Linda

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Underbelly, George Square – The Wee Coo
Aug 22-27 (20:00)

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clip_image002 (1).pngFreya Slipper is one slick & classy lassie. With a black sweater, blue jeans & scruffy trainers, at first she seems not quite the person to deliver the argument of her tale, that of a multi-persona romp through the backstory of fifty-seven year old Linda Pritchard’s journey into space. Then, as soon as she plunges into her vast array of voices & faces, waving her hands like an enchantress, she proceeds to succeed in her task with incredible aptitude.

We never actually meet Linda, the concept being that the tale of her imminent trip through the stratosphere is told through the people she left behind; such as her horny co-worker at the village library & her graspingly annoying family members. We are given, then, sketch comedy with a very thick thread, & I’m happy to say that as set pieces, the sketches run rampant with laughs & daftness.

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The audience is heavily involved, fleshing out the Freyan dreamworld, a gamble which upon this occasion rarely stemmed the flow. Unfortunately a couple of non-British impersonations bounced a little awkwardly for 2018, but I guess this lends to an overall picture of cosmopolitan inclusion which was Linda’s world on Earth. To weave such a complex tale through the medium of sketch is high-brow stuff, but Freya pulls it off without flaw & makes damn sure we’re having a good time as she does so. With a warm, human message at the conclusion of the tale, this is an intriguing & ultimately happiness-inducing hour.

Damo

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Jacob Hawley: Howl


Just The Tonic at the Mash House
Aug 22-26 (15:40)

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There is a brief story in the New Testament which records how the twelve-year-old Jesus, ruminating on Jewish scripture, compelled the complete attention of the elder rabbis in the temple at Jerusalem. Now, I’m not saying Jacob Hawley is the messiah or anything, but his 26 years were definitely among the youngest in the room where he was holding his comedy court, when his maturity of delivery & subject held us all in an unsnapping thrall.

Hawley revels in his dichotomous existence as a working-class cultural artist. It is soon evident that he possesses an ever-expanding intelligence, a keen analytical mind, & the talent to turn it all to comedy. The fact that he was playing The Streets on entrance didn’t pass me by – Mike Skinner was a middle-class boy masquerading as a ghetto rapper. In 2018 class boundaries are dissolving, & anyone can be who they want to be if they just set their minds to it. With Jacob Hawley, he is who he is, a passionate young man with lots to say about all aspects of society through his genuine & sharp sense of humour.

As the show progresses, every now & again Hawley turns on the jet engine boosts & shows the mastery of his craft – that of the pure, in-your-face stand-up fashioned in the smoky back rooms of New York. Overall this is a brave attempt at intellectual comedy, the self-titled Ginsburgean ‘Howl’ of the educated proletariat against the forces that be. This is also an extremely honest show, & as a record of where the 26-year old Hawley is in life it was cool to compare my own experiences with his. With more living under his belt I am totally convinced that when experience is allied to Hawley’s technique & control, some great, great comedy is yet to come.

Damo

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Sid Singh: American Bot

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Just The Tonic at the Mash House
Aug 21-26 (18:25)

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Displaying sid3.jpgIs Sid Singh the Silicon King? To find out, I reccomend checking out his solo show, American Bot, where this, & many other questions shall be answered.  Sid smilingly takes to the stage and immediately gets down to setting the rules straight. Our comedian is an Asian-American who is living the American dream in San Francisco…. or is he? As Sid traverses the many highs and lows of the economic and digital world we live in, I revelled in his storytelling, which remains funny despite coming from a serious angle, & catapults us into the murky depths of globilization through the companies that control the daily lifes of all humanity. Silicon Valley plays host to Facebook, Google, Youtube, Air BnB, and Sid does not like it!

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American Bot is educational and informing, direct and truthful, & with a sprinkling of funny innuendos there is room for laughter beyond reason. There  are not many topics that fail to get Sid’s blood boiling. Sharing some of his own personal expericences that he has encountered , we are soon traveling through subjects that seem dear to us all. Diversity, race, religion, gender, equality, colour, money, status, racisim, power, women, men, hate, love… the list is endless.  This is a show you must take with a pinch of salt, but also one with many a hidden message.   A show that encourages change but also allows us to see the funny side of life. What is a day without laughter when everything seems so serious around us and Sid captures this perfectly. If we dont speak up then we will lose our voices and and I cannot see Sid Singh losing his any time soon. His American Bot has some clever points, but with his twists of silliness you leave with a sense understanding that life should, of course be serious, but better when enjoyed with a sense of joviality.

Raymondo Speedie

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Goodbye… I’m Leaving

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The Caves
Aug 21-22, 26 (23.59)

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


As I watched the two members of La Barca dei Soli perform their clown routines, I found my spirit soar along its past lives to medieval towns, to a provincial child staring wide-eyed with glee at a pair of touring Provençal street entertainers. La Barca have hit the seam, the tradition is with them, they are Jedis of the clowning art. Their Yoda is, unsurprisingly, Philippe Gaulier, & to see La Barca perform is to witness the genius of Monsieur Gaulier, whose fussy eye has helped in the development of the show.

Goodbye…I’m Leaving is the ultimate comedic skit on the Don Quixote/Sancho Panza archetypes, stuffed full of myriad ingredients which have infused themselves into the Clowning tradition. Our two performers are the wiry, classically exuberant Claudio Del Toro (Italy) and eye-brimming Armando Gonzalez (Mexico), the former a Basil Fawlty, the latter ‘Papa Guinea;’ a naughty, precocious, mischievous child in a grown man’s body.

Their show consists of an expositive exploration of the nuances & combinations surrounding a single piece of dialogue/performance; & as we follow this impressive education in clowning, the amusement levels go through the roof. Repetition can be hilarious, especially in the hands of such consummate mastery, when laughter feels like obedience, but absolutely delighted to be thus compelled. The show is on at an awkward hour – midnight – but  if you are anywhere near the Caves at that time, I beg you to see this show before it leaves Edinburgh. Trust me, La Barca could keep making up variations on their show until the candle burns down, & then keep doing it in the dark, & we’d still be laughing.

Damo

five-stars

Two Faced Bitchin’

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PQA Venues @ Riddles Court
August 21-22 (19:00)

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The first thing that struck me about this show was the sheer level of energy. Our two performers were utterly fearless and, after a slightly wayward Fringe weekend on my own part, rather more than a little intimidating. Initially, the tsunami of said performance energy made it hard to warm to ‘Cassandra Hunt’ & ‘Cynthia Murphy,’ but I  eventually started to relax into things, albeit with the ever-present fear they were going to rope me into one of their skits.

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Two Faced Bitchin’ is essentially a sketch show with several different double acts all played out by the same two performers; with the common thread of a home shopping channel they kept returning to. My personal favorite was the Victorian Revivalist pair consisting of a man in a period dress and a woman in some kind of lace burka and a mouth-guard that made most of her speech incomprehensible. They were certainly very skilled and confident performers, with my main reservations coming from the material which at times seemed a little bit on-the-nose and excessively silly. However, it was when this silliness exploded into the downright surreal, slightly embarrassing and somewhat disturbing that I felt the show was at it’s best, & it was in these moments that the few personal belly laughs I did churn up came gushing forth. Not to say that the rest of the audience didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. Everybody seemed to be having a whale of a time and it was in the aforementioned more peculiar moments that I seemed to be the only one laughing. Maybe the fault was not with the performers but with my own warped sense of humor.

I guess that’s just the kind of guy I am & what I’m saying is, if you’re going to do silly go all-out and make no attempt to water it down with any kind of logic or narrative thread. But then, judging by the audience reaction, that is not the prevailing opinion. In conclusion, my advice is to go and see this show, & you will probably love it, & it’s also nice to see someone punting a little bit of vinyl for a change.

Victor Pope

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Eat Sleep Shit Shag

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City Cafe
Aug 21-23 (13:45)

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


Not only does Abbie Murphy’s solo show have the best title on the Fringe, but it is rapidly gaining the best rep. I mean, the City Cafe’s Las Vegas Room might not be the biggest venue at the Fringe, but the effect of seeing the audience queue snaking into every crevice of the City Cafe basement based on word of mouth is exciting. So in we went, & folk were forced to sit on the floor & lap around the walls, leaving about six square feet of space for Abbie & her massive Aztec showgirl head-dress to strut her stuff. It was so intimate, it felt like we were Slavic peasants sat down around a single oil-lantern for light & warmth & that Abbie was that very candle.

So, the show itself. Abbie is a cheeky Essex girl, whose 32 years sit her sweetly on the cusp between youth & middle-age, which is reflected in the universality of her comedy. We were all laughing, but quite strangely at different times, picked off by her punchline sniper rifle. As Abbie frollicked almost machine-like through her down-to-earth & snappy delivery, it felt like we were one of her girlfriends who she’d met down Ilford to do some shopping one afternoon; & we’d decided to hit a bar for a beer, a giggle & a catch-up.

The central section of her show deals with her time as a showgirl on a cruise liner, a gentle & natural anecdotal ride which surpasses most story-themed comedy shows that come to the Fringe. As for the rest, it was varied in subject, but always funny, even the Jesus material near the end, the seventh time I’d witnessed a comedian touch such material so far in 2018… but Murphy’s was definitely the best.

The only problem for me as a spectator was the venue. In this instance Abbie is a five-star comedian in a two-star venue – cramped & stuffy – & for this reason a lot of the laughter was held back by the audience. Watching Abbie in a large auditorium with decent air conditioning would have been a much superior experience, so lets hope it does happen because Abbie definitely has the talent to pull off a much larger gig.

Damo

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Pernilla Holland: Pop Ditz

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Just The Tonic at the Grassmarket Centre
August 21-26 (22.00)

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For those who like their comedy with hyacinths & biscuits – i.e. sweet & crunchy – Pop Ditz is the only choice. Directed by burgeoningly brilliant Lucy Bairstow (Theatre with Legs) & performed with chainless precision by Pernilla Holland, let us take a look at 21st century urbanity through the eyes of a young Norwegian lady, far from her one-reindeer village; the caged bird set free in ‘the land of Eng’ to observe, & then report her vulgar findings with a tremolo of energetic delivery.

The show itself consists of a fun-sustaining sequence of ubersketches, played out between witty, not-that-well-sung songs. It was all very revelatory & original, as if some secret comedy pond had been stumbled across by the ladies one night, from which they are hooking slightly mutated, but extremely delicious fish. Continuing with the water theme, experiencing Pernilla’s flow of near-gibberish is akin to having a water-feature attached to one’s psyche, from which our smiles bubble up constantly. Pernilla’s own smile, by the way, is the widest one I’ve seen on any performer at the Fringe that I can recall.

Imagine entering a thick-walled tavern beyond the Arctic Circle, where red-nosed, akvavit-addl’d Norwegians are making funnies around a hot fire, laughter looping through the smoke… that’s experiencing Pop Ditz. There’s some absoultely mental moments; using her shoe for a chat with an audience member just one of them, while the Scandinoir sequence made for uncanny comedy. ‘No words are better than silence,’ repeats Pernilla, ‘except the singing goat,’ & as my eyes grew wider & wider throughout my 50 minutes with this classic 21st century clown, I could only nod my head in complete & awestruck agreement.

Damo

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