An Interview with Eli Matthewson


The Fringe is currently tripping head over heels for a young and fabulous darling from New Zealand

Hello Eli, first things first, where are you both from & where are you both at now, geographically speaking?
I am from Christchurch New Zealand and now I live in Auckland – both of which, for reference, are cities where flying to the UK is a wild thing to do … especially to perform a show that’s meant to be about saving the planet.

When did you first realise you were funny?
I wrote a play of Bridge to Terabithia to perform at lunch time at school and played the main girl (who dies, sorry for spoiling) and pretty much did drag. It was a pretty out there thing for an eight-year old to do, but luckily the jokes were sharp, and the performance was golden so I didn’t get bullied and some of the popular kids even invited me to their laser tag birthday party celebrations. I think it fully clicked in that I was a good performer when I successfully convinced my teacher I was Muslim, so that during Bible study in schools I was allowed to go to the library and play Commander Keen with my friend Nadeem. My Christian parents found out months later, and it did not go down well at home.

How did you get into stand-up?
My dear friend James Roque got me into it. I had been watching the same Sarah Silverman clip over and over for years, and James and I were at acting school together, and he pushed me into it. I started stand-up, all about being single and wanting a girlfriend desperately, then came out to my friends a month later, but still took another six months to stop talking about Pokemon and let the audience know I was gay (they probably knew…)

Can you tell us about the comedy scene in New Zealand?
I’m part of an amazing crew called Snort – and we are doing our improv show together in Edinburgh for the first time this year! It’s a cult hit which has been selling out a weekly show for five years now, with almost no money put into advertising it. Being part of Snort is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me, and we all make each other better at what we do. Come and see that show at Pleasance this festival and you’ll get to see seven of the comedians who are truly dominating the New Zealand scene. Our country is so small that everyone in comedy knows each other, you get to work with everyone, and in the last fiveish years there’s been an amazing influx of diverse, fresh new voices. Straight white men aren’t dominating our line-ups so hugely anymore, which has been a cool change.


What are the creative processes behind writing your material?
I write down notes, which truly make no sense, and then I try and speak them out as jokes, literally while in the shower or the car. I bullet point them, try them on stage, record those performances, write down what I said, then edit. It’s a messy process, but I’m a big hot mess! The thing I am most scared of is my headphone jack pulling out of my phone whilst I’m at the supermarket or the gym, and everyone around me suddenly finding out I’ve been listening to myself talk for an hour.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Getting laughs is truly like a drug, and to me speaking through comedy feels so much more truthful than other forms of performance (cue deep seated issues that will manifest in about fifteen years all because of me thinking this).

What does Eli Matthewson like to do when he’s not being, well, funny?
Eat an egg-based breakfast meal out with friends and drink bottomless coffee until it causes serious problems inside my body. I love a board game, though but they do often lead to me and my boyfriend’s only real arguments. I go running a lot, is usually super late at night after a gig to clear my head -I look like a serial killer, but it’s ok! I’m just wired at night. I’m also obsessive about pop music and will spend many nights with a facemask on listening to Carly Rae Jepsen and getting mad at the world for not appreciating her enough.

You’re bringing a show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
It’s called An Inconvenient Poof, and it’s about my quest to save the world. It’s been ten years since I was Head of Environment (a real job at my school), and this show is sort of a test to see how I’ve done since then… It’s about the constant struggle of being a well-intentioned millennial, trying to better the planet but being too caught up in the small things that get in the way. It’s about the burnout of trying to keep up with all the things we are meant to do as millennials -raise indoor plants, live plastic-free, watch all the important TV, but also Love Island, drink no alcohol but also actually drink one glass of red wine a day cause it’s good for your heart, reject homophobic brands unless they make the only moisturiser that works for your skin type – all that fun stuff!


Where, when & why the hell did you conceive An Inconvenient Poof?
I was at the supermarket, I’d forgotten to bring my reusable for the seventy-eighth time… I had to do something about it! Also, for all the time since I was given that Environment Prefect job I’ve wanted to make a positive difference in the world, and I thought signing up to do this show would make me do that… I don’t know if I have made the world a better place yet, but I have got a lot of funny stories in the process.

We do live in quite challenging times; austerity, climate change, etc -is your show satire or are you actually trying to get a message through?
I think I have messages but, ultimately, I just hope it’s something people can relate to -the frustrating experience of being alive in these times, where is that we can see all the things going wrong around us, but we don’t know how to start. We get called a lazy generation, but I think what is seen as laziness is our inability to move out from under the incredible mounting pressures put on us by society and by older generations -those who had affordable housing, free tertiary education and were living without the weight of knowing the planet is dying. This is a show all about that millennial struggle, and I think a lot of people would relate.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
I’d say look, I flew all the way from the literal other-side of the world so please at least give me points for effort and come to my fun, gay show. Then I’d play them a YouTube video – not of my stand-up, but of this kiwi Shakespeare student falling off a chair;


An Inconvenient Poof

Underbelly Bristo Square

Aug 1-25 (21:20)




Nathan Cassidy: Observational


Material: five-stars  Delivery: five-stars 
Laughs: three-stars.png Room:five-stars 

This is my third Nathan Cassidy Fringe review in a row. Two years ago I observed a fine play, which I loved, while last year I couldn’t mark him highly at all. I was right to do so, a chicken-hut of problems had put him off his stride & his performance levels were, he admitted, low. Life is all about ebbs & flows, so was he due a return to form? He was indeed, being presented with something far beyond my initial 2017 estimations of Nathan; something transcendent, something sorcerous. There appears in him a complete revivification of his artistic spark, & as you watch his magic carpet unwind you sense a certain eerieness, that something special is going down, but you don’t know what. Just little glances, looks, sunny puns & pauses as he casts his net of mystery all around us. The mask in front of all this is his stand-up, as good as the majority at the Fringe, & the way he pushes a turbo-boost button whenever the room flags for even half-a-moment is astonishing!


The thing about this show (and I think I’ve earned the right to say this as I’ve had done 10 years of shows now) that its seems to be connecting with people. I knew there was something different about it before I performed it, but one of the things I hadn’t considered is from a few people I’ve heard, it’s incredibly uplifting
Read the full interview…

Nathan is like the ultimate anti-braggadocio, his boasts are solid, his pretensions likeable; while his tone is akin to a hammond organ played by a pro. His imagination for humour is like the fox that wanders city streets at night, searching for food where others have left it. Nathan also has the impertinent ability to tell stories in the staccato fashion; each line is told like a joke, but without a punchline – an extraordinary ability that has you hanging on every pause. I also enjoy the way he plants his joke-seeds early, some of whom reappear after the blossoming, like supporting actors in a film.

His tale is based on a recent encounter with a personal trainer – a sublime chance meeting from which alchemy comes Observational, now thoroughly enlivened to a whole new level of audience experience. The overall is a well-woven tapestry that you can see in your mind’s eye sketched out on a piece of paper with boxes & arrows & scribbles. Then comes the spinejangling & euphoric Keyser Söze finale, when all will seem well in the world!

Damian Beeson Bullen



The City Cafe

Aug 18-25 (18:45)


Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science)


Just the Tonic @ The Caves
Aug 19 – 25 (12.10)

Material: four-stars.png Delivery: four-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png  Room: three-stars.png

Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science) has just confirmed for me that badgers are
dually adorable and cool, and that it is always funny to take the piss out of Brian Cox. To demonstrate such erudite emeralds, Hobs possesses puns and pictures, anecdotes and fun facts, and you can always just entertain yourself by listening to his accent. With Fringe-length stand-up shows, even when I am enjoying myself, there’s a spectre inside me just really excited for it all to end. Matt Hobs made me feel entirely the opposite – I was quite content to simply sit in his company and listen intently yet gently to what he had to say. It took a while for his engine to warm up – but as Hobs settled in, and the audience got used to his style, we warmed to him in open welcome and the earlier tumbleweed thoroughly cleared.


The first section was that kind of stand-up where you doubt the validity of the anecdotes and it stops them from being funny. But when he gets into his groove with the pre-promised science content, burnish’d bronze by his experience in the field, insightful laughter splashed into the room like water-sprinklers in a fire. I sensed a deliberate effort on the part of Hobs to make sure that certain sections of the show were on a non-scientific subjects, to mix it up, but I also sensed that the audience was there mainly for the science. Let it do what it says on the tin.

Nothing was ever needlessly dumbed down – I liked that – and his expertly constructed PowerPoint ensured that no-one was left behind, while providing a decent platform for visual comedy. Hobs also allowed himself some vulnerability towards the end, a winning move which got us firmly on his side. His strongest feature, I thought, was his likability, and I think opening up a bit earlier would have gone down well. He is definitely getting there, however, like a werewolf mid-change.

Eilidh Sawyers


An Interview with Hopwood DePree


It can’t be that funny inheriting a dilapidated stately home needing huge amounts of work –  or can it?

Hello Hopwood, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I grew up in Holland, Michigan USA, then moved to LA to study and work. I now live in Greater Manchester. Three completely different places- but all of them feel like home. It’s been quite a wild ride!

When did you first realise you were funny?
I used to love to play practical jokes as a child. I’m not sure if it was realising I was funny or realising I was a bit odd, but when I was about 7 or 8 years old my friends and I used to dress up like senior citizens and go knocking on people’s doors asking to borrow a cup of sugar. We found it hilarious but I think the neighbours probably thought we all needed to be put on medication.

When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
From a very early age, when people laughed at my antics it encouraged me. I think it came from watching classic old television comedies. I grew up in America but remember my sister and I sneaking downstairs late at night to watch old reruns of ‘The Benny Hill Show’. I know the adult humour was way over our heads but I do remember how much we laughed.

Why did you decide to launch your own YouTube Channel?
After I moved to England I had lots of people asking me for updates on the Hopwood Hall project. I love to make funny videos so it seemed like the best way to show people the progress while hopefully making them laugh.

Can you tell us about your background in comedy in Hollywood?
I started out by writing and acting in indie comedy films that luckily got attention from the LA film industry and opened a lot of doors. An agent then encouraged me to get into stand-up comedy. Being a writer/performer gives you a bit more control in an out-of-control business! I love the entertainment business because it’s so exciting and you never know where each opportunity can take you.

You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
I’d order in – so I could concentrate on having a good time with them rather than be hovering over a hot stove! Comedians I’d invite would be: Jerry Seinfeld, Lily Tomlin and the Marx brothers (all 3 of them but hopefully they could all fit on the remaining chair).

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about the show?
The show is called ‘The Yank is a Manc! My Ancestors & Me’ and tells the story of my true adventures coming from LA to try to restore my ancestors’ 600-year-old stately home near Manchester, called Hopwood Hall. My grandfather (also called Hopwood) told me stories about it when I was growing up but I always thought he was telling a fairy tale. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out it was all real!

Can you tell us a little about the genealogy that gave you your new home?
I grew up with the name Hopwood but never really fully grasped its origins until I was searching my ancestry online one night in LA and discovered Hopwood Hall was a real place. I was invited over to England to see it and my life has never been the same!


How are you finding the NW of England, & the Mancunians in particular?
They are incredibly warm and welcoming. Except for the one time when I tried to use my American Express card to pay at the local chippy. I almost got thrown out onto the street! Now I realise I probably deserved it! The support from the Mancunians has been amazing.

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together? Condensing everything that has happened so far into a one hour show!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets…
I moved from Los Angeles to Manchester to rescue my ancestors 600-year-old home. If you like home renovation projects, ancestry or crazy madcapped adventures then come check it out – you’ll be taken across 6000 miles and 600 years in less than an hour.

What is your last-minute routine before stepping out on stage?
I do a special dance, but I can’t tell you more than that.

The Yank is a Manc!
My Ancestors & Me

The Space@ Surgeons Hall

Aug 19-24 (17:05)


MTT: Dinner With Comedians

As the decade grows to a close, THE MUMBLE can reveal its secret mission, that is to record the cultural landscape of Scotland & beyond through the years 2013-19, or to put it another way, MUMBLING THE TWEENIES. 

Over the past couple of years, The Mumble have asked a bunch of comedians a singular question, being, ‘You are having three famous figures from history round for dinner; who are they & what would you cook, starters, mains & dessert.’ This year we tweaked the question a bit by changing historical figures to comedians. The answers, then, contain the zeitgeist, & also the culinary habits, of an age. Click on the comedian’s name to access the full interview…


Nicky Wilkinson: Amy Johnson – she was the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia and she’s from Hull. What a dude! And Julie Walters, cause she’s probably my favourite human of all time. And finally the legends that are, French and Saunders (I know that’s 2 people but I’m breaking the rules cause it’s MY dinner party). We’d all have a right laugh together. I’d do a buffet. I love a spread and quite frankly, who doesn’t?!


Gary G Knightley: I’ve been listening a lot to James Acaster and Ed Gamble’s podcast, Off Menu, so I am very prepared for this question! I’d invite Sarah Silverman, Nick Helm and Johnny Vegas. No explanation needed, they are all great. I’d cook them Greek Mezze starters (is there anything better? I love a stuffed vine leaf). Then I’d move on to sausages, red onions and mash potato for the main, but the sausages would have to come from my local butchers in Knebworth, Trussels. And for dessert, chocolate fudge cake with ice-cream.


Bex Lindsay: Edward VII, because from what I’ve read about him he was a bit of a rogue but would be very fun at a dinner party. Barbara Castle, because she was a fearless MP who I reckon would have razor-sharp party chat. And Kermit the Frog- is he allowed? I think he’d be one of those friends you could plonk with anyone and they’d get on immediately. I’d cook what I do for anyone who comes around- three courses of pie. Mini pork pie to start, fish pie for main, banoffee pie for dessert. It’s what my friends affectionately call ‘The Bex Special’.


Travis Jay: Dave Chappelle, Katt Williams and Bernie Mac… tbh I think we’re ordering a Chinese and discussing comedy. I’m not missing a moment of this, but I’d order salt and chilli chicken wings to start, sweet n sour chicken Hong Kong style with egg fried rice and then ordering dessert from somewhere else that does waffles or crepes because most Chinese restaurant places have awful dessert. If you’ve never tried, please never try.


Katy Schutte: Firstly, cooking for three strangers would make me really stressed, so I’d cook easy, familiar stuff. I’d probably get a really good Olive bread to dip in oil and vinegar as a starter, Shakshuka or a feta filo pie made beforehand as the main. Dessert would be a pumpkin or banana cake. I’d want to invite comedian friends, but under pressure I’d invite Mike Birbiglia, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig.

Barry Ferns: I would choose Robin Williams because he seemed to be (both by friends reporting it and by reputation) a very kind and gentle man. I would invite Albert Einstein and hope that he speaks English, and I would invite Elizabeth Barrett Browning – a brilliant poet from the 19th Century, just to see if she’s as interesting as she seems. I wouldn’t cook as I wouldn’t want to offend them. Maybe an omelette, I can make omelettes. And some huel. And a M&S desert. Something nice and flashy.
Claire Ford: I’d have all famous people from my home hood East Anglia. Stephen Fry so we can all fall in love with his voice and brilliant knowledge, Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni people, so we can tell her how she did good by us East Anglians and then Marilyn Monroe for the glamour. I’d cook indulgent food like scallops to start, Thai green curry for main and Cheesecake for dessert. I’d say ‘Marilyn, you’re not in Hollywood now girl, eat up your fill.’ and I’d say to Stephen ‘I’m sorry about the combination, pick around what you don’t want’ and I’d say to Boudicca ‘Thai green curry is from Thailand and Thailand is a country in East Asia and East Asia is.. never mind, eat your cheesecake, you’ll need the energy for all that murder later.’
Samantha Pressdee: First of all, I wouldn’t cook. I can’t. One of them would have to do the cooking, I will do the washing up. (Or just order a takeaway and pretend I cooked.) I would invite Marilyn Monroe, because she was also Bipolar and we generally don’t eat properly anyway. I like nurturing my fellow nutters. Then I would have Joan of Arc, who was psychic, as am I! Then I’d have the Guru OSHO so I could see for myself if he really is the narcissist he was painted as in Wild Wild Country on Netflix. The starter would be Saganaki, which is greek fried cheese. Then for the main we would have chicken tikka madras with garlic fried rice and keema naan. Dessert we’ll have hot chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream.
Nick Revell: Oooh… well; I think Queen Cleopatra would be very interesting. Profound insights on global politics, probably some good gossip, and of course, a reputation for being extremely hot, and a bit saucy. Francois Rabelais – 16th Century French comic writer, polymath and noted wine connoisseur. Jane Austen. She’d probably be quiet at first, but once she got on the wine, I reckon she’d be highly entertaining. And fearlessly sharp. I’d start with cocktails: margaritas – loosens everybody up in a good way, and it takes a bit of time to kick in. Martinis are tempting but they can mess you up too early. With these guests, you’d want the conversation to flow without descending into nonsense. Some salatini with the cocktails – tiny Italian salted pastries. Then – oysters. With a Sancerre. And soda bread, which I’d get my mate Brendan to make. Homemade pasta with a sage butter dressing and maybe a bottle of Spanish white – like a Godello; then rare steak tagliata with very thinly cut chips and a green salad. Barolo or a really good claret. Chunk of a French mountain cheese after that, or Stilton, depending on the time of year, followed by a chocolate mousse. Armagnac. Then hopefully tequila slammers, loud music and dancing.
Neil Frost
You’ve got three famous comedy double-acts (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Neil Frost: Well firstly I’d be a little annoyed that I’ve got to cook for six guests rather than just three, so I think some kind of soup to start, a stew for mains and rice pudding to finish, all of which can be put into three big bowls and just slopped out onto the plates. I guess it would be rude not to invite Morcambe and Wise, as they were always on the TV when I was growing up,so defined what a good comedy double act isfor me. I’d like to invite Little and Large, as I’d be interested to know what they’ve been up to since the eighties, but mainly because I think they would be fine withonme making jokes on how one is too fat and the other is a little short, which is generally considered a conversation faux pas at a dinner party. Finally, I’d invite the Moustache Brothers, who are a Burmese double act that I once met whilst travelling. One of them was imprisoned after pulling the short straw to tell a political joke criticising the government.After eventually being released from six years of hard labour they continued their double act, despite being told not to. I feel this kind of commitment to comedy deserves a free three course meal.

Robyn Perkins: Mating Selection


Underbelly – Bristo Square
Aug 1 – 25 (17.50)

Material: four-stars.png Delivery: three-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png  Room: four-stars.png

Without doubt there is only one Robyn Perkins; a most affable, laugh-with-able lady. She is clearly motivated to entertain & loves what she does, but will we? Well yes, was my answer, for a while anyway, as she illuminated a collection of tales from the packs of American Tinderwolves which are roaming her homelands today. Her quicksilver, anecdotal delivery is peppered with punchlines that trample over any sense of seriousness one might have had when we sat before her. Multiple aspects of the app-happy Game of Modern Love are dissected by this self-confessed ‘sexpositive‘ with an unsquirming frankness & speedy fluidity that invigorates a room of strangers into mutual friendship.

Half-way through the show, however, things take a rather technical turn. Love is explored scientifically through graphs & explanations of how our brain chemicals work. Then Robyn asks the audience to whip their phones out to do some online voting, with the results being relayed back onto the screen before us via more graphs. ‘Am I still a punter, or simply just a part of a study now, because… wait a minute, aren’t I supposed to be seeing a comedy show,‘ is the kinda sensation I got through all of this. It was all done very well, mind, & there are technophiles out there who would absolutely adore this section. For the random visitor, tho’ they’d be like ‘where’s the jokes gone?‘ They are there in the second half, but with everyone’s phones being out folk are starting to lose focus, their neurotransmitters angling for a game of Candycrush.

Damian Beeson Bullen


An Interview with Steve N. Allen


A Mash Reporter live in Edinburgh? Its true!

Hello Steve, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
My home town is Sutton-in-Ashfield, just outside Mansfield in the East Midlands. I’m pleased that finally the East Midlands is getting some recognition. There was a long gap between Robin Hood and Torvill and Dean.

When did you first realise you were funny?
It took a while. My family were the kind of people who could laugh like drains if  someone broke wind. I thought that the funny gene may have skipped me but when I got to comprehensive school that’s when I found comedy. I used to do bits in the morning lessons and if they worked I’d do them again in the afternoon ones.

Can you tell us about your career as a BBC radio phone-in host?
I used to be the other kind, the music presenter. There are only so many times you can try to sound pleased that you’re playing the same songs again so I moved across and
speech-based radio is an exciting place to be now. Absolutely everything has become polarised. From Brexit, to straws via every other news story someone will be self-
righteously angry about it.

How did you get into live comedy?
I paid my way through university writing jokes for local radio morning DJs but I’d tune in and get grumpy about how they delivered them. Even then I realised you can’t really criticise someone;s delivery if you;re not willing to try it yourself. So I did. I started trying out my jokes at open mic nights and that’s where I got hooked.

Gig shot.png

You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who
would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
OK, let’s go for Groucho Marx, Lenny Bruce and Bernard Manning and we can sit there while Bernard gets taught a thing or two about how comedy can be used. The food would be true to my working class roots. Prawn cocktail, fish fingers and chips and then Arctic roll. Portions for one, because all the other people there are dead.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
It’s the first Edinburg I’ve done since landed the gig on BBC 2’s The Mash Report, so it’s been nice to have the as seen on TV part of plugging it. I think that means people may give you slightly more attention and listen to what you have to say so I came up with a show about how I think we can be better people. We all know the right thing to do really, we are just really good at finding an excuse to do the worse thing. Get rid of those excuses and we could all live together with happiness and peace. It means you’d have to find another hobby other than hating people and being angry about everything, so I realise it’s a tough sell.

Has making & performing this show made YOU a better person?
It really has. When you spot a habit in other people it’s worth checking to see if you do it too. It’s no fun finding out you’re just as guilty of these habits but no one should be happy with being a hypocrite. Part of researching this show was learning about confirmation bias, and hearing that the experts who study it still find that they do it even though they know all about it. It means that trying to be better is a non-stop struggle but I believe it’s worth it.


How are you finding the Fringe experience of 2019?
Wet and tiring, just as the Fringe should be. I get this mix of feelings where I wish I could live like this all the time; waking up writing comedy, doing gigs, plugging shows on the radio, enjoying the most intense version of the job, but I also realise I wouldn’t last a week into September and if I don’t get a solid two days of sleep when I get home I may never recover.

What have been the biggest changes since your first Fringe?
The numbers of performers has increased so much since my first run. The urge to perform outweighs the desire of audiences to see performances and seeing as you need at least 20 people for every show performers put on, there is a thin-spreading effect. I quite like it when I’m walking in the New Town area, getting my mind out of the Fringe for a second, walk past a shop and see it has a sign saying Venue 3,248 and they have gigs on in there.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh,
what would you say?
Hey look at this flyer, it’s the guy from The Mash Report doing stand-up about making the world a better place. Only slightly better, but don’t we need it? If the world isn’t a better place at the end of August, no refunds! What’s that? Yes, it does look like me, doesn’t it? He’s doing so well he can hire lookalikes to do his flyering for him.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
Sleeping for at least two days when I get home. The week after we’re back with the next series of The Mash Report. And there’s also an exciting radio project which I won’t go into details about to make it sound all mysterious and in case I get sacked from it.

Better Than

Stand 2

Aug 2-25 (20:50)


Aaron Twitchen: Can’t Stop a Rainbow


Laughing Horse @ Bar 50
Aug 1 – 24 (18.00)

Material: four-stars.png Delivery: three-stars.png  Laughs: four-stars.png  Room: three-stars.png

At Bar 50’s Alcove we were treated to the conundrum of comical masculinity performed by Aaron Twitchen, a gay man with a hairstyle (a bit like Bjork’s) who also did circus work. I believe I may have inadvertently intruded on a no-press performance, but I hope I’ll be forgiven because I’d rather just think of myself as a punter with a pen. So what did I see? Well, Twitchen is an expert storyteller; with his small, closely-packed audience lapping it  all up. In fact ,you’d be equally ravished if you picked up the story from just about any moment in his set.

It seemed he had broken up with a long-time partner (a matter of months which according to Aaron was a long time in gay terms), so found himself going to Egypt for a getaway to mend his broken heart. He hadn’t gone alone, however, but had been joined on the venture by friends. He joked about his father, the fact that pyramids offer no shelter from the sun and that where he was in Egypt was in fact 300 miles from the pyramids. Alongside these hilarious stories came his take on the contemporary era, taking huge swipes at anything that interested him or that he cared about.


Twitchen feels that being gay nowadays could do without the Pride reputation that has been built up over the decades, that if we human beings could just figure out how to stand together we could bring about a revolution that could actually change the world. This was an engaging and good humored way of addressing dissatisfaction in the modern world and modern society and more importantly questions being asked as to who and what we really are or may be.

Aaron Twitchen was frank, bubbly and sincere about his feelings as he touched on issues relevant to us all; a very intimate show, which I spent hoping I wouldn’t be the next person he’d pick on, albeit charmingly. Ultimately optimistic, you felt you were being shown a brighter future and being encouraged not to ever give up. We were all rainbows that no-one would be able to stop shining. Oh, and he’s very, very funny!

Daniel Donnelly


Jack Tucker: Comedy Stand Up Hour


Underbelly Cowgate
August 16th-25th (21:20)

Material: four-stars.png  Delivery: five-stars Laughs: four-stars.png Room: five-stars

Never have I seen as blistering an opening 20 minutes of stand up as I witnessed at The Underbelly this evening. Entering the upper cavern of Belly Button, Yacht Rock and dry ice fill the packed room. I’ve queued for a full ten minutes to get in and the buzz is as thick as the artificial smog drifting over the eager crowd. There is a real feeling that something truly special is about to occur. I’ve been a fan of ‘anti-comedy’ ever since I came across Andy Kaufman’s ‘Tony Clifton’ persona in the biopic Man on the Moon. An aggressive, washed up Las Vegas lounge act who made his name by being so obnoxious to the audience (often ‘plants’) that he would end up in fights, and screaming incoherent obscenities. So enter the stage Jack Tucker, a Noo Yoik Tony Clifton for our current day. He staggers on, dripping with coke sweat, eyes rimmed red from one Coors Light (or smoke machine effect) too many, and he launches his vice-like grip around the audience.

This is very knowing stuff. If Donald Trump possessed any self-awareness, or basic business acumen, he would be milking his moronity in precisely the manner that Tucker does. He rants about “Winners!” and “Losers!” he screams “Fake News!” as he is informed that his audience size is a touch less than the 900 he claims. The capacity is 200. His nods, winks, hand sniffing and pratfalls are tossed out like Miles Davis trumpet riffs, surfing on waves of the audience’s adulation. For we all understand that this is an act. It is, however, very much a double act. His incredibly talented Director, and Tech, toys with him through deployment of sound effects, with surgical comic precision. Initially employing them, literally, like a machine gun to punctuate every bad taste gag and improvised one liner. As the show progresses we notice our unseen performer toying with Tucker by delaying the honks, guitar riffs and ‘Whammo’ noises more and more. This is improvisation as high art, they are having fun, but it is all for the audience.


It’s not all visceral microphone assisted blowjob jokes, faux hack chat and trite observational comedy about the Weather Channel though. Around 20 minutes in he throws out two casually acerbic lines which prick at the hypocrisy of a Bojo ruled Britain retaining its sense of superiority over Americans having the President that they do. These are so subtle, and finely crafted, that unfortunately they seem to be lost in the cloak of clowning chaos he has cast over the audience. It’s around this point where the issues with the show begin to creep in. He has us so tightly wound, so ready for his onstage rock bottom implosion, which he has left us salivating for, that the middle section of the show starts to drag somewhat. He doesn’t up the stakes with his antagonistic behaviour, and he doesn’t start to throw out the snippets of humanity that are essential for his dénouement to work. So when it does inevitably come, after 10 minutes of circling that feels flat and repetitive rather than character developing, the pathos of the back story to this revolting beast feels forced. There has been no sense of increasing desperation, no shift in energy to the increasingly manic, which should come before he breaks down and gives us his sob story. Which is not to say that ‘The Sob Story’ itself is not incredibly well delivered. An astonishingly brave audience member lends the video camera on her phone to support a performance of, what I can only describe as, the most upsetting rendition of Happy Birthday I have ever partaken in.

This might seem like a minor quibble, but the essence of clowning is to be absolutely, and all, of the character. The mid set dip exposes a hole in the suspension of disbelief required for the audience to really commit to such an unpleasant character, and it almost defeats the purpose of the whole venture. Sob story cast aside, he jumps right back into bad ol’ Jack mode and has the audience in his sweaty, beer drenched bosom again. The show finishes on an incredible high and the obligatory standing ovation, for an hour of pure energy, is duly delivered. I laughed heartily, and the men in the row in front of me spent large portions of the show using their T shirts to wipe tears from their eyes. But I wonder if Jack would have had the courage to finish his set with the purely anarchist spirit of his erstwhile fantasy mentor.

As Andy Kaufman’s agent George Shapiro famously told him “You’re insane, but you might also be brilliant”. On this evidence, Tucker is just a hair’s breadth away.

Ewan Law


Adam Flood & Blake AJ: Joke Boys


PBH Southsider
August 16-19, 21-24 (19:00)

Material: three-stars.png Delivery: three-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png  Room: three-stars.png

Watching hundreds of hours of new comedy a year, there is nothing quite as pleasurable as discovering unpolished, glittering little nuggets of raw talent. This evening, panning in the Yukon-esque wilds of The Southsider, I found 2 such rarefied wee chunks of the golden stuff. I’ve not had as much time as during previous Fringe’s to check out acts performing in the now oft neglected PBH Free Fringe. In its heyday I would greedily snap up and consume their program as soon as it was released, scouring it for peculiar novelty clowning acts, club scene regulars looking for their big break, or former seasoned professionals delivering a swansong performance, somewhere in a pub off The Royal Mile at 1AM So it was with a genuine sense of excitement that I cycled up to The Southsider, to grab a cheap pint and a ‘free’ show. This was in essence a classic 2-hander, a pair of gigging mates teaming up to head North and try out their material on the hordes of arts fans and tourists that engulf The Athens of the North in August. Though unlike almost every other 2-hander I’ve watched, they took to the stage together, beginning as a double act. Here, as at the end of the show and during the highly entertaining middle section, they showed off their comedy personas with bravado.

Flood greets us first, embodying a confident Low Status performer. If that sounds oxymoronic, well, that’s the point. Low status is notoriously difficult to get right. But throughout the evening he delivered assured snippets of impressions, songs, and anecdotes deeply reminiscent of Ricky Gervais performing as Andy Millman in ‘When the Whistle Blows’. Except funny, very very funny.  A section covering well-trodden ground of ‘accents being misunderstood by machines’ was elevated by his commitment to the vocal gymnastics required to convey an impenetrable Midlands accent , whilst an impression of Stoke’s own wannabe Tom Cruise in Cocktail, generated so much laughter from Floods rubber faced buffoonery that he let it continue, hypnotically, for a full 20 seconds longer than he real ought to have had any right to. “I’ll just do this bit all night shall I?” he asked the crowd. The cheer they threw up created the perfect punchline for him to close the section on. It was a shame then that not all of his set landed as successfully as this. His material delivered ‘as self’ felt a little lacking in the absence of the facial comedy masterclass that we had already been served.. A well crafted, but stoically delivered, 3 minutes about being grown up enough to buy a cast iron sieve, and cocaine, fell to light titters. They wanted more of the Goon.


Blake on the other hand came jumping out onto the stage in a faux fur pimp jacket, effortlessly channeling a squawky, confident, ‘Cat’ from Red Dwarf. His set was the polar opposite of Floods, some very neatly observed, and original, material relating to his mixed heritage swam in daring territory. If you’ve ever wondered why people with mixed heritage ‘aren’t into BDSM’, Blake will duly educate you. You see he used to be a teacher, and his tales of experiencing racial prejudice from Vietnamese kids named Captain America were both boundary pushing, and highly original. Here though was the fly in Blake’s ointment, his delivery was a little too teachery. The initial bombast of his stage entrance gone once he kicked into his practiced routine. The crowd seemed unsure how to take some of the changes of direction, but the wonderful banter, and anarchic spirit, present in their performances when double teaming, weren’t quite there when they got into the scripted stuff. Both performers fed exceptionally well off the positive energies from the audience, but didn’t always seem quite sure how to switch the pace when sections didn’t land as well.

Those tag team moments though, well what a treat. They oversaw a mid-show auction, with a gag at its heart of beautiful simplicity, in which they again demonstrated an assured command of just how long to milk an audience response. Their closing song pleasantly portentous, as Blake clowned around playing a triangle, manic grin plastered  on his face and Flood, bashing away at his guitar and gurning  like the kid from This is England, on Ecstasy, blasted out “For now we’re just Adam and Blake, but you might see us on TV someday”.

 “Yeah” I thought to myself “ I think we probably will”

Give them another few years to craft their individual performances and hone the exceptionally wide variety of talents on display, or better still, go the whole hog and perform exclusively as a double act, and this pair will polish up nicely into 24 Carat Fringe regulars.

Ewan Law