Helen Bauer: Madam Good Tit

Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker two)
Aug 21, 22 – 25, 26 – 28, 17.40

Walking into the impressive Bunker two at the Pleasance the room had everything positioned so as to so openly place a kick ass gig as things stepped up a gear. The show ‘Madam Good Tit’ (a title to strike out) was written and performed by the well known and well thought of comedy of Helen Bauer. She came on as large as life and in no time rattled through a dictionary of jokes of every kind.

In her-self confessing act she went through multi personalities of woes and joy’s. And she performed her heart out. She had learned to use the stage in five main points so she could connect with everyone in the audience. Her shopping list of tales had the effect, when balanced with her quantum delivery, of great wisdom, serene and powerfulness that came pouring out.

Her appearance was all in white with blond hair and a beautiful face. We were allowed so far into her world (a remarkable looking and sounding place) whether she was lost or happy she shouted out and screamed out punch lines to add in more punch to her many faceted approach; expressing a side of performance we don’t usually get to see.

She threw her invisible net out with rambunctious pleasure, and completely took over the room with the wit’s of physicality and verbal menstruating; Wildly telling a well managed truth that would overshadow any and all proceedings. Well capable of flirting when the spirit rose in her embracing of being on the spot. Her pleading needs were clear for to tell the truth seemed to be the greatest liberator. She was a champion of herself scattering us on every level possible to be explored.

I have little seen such an achieving hour of intimacy that waved its hands in special places nor seen so many journeys taken. Lovingly, entertainingly making a profession of contorting as an elaborate jester while in seconds turning into a shrinking violet! An effectively told story of heart break as to make all cry with laughter!

Her talents, charms, honesties and simply deliciously verified ring master comedienne looks out at us a changed woman and plays herself in so any ways.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Aliya Kanani: Where You From, From

Just the tonic at the Tron
Aug 21, 22 – 25, 26 – 28, 19.40

Downstairs at Just the tonic at the Tron was a little room set to host Aliya Kanani’s ‘ Where you from, from’. She came out looking ready for a show with a great grin on her face. She told us some background, after warming up with some jiving reiterating jokes about faux pas and social taboos. The seating was all low stools so we had time to settle in with each other and get to the heart of proceedings headed by a giddiness and manoeuvred with stirs of laughter and enjoyment.

The persona she created was based on herself as an air stewardess; she proudly listed places she had been that crossed all of the oceans I think. When she was younger she felt a need to escape her Muslim upbringing, as she refused to be censored in any way, especially on the subject of sex.

Continuing her grin she lapped up the stage and the room, putting on a show and a face on things with admiring detail, and eased into a kind of forgetfulness and how to celebrate it. She was willing and able to get down and giggy with it confessing she was a huge fan of Hip Hop, having grown up in the nineties when hip hop had its original rough appearance, and popularity.

We soaked in her well travelled rays as she bigged up travelling in life, how amazingly well it has worked for her. Then she hit us with her skit about encounters had on planes especially when passengers are filling the seats, to cut it short sometimes people can be complete morons. I think she learned her smile and how she carried herself on stage directly from her career experience and it worked out very well as a good laugh in the fiery world of stand up.

She was right on about many things, when her smile turned to a more earnest expression of sincerity about making sure you live free and up to the dreams you may dare to make while on this planet (for her very much a stage).

She was lively and livened up the attentive crowd who were in an atmosphere somewhere between star bucks and Broadway (or was it Simon and Garfunkel at Central Park). She invited us to appreciate things like travel, and the mood of the room moved by with a lot of twisted punch lines of sniggeri ng jokes, building sand castles and knocking them down with the same stroke.

How can someone so well of appearance, grace and charm tell such jokes that suddenly five hours later you in an instant get causing you to laugh out loud in the middle of cueing for Asda to the dismay of fellow shoppers around you. This comedienne’s easy appearance took to telling jokes with a whole chapter to delve into, a charming wit with headline punch lines.

Daniel Donnelly

Matt Forde ‘Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Pleasance Beyond
3-28 Aug (20.00)

It has been a truly horrible 2 years. I’d been reminded of this recently when I was fortunate enough to have 2 whole days where I didn’t worry about anything. Performers in what there was of the Fringe last year chose differing methods to engage with similarly brow beaten and disaffected audiences. I saw Kate Smurthwaite’s show, in which she described spending lockdown in the Bahamas. This was not a reality I felt that most in the room could clearly identify with, and it felt oddly lacking in awareness. I also saw Flight of the Bumblebee, a delightful unraveling of the mind of the protagonist during a home invasion attempt in which his whole life, and the surreal international events of recent times flashed before our eyes. So how to combine this escapism with the cold hard realities of the world we have all inhabited in fear and discord?

Enter Matt Forde. He’s called this show “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.” If one were to bestow a more descriptive title on it however you could do worse than “Matt Forde punches up. With ferocity.”

The skill in this shows construction is the manner in which it plays to the great strengths of Forde’s powers of impersonation. He gives the audience what they need. To be sat in a room with the architects of the miseries of these last 2 draining years. As each of the characters from recent western political history appear there are throughout the show constant laughs, cheers claps, mutterings and tangible revulsion as they appear one by one like a criminal gang in the dock, before the court of public opinion.

Overseeing much of the action is our hosts perpetually laugh inducing performance of Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the house of commons berating the other characters from the Speakers Chair, and in a glorious flight of fancy from behind the bar in a small Lancashire hostelry. This is one of the great impersonations of our time. Forde’s Keir Starmer captures the passive aggressive undertones which undercut the Labour leaders credibility so much. Boris Johnson seems played by Rowley Birkin QC, the Fast Show character of the 90’s who garbled gibberish in every scene whilst shouting weird soundbites that capture attention in a free association ecstasy which always, inevitably, ends with a grotesque thrust and a ‘woof’ which leaves the audience reeling with a mix of disgust, horror, and staccato yet constant laughter. The SNP do not escape easily either, though it’s notable that whilst rightly skewering the shame which is the Scottish Ferries debacle, and playing a note perfect grandstanding Ian Blackford MP, he held back from launching any broadside on Nicola Sturgeon herself. Probably a wise move in a generally partisan Edinburgh crowd.

The palpable simmering rage with which every appearance of The Donald was greeted required a balance to be struck over the hour. Accordingly we were provided with a number of delightfully silly moments featuring Yorkshire boxing commentary, a spooky and supernatural Liz Truss serving up late night coffees in a Boondocks diner, & Keir Starmer as Michael Douglas in Falling Down. These are all delivered with a light touch to provide balance to what is otherwise a non-stop conveyor belt of political ghouls and goblins being led up to the stocks to receive metaphorical rotten tomatoes to the face.

Some of the observational comedy felt a little dated. Material about plastic bags of dog poo being hung on trees felt like a routine which could have been delivered several years ago. Matt Forde however was clearly plucking from the playbook of his main protagonists. Populism, red meat, giving the public precisely what they wanted and needed in this post-truth era we find ourselves in. Ultimately, I spent an hour in a room where most of the people laughed a lot almost all of the time. I heard muttered “He’s right!”. I heard people vocally declaring their disgust every time the rank hypocrisy, and moral cowardice, of politicians of every political party were recreated in a performance visceral enough to provoke genuine emotion. I’ll leave the last words to a couple I overheard, over the excitable hubbub of the rest of the crowd, discussing the show as we made our way out.

“It was very funny wasn’t it?” “Yeah.” “It was so TRUE though.” “YEAH! Yeah.”

Ewan Law

Sid Singh: Illegally funny

Laughing Horse – Cabaret Voltaire
Aug 18 – 28, 16.15

I took a stroll around CowGate Edinburgh to find a Free Festival Comedy show, on another hot day. So when I came across the venue Cabaret Voltaire I had to go in and I couldn’t resist. I picked a show there almost at random (but with the right time) called ‘Illegally Funny’.

It was a good idea of spontaneity because writer and performer Sid Singh was very funny. The venue is a bar, looking nice with its old stone walls and taverns a red neon arrow pointed the way to the room. It opened up as a marvellous space, great ceilings feeling very much underground.

The room alone had me happy as Sid came in to sit with us. His Comedy has taken him on tours with a team as he travels and lives like a rock star and his was almost as good as a famous music concert. That was how refined he has made it. His voice was ever so well trained as I closed my eyes to listen. The mic was his to control and his jokes were a parlour of intricacy.

The sleaze levels I was expecting died away as his honesty took the greater part of his jiving. There was something very different about his take making the show an informative rant based on experience, high (very high) living and in an attitude of nothing will stop me (especially my lack of intelligence, not ours but his).

Making his way out of the gate he pointed out our (humans) many abilities for great contradiction (in fact he said that it ruled the world). We are correct on the inside and quite annoying on the out (when we speak). But then took on his conference like act to state that we were arguing about the wrong debate (making us argue).

He didn’t need to make it up as his absurd, crowd riling jokes were based on the realities of his life, in all the things that he had done and seen as a lawyer no less, a lawyer of human rights (that he concluded by saying that he himself was a moron.

He heckled me twice (commenting on my Tie dye t-shirt but that has to be done to intimidate and grease up his audience), no need to big this guy up in a review; he was large enough as was. A venue named after the French playwright that won’t let you down but a comedian who will though only in his capable hands.

Daniel Donnelly

Ignacio Lopez: El Cómico

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose
Aug 18-28 (20:20)

With an extensive family back catalogue touring all points between Morocco and Cardiff via the County Mayo and Magaluf one can imagine where this set is going. An all-inclusive bus tour of national stereotypes. Our man with the mic at the front of the bus is the charming Ignacio Lopez and he trots out the tropes in good style. Brits -pissheads. Irish-navies/pissheads, Spanish-lazy, Dutch-efficient and so on. Always fun to see ourselves as others see us. Affable, seamlessly delivered, some great gags and with a tuneful coda. Even tight fisted Scots (of which there was one) wouldn’t begrudge the price of a ticket

Adam McCully


Assembly Rooms – Powder Room
Aug 18-27 (18:20)

Tom DeTrinis is angry.

Angry at his Christian family, angry at his exes, angry at ‘Tsar’ landlords, angry at cheese and angry at New York.

‘Aha, Butt…’

…you may ask, pointing smugly to the Sunday Supplement School of Psychotherapy leaving cert on the wall.

‘Isn’t he just angry with himself?’

Is He Fuck

The CAPS are necessary to illustrate the flat out style of this one man tirade at just about everything.

Everything reduced to growing up gay with a Christian family in Long Island that is.

With a show that evolved from the more agreeably titled ‘Making Friends’ Mr. DeTrennis storms with extreme faggetry (sic) and some fruitily graphic scenarios through his schooldays, early sexual encounters to his present incarnation as an actor director and, it seems, dancer, in L.A.

This X-rated Wonder Years is pocked by characters that have been dickheads in the past. Mr. DeTrennis’ dramatic skills are on display as he slips between characters .

The headteacher who told him to stop writing after he regaled the school cafeteria with some bean flicker fan porn involving a teacher and two class mates.

His first love who didn’t understand his appreciate his artistic bents blah blah blah.

A day in the life of the vacuous LA social X Ray Stacey

(A soft target but he nails this one)

Family members

And with true pathos the Uncle he was named after who died aged three.

And his other self.

A thematically complex howling smirk that barely skips a beat in a celebration of unashamed rage.

Adam McCully

Daniel Downie: There’s Something about Mary

Scottish Comedy Festival – the Beehive Inn
Aug 18 – 28, 14.00

Round the back of the Edinburgh castle the crowds were basking in the atmosphere. I had made my way round for a comedy hour titled ‘There’s Something about Mary’. A man was handing out flyers for his show, and to a decent success he turned out to be Daniel Downie who had written and was to perform this act.

All of this part of town (Grassmarket) is ye olden buildings giving it its charm and crowds were soaking it up. I stepped inside the Beehive bar to make my way upstairs to the attic gig. On comes the most confident man you’re likely to meet.

Soon (after some sharp and very wise cracking jokes) he mentioned an 11 year career as a teacher of History, I was slightly surprised because he didn’t come across as old enough to have done this. But I should have guessed from the power point presentation he played with and also from his use of tactic (an informed and precise story about his favourite Historic character Mary Queen of Scots).

So Mary from the title was the Queen of Scots, it was also an unspoken reference to the film with Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller and it was how he felt about his love of her. He was very delightfully risky slating Dundonians, from so far north, and picking on his audience with testing that without comedy would have been surprising.

On show were all of his capabilities and he graceful took us through the unbelievable life of the Queen. I too have read a couple of books about it but that didn’t matter; his was a guide for those who knew nothing as well. He had the sense at times of anger and rage as he cleverly created his jokes to fit mammoth proportions that were a way of bigging up his tale, the room, and everyone on the street listening through the large open windows (with hot air supplied by the summers day).

With his personality very well received and as he said himself his ego at the right size (as big as possible!) his comedic romp of excitement that filled his performance space (no stage but a big enough room) he composed himself for the stories about Mary; her positions, duty’s, tragedies and loving freedom he contested ever so well as a great promoter of the woman. I wondered if she would have approved and I’ll Say I’d like to think she would, come and see what you think?

Daniel Donnelly

Ted Hill: All the Presidents Man

Just the tonic – the Mash House
Aug 18 – 19, 20 – 21, 22 – 26, 27 – 28, 18.40

Ted Hill’s show (Comedy) ‘All the Presidents Man’ was witty, clever (genius), entertaining, painfully funny and an accomplished (dissolving academia), truthful and eventful farce; with a great face to clear and clean the crowd. We found ourselves in a gorgeous attic; with balustrades of wood and the most wonderful scent of old wood that has had little human contact.

This show was meant to be for many reasons, not least the very universe coming together. Sitting there in a balance of harmony of sight, feel and touch. Ted ran to his show in an endearing green dungaree costume, to explain all that he had put together.

In my second power point of the day, though this one was the work of a magician, his first comment was on A.I. in his creation of Steve the power point who basically introduced the show. His rampant delivery grew from cadet to commandeer in no time at all and his nice seeming presence was soon to erupt with prophetic reasoning, rattling himself while pouring out a plot about Presidents that enthralled and sometimes almost sang (or rapped, or he had created an entirely new way of performing.He told us of his life time ambition to be inducted into the famous Guinness Book of Records set by his desire to speak to the world (accomplished well by this show). I have never been so interested in pie charts and graphs as I was when in the hands of Ted’s commitment. He mentioned more than once that for the great number of these charts he had taken days to complete.

His magic charm was comedy, throwing away much of his work as superfluous and irrelevant for his cause. Wow I had no idea comedy could be so truthfully effective, then he began to explain his fragile predicaments. Medication, hospital and help, all cried out after being saved from what he called invasive thoughts. I was touched as I think the whole room felt.

Depression is a killer (let’s not joke about) but when he spent his time in hospital everyone realised his creative potential and he found that being silly was something he intended to do (a self confessed silly Billy). So he sporadically mentioned every President, many of whom skipped by (based on his reflection on them) some bad and untrustworthy, others nail bitingly making vast changes to America. This was no vision of a bedroom put onstage, no revealing of self as proceedings went by, and it knocked the pace out of being any kind of board room gambit.

This genius should grow and flow into a worldwide phenomenon to be used on so many levels that he seemingly effortlessly (to great effort) touchingly, honestly tiraded, but suffering ensues in his life so perhaps this level of artistic engineering must be part of making something as awe inspiring as this small, delightful show, please keep em coming Ted.

Daniel Donnelly

Mel Byron: Standing at the Back

Laughing Horse – City Cafe
Aug 16 – 19, 16.35

The City cafe just up from Cowgate is a restaurant/ night club venue with tiny rooms downstairs. I had arrived for the comedy show called ‘Mel Byron: Standing at the back’ the turnout in the 15 seat room was compiled of couples and a mother and teenage kid.
Mel’s story began with a talk about depression, but she told it with an answer of how to cure and avoid it, by living I think was the gist. She had a spirited attractive feeling about her like she was bubbling with life. The words spanned out at speed with dynamic force of pronunciation, a clown without the makeup.

Never tying herself down to any particular style she instead threw everything together in a kind of combustion on the stage (no stage but a proportion of the room). Her awareness of the room was in every glance she gave you, and after eye contact we were sharply reminded that we were at a stand up gig.

Her intimately personal stories were ripe for a swan song wrapping up of a life story we just entered into. We saw her in a whirlwind of emotions bending bravely and ending with punch lines of rapid fire and tumultuous delivery as if she was escaping a fire.
If the room died she dealt with it, if we were alive she would also arrive but with a killer joke. She had a handbag of props and a fancy hat that she would put on but then in one of her flashes quickly took off again.

Self deprecation, so much a part of comedy, she stretched into unfathomable sizes playing on it like her life depended on it, she also had a grace and personality that if you can catch her in a good mood you would want to be around. She was a well dressed, perpetrator of the room, doing what she can for the loneliest of things being a stand up comedian with a subject and round up to die for.

The story she put together into a ridicule making fun of life’s pain, sorrow and suffering leaving a longer lasting effect on us like a kind of tonic for therapy. The tears of laughter look the same as those of sadness that was the effect of life at least for the 50 min Stand up show called ‘Standing at the back’ by a talented and courageous Mel Byron, who didn’t let you sit still for too long.

Daniel Donnelly

Starship Improvise

Pleasance Dome – KingDome
Aug 15-21 (15:00)

I’m afraid I cannot give this show any stars. Not ‘no’ stars, just I don’t want to pin a judgement to the tail of Starship Improvise. But it’s the Fringe! Stars are important! Yes, OK, if it was the same show every night, then quantifying it does make sense, identifying whatever cave in the Parnassian slopes it would have excavated for itself. Starship Improvise, however, I know for a fact can swing from pole to pole. There’s too many variables to give an accurate judgement of this show & I went in two in a row to assess that. The first was weak & draggy, the second was bright & funny. That is the nature of Improv, I guess. One dodgy tangent, one shallow premise, & the whole show is clinging to a colander at sea.

But when done well, improv is priceless, genius, inspiring, whatever superlative you’ve got at that moment… & so to Starship Improvise which at times is done to that superlative-heavy standard, but then again sometimes not. The idea is, of course, a Star Trek / Red Dwarf style romp thro the crew’s character conflicts & wherever they end up in that episode of the saga. This is on-running, by the way, & people come back episode after episode. I did it for two, like I said earlier, & they are completely different affairs, its just the crew are the same. There’s a captain, a computer, an empath, a dog-man, etc. There’s cool names like Tripp Hazard & Richard Vitamins, & they all bounce off each other & onto the stage & back with a certain sense of giddy professionalism.

Their ship is the Celestia 7, & their trip is mixture of over-emotional interactions & quality comedic quipping, which are thoroughly dependent on how the crew handle this episode’s audience-given themes. The improv is of a distinguish’d level – there’s several Showstoppers in there -, with hardly a stutter or pause anywhere. If you’re a fan of Star Trek or Red Dwarf, especially, you’re gonna absolutely adore this. It is pure sci-fi, tho’ going over very common ground – there’s no cultural earthquake with Starship Improvise. Not for everyone, but for those who it is for it’ll be a great buzz.