek’s lady daytime TV host clunking about in high heels brimming full of flouncy floppy foppishness has the edge, & is something so wonderful that my words are unable to describe her, however brave the attempt in this sentence. I’m an epic poet myself – they even mention that in the show, along with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, nice touches guys – but for once I really am lost for words.

Instead, I have been reduced to making comparisons, & I think something alongside a blend of Vic Reeves/Bob Mortimer & the Rocky Horror Show wouldn’t be far off, – but full of the joys of comedy springtime, an absolute freshness of material & the sheer enthus’d excitement in our performers of well, performing. They also dig working with each other – I could see it in their eyes, especially right at the very end when they slipped their masques & talked to us as Kathy & Derek, with the one not talking just looking at their partner-in-crime half adoringly, half respectfully, & fully immersed in the beauty they’d just been creating for us all. Honestly, absolutely banging!

Damo

Life Drawing With a Comedian


Laughing Horse @ 32 Below
Aug 8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-28 (12:30)


Two hours ago I was walking thro the mid-day sun of an Edinburgh heatblast – a true rarity – taps aff & everything thinking I’m still too hot. Seeking respite from the invisible duvet I saw that there was Free Fringe on at the 32 Below venue, with all its connotations of being quite chilly. I was in.

The only show on at the time I arrived was Life Drawing With a Comedian. Now recently I’ve got reyt into painting, & it turns out I’m pretty good at circles & colours, but ask me to do a flower or a dog or owt & I’m completely useless. Comedy & training – this show seem’d perfect.

And so it proved – light jazzy piano tinkled into a room of eager folk, pencils in hand, hangovers dissipating into a new day, especially those of our two chaperones – Sean Michaels & Ruven Govender, from Sydney’s in-your-face Laugh Mob. Right nice lads n’all these two.

The ‘show’ if you can call it as such, is a really relaxed hopscotch thro a series of poses by Sean & Ruven, which evolved into incorporating themes such as anthropomorphism & abstract cubism. After each round, a selection of the group’s work were held up for all to see – including mine to what wasn’t mortification, just a pleasant reality that there are many levels of art ability & we’re all in it together. A part of that must be put down to our hosts’ ability to make us all feel dead chilled – it really was a pleasant & peaceful room & proof that going to see a comedy show isn’t about falling about in hysterics, giggling like schoolchildren – its about feeling good about yourself & possibly drawing like schoolchildren.

Damo

Eli Matthewson: Daddy Short legs


Underbelly, George Square – The Wee Coo
Aug 9-16, 18-28 (20:50)


‘Surprisingly homophobic,’ ‘Faggy humorous,’ mullet-sporting, possibly gay comedienne Eli Whatever tries to heed the advice of a Kiwi tv producer and stick to two gay jokes an hour. And fails. Hilariously. Runner up in ‘South Island Pandemic Mullet 2020’, narrator of ‘Reverse Parking for Queers’ and one time Voice of the New Zealand Tourist Board (Try something New New Zealand) this fella sticks it to the Man onstage and doesn’t get arrested.

After his father comes out to him, this slightly light-on-the-loafers commediatrix delves deep into the big questions of nature vs nurture and finds himself extolling the the benefits of homophobia (as without it he probably wouldn’t be here) and ponders the vexed question of why everyone in a Skyline is a C**t.

No boo-hoo biographical bleating. Only a little bitching and a gag a minute.

Worth a tenner just to hear a Kiwi try and pronounce AIRBnB.

5 stars for this guy. Polished professional entertainment. Fuc£ing hilarious!

Adam McCully

Myra Dubois: A Problem Shared.


Underbelly, Bristo Square (Dairy Room)
3rd – 28th August (19.45)


The last time that I received my calling to review Myra Dubois, was in 2019. Ms Dubois show was called “Dead Funny” where she invited us to experience her demise and plan her wake and funeral. Dark comedy disnae come much darker, especially when she changed her mind about the demise, hexing her audience for good measure instead. I thought then that Myra was going through a 3/4 life crisis. Displaying that darkness through art and comedy. Gothic Horror Comedy doesn’t come much darker. or funnier. Indeed a very challenging but brilliant performance.

Having taken some time out to ponder the success of “Dead Funny,” which would have a three-week residency at Sydney’s Royal opera House directly after her Fringe run in 2019, Myra made peace with her 3/4 life crises shadows and in 2020 devised her come-back as a resolved witch offering salvation to her fans. Inspired by becoming a stellar online presence during the Pandemic, Ms Dubois, with the help of Guru Grahah (from Rotheram), her success accelerated, & Myra was runner up on Britain’s Got Talent in 2020. After wowing Simon Cowell and co the Audience both off and on the telly gave Myra a standing ovation. This new direction and stage production, A Problem Shared, Is inspired by Ms Dubois’s amazing rise, which can can only be a good thing, Divine is delighted to say, that it was brilliant.

As we waited in the queue for our Healing, in The Underbelly Courtyard Nurse Lavender Rose was giving out disclaimers and pens for us to sign and write a problem that one would wish Myra Dubois to offer heart-felt guidance from her newly acquired insight. It was ever so exciting. The last time I saw Ms Dubois here, she was performing in a shipping container. We were ushered up and into the The Dairy Room, to be welcomed into the Dubois boudoir. The Dairy Room was much more fitting for a celebrity of Myra’s standing. OOooo I thought this was going to be a tonic.

Divine had front-row seats so I could really take in this theatrical therapy session. Yorkshire nurse Lavender Rose kept us all busy and entertained right up until the entrance of tonight’s hotly anticipated demonstration of the higher power in action. In an instant, I was mesmerised and inspired by how perfect Ms Duboir’s eye makeup was and how beautiful her eyes. Hmm, they were lovely. However enlightened this lady has become, Myra has lost none of her razor-sharp wit as she answered each question in turn. As one can guess it was really funny and untied her with her audience. Guru Graham has done a really good job.

Myra Dubois The Rebirth is a sensation that truly is welcoming, with audience singalongs and a celebrity guest spot. It was all totally glamorous darling. With just a little darkness. Indeed a splendid night. The Old Girl is back to bring her new enlightened offering to the masses And we loved it!

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Jacob Hatton: Relax! (Exclamation Mark)


Laughing Horse @ The Counting House
Aug 7-15, 17-28 (15:15)


What’s the sound of 40 eyeballs rolling? You’ll know if you are in the audience when a comic starts off the show by entreating the audience to ‘just take a minute.. close your eyes and breathe….’

What’s the sound of twenty people sighing with relief? It’s when the audience realise that the comic (Jacob Hatton in this case) is taking the piss.

Phew.

After a slightly wobbly start due no doubt to the Qatar indentured labour type atmosphere in the sweltering attic, Mr Hatton soon gets into his flow. The ‘Relax‘ conceit is simply to tie the show together, and in-between there is plenty of great gags, a beautifully worked interior monologue during ‘meditation,’ and some social comedy including a revolutionary answer to the Monarchy’s current woes… this one has legs.

It is the Free Fringe – Jacob Hatton is worth every penny you’ve got in your pockets.

Adam McCully

Sam Nicoresti: Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture


Banshee Labyrinth – Cinema Room
Aug 7-28 (20:55)


Sam ! Sam ! Sam Nicoresti ! Fuc£ing Sam Nicoresti ! Proper geezer like – well, perhaps not so much these days, as his Edinburgh Fringe show concerns his own very spiritual & tangible entry into the world of gender politics. It’s called ‘Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture,’ & is a far more cerebral affair than other comedy offerings on the Fringe – & also funnier than the vast majority, for Sam is a bona fide comedy genius – a rainbow hole rather than a black hole, but with the same effect of sucking you into the transdimensional cosmos of his talents. In full flow he’s like a thrilling-to-watch Olympian Figure Skater busting out soliloquy moves. I really dig his work – where odd-ball-ality & fecund articulation combine under an explosion of curls. Each Fringe he wipes clean his etch-a-sketch & creates something new, something shiny, something profoundly important for all those who witness it. For 2022 we have a veritable modern Ragnarok, where liberal woke-lefties are battling radical right-wingers for Sam’s very soul. If he even believes he has a soul.

I’m straight & white like a piece of chalk

Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture is a daring shedding of the skin that slops a dollop of awkward reality on our Fringe buffet.  Instinctively manifesting the various & funniest shades of his personality, Sam can strip himself down to being a simple stand-up comedian – only briefly of course, his talents project way beyond such proletarian mundanity as simply telling jokes -, but I relish most his mastery of rapid-fire verbosity, sharing such sophisticated & funny lines as, ‘the inner sanctum sanctorium of the Waggamamma loos’- he actually said that – & ‘get out of the bus lane you fucking bus.’

The tech was stunning – a nice mix of professionally excellent pre-made videos & a weird live-streaming projection where his image careered into the distance like the start of a Bohemian Rhapsody face-beam. All his shows have aesthetical qualities, a gimmick or two, its Sam’s style; but it’s his performances that have untold merit. The only drawback with this show, in the second half especially, is the intensity of thought which is needed during certain segments to figure out what the hell Sam’s going on about exactly. The general gist is of course him coming to terms with & celebrating his sexuality, but we also kinda get the reaction of the universe to his decision. As he thunders forth at such a pace, occasionally throwing in unexpected broadsides of electric visuals & soundscapes, its pretty full on at times, & a tad difficult to sit back & be, well, entertained.

But who are we slatterns really to question the beauty of Sam Nicoresti? Early in the set, Sam described comedians as the ‘self-anointed philosopher kings of the new era,’ & by the time he’s white & Gandalf-bearded, I expect Sam to be our only Socrates.

Damo

Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore


The Pleasance Dome
August 10 – 21, 23 – 29 (19.00)


Tucked away in an upstairs room at The Pleasance Dome (the Jack Dome) on Bristo Square was a man waiting with a suitcase and a shock of hair that would make Goldilocks jealous. Alasdair Beckett-King was calmly observing his incoming audience for the evening’s show, Nevermore. We were about to witness the bardic of storytelling in a comedy context, where good subject matter is key – and Alasdair nailed it.

A journey through Alasdair’s life was like swimming with sharks, you never knew when the next bite was coming in this rollercoaster of a show. If we were the chips, his tales were the salt; as he sprinkled us with accounts of childhood swimming scandals, cloned transport workers and certain mermaids that were sure to give any fisherman a heart attack… & then, insults hurled at you by sea-shells pulled huge laughter from an already giggly audience.

With the positivity of a proper optimist, stating the obvious can be a personal awakening, and Alasdair’s claim to being an Englishman in a Scotsman’s body couldn’t have been more true. Welcome to Edinburgh mate, you’re one of us. Hilarious & side-splitting, this is a tongue-in-cheek masterpiece & an hour passes like a hurricane on roller blades. ‘Forget anxiety and stress, life’s too short,’ says Alasdair, better hop aboard his comedy & have the ride of your life. Excellence is an understatement !!

Spud

Grant Buse: SentiMental


Gilded Balloon Teviot
Aug 10-28 (20.30)


Blonde-haired Grant Buse is an Australian comedian who writes songs as part of his show ‘SentiMental’ & is performing at the Fringe Festival’s grand Gilded Balloon Teviot venue as part of his extensive European travels as a musical/comedian

We settled into a set of songs about just about everything in existence (just about), with lyrics rattling along to his melodic guitar. The air was heavy with a need for enjoyment and he soon had heckling to deal with. But keeping up the heart of kindness he stared into the dark and smiled wisely.

Grant stands on the very pulse of the zeitgeist & pours emotional content into a show in which he is very much personally involved. Being an experienced & widely-flung performer, his stage mannerisms – every quirky look, smile and laugh – were keenly timed. Manoeuvre after manoeuvre he had all the levers of comedy on the go, skilfully guiding us along worldly and down-to-earth deliberations that were cut to fine humour

He had a very relaxed approach to performances, even though at times he was riling the audience to really laugh at his absurdity. As things rolled along, the set started to become fabulous, & we were now connecting with Grant as both a comedian & a human being. His songs numbered many, & he even brought a poor member of the audience to sing along to Halleluiah by Leonard Cohen with him.

Then of a sudden he shouted death and disappeared into the darkened stage… are we to applaud yet, we asked quietly? Not quite. He ran back on in full Mr Motivator body suit and began a skit of dancing to free-flowing songs we all knew from his favourite era the 1990s. Throughout this astonishing finale his dance moves and facial expressions were impeccable.

So, the show’s title, ‘SentiMental,’ was just that, a nostalgic exploration into life on this planet as it is seen today thro the eyes & galloping imagination of Grant Buse.

Daniel Donnelly