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NEWS & REVIEWS 2018

This page contains the news stories and reviews for The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018...  Check back on this page to find out what's happening, and which shows are the ones not-to-miss....

Click here to see the highest rated shows from the 2018 reviews

August 21, 2018 The Scotsman
Article about Ashley Storrie: Adulting
Video: When adulting gets hard, Ashley Storrie channels her inner child
As house prices skyrocket and retirement looks more distant than ever before, rising comedy star Ashley Storrie’s message at this year’s Fringe is that adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But in her opinion, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. Ashley’s solution is to stay in touch with the child in each of us for longer than the grown-ups tell us we should.

... Click Here

August 21, 2018  Fringe Guru
Review of Phantasmagorical
This stylish, well-themed magic show taps into a particular strand of Victoriana: the fascination with clairvoyance and contact with the dead. Our host for the hour is Sylvia Sceptre – real name Careena Fenton – and it's never quite explained whether she's a medium, a spirit guide, or one of the deceased themselves. But whatever her role, she's a bright and capable character, filling the crypt-like performance space with both wit and conjuring skill.

The magic is well-worked, and at times genuinely befuddling; there's an emphasis on mind-reading, as befits the theme of seeing the world from the other side of the veil. Fenton is kind and generous with those she gets up on-stage, always understanding that it's her job to make her volunteers look good, and she has instant in-character responses to the minor distractions of a free-festival venue. A couple of the big set-piece tricks are really quite similar to each other, but there's enough of a twist in their presentation that I'll let that point pass by.

Some humour is provided by an invisible psychic cat – if you've got the imagination, Fenton's patter and performance will make you believe it's really there in the room – and there's a stonker of a prop hiding under an intriguingly-draped tablecloth. The background music's well-judged too, striking enough to set the atmosphere, but used sparingly enough that it doesn't become intrusive.

... Click Here

August 21, 2018  One4Review
Review of Stephen Bailey: Our Kid
There can be no doubt that Stephen Bailey is a comedian who is going places. The queues form nearly an hour before show time and he has to turn many away simply because all the seats are full and the rafters also have many hanging from them, okay the last bit isn’t true but you get my drift.

Stephen Bailey is in evidence from the start, getting people seated explaining the format and them we are off into an hour of him at his very best. Bailey shies away from much involvement in current affairs, he is more intent in talking about family, friends, his gays, friend Natalie, dating and interacting with the audience.

He is a blatant flirt, chatting to two men in particular, one gay, one straight currently, he adds and gets piles and piles of laughs from everyone there. His early life is briefly included as are a couple of his amours, he can say things that a different comic may cause offence with but such is his charisma nobody can object in anyway.

Bailey has had involvement in TV shows before, but a soon to be aired Chanel 5 show sees him in a presenting role, so I’m guessing if he returns to Edinburgh next year, a festival he doesn’t like, then he better get himself a bigger and better room. Click Here

August 21, 2018  Beyond the Joke
Review of Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary
There are so many strong shows at the Edinburgh Fringe this year it is easy for some to get overlooked by reviewers. Sean McLoughlin doesn't seem to have had many critics in so far but he doesn't seem to be having much difficulty getting fans into his show. I had to squeeze into the back for this one and watch it on a bench facing the wrong way.

It was worth the stiff neck though. McLoughlin has become a Fringe regular in recent years and is the epitome of the skilful stand-up. He is self-mocking but sharp and confident, angry but not to the extent that it gets on your nerves. He also looks the part. Imagine if Lionel Messi had decided to go on a crash diet, not sleep for a week, don a shirt and jacket and lurk in a basement in Edinburgh for August.

McLoughlin clearly knows what he is doing. Hail Mary is initially about getting older, about your ambitions not working out as you had planned. It is also about our obsession wth technology and how our humanity is being relentlessly taken over by social media and perhaps we don't even realise it. He's mad as hell and not going to take it any more, but first of all he is going to make us laugh.

... Click Here

August 20, 2018  Three Weeks
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
Being trapped with someone at a party talking about their life-changing travels in Southeast Asia can be an excruciating experience, so it’s fortunate that Struan Logan is charming enough to get away with it. His 18 months of backpacking around Australia, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur and others form the basis of his likeable hour of standup, which keeps its audience chuckling appreciatively even if it never quite takes off. His anecdotes of minimum-wage bar work, dealing with hecklers and having his beard stroked in foreign cities are always good fun, but start to feel digressionary, even rambling, as the hour goes on. Logan is an affable guy with great comic delivery, but his show is definitely wanting tighter focus. Click Here

August 20, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Dave Chawner; Mental
Mental Health ambassador delivers a serious subject without losing the laughs.

It’s hard to believe that Dave Chawner is playing in an attic at a Free Fringe venue so accomplished is his stand-up routine. His topic for the night isn’t even funny! He is one of many comics on the circuit choosing mental health as his comedy fodder of choice covering both anorexia (while trying to plug his new book, Weight Expectations) and anxiety as he encourages people to seek help should they require it.

Firstly, he dissects the language we use around mental health explaining that we all have mental health, it is mental illness which causes difficulties. But even that, Chawner explains, is all wrong as he asks why we insist on focussing on the negative instead of the positive? Why do we have such a clear idea that Physical Education is vital in schools but ‘Mental Education’ is a secondary thought?

Chawner is striving to improve this as part of a working group which includes members of parliament and a stint as a presenter on a documentary about body dysmorphia. Sounds like a barrel of laughs right? Well remarkably Dave Chawner does manage to make this a show littered with laughs commanding the microphone with confidence. He is clearly passionate about the topic he has chosen to base his show around and this sometimes causes mild cases of verbal diarrhoea which are hard to keep up with as the words tumble at increasing speed from his mouth.

However, as much as the point is to make the room laugh, his material is delivered with care and compassion for those potentially experiencing any mental illness while listening and he even gives the names of places to go should one require it. Travelling, meditation and breathing are not the only options available he muses, despite the advice he once gave out under pressure.

Making light of a serious situation is a fine art and one which Dave Chawner masters with some skill. And with no price tag attached to this show it is a fine art which all can, and should, hear. Click Here

August 20, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary
Comedian Sean McLoughlin’s sixth Fringe show in as many years finds him suffering from an existential and identity crisis. He recently turned 30 and has slipped to fourth in the Google search results after: a University Professor, a footballer and a YouTube gamer of the same name. In a hysterical hour of comedy Hail Mary explores faith, love and technology as religion.

McLoughlin states he’s the happiest he’s ever been but only after lowering his ambitions. He played the Royal Albert Hall a couple of months ago but finds himself performing a free Fringe show in a basement and wonders how he got here. The comedian grew up convinced he was a genius despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, with a university lecturer calling him “the worst student I have ever encountered in life or in fiction.” The comic has a gift for self-deprecation which is entertaining to witness and his intense, loud delivery can probably be heard in the venue next door.

The stand-up knows we’re all ruled by technology, whether we embrace it or not. He mocks the reaction to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and laughs at Deliveroo “caring about your privacy” when they once posted a cheese toastie through his letterbox. Technology has also impacted on his love life – he was in a long-distance relationship for a year and relied on tech to keep the romance alive. His girlfriend’s name is Alexa, which provides fodder for a whole skit with a few a predictably cheesy punchlines.

The hour motors along and McLoughlin’s jokes have a staggeringly high success rate. If a joke ever fails to land, he becomes bitter which is often funnier than the dud gag itself. The set finishes with an exploration of religion from the perspective of a lapsed Catholic who has recently rediscovered his faith. The comic then skilfully ties the narrative about technology and religion together with the audience laughing and whooping to the end.

McLoughlin claims at the start of the show that he came to the Fringe with nothing left in the tank, but for the packed-out room that’s just not true. He provides a high energy, solidly funny gig to hoards of people who have flocked to see him on word of mouth recommendations alone. Click Here

August 20, 2018  Fest
Review of Lee Kyle - Kicking Potatoes Into The Sea
Genial and warmhearted comedy with a darker undercurrent.

One day, Lee Kyle found himself kicking potatoes into the sea, and he's got the video evidence to prove it. The route that led him to believing this was a productive and typical way to spend an afternoon is outlined in an hour propelled via his genial and warmhearted persona.

Multiple sequences evidence an ability to comically work through novel ideas, even if sometimes these are stretched beyond their limits. A reworking of the alphabet is initially funny, then outstays its welcome, then reasserts its comic value through a well-structured payoff. Another section about repeated sounds in words could do with some trimming too, even though it is testament to a creative comic mind. Indeed, there's considerably more technical cleverness going on here than might be apparent at first, as callbacks and recurring themes bubble to the surface in unexpected ways.

But there's an odd incongruity between these self-contained comic ideas, and the darker themes that pepper the show. Kyle recounts his mental health issues, and how these both inform, and construct barriers to, his comedy. Given his evident skill in weaving together multiple narrative strands, it's a shame the interplay between the serious and the comic isn't more fluid. The ending successfully draws all the thematic threads together in a manner that reveals considerable technical skill, and it's good to experience a show that offers a meaningful denouement. If only the journey there had been smoother. Click Here

August 20, 2018  Fringe Guru
Review of Fallout
We're greeted at the door by a woman in camouflage overalls, holding a Geiger counter (oh, all right, a bleeping iPhone) in her hand. It's bad news, I'm afraid: World War III has broken out, and we're the last few survivors to have made it down to this cramped and sealed bunker. But all's not lost, for we have a stout-hearted guide to lead us through the coming darkness; a strong, inspiring, practical woman, who won't let the little matter of nuclear Armageddon disrupt her well-ordered life. Or at least… she seems to see it that way.

The woman in question is Lotta Quizeen, the long-time alter ego of performer Katie Richardson, whose Thatcheresque imperiousness and love of domestic regimen make her the ideal candidate to organise a brave new world underground. She has roles in mind for all of us, and she's stockpiled plenty of cake mix; and if this all seems a touch gender-stereotyped for your taste, don't worry, she's sorted out the generator too. But her son Hugo's been out on patrol, and he's really quite late returning. He'll be all right, of course. He's just a bit delayed. Isn't he?

The story that follows is cleverly constructed, with hints of something even darker than nuclear winter poking at the edges of Lotta's mind. Unexplained motifs – from her obsession with the wild dogs hunting outside, to her out-of-place musings on forgiveness – together suggest there's something about Lotta's recent history which she isn't quite letting on. By the end, when it's all snapped into place, we have a renewed understanding of how she came to be in this bunker, and of what life after the bomb went off might actually mean to her.

... Click Here

August 20, 2018  Chortle
Review of Ahir Shah: Duffer
4.5*

Goodness me. Ahir Shah has returned to Edinburgh with a super-powered hour of standup, a clear step up from his 2017 show which was nominated for Best Show (just saying).

The backdrop to Duffer is the Windrush scandal from earlier this year. This was no one-off, as Shah describes how his paternal grandmother was deported 25 years ago back to India, treated like an inconvenient statistic more than a human being, in precisely the way the Windrush generation have been today. Duffer is what she used to call young Ahir.

Last year, Shah visited his gran for the first time since she was unceremoniously booted out of Britain. He knew it would also be the last time he would ever see her. As a piece of contemporaneous comedy, examining the effects of cruel and unnecessary policy, it cuts right to the bone. It would be nice if a few Conservative Ministers dropped in to watch it.

... Click Here

August 19, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Right Wing Comedian
Comedians that openly put their right wing political beliefs at the core of their act have been criticized at previous festivals for exploiting a niche, whilst letting the comedy element take a backseat. The infamous Andrew Lawrence, whose career path was explored in a Sky Arts documentary, seems to have turned 180 degrees on the idea, bringing an all clean show to the fringe this year. Leo Kearse returns to Edinburgh with Right Wing Comedian, presenting a show that’s not held back by its divisive subject matter.

Kearse cracks jokes on the back of your stereotypical Scottish Tory – how he’s thankful for Thatcher closing the coal mines in his town, why nobody likes poor or disabled people, and how coming out as right-wing parallels telling your parents that you’re gay. Repeating that back to yourself, you might consider it outrageous that he would sincerely say those things, but it’s not from a heart of hate – just a cynical one. Kearse plays up to his presumed intolerant views by putting on a character that is prime for satire. It’s indistinguishable how much of himself is represented on stage, but it’s enough to see that he isn’t a bad guy.

Very rarely do you find someone truly, naturally funny, especially when talking about such a dry subject such as their political stance. As the most recent winner of Scottish Comedian of the Year, Kearse has proven himself, perhaps not as the most naturally charismatic performer, but as a solid joke writer who can stretch out even the most uneven premises into laughter.

... Click Here

August 19, 2018  Funny Women
Review of Interruption Show
Reviews and Recommendations: Interruption Show
Written by
Mariana Feijó

I guess you could call the Interruption Show a compilation show, but it’s a special kind of compilation show. Even though it is technically a show where the host invites guest stand-up comedians to do their own few minutes of material after she delivers her own bits, there is a new format to take into consideration in the proceedings. The format, created by the host Dalia Malek, sees two co-hosts, seated by the side of the stage, interrupt (clue is in the name!) stand-up comedians mid set, to ask them those burning questions their stories bring up.

As any compilation show, the enjoyment of it is inevitably linked to the guests chosen and the particular format makes that even more important as not everyone can think on their feet, be interrupted and get back into the prepared material they came to perform. The particular show I went to see had great guests, some of whom are experts in thinking on their feet and weren’t at all disturbed by the interruptions, but I’m guessing Dalia does her homework and handpicks the guests carefully to make sure the audience is happy.

The host is welcoming, natural and very funny, delivering her sharp, at times dark material based on the struggles of being an Egyptian American with excellent timing. Guest Kemah Bob was excellent and didn’t miss any beat, no matter how many times she was interrupted and I’m happy to say I already had her show in my very busy Edinburgh schedule. Sameena Zhera was another great guest who didn’t seem affected by the format and she was so funny I’m currently shuffling my schedule to fit her show in.

One of the acts mentioned at the end how good an experience being part of this show was, as performing a set material for a whole month can sometimes make you start losing the passion for it and being interrupted and prompted with insightful questions will have you on your feet, creating on the spot or remembering older material, and fall in love with the craft all over again. Both audiences and acts should be giving the Interruption Show a look.

★★★★

Interruption Show is at Laughing Horse at The Newsroom at 20:45 until 26th August. For tickets and more information click here!
 Click Here

August 19, 2018  The Mumble
Review of Will Mars: Candid Cafe
How is it possible that from such an unassuming, almost melancholic delivery, volcanoes of comedy burst from our psyches to join everyone else’s in the audience, like the tectonic creation of a new world. That world belongs to Will Mars, a dedicated comedian with a surreptitious story to tell. In fact it is very much the story of being a stand-up, warts ‘n’ all, & deglosses some of the glory we lesser mortals assume when staring at the life-size technicolour images of the pantheon which surround us in the Edinburgh streets. According to Will Mars – and I do believe him – comedians are mortals too, who can bleed, & can also feel…

I do not want to give away the plot of his show, because every nuance of his tale must be appreciated without forewarning to fully appreciate the telling. A lovely Northern lad, he didn’t even need a microphone as he waltzed thro’ his rites of passage; from the gallon-a-girl gigolo of his early twenties, to the late 30s ‘worst version’ of Mr Mars, where he’s refreshingly unafraid to admit men also possess the tick-tick-ticking biological clock. It is impossible not to feel some kind of empathy for Will Mars, & he makes you laugh as you do so. As a storyteller he is a joy to experience; like a quirky terrier yapping jokes at our feet, when every now & again he’d sink his teeth into our calves with a hefty bite. Click Here

August 19, 2018  Three Weeks
Review of Phantasmagorical
Miss Sylvia Sceptre’s creepy, macabre show explores Victorian mind-reading and spirit theatre in a merrily theatrical cabaret. Miss Sylvia is a time-travelling clairvoyant, who never fails to captivate the audience as she explains her life story with the help of Gothic mementos and audience participation. This makes the show feel creative and unique, inviting the audience to question their senses, what they perceive as real or unreal. Created and played by Careena Fenton, Miss Sylvia also provides commentary on themes such as female hysteria and Victorian medicine with her unique blend of comedic eccentricity and dark storytelling. Fenton’s over-the-top theatrical tone is excellent at drawing the audience in, making for an intriguing experience to remember. Click Here

August 19, 2018  The Scotsman
Review of Fur coat nae knickers.
Full disclosure, I have always been a big fan of Martha McBrier. But tonight I watched The McBrier Effect on my fellow audience members : three twentysomething guys-with-pints, a young girl and a 30-year-old American yuppie. McBrier’s humour is packed with references to things that had disappeared before they were born, she speaks broad Weegie and her story belts along faster than a scally running from the polis. But McBrier’s comedy somehow belts the bottom of the generation gap, crosses the Atlantic nae borra and by the time we have laughed and cried our way through this love letter to her wee brother, the boys go off to flyer for her, the yuppie reveals an impoverished past and the young girl buys her a glass of wine and promises to bring her mum the next day.

McBrier would be the first to tell you she is not a ­stand-up comic. She is a ­storyteller. But she is a comedy Midas: ­everything she tells you about turns to comedy gold. Her childhood was, she tells us, “grim”. Her story is packed with shoplifting, corporal punishment, religious terrors, chain smoking and Provi loans. That is how it was, she reminds us “in the 70s”. There is so much laughter in the hour (even allowing for Martha’s taking time out to explain the difference between “ginger” and “juice” and what a companion set is) that when the laughter stops it is like being hit by a truck you just do not see coming. Heavy Metal and talking parrots, zithers and The ­Crazy World of Arthur Brown – each stars in its own tiny comedy epic in McBrier’s world. This hour will fill your heart with laughter and your eyes with tears. As we say in Glasgow – pure, dead, ­brilliant. Click Here

August 19, 2018  The Outlier
Review of Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
REVIEW: HOW TO BE A BAD GIRL
4 Stars (4 / 5)

A magician of a musician in a most fabulous hat, Brooklyn-based Sabrina Chap makes her Edinburgh debut.

How to be a Bad Girl, a captivating cabaret act of original songs performed on piano, is as dirty as the flyers promise – but with unexpected sweetness and poignancy. She dedicates her “One Night Stand Serenade” to the audience in a metaphor about live performance, one of many moments throughout the night that emphasises our shared experience, celebrating the power of live music.

With a cheeky punch, Chap charms even the politest of Edinburgh audiences to erupt into cheers and to sing along. Her songs are rich in variety, spanning themes of heartbreak, longing, anger, and political frustration, each its own storm of passion and humour.

It’s unfortunate that this Summerhall-worthy show is instead confined to an inspiration-less box of a venue, but Chap – ever the personification of presence – manages to turn even challenging tech into an avenue for imagination.

As those of us who have seen her host the #Pianodrome have witnessed, she’s even better on a real piano, but her energy is infectious no matter the setting. Among the best free shows at the fringe all month. Click Here

August 19, 2018  The List
Review of Jim Tavare - From Deadpan to Bedpan
A long-awaited return is a triumph albeit one fuelled by trauma.

Jim Tavaré – maybe better known to some as the tall comedian from the 90s in the smart penguin suit, who used to do stand-up next to his double bass – has a story to tell. He makes that clear from the get-go: his new show is less about jokes and more about a painful, cathartic tale. Without giving away too many spoilers, Tavaré had a near fatal car accident last year, and it didn't look like he would be able to walk, never mind play double bass again ('I couldn't play it in the first place', is his deadpan aside).

The Harry Potter movie actor, and co-writer of The Sketch Show with Ronni Ancona and others, moved to LA eight years ago, so is able to weave in personal bits about his home life, his rescue dog, and his wedding in Vegas before he gets to the bone-crunching details of his crash. Tavaré knows some of the details are gory, not to mention harrowing (his medical bill alone was nearly $900,000, he explains, which is why he's back working on the Fringe, after last visiting in 1998).

But rather than forcing an extreme episode of A&E Live down his audience's throat, he chucks in regular laughs 'for release', as he puts it. As the show goes on, the laughs quieten for his decent material, as the sucker punch of his real-life disaster kicks in. But he manages to keep a healthy balance of comedy and confession, with a nice few plugs for the NHS and California's progressive policies on medicinal marijuana in there too. A matter-of-fact look at how this unstarry comic nearly checked out, but ended up accidentally bumping up his celebrity profile on IMDb instead. Click Here

August 19, 2018  One4Review
Review of Godley's Cream 20 years and Counting
Janey Godley has been packing them into her gigs for as long as I can remember and given the lines of people queuing outside for ages to be sure of witnessing her latest offering, there is no drop off in her appeal. Quite the reverse.

Janey introduces herself as more like a nosy cleaner than a performer prior to launching into a no-nonsense hour of laughter that appealed to everyone and the laughs flowed loud and proud as She shoots from the lip, says what she thinks and nobody and nothing is sacrosanct.
The show covers a few of her greatest hits from over the years, and boy does she have a back catalogue to draw from, but there is quite a bit of new stuff too.

She gets a lot of abuse on social media but it takes more than that to worry her. With a hard upbringing and early teenage life she has developed a thick skin. She still defends their right to an opinion as she wouldn’t want to be restricted in speaking her mind. Ms Godley stands up for the underdog like no other and is certainly not shy when it comes to voicing her opinions either verbally to Theresa May or with her signs made for Donald Trump’s visits, events that went viral on the internet.

The hour flew by and I am certain was enjoyed by everyone. Here’s to the next twenty years Janey. Click Here

August 18, 2018  The List
Review of Will Mars: Candid Cafe
Self-loathing, heartbreak and frequent punchlines.

Will Mars has had a terrible year and it shows. He ambles on stage, glares at the room with his sad eyes and asks us not to clap. He's not earned any applause yet. This isn't a gimmick: if Candid Café is anything, it's soaked in self-loathing. Fortunately, it just happens to also be a tightly-focused hour of comedy. The heartbreak and redemption narrative will win Mars no points for originality, but this is a show he can be pleased with.

Candid Café's arc is thus: Mars fell in love last year in Edinburgh, but was dumped in a quite brutal manner. Losing 'the one' has forced him to look in the mirror, considering how his life has panned out. He tells his story with an earnest desperation and, while we obviously only get one side of the story, it's savage nonetheless. 'You're a loser,' he says of himself, 'and you're 38.' He reminisces about his twenties, a time spent working (and womanising) at 18-30 holidays and says he was a 'nasty young guy'.

On paper it sounds miserable, but Mars crams a lot of smart gags into his hour. I'm not on board with all of it (sarcastically bemoaning his straightness as the reason for his not hitting the big time jars with the reflective tone) but it's an enjoyably cathartic performance nonetheless. Click Here

August 18, 2018  The List
Review of The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan
Pent-up fury and searing rage blunted by a few weak gags.

This year's Fringe show from Sarah Callaghan is about wanting to be in a gang. She desperately wants to fit in, to feel like she's got a family, to get respect and, if possible, a slot on mainstream telly, please. But watching lots of her jokes fall flat, it seems like she needs to pick a team rather a gang. One part of her tries to be on the chummy, mainstream comedy club team, with her banter about geezer mates in London affectionately pretend-bumming her in front of their annoyed girlfriends, and the other part seems to be searing with rage at a spoken-word night, reciting angry, bleak poems about her young, working-class disillusionment.

Although she's been grafting hard at the comedy coalface for eight years now, Callaghan seems shy to reveal her recent attempts to write poetry, but that's the bit that seems most honest and interesting. She feels invisible because of her lack of posh credentials, but it might be nothing to do with that. Her fame-hungry, over-confident swagger and weak gags don't feel like the things that are going to set her apart, but the undertow of pent-up fury at politicians that couldn't give a monkeys, and her cynical insights after growing up in a broken home might be. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Chortle
Review of Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary
4.5*

Well, Sean McLoughlin’s a massive liar. Ever the struggling comedian, he reckons that after five consecutive Edinburgh show, his creative tank had run dry when it came to writing his sixth. Yet this impassioned, urgent broadside on the state of both the nation and his own life is fizzing with ideas, intensity and bloody great jokes.

It’s certainly his tightest hour yet, with his many incisive and funny thoughts combining organically to form a cohesive polemic, delivered with frustrated pique and building to a fine conclusion. But while it’s an impressive invective, there are gags at every turn, and he leaps between them as quickly and nimbly as you like.

While he starts from familiar set-ups, such as feeling he lacks the maturity, stability and achievement he should have at 30 and mulling a future with a partner he loves, he spins them off in insightful directions.

One core idea is that society is divided between the forward-looking, who eagerly consume each quantum leap in technology, and the backwards-looking reactionaries, nostalgic for an ideal that never really exist. Of course, every comic who’s brought up Brexit has entertained similar thoughts, but McLoughlin has the unique observation that both sides are winning, making for a weirdly uncertain time for everyone, and creating a massive grey area, which he incisively prospects for many a comedy nugget.

... Click Here

August 18, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of The Not So Late Show with Ross & Josh
Oh dear. As a reviewer, I’ve hit on one principle that I think seems pretty reasonable: only review what you see in front of you.
With that in mind, what follows is probably not representative of most nights for the Not So Late Show, but nevertheless should persuade you to go.

To set the scene: for those of you haven’t been, Dropkick Murphy’s is built to the design of a WW2 bomb shelter, but huge. Consequently, getting any kind of an atmosphere going is a challenge with a full crowd. Unfortunately, Sunday evening was not a full crowd. Sunday evening’s audience consisted of about 14 people. Despite this, Josh and Ross take to the stage with every appearance of eagerness, and feed themselves into the meat grinder that is playing to an empty room with a show that’s not a laugh-a-minute performance to begin with.

I’d better explain: The Not So Late Show is a Free Fringe show that draws off the classic American late night talk show format. Featuring guests such as Freddy Mercury and the Ferrero Rocher man, the level of inventiveness required to reinvent your whole script every few days is deeply impressive. The style, however, means that jokes need to be built up to; when they reach the punchline they’re great, but without a crowd around you to ride the high from the last laugh, the wait was difficult for everyone. Nevertheless, Ross and Josh play off each other fluently, and actually managed to pull off a damn good gig. The guest spots are funny, their choice of guest comedian played well, and their audience interaction was fluent. A few gags didn’t get through, but again, when you’re faced with a group that hardly seems large enough to call a crowd, it’s a miracle that any took off at all.

This style of kamikaze comedy shows nerves of steel. Talking to the performers after the show, the level of care and thought that goes into the routine became immediately apparent, and they don’t like to sit on a script for long, already planning new gags. You’d have to go a long way to find a Free Fringe show as inventive as this. Overall, The Not So Late Show demonstrated a level of experience and confidence that’s deeply impressive. I’m definitely going back to catch them on a busier night, and I invite you all to join me. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Olaf Falafel presents There's no i in idiot
If you are/were a fan of The Mighty Boosh, you might find Olaf Falafel a little bit derivate, or you might be really into his act.

He has the Boosh’s random and sometimes twee humour, a similar range of fashion and pop culture references, and the voice he adopts for the show sounds a lot like one of Noel Fielding’s regularly deployed Boosh voices.

The first half of Mr Falafel’s show is a truly random whirlwind of quirky analogies, cute imagery, and unexpected one liners. Dolphins, biscuits, and bottle openers are the main focus. It’s the weaker half of the show, but little do the audience realise that Falafel is setting down joke-traps that will spring up later.

In the second half things get more interesting. As well as adding sharp points to an impressive number of seemingly pointless first act jokes and lines, Falafel makes various moves to deconstruct and expand his performance. There’s one golden moment in which he deliberately lets a joke fail, then drops his booming, cartoonish voice for a disappointed grumble in his real, rather ordinary voice. At another point, Falafel allows the projector screen he has been using as a subtle aid to take over the show, and suddenly the audience find themselves in conversation with a friendly Indian shopkeeper.

There are silly childish moments in the show, and there are wiser adult moments. But predominantly there’s a lot of zany teenager: surreal randomness which, at its peaks of genius, no ordinary adult can hit, but in its valleys feels a bit too forced. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Strictly Carl Donnelly!
Carl Donnelly opens the show by playing a little game with The Counting House lighting.
A full range of colours are on offer, and he lets the audience pick the one that suits them. Bold, bright red is too weird, and blue is too depressing, so the audience settle on a comforting orange hue. It fits Donnelly’s act, which is warm, charming, and inoffensive.

Carl explains that after 10 years of attending the Fringe, he’d like to slow his set down and just sort of talk and ramble. And that’s exactly what he does, for the most part. There’s no cunningly structured gags that explode and resurface when you least expect them to, no intense audience interaction, and no mind-blowing moments. Instead there are anecdotes, observations, and a little social commentary, amusingly and sometimes cheekily delivered.

Class pops up quite a lot. Donnelly reflects on his origins as a scamp straight out the estate who once referred to the host city of the Fringe as ‘Ladinburgh’, and contrasts this with his present self who feels morally conflicted whenever a nice coffee shop pops up in his slowly-gentrifying London neighbourhood. Class links up with race: when Donnelly was a working class kid, he was around as many non-white kids as white kids, but in his middle class life now, nearly all his new friends are white. These are not shocking revelations, but Donnelly riffs on them well enough to get plenty of laughs.

Throughout the whole show, Donnelly comes across as a kind and reasonable man, consciously choosing to host a lower-key show than usual. It’s not a model that’s going to trump some of the wilder and more theatrical acts at the Fringe, but its one that Donnelly pulls off with casual ease. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Fest
Review of Alex Kealy: A Kealy's Heel
A funny hour of disjointed standup.

Proving the point that straight white millennial males aren’t a spent force in comedy, Alex Kealy achieves exactly what he sets out to achieve at the top of his hour: a bit of politics mixed with personal reflections.

Mostly, though, he tackles Brexit, and does so with aplomb, taking on common truths about our national, erm, conversation and providing genuinely new perspective. He has a nice style of delivery, frequently stumbling on punchlines, providing a running commentary on how lousy they are or how he’s flunked them. It’s deliberately unshowy, and quite exciting as a result.

There’s a definite sense over the course of A Kealy’s Heel, though, that he hasn’t quite made anything of the hour format. In a sense that’s fine – it would be tiresome if every standup were to try to squeeze in a mini drama. But even a three-minute pop song needs shape, form and weight, whereas often this feels like: material 1; material 2; material 3. It’s odd because some of his jokes, as individual units, have such structural panache. A takedown of Rowan Atkinson’s support for Boris Johnson, for instance, knocks out Boris Johnson (a man who resigned from the cabinet to “spend time with his Islamaphobia”), ricochets into Atkinson’s inability to distinguish between what you can say, and what you should, before exploding in his own face as a hectoring comic. It’s a great, scorched earth joke that leaves no one untouched.

Is it a metaphor for an interminable Brexit? Well, it’s hard to stretch to that. This is funny, but not a masterpiece. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Fest
Review of Good Women
There’s so much serious theatre at the Fringe that it’s a blessed relief when you find yourself in a show whose sole intent is to make you laugh. Get By Theatre have brought Good Women to the Free Festival on a shoestring, but the fact that they’re performing in a teeny tiny attic space at The Counting House without a tech doesn’t take away from the fun of it.

The premise is ludicrous: Kathryn, Madeline and Morgan are members of the Good Women Evangelical Congregation, an organisation that uses the power of “liturgical dance” to encourage sinful characters to change their ways. They’ve each come to compete at an international competition but things just don’t go to plan.

Recent LAMDA graduates (and founders of Get By Theatre) Emma Rendell, Eva Scott and Emily Steck, play this trio of deviants with energy and charm, if not with quite the nuance required to make these characters more than just silly caricatures. Steck’s script is witty enough that the company get away with it, and the dance sequences—including one in which Scott names her Christianity-inspired moves as she goes along—offer plenty of laughs too.

... Click Here

August 18, 2018  One4Review
Review of A Booklover's Comedy Show
This show has lots of potential, but a lot of it is stored in the quality of the acts and the relevance of their material. So another day may bring another, very different show.

Additionally, the particular show I saw was rather hijacked by its own audience. From the lady who rather combatively declared that she finishes several books a week (despite the ‘no judging or snobbery’ ethos George was trying to promote), to the small group who misunderstood the show to be a discussion forum, Mr Dimarelos had quite a lot to contend with.

The show is a compilation, with different acts each day bringing material loosely based around books, while Mr Dimarelos hosts and provides some introductory explanation and material. He did his best to set some limits – like not judging people for what or how much they’ve read – but these limits weren’t strong enough, and coupled with encouragement for the audience to shout out suggestions or otherwise contribute, the lines between comedy show and debating forum got rather blurred.

One measure of a comedian is to see them on a bad day, with a pain-in-the-ass audience. It did seem like the audience was an issue that Mr Dimarelos hadn’t had before, and was a little lost for solutions which were in-keeping with his polite and respectful demeanour.

An interesting concept for a show that is worth taking a punt on. Click Here

August 18, 2018  One4Review
Review of STRING THEORY
Martin Mor is such a big personality, that he grabs the room’s attention at once, and gets them giggling quickly.

The idea behind this year’s show title, String Theory, is that he’ll answer the age-old question “How long is a piece of string?” by putting some into his bucket, via his complicated measuring device, for the amount the audience are amused. He can then measure the results at the end. Thankfully, there was plenty to measure.

Mor’s interactions with even very young children are consistently fun, and very silly, without ever being patronising. His thirty-two years an equity member have stood him in good stead, and his patter is, if you look very carefully, quick, and slick. Most people, however, are too busy looking at the next trick – just as they’re supposed to be.

Juggling, balancing, spinning, and a spot of magic, are all coupled with friendly banter, and even a quick hint of satire. Plus we may have possibly witnessed a world record of an audience member being the youngest to do the tablecloth trick… almost certainly the slowest, and given the baffled look on the face of the three year old ‘magician’ volunteer, one of the cutest. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Roast Battle Edinburgh
Roast Battle features a rotating lineup that changes daily, with a general showcase of at least four or five pairs of comedians taking to the stage to rip sizeable chunks out of their respective egos. Some may put up more of a fight than others. Some battles can be an epic war of words between two able-minded combatants, decided only on a decibel of laughter. Others are as one sided as a leopard versus a hamster. But the basic principle maintains that there are no punches to be pulled: physical appearance, life-long conditions, countries of origin; even dead relatives. Roast Battle excludes nothing, so if you faint easily at offensive jokes then this probably isn’t the show for you. Never fear, however, as you can be sure that all challengers do so in good spirits and resolve any emotional turmoil with a hug at the end of each battle.

The night of this performance saw MC Dimitri Bakanov operate as referee between the pairs, whilst presiding over acts as judges were SpringDay, Ramon Rivas and Lee Hudson. As carnivorous as a hawk, Bakanov is a worthy opponent himself and certainly one not to take prisoners, aiming light-hearted pot-shots at both the judges and audience. Hecklers be warned: Bakanov will fashion you into a lightning rod of damnation for all his brash one-liners. Rallying the audience into a frenzied chant of "Battle! Battle! Battle!", Bakanov hailed in the arrival of the first pair of the night: Vanessa Hua and Hannah Pennauer.

A nice warm up to the depraved ends of what would eventually lie in store for the remainder of the night, Hua and Pennauer were notably tamer than their counterparts though nonetheless catty enough in their remarks, with Hua deservedly emerging as the victor. Following this, the oddly mismatched Eastern European duo, Alexander Maloy and Vasiliy Medvedev arrived to the stage. Bewilderment and awkward chortles followed this bizarre clash where neither seemed capable of going all out against the other, nor able to successfully land a decisive verbal blow. Following their segment, both were promptly chastised by the judges, with Maloy only winning by a nose (ironic, given it was Medvedev’s main go-to).

Up next were the two talented and experienced roasters Matt Duwell and Calum Ross who collectively produced the fiercest of the battles fought on the night. Both comedians showed no mercy with curt retorts that ranged from sexuality to estranged parents. Their duel was only won narrowly with a well-timed pause to reflect on a crude joke that thereafter spelled victory for Duwell.

Ben Clover and Victor Patrascan appeared next in what could aptly called a one-sided, verbal onslaught, where Clover demolished Patrascan with deviously-witted snubs that left the Romanian comic reeling. Though initially capable of holding his own, Patrascan succumbed to the Londoner’s trademark smugness that pulverised his lingering thread of resistance. Whilst judges spared neither from hilarious criticisms, Clover went as far to challenge SpringDay with an on-the-spot comeback that garnered many an ‘ooooooh’ from the audience. Behind his sardonic demeanour hides a fearless beast willing to take on any challenge, and one could only wonder and hope to see the outcome between Clover and Duwell or Bakanov. The final pair, Jamie Allerton and Humbert Mayr, ended in a draw after a battle of sporadic, tic-for-tac insults where both went for the easy targets of their opponent though nonetheless succeeded in pleasing the crowd.

With the comedic gladiator matches over, the champions crowned and the losers scorned, the judges and roast host Bakanov took their leave to thunderous applause of a thoroughly entertained audience. Undeniably, Roast Battle doesn’t fail to live up to its expectations, serving to showcase a no-holds-barred contest of comedic athleticism, brazen putdowns and lightning-fast comebacks. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Mumble Comedy
Review of Will Mars: Candid Cafe
Will Mars: Candid Cafe
How is it possible that from such an unassuming, almost melancholic delivery, volcanoes of comedy burst from our psyches to join everyone else’s in the audience, like the tectonic creation of a new world. That world belongs to Will Mars, a dedicated comedian with a surreptitious story to tell. In fact it is very much the story of being a stand-up, warts ‘n’ all, & deglosses some of the glory we lesser mortals assume when staring at the life-size technicolour images of the pantheon which surround us in the Edinburgh streets. According to Will Mars – and I do believe him – comedians are mortals too, who can bleed, & can also feel.

I do not want to give away the plot of his show, because every nuance of his tale must be appreciated without forewarning to fully appreciate the telling. A lovely Northern lad, he didn’t even need a microphone as he waltzed thro’ his rites of passage; from the gallon-a-girl gigolo of his early twenties, to the late 30s ‘worst version’ of Mr Mars, where he’s refreshingly unafraid to admit men also possess the tick-tick-ticking biological clock. It is impossible not to feel some kind of empathy for Will Mars, & he makes you laugh as you do so. As a storyteller he is a joy to experience; like a quirky terrier yapping jokes at our feet, when every now & again he’d sink his teeth into our calves with a hefty bite. Click Here

August 18, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (Edinburgh Fringe LST Sketch-Off Finalists, 2017) are at it again! Last night at the Fringe Espionage venue this double act – otherwise known as LoveHard – delivered yet another highly entertaining show proving their ability and cementing their reputation as, not only fantastic writers but also, incredibly versatile and compelling actors.

For their Fringe offering this year, LoveHard transport us to Hopeville, an archetypal Mid-western average American town, where nothing ever happens – supposedly. Here, three highschool buddies, (one is actually called Buddy), get sucked up into a science fiction mystery when one picks up an innocuous-looking box of cassette tapes at a yard sale. Strange things and even stranger... events (their joke not mine) have been going on in Hopeville and the contents of these tapes seem to hold the key.

With homage paid and nods made to, amongst others, Back to The Future, Jumanji and, of course, Stranger Things, this show is clearly going to delight the sci-fi and paranormal geeks amongst you, though it will absolutely appeal to wider tastes too. The one thing you can’t be is lazy. If you’re looking for an hour of being spoon-fed humour, this is not the show for you. Like their previous production this year, Murdered by Murder, LoveHard insists on an audience that pays attention. The complexity of Lovick and Harding’s Tales from Elsewhere script (jam-packed with nuanced detail and wit) demands concentration. But if you stay engaged you will be rewarded with a thrilling, fast-paced, high-octane comedy ride. In this production, Harding seems to have the lion’s share of the roles as he energetically and, at times, almost frenetically, morphs and transforms into a myriad of other personas, uttering the team’s trademark “whoosh” as he does so. For me, Kevin, the Mediterranean student, was a particular favourite. But Lovick is by no means less able or talented, his bike-riding mime and FBI caricatures were delivered with a deadpan depiction that was simply brilliant. I loved the epilogue, set in 90s London, too. There are too many high points and characters to mention and, before the show is over, I’m sure I’ve counted a combined total of well over 30 different roles enacted by the two.

Tyler and Harding are a viewing must. They work so well together and part of this duo’s success must also be this clearly comfortable partnership. Each one’s abilities complement and showcase the other's and they clearly love what they do, corpsing and teasing at every opportunity. LoveHard are outrageously talented, ridiculously witty and endlessly entertaining – I laughed out loud from beginning to end of this show. What’s more, Tales from Elsewhere is free, so it’s almost a crime not to catch it. Please, please put it at the very top of your Fringe-viewing list – you won’t be disappointed. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Deadline News
Review of Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
CABARET – How To Be a Bad Girl… A Debaucherous Night with Sabrina Chap
The stage is set with a Keyboard and a microphone, How to Be a Bad Girl – A Debaucherous Night with Sabrina Chap, is a cabaret solo-show full of storytelling, and hilarious off-the-cuff comedy. Sabrina Chap clearly loves people, and her stage presence reflects this vividly.

The intimate room at The place on York Place, whilst it may not be the most appealing looking, is a perfect size for an audience to appreciate Chap close-up as she gets personal with them.

A woman who was trained as a classical pianist and set out to be a choir teacher sit’s in pink satin and fishnets telling the charged story of how she became “a bad girl” and “a slut” – and it’s hilarious; her original music delights audience members, perhaps in more ways than one, as sings bluntly about sex, lust and loving it all.

American born and living in New York, Chap is used to a more lively audience than the Edinburgh Fringe crowd can often be, but she’ll have you singing along with her in no time.

This is an intoxicating evening, and a must see for cabaret fans – or anyone that wants a bit of alternative sexual education.

Chap’s cheeky, witty and bold personality shines through as she sings the stories of her own life, and sometimes others – all with wonderful vocal ability and tone that excites and engages the mixed crowd that packed in to the room to see her.

A free show, which is well worth filling the bucket at the door – Get there early if you want a seat! Click Here

August 17, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Falling with Style
Technical issues hampered the comic on more than one occasion, and one occasion too long to forget. But to give Jones his due, he was confined to a cramped room that made the Chokey from Matilda look comfortable. It also didn’t help that the room was composed mostly of non-native English speakers who could only grasp snippets of the punchline, but he adapted well to this, revealing the strength in his improvisation skills.

As a collective, Falling With Style doesn’t do itself justice with its awkwardly segmented structure that doesn’t flow smoothly but stutters in places, worsened by the faulty microphone. It does, however, pay homage to its title with clear input and intriguing, critical analysis of Pixar’s best-known titles including Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up and, without intending it, Finding Nemo. This section of the show is profound and offers its own self-contained world to be explored, but again it feels too clunkily arranged; rather than interweaving the Pixar skit throughout the entirety of the show, it is sectioned off into very clearly banded sections. Don’t get me wrong, it is clever and funny, but it needs to be marathoned out, not sprinted. More frustrating is the reappearing ‘punchlines’ section, curtesy of Jones’ diary. Hit and miss is putting it lightly; there are some gems, but he should save this as a single occurrence for the best and most accessible ones.

Jones has all the makings of a future comic triumph, but he needs to tidy up his act in certain places. His routine is compact enough not to drag, but to prove he is the real deal he needs to ditch his material notes hoisted on an orchestra stand. Where he shows most promise is his quick-witted ability to think on his feet and respond deftly to his audience with aplomb. It is truly his remarkable optimism that carries his show, ironic given his open avowal for the perks of a pessimistic lifestyle. But perhaps that is the crux of the argument; indeed, he truly excels when he is unhappy. No, what Jones lacks is stage set up, preparation and a proper venue, though the latter is harder to come by.

So what to make of David von Jones? Simply that he is learning and growing in his comedic output. He will likely succeed to become a memorable Fringe name in years to come, but right now he needs to take time to iron out the creases and get a better grasp of improving the flow of his routine. But for what it’s worth, he is nonetheless a commendable, fresh face to see right now. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary
Sean McLoughlin’s Hail Mary is a lively, bouncy performance from the very start with excellent audience engagement and superb observational humour.
Brilliantly written and expertly delivered, this powerful performance is also very well structured with lovely little details that really set this show apart.
It is highly immersive and you can lose yourself in this show. It is pure, unadulterated escapism that truly is a pleasure to watch.
McLoughlin is a highly charismatic performer who draws his audience in with one sentence and subverts expectations with another.
The pace and energy is kept up though the entire show which is an incredible thing to witness and the material is consistently hilarious. This is definitely a show which made it difficult to review because I was laughing too much.

You need to go see this show. It’s absolutely fantastic. Let Sean McLoughlin do what he was clearly born to do and make you laugh and completely escape for an hour.

Totally brilliant. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Simon Jablonski — Love
Blunt and deadpan from the off, Simon Jablonski controls the room well with strong material and lots of energy. Different sections of the show have a different feel and pace to them which only serves to strengthen the overall performance as the pace changes suit the subject matter brilliantly. It shows an entirely different level of skill in the presentation of the show and that’s what good comedy is all about. The theme of love is explored in every conceivable way all the while completely subverting expectations with the clever writing and well structured, well thought out show.

Jablonski demonstrated all the way through that he is quick witted and someone who can roll with the punches.
The observations an anecdotes eave you with no choice but to sit back and enjoy while vivid, images are painted for you with great timing and sharp witted language.

Go and see this show. Yes, it may be on a little later but it’s well worth it. You’ll be glad you did. We were. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Sagar Dreamcast
Just as the show is about to start, Fiona hears her granny making her way to the room. Being the dutiful granddaughter, she goes to help ‘Granny’ in. Upon her arrival, ‘Granny’ is a fiercely funny reflection of a generation that believes the youth are wasting their time chasing their dreams, and perfectly shows Fiona’s superb ability to step into a character and work with in-the-moment energy gained from audience interaction, weaving it seamlessly with incredibly polished material.

This is a show which sees a whole spectrum of characters brought to life on the stage by Sagar’s faultless performance – a nursery school supply-teacher which was perfectly observed with a dark edge; a ‘man’s man’ who running a ‘saucy dating space’; a 1920’s (ish) Deep-South wife and a talking animal. Through each of these, there is a strong, clear and hard-hitting message about the strength of women and the toxic masculinity which continues to undermine. It is a narrative that carries the comedy down dark and unexpected turns. Each character’s stereotypes are thrown into both the light and the dark.

Fiona is a performer with a wealth of talent and brings it to the stage with a great amount of energy and verve. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Don't Be Terrible
In the beginning, there was Alice, a dark, rumbling force of comedy with no time for fools, and Alice was good. She takes to the stage at a comedy club and storms a stand-up routine to rapturous applause. Such is the ferocity of her performance that Steve, a well-meaning, kind-hearted audience member, asks her for lessons in how to be a stand-up.

What follows from this point engrossing on every level – the beautiful writing brought to life by first-class performances by Holly Aston and Daniel Cech-Lucas, as Alice and Steve respectively. We see the development of their relationship together, the trails and tribulations of their own relationships and Steve’s journey into the world of comedy as a way to recapture his girlfriend’s love. There is an obvious and immediate chemistry between Holly and Daniel which helps the dialogue ad structure radiate over the audience.

This is not a traditional play. This is a play that, right from it’s innovative opening, has a lot to say about relationships – how they form and end and every moment in between; the desperation that can be felt; the heartbreak. It is also a sharply-observed glimpse behind the curtain of what it takes to actually be funny and how to write comedy that will make people laugh. The ‘stand-up’ sections have a wonderful rhythm and flow to them, reminiscent of the best poetry you could imagine.

The narrative of the play never wavers from its course and is wonderfully balanced from its state-of-imperfection opening through to the climax and ending, which is a superbly far away from a Disney happily-ever-after as you can imagine. It is a genuine emotional roller-coaster and a thrill to ride it – dark, funny, expressive and intelligent.

The forms and conventions of plays and stand-up are toyed with, flipped and laid bare in Don’t Be Terrible to an exquisite level. For a play which can give you everything you need from entertainment, and more, this should not be missed. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of James Barr - Thirst Trap
James wants to find the one at the Fringe this year, and every person in the room could very well BE the one. Upon entry, every audience member is encouraged to touch James’ lucky pineapple before he takes to the stage, welcoming us into his world with extreme likeability and building a great energy in the room.

James’ quest to find love has seen him move from online dating to ‘real life tinder’. inviting all of the men to stand while he ‘swipes’ away the ones he does not want. When he finds the right man, they are invited on stage for a date, in an innovative and charming way of building the audience participation sections in to his show. There comes near the start of the show too, a fantastic analogy between buying avocados and dating, surely striking more than one chord with the millennials in the room.

James’ high levels of energy are kept throughout the show, with the audience riding the wave with him. He is often cheeky and provocative but never crosses the line into pure dirtiness, with lots of great ideas carrying the narrative. He can be shocking and honest at times, which gives a beautiful vulnerability to the performance and his comedy.

Get along and join in with James Barr’s quest for love. You are, after all, cordially invited. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Louise Reay: Eraserhead
…or should that be Pea-raserhead? After all, Louise’s planned show for this year cannot be performed due to continuing legal proceedings, with her lawyers telling her there are certain topics which cannot be broached in her comedy, leaving her with material that is ‘hardly groundbreaking for a female comedian’.

Louise’s show is one of high-octane, chaotic energy juxtaposed with very strong and heartbreaking messages of self-expression in the arts, oppression and censorship, which – shhhh – cannot be talked about. Aptly aided by her PA Michael, Louise takes the audience through an hour of innovative comedy about everything from pets, the occult to what it has been like growing up as a woman and fighting for every corner. There are also video calls with Reay’s mother which add even more layers to the tensions that simmer just below the surface.

This is a show that has everything, the whole spectrum of engrossing comedy performance that leaves the audience knowing they have been part of something important, a dialogue that can break through walls that cannot be spoken of. A dialogue that, in 2018, is too important not to have. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Chortle
Review of African in New York Almost Famous
This lightly entertaining, historical look at Africa, told via Njambi McGrath’s experiences of moving from Kenya to New York City to attend university, is probably more of a comedic one-woman show than stand-up comedy. For although McGrath’s jokes are well constructed, they do not naturally fit her personality. She appears a bit too formal, rather than genuinely amusing.

Having said that, McGrath has a strong stage presence, taking charge of her packed audience. She has plenty of fun stories and insights into Kenyan culture which certainly entertains and informs the mainly white audience, and while the laughter is scattered, it is consistent.

There are varied shades of light observational, and relatable humour, such as arriving at airports, mixed with much more weighty topics. She is unafraid to tackle racial prejudices, briefly touching on difficult subjects such as FGM and sharing lynching postcards, which she cleverly compares to Instagram.

... Click Here

August 17, 2018 Squirrel Comedy
Article about Ashley Storrie: Adulting
The venue is the ballroom of the Counting House, a lovely elegant venue with large teardrop chandeliers and a skylight dome above the centre of the room, and seats around 120 people. The performer is Ashley Storrie, a vivaciously hilarious Glaswegian lass who looks much younger than her actual age, and who swears like an, ummm Glaswegian.

Ashley,the daughter of Scottish comedy goddess Janey Godley, was the creator of the If Harry Potter was Scottish video, which has over 30 million views on YouTube. This might be why at least one couple brought their 12 year old son along. Ashley spent a while trying to find the rudest word he knew, as the rest of the capacity audience were being seated. I learned a number of new Scottish swear words which is always fun.

The show itself saw Ashley talking at length about the frustrations of trying to buy cigarettes, a tad about her notorious family and performing her first gig to an English audience (in Milton Keynes). She got somewhat serious for a bit about smear tests which would have been useful information for the younger audience members. Ashley really knows how to tell a story and the audience were riotous in their appreciation of all of her material.

Adulting was brilliant from start to finish and, as long as you don’t turn up late or heckle, you will be safe. You will definitely learn something from the show, even if it’s just a couple of new swear words (what she called Dame Cleo Laine… is still a complete mystery!).

The room was full on day two of the Fringe so get there early. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
This show is fantastic. It’s well written, intense and brilliantly performed. Energetic from the start, the audience has no choice but to be completely hooked as they take in a performance of superb character work, excellent improvisation and a simple but highly enjoyable plot.
The show is a parody of 80’s thriller Sci-Fi with flavours of Stranger Things with subtle undertones of Stephen King’s IT amongst others.
The entire audience was completely on board from the start and didn’t stop laughing for the duration.

For us, this show is one of the rarer beasts that is, in our opinion, as close to perfection as you’re going to get. if you want lively, bold escapism, go and see this show.

This is definitely in the running for Bunbury Best Show of The Fringe and you need to see why for yourselves.

To miss this would be sheer idiocy and we know you’re all smart cookies. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Allow It
This show has a warm, welcoming and gentle feel right from the start with strong but comfortable audience participation. It is a very cleverly written show which has been well researched and brilliantly put together. Wonderfully informative, Farrow’s teaching background is evident and used to great effect.
The audience is made to feel relaxed and at ease while a wide range of topics are covered in this seemingly effortless performance. It is honest and interesting and really, very, very funny indeed.

It really is one of those shows that feels like it’s over too soon because it’s so funny and genuinely enjoyable.

It’s well worth going to. Alex Farrow gets top marks from us… I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’ll leave the funnies to Alex. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Life Coach (Age 14)
From the very start the room is at ease with this show which is conversational in tone packed with very sharp and relatable anecdotal humour. The audience is highly immersed from the off because of the skillful story telling. Anthony Jeannot is a passionate performer who really takes clear pleasure in what he does and that also serve to draw the audience in. The timing and poise is just fantastic with wonderful descriptions which paint vivid pictures in the mind making this a warm an accessible show. it is a show about growing, changing and reflection.

A great watch. Make the time to see this show as it is so well performed and presented. It’s really hard not to adore Jeannot. Click Here

August 17, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Alcohol is good for you - Sam Kissajukian
Let’s start by stating the obvious, Sam Kissajukian has a fantastic stage presence. Blunt and very quick witted, this performance is conversational tonally with a completely laid back feel. Kissajukian is highly charismatic and his humour is very honest. Very well written and in our opinion, expertly constructed, this show is an absolute pleasure to watch and not only has beautiful, vivid language but is also completely emersive.
With superb command of the room, Kissajukian makes his experiences which, at times, are highly surreal, accessible and engaging to audience members of all ages, although at this point, we should point out that this would not be suitable for children.

This is a must see show. Take the time to go and see this extremely talented individual. It’s so worth it. Click Here

August 17, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about ComedySportz UK
Recommended Show
This is clearly a format that is well tested and slick. There are few gaffes and pauses that our amiable group of six – including the comedy announcer, Sean – are able to field. From competing against each other to going solo with games that are then judged against each other by value of applause this has a clear pattern to be followed and it is a well worn and familiar pattern.

Over the 50 or so minutes we are taught a number of moves from the groaner foul to get out of here which helps the interaction, whilst at times there is genuine audience engagement as people are brought up onstage to participate. This is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the show as it delivers some genuinely bizarre moments. This is especially true when two young girls – my daughter being one of them – are the ones used to provide suggestions in an improvised scene which makes the adults channel their inner kid.

The concept of sports and comedy mixing is well established on the small screen and it works very well onstage. There seemed to be some genuine rivalry between the teams which worked in convincing us that this all mattered. Being a free show, it could have been seen as a bit of a gamble, but the fact was that it was much better than the entrance fee!

It’s polished, if a little rough around the edges, just by the nature of improvisation being unpredictable, but the performers are skilled in turning situations to their advantage. The atmosphere in the barn is certainly quite apt and there was, thanks to the referee costume in particular, a sense, almost, of an intellectual style Gladiators.

In the wind and the rain of Edinburgh this was a very welcome opportunity to do more than escape the weather. I really did enjoy it and though some of the comedy did not hit the mark overall it was something that, as a package, worked. Like all free shows the bucket is there at the end and given the weather they were offering a rather natty beanie hat and book for £20 and I was all over that combo! The familiarity with which the cast know the show and how each situation and game may go is important and made this far less of a gamble than you might think. Improvisation is a difficult skill and this has the scaffolding, the skilled performers and an attractive entrance cost that makes this a tad “no brainer” if you want to laugh at competitive comedy… Well worth the visit – even if it ain’t raining! Click Here

August 17, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about The Burning Gadulka
Recommended Show
Miro Kokenov has a story to tell and he tells it vibrantly. In this new writing piece written by award-winning Bulgarian writer Rayko Baychev, translated into English – and performed by Kokenov who also draws on his Bulgarian roots for inspiration. The show’s website describes the writing as a “contemporary Bulgarian monodrama…steeped in Bulgarian folklore.”

In his observations Baychev gives context:

“Sometimes the Balkans seem to me a terrible place, full of absurdities and severe apathy that disintegrates everything around. Other times I see their beauty and joy, a strange smile peering stupidly everywhere and makes you smile, go figure out yourself how and why.”

This is certainly an interesting play and one may pose the question – what or who is a gadulka?! Will he open the box?

Kokenov uses energetic physical acting together with narration to populate the small stage space with a village full of people. He is a solid actor with a range of performance skills, using his voice projection, expressive facial reactions and physical gestures to not only tell, but also enact the story and all of its characters.

The play is well crafted with rich details, highs and lows of the main character and all of the other inhabitants, and the story flows well from start to finish. The situation of the main character is curious and heartfelt, which draws you in to see what happens.

A theme of music is quickly established and the text incorporates fascinating information and opinions about certain instruments and their hierarchy.

Kovenov’s animated and strident delivery is peppered with several well-chosen silent moments and non-verbal reactions. This offers an effective change of pace, and more of these moments would be welcome to enhance the storytelling style. He also performs with charm and tenderness when he talks about a plethora of subjects such as women, logic, certain musical instruments, and he is vulnerable and self-effacing at other times.

The arc of the show and arc of each character is there and Kokenov relishes in his performance as he tells anecdotes, dramatic and humorous stories, plus a joke or two. There’s also a panda story, which is beautifully told with physical gestures. Recommended! Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Skinny
Review of Siân Docksey: Interdependent Woman
Energetic, playful and silly, Siân Docksey’s Interdependent Woman is a glittery maritime joy.

Siân Docksey has decided to record some of her very successful stand-up to show her Belgium mother who thinks her daughter is a very successful cruise ship stand-up host. When the camera is off, the audience is taken into the slightly less glamorous reality of Docksey’s life.

A constantly reassuring presence, Docksey’s onstage persona provides a bright and colourful spin to even the most grubby and dankest of subjects. Segments filled with dance, prolonged voiceover interaction and the interspersed cruise ship hosting struggle next to Docksey’s more direct material, confessional and endearing tales of modern 20-something life. Though London centric, you may be hard pushed to find other acts discussing communal sex parties.

Interdependent Woman strikes the right balance of stupidity and subversiveness that her expertly timed gabs demand. Relaying to the audience a life that seems out of control, her measured outbursts of frustration are always accompanied by outlandish jokes to soften the blow. She speaks to the larger issues of millennial life, poor wages, poor living conditions, and a lack of savings followed by a song sung as a lobster from the inside of a whales stomach. Never untactful or blunt, she remains a playful presence that creates a sense of joy and bewilderment in equal measure. Click Here

August 16, 2018  Beyond the Joke
Review of Olaf Falafel presents There's no i in idiot
Sometimes you just need a stupid, silly show. Something to get you through the soggy, grey dog days of the Edinburgh Fringe. In which case Olaf Falafel's There's No i In Idiot is just the thing. There is nothing about dead dads, nothing about Trump, nothing about #metoo. Unless his fanciful story about his life being saved by benevolent dolphins is some kind of elaborate metaphor for the world today.

Falafel's show covers pretty much all bases when it comes to comic absurdity. His hour is packed with visual gags onscreen, callbacks, puns – he may be Swedish but, of course, he speaks English better than most Brits – and a touch of audience participation. In fact to say it is stupid and silly does not really do it justice. It is extremely well-crafted and jokes that seem self-contained gradually slot together to build to a bigger laugh.

There is more than a hint of Harry Hill to Falafel's intentionally repetitive delivery and some of the playful routines could come from the famously big collared entertainer too – the idea that you can tell someone's personality by the biscuits they like, for example, or the running gag about apt funerals of people from different professions. Occasionally an old gag slips in – the dissection of the lyrics to Do They Know It's Christmas? was an overworked stand-up trope three decades ago – but this is a small quibble. Falafel has an inventive mind that constantly surprises and tickles you.

This is a gloriously goofy show from a comic fizzing with verbal and visual ideas. But it would be best not to give any more of his surprises away. As for the finale which requires summoning up the spirit of the ghost of Robert Smith (and no, the Cure singer isn't dead), you'll just have to go to see that for yourself. Click Here

August 16, 2018  Darkchat
Review of What has The News Ever Done For Me?
7/10

Gráinne Maguire has been coming to the Edinburgh Fringe for a number of years now but despite wanting to have seen one of her shows it has for one reason or another never happened. This year as well as her main show (I Forgive You, Please Like Me at the Teviot) she is again doing “What Has The News Ever Done for Me?” for the Free Fringe at City Cafe. Usually if I’m going to see a show at the Free Fringe at 11.15 in the morning it will involve being screamed at by a (usually) Australian comedian and listening to (usually) feral children scream at the top of their lungs whilst avoiding being drenched by a (hopefully) water filled super soaker pistol or worse.

This morning however it’s a room full of mostly hungover Fringe goers wondering if it’s too early for this kind of thing.

Despite the time the room is packed and on the day I’m there people are being turned away as the show is beginning, although this being a free show there isn’t anyone in a pink or yellow t-shirt doing the turning away, Gráinne instead politely telling them there’s no room (after quickly scanning around) and continuing with her introduction!

Our host is as good as her reputation suggests (she’s written for and appeared on our TVs and Radios now for almost a decade) and outlines what will be happening through the show, the clue is in the title, and that we’ll be getting three comedians (“the finest comedians from this year’s Fringe…..willing to come down here at 11 in the morning!”) Today they are all (almost) called Alex which causes a little confusion as we go, but also a bit of extra comedy, and we’ll judge which one is most important at the end of the show. In a World of Trump and big Business manipulating your data the most important story is of course the man with the World’s biggest cucumber, I expected nothing less

The show is - like most free shows at this time of the day - a bit up and down, with some sections better than others (and done similarly elsewhere) and a lot will rest on the visiting comedians (different every day) but on the whole it is done well, Maguire is likeable, funny and controls the three contestants well. Everyone in the room (both on and off stage) seem to be enjoying themselves and it’s easily the kind of free show you could go to more than once if you’re looking for a show to start your day.

All in all it turns out that it wasn’t too early for this kind of thing, it’s a million times better than being super soaked! Click Here

August 16, 2018 The Mumble
Article about You're Okay!
An Interview With Suzanne Lea Shepherd
A transinternational, comedienne extraordinaire is in Edinburgh at this very moment. The Mumble grabb’d a quick coffee with the lassie…
Hello Suzanne, so where ya from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Suzanne: I grew up in Kansas, but I live in New York now. Queens, more specifically, because Manhattan is SO overrated!

Which comedians inspire you, both old skool and on the scene today?
Suzanne: My favorite old school comic is Sam Kinison…his energy and his anger are just so great! Ron White and Kathleen Madigan also speak to my heart because they had similar upbringings. Comedians I like that are on the scene now… John Mulaney, Hari Kondabalu, and, of course, Chapelle.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Suzanne: Any day now…

How did you get into comedy?
Suzanne: I started doing comedy in Singapore because the qualifications to get onto a show were that you had to have an e-mail address… as luck would have it… I did! Was a great scene because it was small and nurturing… not blood-thirsty like NYC.

What is the difference between an American & a British audience?
Suzanne: British audiences listen better, so they tend to go for the more clever jokes; however, American audiences have more energy, so it takes less effort to get them going.

This is your fourth time performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, how have you changed as a comedian since your first visit?
Suzanne: I have learned that being superstitious does not determine if you’re a good comedian or not… your jokes do. I used to have an almost OCD-like routine my first year because I thought it would make me have a good show. Now I realize that it’s actually the work you do all year writing and performing that make you have a better show!

... Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Skinny
Review of Ahir Shah: Duffer
Duffer. Clown. Fool. That’s what Ahir Shah was to his grandmother, and that’s just what he is in front of the heaving room in Cabaret Voltaire. At 27, Shah is an incredibly accomplished stand-up, touching on several huge issues including race, religion and mental health, but never feeling like he does them a disservice as he deftly skips from one to another with ease. All somehow chart the journey of his grandmother from India to Wembley and back again, and Shah’s final visit to see her in late 2017.

It’s a much more personal affair than his previous out-and-out political work, but Shah’s acute talent shows he can turn his hand to the comedy of compassion too. His vulnerability at discussing something so personal onstage gives rise to stirring segments about the Windrush scandal and euthanasia but they’re held tightly either side by his impeccably written relief and the fantastic Bohemian Rhapsody gag that bubbles to the surface throughout the hour.

It’s a show that really connects: Duffer is accessible, tender and considerably less guilt-inducing than similarly passionate and rousing Edinburgh shows. Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Mumble
Review of Loose Brie Solve Everything
Set in the basement of a plush bar The Newsroom was a slightly rough looking night club venue. I thought it would be a fitting venue for the expected degrading content of the show. And indeed around a quarter of the way in, several members of the audience stood up and left in disgust at the dire material. The perpetrators of this comic affront were Martin and Phil, known as Loose Brie, who have shared a flat for many years and came up with the idea of writing a show based on solving all of the world’s problems. In an hour. In tackling many issues very relevant to today’s media driven world, the dynamic between the two seemed only to highlight the contrast they created between themselves and caring responsible adults. The more sensitive the issue, the more distasteful their reactions – no blood, guts or gore, but plenty of nasty physical insinuations.

Mixed in with unspeakable content (of which more later) was some quirky witty banter between the two that was perhaps a product of the real time they spend together in their poky flat. They used improvisation that delighted them – they had a big thing with delight – which actually shone through but didn’t stop more walkouts in disgust. Did we know we would be walking the plank by coming to this event? It was a show filled with distaste and laughter, if you can manage it, in the face of two guys parrying with each other about faults and discrepancies, really about them living together.

The title ‘Loose Brie Solve Everything’ afforded some good jokes, as they listed lots of things that need solving, from public embarrassment to which they gave the quick solution of acting weird all the time. They mushed around concepts, finding negatives about each other and then finding it difficult to have anything positive to say. Although it seemed to be about the world, really it seemed to be about them. No sooner had the general remarks and issues momentarily won our attention, than we were shocked back into the howling torrents of abuse as they set an imaginary fire under yet another idea.

Our thoughts dallied, wondering if we were safe or not just for being there. But we perked up, or slouched in our seats just to see what would happen next, and next it came. Martin used his Freddy Mercury lookalike joke to reel us in, and you know as performance goes he wasn’t too bad at it choosing to growl and speak loudly not to sing poetically. The same strain of intelligence that ran through all of it did bring with it a certain continuity like you’d find in a less disturbing version of theatre, it hits highs and lows, but their reality was to offend the sensibilities and discover who was willing to endure it any further.

The level of uncertainty seemed to be very much on purpose, for although they apologised each time for going too far, they then struck the chord of the kind of comedy where nothing and no one was safe. At least they got me thinking about my own mortality I questioned myself as to how I truly felt about the show I was seeing it was succeeding in doing that for me. This pair weren’t rock stars far away from the actualities of everyday life, these were two guys going through life more than willing to provoke the world (in a small night club in a plush part of Edinburgh’s West end)

For their amazing finale they took their trousers down, bare for all to see! I couldn’t believe it but as a member of the audience, when no one else reacted neither did I, it was socially bad but drew out some laughter as they pretended to speak out of their backsides. If this lot appeals to your darker sensibilities go and watch everything you have ever held dear be blasted away. Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Mumble
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
Lovehard are a comedy double act with some form at the fringe having garnered rave reviews for their festival show last year – but would this year’s effort match those giddy heights? The audience is immediately thrown into the action as two scientists struggle with the repercussions of an experiment gone wrong. They have inadvertently opened a portal to a deadly dimension of killer sound-waves, stored on a cassette tape which must now at all costs be destroyed. The cassette of course ends up going missing, and finds itself in the hands of our unsuspecting heroes, three geeky high school kids.

What follows is a brilliant parody of sci-fi, teen and horror B-movie tropes which manages to find room to spoof everything from Stranger Things to Back to the Future. The plot itself, if played straight, would be a supremely enjoyable episode of The Twilight Zone. Lovehard are clearly not only gifted comic actors but also scholars of the material with a real love of the genre sending up the cliches of teen movies such as proms, yard sales and bullying jocks to winning effect. They also find time to make allusions to Shakespeare and Greek Myth, but those of you wary of something highbrow which requires a degree in comparative literature to enjoy need not fear as this show is as gloriously silly as it is smart. The jokes come thick and fast throughout the show, involving plenty of fun with the stilted dialogue and anachronistic teen slang found in the source material (what at first feels a rather laboured joke about 60’s pop has a wonderful pay off later in the show which is well worth the wait ) as well as some brilliant use of breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience directly.

The pair are as gifted physically as they are verbally and there are some delightful moments of physical comedy which make good use of the pair’s gift for mime. I was particularly taken by a slow motion fight involving various characters. In fact much humour is derived from the fact that the cast of the little town in which the show is set is played by only two actors. This involves a fair amount of silly voices, exaggerated postures and a hectic pace which ably demonstrates the skills of the pair and their gift for self-mockery.

There is not much to comment on in the way of props, costume or set to the piece but what there is within the show is a very inventive use of sound. Unsurprising in a show in which the main threat is a killer sound-wave the use of audio is big aspect of the work and this handled with real subtlety and skill. The spooky electronic background music parodies only too well sci-fi TV themes such as Stranger Things and The X Files and the ominous reverb, angry static and distorted voices bring a real richness to the show creating a sense of atmospheric dread which the duo at times joyfully puncture. Along with the rest of the audience – howling with laughter throughout – I thoroughly enjoyed Tales From Elsewhere, a comedy spoof with real heart, intelligence and most of all laughter. I will certainly be interested to see what the energetic and imaginative Lovehard will unleash upon us next. Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Edinburgh Reporter
Review of Show Up, Kids!
If the main attraction doesn’t show up, the kids still want to see a comedy show! So Pete’s gonna make one up and have the kids (and adults) help write, direct, and design it. What could possibly go wrong? From the creator of the critically acclaimed improvised comedy, Show Up, comes a fresh, fun, interactive twist on the traditional kids show.

Peter Michael Marino has returned to the Fringe with Show Up, which I reviewed last year, plus added a children’s version of his an improvised show, along with Sally the
Silly Song Singer, who one way or another manages to add to the fun the audience has.

I’m always wary when a performer who is used to adults decides to put on a children’s show as some are not as engaged in giving a great performance and more interested in creating an easy shift and some extra funds.

This is not the case with Show Up, Kids!, which gives a mixed audience a great show, with a mixture of songs, audience participation, crowd-sourced ideas and a quick, witty
performance by Marino. When I was there the audience was made up of over-enthusiastic children, slightly reticent ones, engaging parents and those who were less keen. By the end I would say all went away happy but, most importantly, there were very happy bairns in the room who were enthusiastically engaging with Marino.

As with the adult version of the show, this is not one for people who want to sit back and be spoon-fed or dread the thought of audience participation. Any child who wants to giggle, shout out suggestions, get on the stage and help with the script, props and set decoration will love it. Marino shows again that he knows how to adapt the format and his performance, plus how to judge an audience. This is a Pay What You Want (PWYW) show but don’t be cheap when the hat comes round and remember how much you pay to take children to the cinema. Most of all, adults and bairns alike should show up and see this. Click Here

August 15, 2018  The Scotsman
Review of Mat Ricardo Vs The World
Undoubtedly one of the greatest variety artists at work today, Mat Ricardo is an outstanding juggler and much more beside....

As well as showcasing superbly realised feats of dexterity, Ricardo’s shows are underpinned by his deep knowledge and love of variety forms and histories, his endearingly barbed and quick-witted relationship with the audience, and his willingness to express what performance means to him personally, often in courageously vulnerable ways.

All of these qualities are to the fore in Mat Ricardo vs the World, a high-concept show a year in the making.

After three decades in the business, Ricardo invited the public to challenge him to learn some new tricks; this show gives us the highly impressive fruits of his resulting efforts.

Without giving away too many specific details, some new tricks offer variations on the kind of juggling, balancing and fast-handed expertise that is Ricardo’s stock in trade while others take him further afield.

There’s a brilliantly tense routine inspired by an action movie, flirtations with forms adjacent to juggling such as magic and escapology and novel takes on golfing and cup-stacking. Click Here

August 15, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Matt Duwell- Snowflake it 'til you make it
There is something very reminiscent of Bill Murray in Matt Duwell: the optimistic sarcasm is the overlying note in his voice; he produces easy crowd-pleasing material, imbued with the subtle undercurrents of political fascination; his versatility is self-explanatory in his peerless audience interaction; and there is an innate likeability about his grounded persona. But would you believe that the five-year Fringe veteran’s working-class roots can also raise high brows? With a Douglas Copeland narrative style, Snowflake It ‘Til You Make It examines contemporary issues in the likes of Millennial stereotypes, PC culture and political mudslinging through witty observations. Mincing no words, the Brighton comic uses his time wisely with profoundly hilarious anecdotes and audience banter.

Given that this viewing’s audience were low on energy – surprising given a Saturday night – Duwell adapted well to his environment with a commanding presence. Circumnavigating the crowd before him with great audience interaction, Duwell’s improvised humour and banter with the audience often appears to be his strongest facet, revealing the inner workings of a sharp-witted mind. He knows his demographics well and capitalises upon it with adroit effect, which is perhaps best addressed in his skit on one-night stands. He is quick enough to move things along when necessary without rushing, and doesn’t linger on jokes if they don’t land. Duwell also squeezed in a few Trump jokes for the record but didn’t launch a prolonged assault on the American president, bypassing the pitfall cliché of this year’s most done to death target.

But behind the laughter, the jokes bely the underlying nature of the show’s title: through the medium of Duwell’s affable disposition, the show unravels the surprising power behind colloquial language and metaphors used in day to day life, and thereafter the power of a rapid, ever-changing language such as English. In essence, Snowflake It ‘Til You Make It considers the decline in Western culture’s generation relations against the ever-burgeoning wage disparity in a world run amok with political tribalism, wherein lies Duwell’s most discerning point: we should be suspicious of language in all walks of life.

Fostering his own comedic legacy, the creative elements of Duwell’s show oozes confidence and relevance to a modern world grappling in the midst of political turmoil, delivered with imaginative appeal and razor-sharp, death-dealing wit from a comic with original ideas and strong aspirations for future comedic output. Click Here

August 15, 2018  Chortle
Review of Robin Morgan
Old-fashioned romantics, step right up – Robin Morgan and his teenage sweetheart have got married recently, they were each other’s ‘first’ and everything. OK, he’s effectively on his honeymoon, now, up at the Fringe without her, but you have to break a few eggs to make a good angle for your Edinburgh show.

And pretty handy it is, too. Morgan is a perfectly charming host for his show about this most unusual honeymoon situation, and he is able to rouse a sweaty Saturday crowd into life. That’s all the more impressive considering the mic levels were a bit awry and he wasn’t easy to hear from the back of the room.

As Morgan is no doubt aware, stand-up comedy is not short of white middle-class males telling stories about themselves, and his mannerisms and delivery are all very familiar. But it gradually becomes clear that he’s better than your average comic. A couple of early semi-punchlines early on flag this up, one about being a child not wanting to cover up his full Cardiff City kit, another on the prospect of working till the age of 90, cut through and suggest he’s got a bit of something.

Other sparkly bits of writing emerge, like his material on planning his wedding, and the lack of drama at his stag, which segues into a funny conversation with a couple on the front row about the price worth paying for a headbutt. A couple of quite cliched jokes slip through the net, like a reference to how long he and his wife have sex, but they are at least cancelled out by some fresh concepts and turns of phrase. Click Here

August 15, 2018  The Skinny
Review of A Few Good Jen
Jenny Collier's dark sense of humour shines the best light in her latest hour.

A Few Good Jen sees Jenny Collier return to the Fringe with more tales of modern London life, her self-proclaimed disastrous love life, and the everyday problems being a comic bring her. Collier's ongoing mission to find a London-based home that isn’t entirely toxic and borderline uninhabitable will hit home to any Londoner and city-based audience members alike. Equally, run-ins with family, which paint her as an unsuccessful mess, will ring true with the same crowds.

Collier doesn’t stray too far from her natural inclination for storytelling which pins the show together. When she does, her slightly oddball personality and dark sense of humour bring a freshness to the show, which sometimes risks stagnation due to the familiarity of its topics. It’s the more weird and questionable moments on stage that draws the audience into her world and what makes her a more distinguishable act from others – her bizarre misunderstandings with doctors are terrifically terrible.

What is most impressive about Collier is that she refrains from creating a sense of hierarchy in the room levelling herself on par with her audience at all times. Her maniacal stories are always enjoyable even if they don’t always get huge laughs, placing Collier in a hurricane of mess, not always (but mostly) of her own creation. Click Here

August 15, 2018  The Guardian
Review of Ahir Shah: Duffer
Ahir Shah made his name – and secured a 2017 Edinburgh comedy award nomination – with polemical standup about the disintegrating state of the world. This year’s set, Duffer, tries something different. It’s about his grandmother, who was deported from the UK – and from Shah’s family home – when he was five, and whom he met for the first time in 22 years on a recent trip to Gujarat. It’s a show with lots to recommend it, even if Shah’s style probably lends itself better to political than emotional comedy.

There is a political dimension to Duffer, mind you: Shah uses his gran’s enforced exile from Britain to make strident points about immigration policy. But mainly this is a personal set, about his ethnicity – there’s a gleeful opening routine about British Indians’ secret success (“Jews are taking a lot of our heat!”) – his struggles with depression, and the tug on this atheist millennial of his ancestral religion.

The title derives from the Hindi word for fool or clown: his gran’s pet name for him as an infant. After she is deported, and an uncle kills himself, Shah recounts his difficulties coping with both his personal life and the overwhelming negativity of the daily news. Things get grimmer when a standup tour takes him to India, where his grandmother’s poor health forces him to consider euthanasia.

At times, I doubted whether Shah really finds much humour in these subjects. You can hardly blame him, but the jokes – often excellent on paper – aren’t animated by much spirit of fun. His political diatribes, and some poetic philosophising, feel like they are where his heart lies – even if they generate silence or applause rather than laughter.

But there remains much to enjoy, or be impressed by, in Duffer. A staged dialogue between Shah and religion drolly itemises the consolations of blind faith. There’s a running joke about Bohemian Rhapsody that keeps on giving. You can’t help but admire the volume of difficult material Shah unfolds here – about race, mental health, mortality – even if its transformation into comedy is, by his own high standards, imperfectly realised. Click Here

August 14, 2018  Fest
Review of Right Wing Comedian
Leo Kearse may be a self confessed Right-Wing Comedian but he’s keen to stress that it’s only in the small government, less state interference, low taxes way not the straight-arm saluting, goose-stepping, nice boots type.

As Kearse acknowledges himself, politically he’s very much in the minority amongst comedy performers. But it’s important to hear others’ points of view particularly in these times of increasing political polarization - even if some of his points are deliberately obnoxious. There’s a moan about fat activism and even a controversial suggestion to resolve the issues surrounding #MeToo.

He does let his white male privilege slip out though saying that, “we’ve won these battles” in regard to women’s, LGBTQ and civil rights, which is sadly not the case. In fact elsewhere in the set he suggests that he doesn’t really think that that’s the case himself. But overall the show is performed with his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek as he gleefully plays devil’s advocate. And there are big laughs to be had here, even from one of the less political jokes about a particularly gruesome diarrhoea incident.

In addition Kearse allows a glimpse into how his right wing viewpoint may have evolved – it could be a simple act of rebellion. It may be a surprise to learn that he didn’t spend his entire childhood aggravating wasps but was in fact brought up by hippy parents, his dad content to poo with only a hessian curtain for a door and a mum constantly disappointed her son wasn’t gay. Maybe he’s just misunderstood. Click Here

August 14, 2018  Fest
Review of Strictly Carl Donnelly!
Carl Donnelly is mellowing with age, he tells us. He's got married (again), he's become a vegan, he's even started birdwatching. He's still a laid-back cool cat though, so it's tough to say if this is the beginning of his descent into middle age or just a ploy for more varied material. Either way, it works.

Strictly Carl Donnelly! (so-named, I assume, because of the giant ballroom chandeliers that hover over his stage) is entertaining fare, but not quite at the level we might come to expect from the now TV-famous comic. He spends a large portion of the show dissecting the gentrification of London in a manner which, if you'll pardon the pun, feels a little hackneyed. What's more interesting is when he turns the satirical mirror on himself, and reflects on his own gentrification.

He's candid and funny on his own internal class hypocrisies, having come from a working-class background but now suckling at the teet of globalism — mostly in the form of soy milk. It's not just class struggles either; he's caught between middle age and the tempting pull of youth, between cynicism and optimism. There's plenty of engaging nuggets here but he doesn't mine them for nearly long enough, or work the seam of self-aware duality as he could.

His geezer-charm means that the crowd-work is still strong, but it's frustrating when he finds himself bogged down in well-worn material such as the pitfalls of stag-do's. The lines aren't always befitting of his comic talents, but those talents are still enough to carry the show. Click Here

August 14, 2018  The List
Review of Trying to be good
Achieving his best self as well as the finest comic he can be.

What does it mean to be good these days? Daniel Audritt is working hard on being a better person, but is the title actually just a hint that he would far rather prefer to be a superior comedian? In a perfect world, of course, both goals could be achieved. He may be in rush to have kids of his own, but Audritt revels in his distancing role of godparent, which provides plenty glory with barely any of the responsibility.

OK, so far, so not so good. Then he recalls the time he was on the London underground and took evasive action to save himself in an incident which showed that once paranoia takes hold, anyone could think and act like an actual racist.

So, there's not much evidence to be seen here that Audritt is hitting the heights as a human being: what of his comedy? A clear fascination with language exists in his bones, as proven by an opening gambit about the words we use to describe the process of feeling love which seem to run contrary to that emotion. A rather hackneyed analysis of the negative aspects in the Disney canon lets Audritt down temporarily but he soon rallies with a gag about meat and veganism that's a neat bit of wordplay rather than an assault on either of those parties. Now, there's a good boy. Click Here

August 14, 2018  The List
Review of Right Wing Comedian
Less turns out to be more when it comes to political content.

While Leo Kearse may dub himself the 'right-wing comedian', and who last year insisted that he could make people Tory, his political opinions turn out to be a little more nuanced from your average Conservative. For one thing, while he clearly has no time for Jeremy Corbyn, Kearse is fulsome in his belief that the rail network should be re-nationalised. Although this is mainly down to seeking more convenience within his own life than anything amounting to an ethical crusade.

Insisting that he moved away from Scotland because he wanted to get away from poor people is a rather cheap shot and fails to work on its own terms given that poverty doesn't especially recognise borders. Where Kearse's show works best (and when it flies it really does soar to some great comedic heights), is when he lays down his arms and simply shoots the comedic breeze. So, his dissection of how annoying it is to try and book a train ticket online is amusing in itself without any political interference, but it fades into the background when it comes to hilarity with the tremendously awkward moment when he recalls getting too up close and personal with a pig in Haiti. Click Here

August 14, 2018  One4Review
Review of Stand Up, Weather Girl!
This show is warm and enthusiastic, and not the worst way to spend an hour. Ms Fraser was an English teacher, is now a supply weather presenter, and feminist. She’s struggled to reconcile these last two (presenting and feminism), mostly because some people on the internet have proffered their irrelevant opinions on her appearance.

The show draws out two strands in parallel – how Sam came to be a weather presenter (and how she feels about it now), and how it became possible for a non-meteorologist to present the weather. This, and Ms Fraser’s engaging sparkle (there’s just something nice about her), is an interesting enough story to keep people to the end.

Ms Fraser’s comedy relies on smut and easy one-liners, though there is one lovely one about thongs. Her presenting style retains something of the weather, and hasn’t quite fully migrated into live-on-stage-in-front-of-an-audience mode. Apart from this, she came across as friendly, and committed to doing the absolute best show she could. Click Here

August 13, 2018  The List
Review of Olaf Falafel presents There's no i in idiot
Unique logic takes us on a silly journey.

At first, an Olaf Falafel show appears as random as a bag of Revels whose contents have been entirely replaced by parsnips. But in amongst the daftness somehow a semblance of sense and structure begins to emerge, albeit that which adheres to a uniquely Falafel kind of logic involving dolphins, tiny Mexican waves and The Cure's Robert Smith. There can't be many shows at this year's Fringe more loveably idiotic than this. Even Falafel's version of that stand-up staple opener of comedically pointing out what you look like is far more inventive than most.

Among the ridiculous and surreal ideas is Jenga with old people, a series of silly funerals and throughout Falafel returns to Biscuitology, where he tells your fortune by what biscuit you favour. But frankly, that makes as much sense as personality traits based on what time of the year you were born.

There's plenty of skill in evidence though as well as a love of the English language – his second of course, him being Swedish – within his myriad of one-liners, plays on words and puns aplenty. The childlike joy of this middle-aged Scandinavian builds to an equally nonsensical climax topping off his hour of silly. Click Here

August 13, 2018  The List
Review of Robin Morgan
A smooth show that would benefit from a bit of mess.

In a slim suit and pointy shoes, with a bowtie unfastened, Robin Morgan is fresh from his honeymoon. He got married to his teenage sweetheart a week before his Edinburgh Fringe run started, and feels a bit guilty for leaving her and their son behind.

Because he admits that he's never, ever had any drama in his life, and sticks to very normcore material about which supermarket meal deal is best or the type of high-maintenance woman that ends up on Don't Tell the Bride, he turns to the crowd to spice things up. Who's had thrush? Who can't get an erection? One hand shyly goes up and he pounces, with no real punchline to make it worth the interruption.

The view from inside his straight, white, well-spoken bubble – where there doesn't seem to be any real obstacles or awkward scenarios which make you really want to root for him – doesn't make for a gripping show. He grins and oozes smug charm, but the smooth confidence acts as more of a barrier than a way into his world. It's as though he's showing us the professional photographer version of a perfect wedding, when it would be way more fun to share the behind-the-scenes meltdowns and messiness. Click Here

August 13, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
From the very beginning of this show, with Nathaniel welcoming the audience into the room with an easy and warm charm, it is clear that he is an expert performer. This is a show about how his 2014 lead to the break up of his relationship and how this is his first Edinburgh show since then.

It is a show that explores the paths and avenues of artistry, full of sideways glances at a wide array of subjects – the influential figures in his life such as David Bowie, Coco Pops and pretty much everything in between. This is a sharp comedic brain in action which knows how to write a tightly bound narrative, where unexpected and surreal turns to things such as Dylan covering the theme tunes of 1980’s sitcoms are never left by the wayside, and feed into a fantastic ending. Every moment is well-constructed, moves with purpose and confidence and displays exactly what the performer is capable of.

Nathaniel Metcalfe has put together a show here that has everything. There is superb use of multimedia – a break-down of a bizarre Jeremy Irons interview and subsequent return later in the show is a particular highlight. It’s an innovative, intelligent and sharp-witted hour of comedy that demonstrates how Metcalfe is absolutely at the top of his game.

This was a hour of comedy that was an absolute pleasure to be part of.

Written by Christopher Moriarty. Click Here

August 12, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka - Review
Miro Kokenov has a story to tell and he tells it vibrantly. In this new writing piece written by award-winning Bulgarian writer Rayko Baychev, translated into English – and performed by Kokenov who also draws on his Bulgarian roots for inspiration. The show’s website describes the writing as a “contemporary Bulgarian monodrama…steeped in Bulgarian folklore.”

In his observations Baychev gives context:

“Sometimes the Balkans seem to me a terrible place, full of absurdities and severe apathy that disintegrates everything around. Other times I see their beauty and joy, a strange smile peering stupidly everywhere and makes you smile, go figure out yourself how and why.”

This is certainly an interesting play and one may pose the question – what or who is a gadulka?! Will he open the box?

Kokenov uses energetic physical acting together with narration to populate the small stage space with a village full of people. He is a solid actor with a range of performance skills, using his voice projection, expressive facial reactions and physical gestures to not only tell, but also enact the story and all of its characters.

The play is well crafted with rich details, highs and lows of the main character and all of the other inhabitants, and the story flows well from start to finish. The situation of the main character is curious and heartfelt, which draws you in to see what happens.

A theme of music is quickly established and the text incorporates fascinating information and opinions about certain instruments and their hierarchy.

Kovenov’s animated and strident delivery is peppered with several well-chosen silent moments and non-verbal reactions. This offers an effective change of pace, and more of these moments would be welcome to enhance the storytelling style. He also performs with charm and tenderness when he talks about a plethora of subjects such as women, logic, certain musical instruments, and he is vulnerable and self-effacing at other times.

The arc of the show and arc of each character is there and Kokenov relishes in his performance as he tells anecdotes, dramatic and humorous stories, plus a joke or two. There’s also a panda story, which is beautifully told with physical gestures. Recommended! Click Here

August 12, 2018  One4Review
Review of Eat Sleep Shit Shag
There are a couple of reasons to give in to the persistent demands of the flyer distribution squads. One is not to let all those trees die in vain. The other reason is that the flyer you just reluctantly folded into four might just be your introduction to a wonderful new performer.
Such was the case here. The underground venue soon filled up and people were even turned away. There was a buzz in the room. Handicapped by a dodgy microphone, and even dodgier head gear, Abbie described her formative years in Essex and then brought us up to date with her showbiz career so far; the cruise ship dilemmas of an ex showgirl and we finally find out what the cabaret crew really think of the passengers.
Next, we visit a Bollywood filmset and learn how make-up techniques, and in particular, lip stick application, vary across the globe.
We heard a mixture of stories, pen portraits and one liners. All delivered with in a refreshing and slick style.
We were given a short retrospective about those early girlie holidays in dubious resorts.
How we laughed. Go see! Click Here

August 12, 2018  One4Review
Review of Ashley Storrie: Adulting
Ashley Storrie’s first venture as a stand-up was quite a few years ago when as barely a teenager she performed at the Fringe and yet she says she is still having trouble growing up and still getting ID’d when buying cigarettes.

This sci-fi and Harry Potter loving, maker of viral videos and now the veteran of a veritable multitude of gigs the length and breadth of the UK is literally packing them in, such is her reputation as a must see act and it is not hard to understand why.

Ms Storrie is a natural raconteur, she paints pictures with her excellent hilarious writing and has a stage presence that commands the vast Counting House Ballroom. She appeals to every demographic, from every part, having them all hanging on her every word.

The material is wide ranging too, living at home, her parents, being disrespected by her dog, Helen from Sainsbury’s, travelling to gigs with her dad, the #metoo, citing a personal example… and a way of dealing with it and the often feared smear tests, and she offers an assistance medium.

Ashley may think people are struggling to see her as an adult, but in comedy terms she has really come of age. It may be difficult to get in, it is a free festival show so no tickets but it is certainly well worth queuing for ages to do so. Click Here

August 12, 2018  The Scotsman
Review of Need(y)
Jimmy has, he tells us, completely changed his show in the last two weeks because the original one was “dull”. I suspect he says that to all his audiences. But part of his great skill as a performer is that he makes every audience feel like the audience.

After some pretty expert crowdwork he gets stuck into midlife crises, trash telly, Lloyds Bank and a trip down memory lane to talk about landlines and coke. This is all tightly-packed, twinkly, high-octane funny. And it is just his opener. I have no idea why this man is not all over Live at the Apollo like a rash. Nicely warmed up, we get to the heart of the show. Jimmy, he tells us, has decided to embrace his thirty-something, bedsit-dwelling, bachelor status.

Although from the sound of the three dates he describes over the course of the next 30 minutes, his bachelor status is not so much embracing him back as punching him in the nuts. Jimmy likes nasty women and niche internet porn, he flounders in this new world of woke and he is prone to Jamie-Oliver-related panic attacks.

To be fair, anyone who has has the kind of back of a taxi experiences he has is probably quite anxious. He has thoughts on non-gender specific toys and the psychological havoc they store up and, as always, we dig a little deeper into the mine of tragi-comedy that is his relationship with his father. This hour is like a boyband hairdo – plenty of product, and quite a lot of skill spent making it look casually messy. If you like a good laugh in a comfy chair, it would be hard to find a better opportunity on the Fringe. Click Here

August 12, 2018  The Skinny
Review of Stephen Bailey: Our Kid
An hour of cheek, warmth and charisma – Stephen Bailey is on top form.

Stephen Bailey’s show is a pleasure to behold. Often revelling in the outrageous, Bailey wins over the audience in record time with his light comedy touch and openness. This is a welcome sight for an audience who, from the get go, are on board for Bailey’s stories of a lacklustre love life and 'soon-to-be-celebrity' status. As Bailey proudly boasts, his star is on the rise having two credits on Channel 5, among others.

Our Kid is less concerned with current affairs and more with identity, feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. The comic declares his show a space free from the harsh realities of real life events and somewhere audiences can have a laugh for an hour. There are moments of levity still and stories of harassment on Twitter proving he is a part of the 21st century. Never heavy-handed nor afraid to prod and poke the audience, Bailey often surveys, looking for agreeing nods of heads in the hopes of ultimately creating an atmosphere in which everyone will feel some unifying connections. He is quick to relate this back to his own experiences, for the benefit of both performer and audience alike.

Bailey has the crowd in the palm of his hand from the word go, never losing control or letting the audience get the better of him. And his natural ability for storytelling makes each tale about a small town boy coming-of-age feel like the pages of Heat magazine. Click Here

August 12, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Juliet Meyers: The Year Of The Dog
Juliet Myers and Homer, the rescue podenco, deliver their second Fringe comedy run in which we are regaled with tales of life with an anxious dog. Homer is now possibly the most famous dog of the Fringe, and can regularly be spotted about festival haunts expertly posing for photographs. On the day I attended, Homer attempted to steal a coffee cup and then snoozed for much of the show.

With her now familiar brand of kooky and consequential humour, Myers recaps for first timers her life with Homer thus far. Amusingly anthropomorphising the loveable podenco into a Portugese gangster and cycling companion, we also hear about his misadventures at the dog park/prison yard, his altercation with a husky and his bit part in a sitcom. All of this is interspersed with anecdotes from Myers about her holiday in Costa Rica and hilariously droll anecdotes based on signing up for a high level competition she wasn’t ready for.

There is a satisfying political element to the show as well, revealing a sliver of Myers’ leftie feminist bent. For example we venture into the world of romcoms, and the unrealistic expectations they set for relationships. This doesn’t take over the show though and is just enough to bring out a deeper level for those who require it, and the change of tempo is welcome and skillfully articulated by Myers. For people just wanting to see a dog for an hour, this is also available in spades. Myers attempts some tricks with Homer, who – in characteristic dog – refuses to comply, until the very end.

The performance seemed to diminish toward the end, and I’m unsure as to whether time constraints were a factor in the slump, or whether it was the pressure of performing a stand-up minus a few of the usual elements - i.e. a few missing props and a dog who slept for most of the show, as dogs do. It ended rather abruptly, with us wanting more - which is a good thing. But perhaps a more seamless end, tied up with a follow on of what adventures Juliet and Homer would go on next, would elevate the performance.

Myers has produced an hour of non-stop canine based hilarity which is well worth an afternoon visit. Fun for all the family. Click Here

August 12, 2018  Chortle
Review of Naomi McDonald: Stardumb
To corrupt the old football chant, she mainly wins when she’s singing.

Impressionist Naomi McDonald makes a robust Fringe debut, mimicking plenty of celebrities from the tabloid end of the spectrum – Sharon Osbourne, Cheryl, Kerry Katona – and making a decent fist of all of them.

However she generally hasn’t quite found the holy grail of impersonators, of being able to create caricatures that could almost stand alone as comedy characters if you didn’t know the celebrity being spoofed.

Lewis MacLoud’s Nigel ‘no, let me speak’ Farage on Dead Ringers is probably the best example of this. In comparison, McDonald’s take on Bear Grylls in Waitrose feels rather flat, and that’s before we add in all the predicable references to faddish foods.

One clear exception is McDonald’s Fearne Cotton, who is a delight – absolutely bonkers and giddily happy with the fact, striking all manner of bizarre angular poses as she speaks. No wonder McDonald returns to her to introduce several of the other creations. McDonald adopts an even weirder position as Kim Kardashian, literally talking out of her arse.

.... Click Here

August 12, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Life Coach (Age 14)
★★★★ - Bunbury Magazine
Bunbury Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

From the very start the room is at ease with this show which is conversational in tone packed with very sharp and relatable anecdotal humour. The audience is highly immersed from the off because of the skillful story telling. Anthony Jeannot is a passionate performer who really takes clear pleasure in what he does and that also serve to draw the audience in. The timing and poise is just fantastic with wonderful descriptions which paint vivid pictures in the mind making this a warm an accessible show. it is a show about growing, changing and reflection.

A great watch. Make the time to see this show as it is so well performed and presented. It’s really hard not to adore Jeannot. Click Here

August 11, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Ahir Shah: Duffer
If the Comedy Awards at Edinburgh have taught us anything over the last few years, it’s that emotionally weighted shows take the spotlight.
They’re the ones that tend to stay with audience members and critics alike, long after the house lights have harshly blinded us and we’ve been swiftly booted to the kerb outside.

If the 300 strong queue for a 100 capacity venue was anything to go by, Ahir Shah’s latest Fringe show has already got people talking. With rave reviews and no ticket fees, plus the added accolade of being mere fingertips away from winning last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, Fringe-goers needed no further nudges to get along to Duffer.

The show itself manages to navigate between family ties, stone age immigration laws and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody seamlessly (the third element adding some welcome light relief throughout). Somewhat similar in style to Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, Shah invites you in to the seemingly safe room of the joke before closing the door and delivering an unexpected gut-punch a few moments later. Duffer continues down this path for the hour and it’s clear it’s taking everything out of the performer, particularly when recounting the tale of a John Major-led Conservative government deporting his dementia suffering, widowed grandmother back to India when he was 5 years old. Unless you’ve just had concrete mix in your protein shake, or you are John Major, chances are you’ll be close to tears at this point.

Shows like this are a bit like an open shower curtain for the performer and in Duffer, there’s really not much left to the audience’s imagination. It would be naive and unfair to label this a “look at me, I’m sad” show. It’s so much more than that. Not only does it showcase a performer at the top of his game opening up to reveal his rawest emotions, but Shah also somehow manages to keep the jokes – and the Bohemian Rhapsody references – flowing with ease. If this isn’t award-winning material, I don’t know what is. Click Here

August 11, 2018 Edfringe website
Article about On Earth As It Is
A bizarre yet brilliant mix of stand-up and genuinely funny stories from a strange time in Eastern European history, I highly recommend for anyone looking for a laugh and a bit of learning at the same time. Click Here

August 10, 2018 The Mumble
Article about LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
An Interview With LoveHard
Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding are back at the Fringe with their third slice of maverick mayhem. The Mumble loved having a wee blether with the boys…
Hello Jacob, so where are you both from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Jacob: Hello! I’ve lived a very adventurous life, in which I was born in London, grew up in London, lived briefly in Birmingham for a period of my life I like to call ‘being at university’, and then moved back to London, where I’m currently still living. In London. Tyler has been slightly more maverick. He’s from Stroud, a Gloucestershire town about as opposite from London as you can get in every conceivable sense. He’s just moved from Birmingham to London too, to be “nearer to me” and “mostly for his job”. What a guy.

Hello Tyler, so how did you & Jacob meet?
Tyler: First year of University. I’d heard rumour that there was a man with an exceptional handshake on my course. Being a massive fan of good handshakes, I sought to find him. And yes, he absolutely does have a fantastic handshake.

Which comedians inspire you, both old skool and on the scene today?
Tyler: I like the double acts that push each other and play with each other – stuff like Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore, or Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, people who make it their aim to make the other laugh or just enjoy it fresh every time, they’re fantastic. On the scene today, Im absolutely in love with Max and Ivan. Truly, truly brilliant.

... Click Here

August 10, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Nicky Wilkinson: Happy
Hour of family-friendly fun to put a smile on even the grumpiest face.

“Before we start,” asks Nicky Wilkinson, “is there anybody here who’s allergic to organised fun?”

This is Happy, and it’s an unashamedly simple show. There’s no clever arty meta-narrative – we will not, Wilkinson assures us, “be going on a journey”. Instead, Wilkinson’s aim is pure joy. She’s determined that we’ll leave the venue feeling happier than when we went in. If that’s the metric by which we’re assessing success, then the show is an unequivocal victory. This afternoon’s audience in the Espionage Bunker are on board from the start, but there’s no doubt that the mood has lifted by the end. We’ve all been to a party together. We’re mates now.

Happy is family-friendly show (Wilkinson apologies profusely for her one accidentally detonated S-Bomb towards the start). There are a couple of cheeky gags, but they’re pretty mild and the double-entendre goes right over the heads of the minors in the room.

It’s an unabashedly participatory show, but it’s not confrontational. We’re all in this together, with the audience contract clearly being to have some unironic fun. Wilkinson’s enthusiasm sometimes outmaneuvers her stagecraft, and the tempo lets up several times as she rushes round preparing the next game. Splitting the audience into two teams – movers and shakers – is a bit of a redundant gimmick. We would have been equally engaged without it.

It’s clear which parts of the show Wilkinson is less confident with. A few jokes and anecdotes are offered up hesitantly, and quickly truncated if they don’t immediately land. More’s the pity, really: Wilkinson is charming and charismatic, and her audience would certainly indulge her for a few more personal stories.

By the end of Happy, when half the audience is crowded on to the stage trying to set a ridiculous world record to the strains of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This there’s a grin on even the most jaded misanthropic face. The room isn’t full this afternoon, and it’s testament to Wilkinson’s skill that it feels like a full house after the first few minutes. Sophisticated and nuanced this is not, but it’s an hour of pure fun that’s perfectly self-contained. Click Here

August 10, 2018  North East Theatre Guide
Review of Lee Kyle - Kicking Potatoes Into The Sea
It may have been 10:15 on a Sunday morning but the room was full to bursting as Lee Kyle appeared to start the show. Not just seats filled, we had the floor full too. Fortunately this Karaoke room came with air conditioning unlike some of the venues we would visit later.
Kyle is an immediately likeable chap who quickly has the rapport and trust of the audience. Writing this review after we have returned from Edinburgh, we appreciated just how good he is at quickly winning an audience around. Our later shows would include some acts who just didn't know how to handle an audience. Unlike a local North East gig, this wasn’t a room full of friends, this was a crowd that needed impressing and sure enough Lee did this.

This is the best show we have seen Lee do to date. It is quite a personal show. Lee discusses his time in wrestling, his upbringing, his family and coping with autism within his close family circle. His genuine open style doesn't offend and you could feel the warmth in the audience’s reaction. But Lee doesn’t go for quick sympathy votes nor does he forget to be funny. Despite the intensity of the material often being covered, he makes the room laugh with almost everything he says, and that takes skill.

We like Lee Kyle a lot and he is well worth getting early to see (in our case, leaving Gateshead at 6am!) Click Here

August 10, 2018  North East Theatre Guide
Review of Godley's Cream 20 years and Counting
We had been aware of Janey’s work for some years. Not only is she a fellow socialist and campaigner for equality, she is not afraid to get in the face of those in power. But she is much more than a woman who stood on a golf course with a pair of signs about the current American president.

This show features a whistle stop tour of some of her life story. Unlike some youngster at the fringe today, you get a real sense that Janey has many, many more tales where these came from. We have the real life encounters and protests with Trump of course but we also have so much more. This is a history of a Scottish woman of our time and you get the impression that she has hard to work hard for everything she has.

There are some tough moments amongst the comedy. I’m not that familiar with the sectarianism that was very much a part of Janey’s upbringing. Don’t get me wrong, I know it happens – it’s just that you don’t get that sort of thing happening on the streets on Hull or Newcastle.

This is a fabulous solo show and it is easy to see why the venue was packed. Click Here

August 10, 2018  North East Theatre Guide
Review of Twat Out Of Hell
As we left Lee Kyle’s show the previous day, the imposing figure of Gary G Knightley had invited us to had straight back into the room to see his show but we had been up since silly o’clock and we needed food. We did, however catch his show on day 2 of our visit.

We love rock music and we love musicals so it is no surprise to discover that we’d find the show very funny. The Meatloaf element was short and to the point. The full room had a working knowledge of his greatest hits, when asked. I was going to go for Paradise By The Dashboard Light or Modern Girl but wasn’t asked.

In a room this small, the mic is more of a prop than a necessity but Gary can sing, he could belt them out if he wanted to. But this was about comedy and soon the focus moved to musicals. Given the theatrics of Meatloaf, there is plenty in common. Our wee-man was ready to give Avenue Q or Urinetown if asked about his favourite (I had explained to Gary at the start that he wouldn’t be the first to corrupt his poor young mind…he has witnessed it on stage before).

Funny and near the knuckle with some of the material, Gary isn’t nasty but he made full use of the adult vocabulary as we described the re-write of a number of shows. He worked the room very well indeed. He wanted a reaction and got one. A great start to day 2 of our EdFringe journey. Click Here

August 10, 2018  Chortle
Review of Chris McGlade 'Northern Monkey'
3.5*

The Fringe has a plethora of voices - but very few working class ones, especially those that challenge the neoliberal status quo.

That’s the view of Redcar comedian Chris McGlade, who wants to bring a flavour of the working men’s clubs he usually plays to the bleeding heart of the enemy territory.

So he kicks off with the quick, harsh jokes from his usual working environment to establish dominance. With a dizzying onslaught of sharp jabs he mocks everyone: two blokes together? Must be gay. A woman? I won’t objectify you, he insists. Polish? Must be a fruit picker.

The insults feel reductive, though you can’t fault the pace with which he lands the blows. And why shouldn’t he use stereotypes? He knows middle-class liberals have plenty of prejudices about his sort: racist, homophobic and ill-educated, that’s the image. People like him are the ones who are discriminated against by the ruling elite.

The class divide is at the core of his hour. He mocks London and their pretentious ways – getting a hipster version of breakfast when all he wanted was egg on toast and a mug of tea. Such pretensions are common comic targets, and by definition some of the class-based material feels clichéd since he’s looking at common archetypes. But the inflamed delivery is compelling.

... Click Here

August 10, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Review of Jim Tavare - From Deadpan to Bedpan
Jim Tavare, who you may recognise beneath the handlebar moustache as Harry Potter’s Tom, innkeeper of the Leaky Cauldron, returns to Fringe after a 20-year hiatus, this time ditching his signature double bass act.
Instead, Tavaré returns with a mission and a story to tell. The inciting incident was a near-fatal car wreck after an errand to the hardware store for, in one of life’s cruel absurdities, supplies for a DIY chicken coop. “There’s a show in this,” Tavaré remembers thinking among the wreckage. After hearing of his fractured femur, severed hand, and six-figure medical bills, one can forgive him for trying to milk this tragedy for all its worth.

Tavaré relies heavily on PowerPoint as a visual aid, flipping through slides of x-ray photos, stitched up limbs, and the kind of vaguely-boring pet photos every dog lover has a whole album of on their iPhone. At times, this lends a similar feeling to having to sit through a relative’s meandering recount of a recent holiday. The careful preparation of images also tends to take away from the pretence of spontaneity in stand-up, and makes the accompanying quips feel overly calculated.

That being said, Tavaré holds the audience by finding humour in the details, such as the chicken wire imprint on his head after the accident or the unexpected perk of a boosted IMDB search score (two points above Ralph Fiennes, he notes).

Nearing the end and buried in a predictable segment on lessons learned and newfound gratitude, an unsung hero suddenly emerges. After a harrowing run-down of the price of healthcare in America, Tavaré concludes with “all I can say is… [slide change] Long live the NHS!” Blindsided, the room erupts in applause. Click Here

August 10, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Show Up, Kids!
Family-friendly improv show is high energy and hilarious.

The Counting House‘s lounge venue is packed with families and the atmosphere is busy with anticipation. Writer and performer Peter Michael Marino takes to the stage to introduce the main act – Sally the Silly Song Singer – and after a fanfare and eager search, we are left with a ‘Bad News’ letter from Sally, read aloud by a keen child. Of course, the adults know there is no Sally and never was, but the titular kids around us are already absorbed, wondering what on earth is going to happen now that the star has ditched us. For the remainder of our time together, Marino decides it’s up to him to entertain us. And entertain us he does.

After initial ‘nerves’, Marino builds up the courage to burst into song and give us a jaunty welcome and already children are bouncing in their chairs to the music, fixated as if they are watching their favourite TV character. There is physical comedy, too, as the actor twists around inside his t-shirt, desperate to have it the right way round before changing his mind and starting all over again. It’s daft and silly but the target audience lap it up, and this is a key strength of the show: Marino knows what kids find funny and what they need to be kept engaged. He goes on to use a simple cardboard box, inviting shout-outs for suggestions of what it could be used for. And here’s where the real core trick of the show comes into play – improvisation. Show Up, Kids is – as the title suggests – the child-friendly adaption of Marino’s establishes successful improv comedy Show Up, although really it’s its own unique show entirely.

The bulk of the performance from here on in is interactive, improvisational storytelling. Audience members are called on not only for suggestions – famous person, superpower, favourite animal – but to be part of the crew, as one mum operates the ipad music interludes and a giddy child becomes the stage manager with a box of fun props. The story today involves Bob the pizza-maker who gains super-strength and lives in the town of Wubba-Wubba. Marino knows how to keep the pace fast enough to hold the young audience’s attention while still squeezing in hilarious quips and scenarios, even throwing in a few jokes for the adults. His frenetic physical style is perfectly-suited to this demographic as he bounds around the room, throws props around and leaps onto table tops to keep everyone enthralled. It’s all rounded off with an endearing message about kindness and compassion at the end without overdoing it or veering into teacher-mode.

As the children applaud and the audience depart, the mood of excitement and frivolity is carried out with us. It must be an exhausting feat for Marino when we consider he is also performing the adult version of the show every afternoon as well. As part of the free Fringe, seeing a show of this calibre is an opportunity to show up for. Click Here

August 9, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Show Up
Peter Michael Marino turns one-man show on its head and makes it all about you.

Billed as a one-man show “about your shite life”, Show Up subverts the clichés and tropes you might expect from a solo performance. Creator and performer Peter Michael Marino is practically a Fringe veteran. Previous shows include the critically lauded Desperately Seeking the Exit and Late with Lance, so at this point Marino knows how to work the crowd.

Show Up is really two or three (or four) experiences in one. The set begins with Marino unfolding the origins of the show and he is immediately frank and honest about himself and the mindset that drives his work; this improv show isn’t just fun and fluff. The performer is direct about his own social anxieties and experiences with depression, drawing on personal memories to engage and provoke us. But this is never morose or self-pitying. The comic consistently punches out jokes, even at his own expense and has us cackling. We subsequently dip into audience participation and this is what informs the crux of the show. We are now the co-writers, creating the next act as we are probed for information from Marino about crucial memories and life moments – preferably funny or heinous, sometimes both at the same time. Of course this often results in hilarious combinations as the audience calls out their suggestions.

And then the show really begins. Crowd members are also recruited as sound technicians and stage managers, given free will to design the improv show’s set and atmosphere, which Marino skilfully navigates with ease at the change of each scene. Today’s show involves a dancer who lives with autism and a taxidermied cat who discovers a talent for personal training. It’s bizarre, manic and hilarious. And every other performance during the run will produce an entirely new and wacky mini-play.

It is during this main section of the show that it becomes clear Marino isn’t just skilled with standup and audience banter. He is also a compelling actor, drawing us in with moments that are funny, ridiculous and even poignant at times. And Marino’s key strength is his seemingly endless energy, making The Counting House’s Lounge space feel like a packed theatre.

Show Up provides brilliant laughs and is worth repeat visits to fully appreciate its ever-changing nature. However, it also channels an optimistic message to the audience about seizing opportunities and ‘showing up’ to your own life. Click Here

August 9, 2018  One4Review
Review of A Few Good Jen
Some of this show was quite scatological, which didn’t quite match up with most of the audience, who were probably expecting comedy to match how Jen looks, which is innocuous and safe. This is a shame because Jen has an ear for the explicitly and graphically funny and deserves an audience who will fully appreciate her. I particularly, particularly, enjoyed the part that ended with a facial expression and the words ‘mine looks like this’.

Jen posits the show as an antidote to smug social media content about perfect lives, and offers up some of the things that have happened to her to remind us that even if the marketing makes it look wonderful, the balance of probability means it won’t all be good. The show starts with relatively temperate disasters and progresses to be more explicit.

Jen is a personable comic who made the most of the few pockets of enthusiasm in the audience. It’s not a show of profundity or deep thought, but it is extremely good at being what it is: moderately icky humour delivered by a charming and competent comic. Click Here

August 9, 2018  The Skinny
Review of Ashley Storrie: Adulting
Engaging storytelling from a comedian on the rise.

The concept of ‘adulting’ - the struggle that young people nowadays have growing up - is fairly obvious stand-up fodder, but Ashley Storrie’s knack for telling a good story breathes a new lease of life into an oft-covered topic.

She doesn’t take the easy route either, with lengthy material about her autistic father and cervical smear tests providing some of the highlights of what is an overall engaging hour. Storrie is a natural performer, bantering with the audience and moving between anecdotes with the delivery of a particularly funny friend filling you in on their life. Her punchlines are good, but it’s in this building of a story where Storrie is at her strongest.

This is perhaps why her use of a video – some of the clips she has made for social media have garnered millions of views, she tells us – provides a slightly flat conclusion to an hour where we have most enjoyed hearing from her directly. The content isn’t bad but its scripted nature comes off slightly forced when juxtaposed with the hour she’s just delivered with genuine warmth and audience engagement.

There’s no doubting, though, that Storrie is a natural performer and Adulting underlines she is a comedian with a bright future. Click Here

August 9, 2018  Fest
Review of Martin Mor is BLOCKED
Stand-up veteran Martin Mor has a pretty unassailable approach to comedy, trading in rascally anecdotes with good-natured interrogation and gentle ribbing of the crowd. He's well-travelled, particularly appreciating the presence of foreigners in the room as a chance to spark a conversation, but the Northern Irishman isn't particularly interested in pushing any boundaries. Occasionally given to rambling as he grasps for a punchline to move on from a tale, the journey tends to be the important thing.

Mor's got a liberal, progressive soul and the recurring theme of this show is his activism, whether that's taking American gun nuts to task or protesting Donald Trump at his Turnberry golf course. Getting blocked on Twitter by the president, the NRA and the Creationist Church isn't perhaps the unique, radical gesture he believes it to be. But credit where it's due, he was riling Trump while he was merely an objectionable businessman, illustrating Mor's mischievous mentality and fondness for an argument. Approaching a bully like the POTUS, he knows to surround himself with middle-aged, Scottish working-class women too.

With the police, he's perhaps more conciliatory than you might expect, understanding that they're just doing their job, even if he mocks their intelligence on the rare occasions they think they've caught him out. Protective of the NHS, he reveals the unlikely benefits of having “Viking's Disease” in his hand, but ill-advisedly tries to end with a nothing anecdote about being accused of queue jumping. Fortunately, his bucket speech is more assured crowd work, so he departs on a relative high. Click Here

August 9, 2018  Fest
Review of Rule of 3
Comics take to the stage to try and sneak new material past their audience.

The premise behind Rule of Three is an interesting one as it cleverly encourages audience participation, without it being intimidating. Every night, three standup comedians take it in turns to perform fifteen minutes of material. Most of it is tried and tested.

The catch? Each performer is tasked with the challenge of sneaking in a piece of brand new, previously untried material, written that very day. If the audience correctly guess which joke is new, that comic doesn’t get their cut of the night’s earnings.

Daniel Auditt showcases a brilliant new joke comparing searching for a partner with buying a house, with some insightful observations about falling in love. The skill here is in moulding a piece of untried material into an already established set, and Auditt does this with apparent ease.

The highlight, however, is Sid Singh. He’s the backbone of the show, with a confident and animated comic voice. He tests out quite a few new pieces of material, and other than the stunted pauses between them, you might not have guessed that they aren’t already a part of his current show.

But the threat of the audience guessing the joke needs to be at the forefront of this show if the format is to work and it often feels as though it gets forgotten. Being one of the latest shows of the day, it doesn’t seem as though anybody is particularly bothered, but if the show isn’t going to stick to the format then there might as well not be one. Click Here

August 9, 2018  One4Review
Review of Fur coat nae knickers.
Warning: spoilers. There’s a point in this show where the tone utterly changes and you will not see it coming. And that is brilliant, because the show is story-telling about growing up in the west of Scotland in the 70s, and that snap change offers some pale reflection of what it must have felt like to live through it.

Ms McBriar has both a lilting Glaswegian accent, liberally peppered with Scots and Scottish slang (including sweary words!), and the skill of narrating a story with just the right details. There’s something about stories narrated in a Glasgow accent which imbibes them with a rhythm which is mesmerising and immersive, and the things she talks about are immediately familiar and recognisable.

The start of the show contained the requisite chat with the audience (including impolitely but amusingly shutting down audients who talk too much) and introductory sort of stuff (in this show, about being working class and accompanying identifying features) before settling into the body of the show. This isn’t late night, booze-fuelled, two-‘jokes’-a-minute comedy, this is sit down and let the funny lady tell you a story that will provoke all sorts of emotions, including amusement. Don’t worry if you’re not laughing, you’ll still be having fun.

Martha can tell a tale, and if the ending was a little weak, that can be forgiven because it’s definitely the journey, not the destination, that matters. Click Here

August 9, 2018  The Mumble
Review of First World Problems
I got a surprise when I found that the venue for this show was a small bar named ‘Havana’. With 10 minutes to go and the crowd gathering, I had no idea what to expect, but took a seat and waited expectantly. Opposite the bar a right-on looking guy in a white cap and resort type t-shirt was twiddling with his small mixing desk and testing the mic in preparation for the show. I started to settle in.

Of course, it turned out that the guy was our host for the evening, Andy Quirk, who, along with his long-time stage partner, Anna J, proceeded to entertain us for 45 action packed minutes, blending rap, heavy metal, dance and comedy on the theme of the show’s title ‘First World Problems’. I was immediately put into a good mood as I focused on the lyrics, which we could make out with ease. The performers certainly knew how to work an audience and with each song encouraged us to ‘raise the bar’ as we sang along and jived in our seats with ever increasing exuberance. At one point they had one member of the audience on the floor doing the splits…

Andy’s take on things was hilarious partly because of his east London accent and also the irrepressible energy of his persona, which somehow melded into the perfect way to express complex reactions to what it is like to live in the first world. In the almost exotic setting of the bar with people having cocktails, the show is half Spanish resort, half cruise at sea type entertainment, with a raw edge. It shows the quirky variety of the Fringe and the power of Fringe entertainment.

The 45 minutes flew by in a flash, taking us on a whistle stop tour around the problems of modern life, from ‘tales of the unexpected’ to Orwellian-type double speak, and taking in references to eighties music when I realised the similarity of the garb of these two as eighties musical artists, mixed with a nineties appeal as well. There was irony, honesty, satire, sex. In fact it was the sense of irony and quick delivery that made Quirk stand out, yet his frequent self-deprecating gestures drew us in and created a kind of bond between performer and audience. This guy is sharp, make no mistake, with many strings to his bow. I found myself wondering what else he may have done in the field of more classical theatre.

This show is enticing, funny, surprising, even therapeutic. If you want to chill for a while out of the dense crowds while being thoroughly entertained, I would suggest you come in and take a peek – just be prepared to join in! Click Here

August 9, 2018 Lothians' Ken
Article about Show Up, Kids!
A great show, with a mixture of songs, audience participation, crowd-sourced ideas and a quick, witty performance
Peter Michael Marino has returned to the Fringe with Show Up, which I reviewed last year, plus added a children’s version of his an improvised show, along with Sally the Silly Song Singer, who one way or another manages to add to the fun the audience has. I’m always wary when a performer who is used to adults decides to put on a children’s show as some are not as engaged in giving a great performance and more interested in creating an easy shift and some extra funds. This is not the case with Show Up, Kids!, which gives a mixed audience a great show, with a mixture of songs, audience participation, crowd-sourced ideas and a quick, witty performance by Marino. When I was there the audience was made up of over-enthusiastic children, slightly reticent ones, engaging parents and those who were less keen. By the end I would say all went away happy but, most importantly, there were very happy bairns in the room who were enthusiastically engaging with Marino.

As with the adult version of the show, this is not one for people who want to sit back and be spoon-fed or dread the thought of audience participation. Any child who wants to giggle, shout out suggestions, get on the stage and help with the script, props and set decoration will love it. Marino shows again that he knows how to adapt the format and his performance, plus how to judge an audience. This is a Pay What You Want (PWYW) show but don’t be cheap when the hat comes round and remember how much you pay to take children to the cinema. Most of all, adults and bairns alike should show up and see this. Click Here

August 8, 2018  North East Theatre Guide
Review of Joke Thieves
Joke Thieves
Oh boy – this was fun…

Host Will Mars explained the format. We will see 4 acts. A member of the audience nominates a pairing and each pair of acts will come back on stage to repeat the set of the person that they have been paired with.

We had the pleasure of Laura Lexx @lauralexx, Paul Taylor @paul_f_taylor, Andrea Hubert @ShutUpAndrea, and Nick Page @NickPageUK1.

Of course the audience member thought pairing up the biggest chap, Nick, with tiny Laura would lead to some fun. Of course it would as Laura energetically bounced around the stage comparing sporting opportunities for the 2 sexes: football and netball. In the other pairing Paul tried to make it hard for Andrea by including lots of sound effects in the set. Whilst each of the first sets was brilliantly funny, another barrel of laughs was to come when the partner in each tried to replicate the set. Some got political whilst Laura got a chair to stand on.

This was a really rapid show – 9 sets (if you include the host) in an hour and hence no chance of getting bored. They all got into the spirit of the show and it was a superb treat – no wonder the room was packed.

Different people appear each night which are announced on Twitter https://twitter.com/JokeThieves – so it is literally a different show each night. Click Here

August 8, 2018  North East Theatre Guide
Review of Sketch Thieves
Sketch Thieves
This is a similar format to Joke Thieves but with sketch groups. Again, we had 4 acts who would perform a routine and then copy the routine of another group. The pairings were once again selected by an audience member to stop any rehearsal beforehand. Just like Joke Thieves, the material appears to have been selected to make it hard for the other group.

The performers change daily and our lucky quartet were MOON @mooncomedy, Dirty White Boys @dwbcomedy, Tracy's Leaving Party @tracyisleaving and The Delightful Sausage @mmmsausage.

This was as good as Joke Thieves. If the first act made a mistake, you could guarantee that the copying act would highlight the fact. The audience would get into the spirit of the show and repeat their first half interaction too. So we had quiet talking (with shouts of ‘Speak Up Please’), Geezer lad interactions, Toothbrushes and Mexican waves.

It is amazing how quickly the hour goes by when you’ve having this much fun. If we had been in Edinburgh for longer than 2 days then this is a pair of shows that we would have definitely returned to. Click Here

August 8, 2018  Fest
Review of Ashley Storrie: Adulting
Adulting is a show about how hard it is to act like a grown up when you look like an oversized toddler.

It’s also a show about the importance of family. A recurring character is her dad, who has autism. Storrie reels off stories about sticky social situations her and her dad have got into and explains in her refreshingly upbeat style how they have affected her. She relays anecdotes of anxiety and sleeplessness, but all with a smile, as if she’s just stood in front of a group of friends.

Storrie has faced some adversities, but she never once has a bad word to say about anyone. She champions the weirdness of her family; there’s no anger or resentment or shame at any moment, just honest love for her family. A highlight is this comic’s clear knack for spotting idiosyncrasies of character. From mimicking head tilts to accents, Storrie cleverly builds the layers of ridiculousness until they bubble over.

But not only is this show about family and personal experience, it evolves into a discussion about the welfare of women and the importance of not being ashamed or scared to get a smear test. Storrie’s no-nonsense delivery is a breath of fresh air in this field: no preaching, just encouragement and support. It's a laugh-out-loud, candid look at the challenges of growing up and being a woman in this day and age. She deserves, and seems ready for, a much bigger audience. Click Here

August 8, 2018  Fringe Guru
Review of Twenty Minutes To Nine
A one-woman show performed by Australian Amanda Santuccione, Twenty Minutes To Nine is an autobiographical exploration of Amanda’s life and, in particular, how it has been affected and shaped by death. It forms part of the "Death on the Fringe" strand, which aims to promote more openness about death, dying, and bereavement in Scotland.

The event is structured as a storytelling narrative, broken up by several musical interludes and scripted performance pieces. The narrative style is informal and welcoming, and well suited to the small venue; it creates a level of intimacy that would be lost in a larger setting.

The show begins as Santuccione recalls her childhood, and her relationships with her siblings and parents. But this seemingly happy life was shattered by the suicide of someone close, when Santuccione was in her twenties. This appears to be a watershed moment, with her life split into a "before" and an "after", and it is the "after" that takes up the majority of the performance.

Death is almost always tragic, but suicide has always seemed somehow different. It is this difference that Santuccione focusses on, as the show compares the diversity of reactions and grief in response to different bereavements. Suicide poses unanswerable questions: how?, why?, is there anything that I could have done? But death from age or disease may be perceived as easier to accept, and it doesn’t create as many uncomfortable doubts.

A loop pedal is used on several occasions, building different atmospheres for more structured, impactful moments. However, the setting-up of the loops broke the narrative flow, and the payoff was not always worth the disruption. More successful was the wistful use of guitar and accordion, to highlight and underscore memories of her musical family – with the short pieces offering the audience time to reflect on the story being told.

Twenty Minutes to Nine is an engaging and thought-provoking piece about the impact of death and suicide. It is a sensitive subject, and Amanda Santuccione deals with it well, asking questions and seeking understanding to remove some of the stigma surrounding the issues. Her individual experiences and perspective allow for an emotional journey – yet it deftly diffused with comedic moments, which prevent the show from lapsing into the moribund and depressing event you might fear it could be. Click Here

August 8, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of NIGHTMARE FUEL
Horror-literate allegory for abusive relationships is a quintessential niche Fringe experience.

Horror fans after a dose of lo-fi shock theatre could do worse than check out the lurid, violent world of Sarah Knittel. Billed as a ‘brutal clown show’, Nightmare Fuel is a loving homage to sleazy cinema that doubles as intense personal catharsis. It’s dark and demented, while also being charmingly ramshackle in its shoestring construction. At its centre is the wide-eyed, unpredictable Knittel, daring you to take your eyes off her.

It’s clear that given a higher budget Knittel would love to take Nightmare Fuel and update the traditional Grand Guignol experience to fit that 80’s slasher vibe she obviously loves so much. However, she achieves a great deal on the small scale she’s working with, using simple props to augment her limber mimes and profane monologues. She’s effective at conjuring a scene from scratch, and those who are acquainted with the genres she references will have no trouble in recognising the tropes and scenarios she presents.

Not only is it in turns disconcerting and entertaining on a surface level, but works as an allegory for an abusive, gas-lighting relationship without bashing the crowd over the head with a hectoring sermon. In fact Knittel tackles the subject in the most silly, juvenile way possible and its refreshing to see this level of absurdity used to make a serious point. Bodily fluids are hurled around, insults yelled and Knittel prowls and howls around the stage adopting and throwing off personas like costumes; and the the killing of a monster works rather well as a metaphor for escaping a controlling ex. It has to be said that her aggressive interaction with the crowd occasionally borders on the inappropriate itself however, particularly one moment where she tries to thrust her fingers into the mouth of some luckless lady. It’s possible that this may have been a friend stoically helping out, otherwise Knittel is rivalling Natalie Palamides in the uncomfortable crowd work stakes.

That dodgy ground aside, Nightmare Fuel is one of those quintessential, niche Fringe experiences. A show where you turn to your companions after and say, “Well, that was different.” Given the healthy attendance in the Newsroom basement, it does seem to be finding its audience, which is great as this is the kind of singular, passionate show that should be what the Fringe is all about. Click Here

August 8, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of 'Once in a Generation'
Smart and witty piece of new writing about a future-defining national vote. No, not that one.

Once In A Generation is a play about a decisive political vote: a referendum that was eventually won by only a few percentile points, and which would decide the future of a nation. Refreshingly, though, and very much bucking the trend for this year’s Fringe, it’s not about Brexit.

Mary is a flag-waving, badge-wearing Yes voter. She returns home on the day of the 2014 Scottish Independence vote, jubilant and excited for the future. Her husband Dave is not so sure.

Julie A. Calderwood’s script is witty and smart, and full of natural-sounding relaxed dialogue. There is, by necessity, a lot of exposition that has to be delivered in a play like this, and by and large the script manages it very well, only occasionally lapsing into soundbites or awkward info-dumps. The relationship between Mary and Dave is at the heart of the play, and Anne-Marie Feeney and William Speirs are both excellent. Their relationship is believable and nuanced. The love that underscores their bickering is clear to see, and very nicely played by both.

The introduction of a third character – Campbell, a door-stopping No campaigner – disrupts the balance a little. Campbell feels more of an exaggerated caricature than either Mary or Dave, and his dialogue sits awkwardly next to their more easy-flowing lines. Often, he serves as little more than a strawman for Mary’s rhetoric, or as a deliberately extremist example against which Dave’s arguments naturally feel more centrist.

Whilst it’s obvious where the play’s political opinions lie, there’s very little browbeating of the audience, and each of the characters is given several moments in which they can deliver some winning blows for their side. This play – just like each of its three characters – is proudly, unapologetically Scottish. There are a few jokes and colloquial nods that only a Scottish audience will appreciate, but Once In A Generation is not cliquey or exclusionist, and actually does a credible job of representing the debates that went on in Scotland in the run-up to the referendum. The direction makes the most of the quite restrictive space at The Mockingbird Upstairs, and while the occasion use of projection is very hard to read, the play actually feels very much at home here. Ultimately, it’s a subtle study of a long-term relationship as much as it is a political call-to-arms. Click Here

August 8, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Sagar Dreamcast
Extremely likable character comedy from multi-talented performer.

Fiona Sagar returns to the Fringe with her third hour of fast-paced character comedy following Entitled and Sagar Mega Drive (she’s missed a trick not fitting in Sagar Master System in somewhere), the gaming pun-loving comic having been nominated for Funny Women Best Show nominations for her two previous efforts. Once she’s crammed her crowd into one of tiny rooms in the City Cafe like clothes into a bulging suitcase, she briefly nips out and totters back in as her foul-mouthed Scottish grandmother, come to tell us exactly what she thinks of Sagar’s career. This kicks off a good-natured, crowd-pleasing showcase for the comedian.

Sagar is a versatile performer, flitting as easily between accents and roles as costumes. As well as her irascible granny, there’s an aggressively winsome militant feminist substitute teacher, a leering men’s rights rapper, a put-upon Southern belle straight out of 1918 with a Stepford Wife grin, and a cheery Mexican chihuahua. She inhabits each character believably, and her range is really impressive.

The through-line for the show is evidently the experience of women (albeit with one of them being a dog). The characters are broad with the themes explored writ large, and with little need for the crowd to do too much sifting through subtext. They are set up quickly, with economy and clarity and performed with boundless vitality.

The strongest character is the substitute primary teacher, who berates her young charges for their fondness for Disney princesses who perpetuate the suppression of women. It’s not obvious why Sagar adopts an Australian accent, but the rising inflections of her delivery and the twittery sing-song cadence paints a lovely portrait of an increasingly mad-eyed zealot. The audience responds, adopting their roles as children with enthusiasm.

The gran is a recognisable trope, exploring the performer’s own self-doubt while giving us the easy delights of old people swearing. The rapper gives Sagar a chance to demonstrate some nimble word-play, and her skill with a potentially tricky bit of crowd work as she negs a bashful member of the audience. Things sadly come a little unstuck with the Southern lady as the comedy is put very much on hold, and a sense of tragedy takes over. It’s nicely performed, but blunt in its message and dampens the upbeat feel to some degree, the mood only partially recovered by the chihuahua and her chirpy neediness.

When gran returns to close out proceedings, this lifts the spirits again and we’re sent on our way with strains of ‘Danny Boy’ and a cheerful profanity, satisfied with a very good hour in the company of an excellent performer. Click Here

August 8, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere review
Bunbury Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This show is fantastic. It’s well written, intense and brilliantly performed. Energetic from the start, the audience has no choice but to be completely hooked as they take in a performance of superb character work, excellent improvisation and a simple but highly enjoyable plot.
The show is a parody of 80’s thriller Sci-Fi with flavours of Stranger Things with subtle undertones of Stephen King’s IT amongst others.
The entire audience was completely on board from the start and didn’t stop laughing for the duration.

For us, this show is one of the rarer beasts that is, in our opinion, as close to perfection as you’re going to get. if you want lively, bold escapism, go and see this show.

This is definitely in the running for Bunbury Best Show of The Fringe and you need to see why for yourselves.

To miss this would be sheer idiocy and we know you’re all smart cookies. Click Here

August 8, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of Siân Docksey: Interdependent Woman
Bright, breezy and whimsical whizz through politics, sexuality and lying to your mum.

If you’re after an early afternoon pick-me-up before a hard day’s Fringing, you could do a lot worse than Siân Docksey’s effervescent brand of high-energy whimsy. It’s a light, frothy and breezy take on family, sexuality and politics – complete with sea shanties.

Docksey begins by claiming she wanted to write a serious show. This isn’t an entirely believable claim from someone in orange water wings with matching nail varnish, and sure enough she’s told her Belgian mum that she’s gainfully employed as the top comedian on a cruise ship, rather than getting by on her wits and the kindness of punters at the Free Fringe. Soon she’s roping said punters into filming an unconvincing cruise video, complete with Subterranean Homesick Blues-style intertitles in competent French and incompetent Flemish.

Interdependent Woman is directed by Nicole Henriksen, and if you’re familiar with the day-glo, queer-friendly lunacy of the Aussie comic’s standup, then you’ll be happy to spend an hour in Docksey’s company, although there’s maybe a pinch more British reserve here. Even the tale of a Tottenham radical left sex party is told with a hint of bashfulness and given a less than triumphant ending, although the picture she paints of a super-nerd sex god named Colin would be flat-out hilarious in any culture.

Docksey is a warm, engaging performer with a real light touch with a crowd (and it helps that the audience are extremely happy to get involved). There is the attempt to deal with serious topics, “neoliberalism and gay stuff!” as she puts it, but there is always a moment of sheer silliness just around the corner; a dance to a self-penned song satirising Jordan Peterson while dressed as a lobster for instance.

It doesn’t all come together, and there isn’t the smoothest transition from the cruise ship material to the weightier topics, but there’s so many ideas being thrown from her hyperactive brain that there’s plenty to tickle those with any appreciation for the wackier side of surrealism. There is a sense of someone very cool going to some lengths to demonstrate otherwise, and it feels geared towards a more millennial demographic, but you’d have to have a calcified funny bone not to be amused by such gems as the theory of trickle-down economics explained using posh yoghurt. Interdependent Woman might not be the most substantial show you’ll see but it’s lots of fun. Click Here

August 8, 2018  The Skinny
Review of The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan
An interesting new direction for Sarah Callaghan.

The Ballad of Sarah Callaghan is a mix of comedy and poetry, performed by someone who’s following their own path.

Sarah Callaghan talks a lot about gangs. Everyone from families to terrorists have one, don’t they? Through snapshots of her childhood, school, making friends and nights out with the lads, she tells her story from the beginning about trying to fit in while staying true to herself.

Curiously for a comedian, it’s when she speaks in verse that she really comes alive. Her passion shines through as she looks the audience straight in the eye and drops the mask. She knows who she is and she doesn’t play games. She’s open to groups but she doesn’t need a gang. But she would like everyone to support each other, particularly in the creative industry. There’s a sense of conflict here, between wanting to do things her way and craving support and approval, but it makes her seem more genuine.

The message in this show – be who you want to be – is not subtle, but that’s not what Sarah Callaghan is about. She might not be everyone’s cup of tea but she doesn’t seem to care and at least she is keeping it real. Click Here

August 7, 2018 The Mumble
Article about Loose Brie Solve Everything
An Interview With Loose Brie
Martin Willis and Phil Lindsey are best mates, & from their incessant banter great comedy has been born & given a name — LOOSE BRIE
Hello Martin, so where are you both from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Martin: So I’m from St Albans and Phil’s from Aylesbury, both commuter towns in the home counties. Although, if you mean where am I from from, I’m half Indian. It’s a look often confused for literally any country in the warmer western world. And where am I at? Currently the desk in my bedroom of the flat we share with our comedy heroes, David McIver and Steph Browne.

Hello Phil, so when did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Phil: I’d say around about my fifth gig.

Why stand-up?
Phil: Because I wrote too many knob jokes to make it in theatre. Genuinely though, I started as a playwright, but then comedy seemed like a more open system with endless opportunities to workshop material. I can write a sketch about a man who’s addicted slugs on Sunday and perform and rewrite it three times by Friday. And, importantly, I don’t have to convince an actor or director that slug addiction makes sense. I just have to convince Martin, which is easy because he’s up for anything.

How did you get into comedy, Martin?
Martin: By following the stringent application processes of various London open mics. Previous to that I lived in Madrid, where I dabbled in improv and dipped my toe in stand-up for two gigs, the second of which was wonderful and the first I don’t wanna talk about.

... Click Here

August 7, 2018 The Scotsman
Article about Jim Tavare - From Deadpan to Bedpan
Interview: Jim Tavaré staging Fringe return with darker routine
Comedian Jim Tavaré’s act used to be built around a tuxedo and a double bass, but on his return to the Fringe after a break of 20 years the theme of his show has taken on a darker tone, writes Kate Copstick Anyone who was around the comedy scene in the 1980s and 90s knows Jim Tavaré. The one who looked like the Addams Family’s manservant Lurch in a tux and had a double act with a double bass. In a loud comedy world, Tavaré was quietly hilarious. But hilarity had never been the plan.

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/edinburgh-festivals/interview-jim-tavare-staging-fringe-return-with-darker-routine-1-4779843 Click Here

August 7, 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Website
Article about CeilidhKids at the Fringe - Free!
Audience Review
Great fun.... and better exercise than any gym! Had to head off in the middle of a dance to take my toddler to the toilet and then come back.... Caroline didn't bat an eyelid!

Recommended for all. Click Here

August 7, 2018  The Scotsman
Review of Best In Class
The line-up changes week to week but the ethos stays the same. This is a crowd-funded comedy venture by working-class comedians.

Today, excellent compere and show creator Sian Davies drags the bewildering but strangely entertaining Cheekykita (demonic possession, rebirthing, a singing spider and a wolf’s bumhole) and the eternally unsure Tom Mayhew (one-liners, bisexuality and hypothetical muggings) from the bottom of the societal heap. And a wonderful, shambolic, friendly, fun time is had by all.

The gig seems to attract quite a socio-specific audience and we are up for anything. I suspect it will always have a proper club feel to it, which is quite something to create in the mayhem of Edinburgh. Lines blur between stage and audience and Scouse Leanne from the front row is almost the highlight of the hour. A slightly flustered Tom gets the idea she is hitting on him and gently declines. “Good job I’m a lezzer then, innit?” she replies. It is undoubtedly a great way to crack open the can of another Edinburgh day. Click Here

August 7, 2018  The List
Review of Cold as Icelandic
Recalling strange gigs and dishing out curious perspectives
Is there anywhere this Icelandic comedian hasn't been? Is there a language he can't speak or an accent he won't try? Helgi Steinar is certainly a multi-talented and multi-faceted comic and all of this travel has provided him with a considerable amount of perspective. Living for many years in Minnesota, he can see the many issues with America, and he's rejected staying at home to marry a cousin in favour of touring with stand-up. Steinar has certainly had some odd audiences: he once played a Chinese-speaking comedy set in a hotel room belonging to two roaring drunk Aussies. You can't top that for a tough gig.

A big advocate of thinking for yourself, his outsider perspective makes for plenty of out-of-the-box ideas as he offers his views on marriage (including a great analogy for giving away the bride) and an interesting and possibly workable idea for world peace.

This short show (he has his friend Thor provide a bit of support with an admirable ten minutes at the top) feels like Steinar is just dipping his toe into the Fringe this year. Nothing wrong with that, but it would be great to see him try a full hour and get properly stuck in. Click Here

August 7, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about Appropriately Inappropriate
Fringe Review Recommended Show
Low Down
Thao originally wanted to be an actress but was disheartened because she didn’t see many Asians on TV. The only time she saw a lot of Asians on TV was on Border Security or Bondi Rescue. So she gave up her dream and decided to give stand-up comedy a go.

Review
“Do you remember the first time a man hit on you?” is the opening line of Thao Thanh Cao’s solo show. It’s a curious and direct question, which sets the tone for the almost one hour performance. This is a coming of age story and Thao tells us about her experiences as a young Asian woman growing up in Australia from her observations of people and their reactions to someone who looks different. Told through brief anecdotes and comedy, the first topic is discrimination.

Thao’s demeanour and low-key delivery are interesting – especially for the subject matter she tackles. Her restrained manner is beguiling and edgy, always vital and she makes her points of view effectively. She understands the power of eye contact and uses subtle facial expressions such as a slight tilt of the head or a sneaky smile that speak volumes. Complicity develops between Thao and the audience that provides a flow and rhythm to her stories and humour.

... Click Here

August 6, 2018  The Skinny
Review of Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
The nicest man on the Fringe is back with a tale of heartbreak and Heroes (the Bowie variety).

On the last day of the 2014 Fringe, Nathaniel Metcalfe was dumped. Was it the fault of a puppet version of Alan Davies or something else entirely? We’ll never know.

Directed by James Acaster, the show follows the ups and downs of Metcalfe’s love recovery while falling back in love with performing. It’s structured in such a way that he personifies the chameleon, comedian and caricature of the show’s Bowie-penned title (less so the Corinthian element) with a little help from Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ cards, a talented cartoonist and Jeremy Irons (of course).

Despite hurling pop culture references at the audience when they’re least expected, these are delicately crafted fragments which create a window into the mind of this delightful performer. His sitcom theme tunes in the style of Bob Dylan are an inspired highlight. However, the show does meander a little when Metcalfe recounts past loves around the two-thirds mark.

Altogether, Metcalfe creates a unique hour from an oft-trodden topic. It’s clever, thoughtful and charming but at times feels ill-paced and could feel distant if the references are unfamiliar. Click Here

August 6, 2018  The List
Review of Ashley Storrie: Adulting
Hard-hitting personal humour that's for everyone
Ashley Storrie's compere skills are well-known on the comedy circuit, as are her viral videos which have stacked up millions of views over time. But in her brand-new show Adulting, the stand-up takes centre stage as she reveals some hard truths about growing up when everyone still views you in some capacity as a child.

What starts off as a monologue on the precarious nature of becoming an adult ends in a declaration of mutual support for women who, like her, have been afraid of getting a potentially life-saving smear test simply because of self-consciousness and embarrassment. The frank and unashamed delivery of her personal anecdotes and assessments on life emphasise some of the heavier elements of her hour, which in turn draw attention to her passionate narration. Storrie also meditates on the #MeToo movement and her own experience of unwanted male attention with an anger and disgust (and hilarious solution) that women everywhere can relate to.

Ultimately, with standing-room only at tonight's performance, Storrie is an undeniably popular rising talent in Scottish comedy but while her cheeky banter and region-specific jokes are appreciated, it's not only the Scots in the room that are ready to get on board. Click Here

August 6, 2018  Bunbury Magazine
Review of Samantha Pressdee: Pulling It Together (WIP)
Normally, I would not review a WIP (Work-in-Progress) show as it seems unfair to be critical of an unfinished product – like saying the new BMW is a little airy when you are driving it around before they have put the doors on. However, having seen the blurb on Samantha’s flyer, about her struggles with mental illness and disability, I thought that this was a show that was too important to miss.

Samantha’s easy charm helped ease the audience into the show, putting us at ease that this was a WIP. What followed was an hour of crafted and cheeky jokes intertwined with a startlingly honest account of her struggles with her conditions and a harrowing and vile & ongoing experience she is having with a former promoter.

This show has a very powerful message behind it (without giving too much away). It is about the dangers of the wrong people at the wrong time, or even the right people at the wrong time, viewing disabilities through the wrong lenses and with the wrong models. It is a tale and a message that can, in places, be hard to hear but cannot and should not be ignored.

It is going to be an honour to see the show in it’s finished product next year.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Samantha Pressdee – Pulling it Together.

City Café, 1425

2nd – 10th August 2018 Click Here

August 5, 2018  The List
Review of Alex Kealy: A Kealy's Heel
A solid hour of liberal concerns and relationship matters
Early in the run, Alex Kealy is still trying out his material in front of a largely appreciative audience. In some ways, a Fringe comic's technique of pausing before announcing that a joke is going to be cut from the show should probably remain all month, given that, sadly, it can often offer up the biggest laughs. This is also true here, but it's not to say that Kealy doesn't have his crowd eating from his palm from time to time (though the amplification problems will hopefully be sorted out as some of his punchlines were garbled in a way they wouldn't have done had he gone commando (microphone-wise).

The liberal-left Remainer (you may have spotted a couple of those at this year's Fringe) gives both barrels to Woody Allen, talks a lot about his current relationship and is a little sad that his parents are not supportive of his career choice, albeit that they're coming from very different angles of disapproval. To those who cry foul at London being seen as the centre of the universe, he has a quick acronym to use as evidence, and he makes a good point when querying why newspapers are the same length every single day. Once the tweaks are ironed out, Kealy should be a sight and (hopefully) sound to behold. Click Here

August 5, 2018  The List
Review of Show Up
Loveable solo improv that's cut with sadness
Peter Michael Marino's Show Up is a dizzying and intimate hour of improvisation and audience participation that touches on heavy subjects like social anxiety, personal journeys and failure. The premise of the show is based on a belief that if you show up you've already won, making the set feel somewhat like a therapy session.

Before the improv begins, Marino shares warm anecdotes from his life, like the time he wrote the flop Blondie musical (bizarrely based on a Madonna film), the depression and anxiety that followed this failure, and the stand-up show that spawned from his break-down. It's then over to the audience to share their life stories by reacting to cues such as work, family and addiction. Once the answers come through, Marino uses the prompts to create a brand new life story, with a little help from his crowd as stage managers.

This jovial improv is spirited and natural, but there are moments when the jokes about mental illness become extremely sombre (like when Marino lists names of entertainers who have suffered). Overall though it's a fun hour, with each audience in the run getting a completely different experience. Click Here

August 5, 2018  Arts Award Voice
Review of Alex Kealy: A Kealy's Heel
A delightfully awkward political comedy with plenty to rant about.

Alex Kealy’s comedy style is delightfully awkward and British in its presentation. Of course one of the opening jokes is about dirty talking with his girlfriend, in an overly polite manner, and this awkward stage presence works well for Kealy’s set. Despite some areas of the work being a little under polished, Kealy obviously had the audience on his side and laughing along with jokes about Brexit, Trump and the unpleasant side of London.

For me, the show ran a little dry of original thought or interesting observations on politics. It ran over events that we’re all probably getting a bit sick of hearing about, but then, it’s difficult to make political comedy completely present and polished. Maybe I’m expecting too much? Either way, I found I was laughing along with a gentle chuckle rather than a full belly roll, as none of Kealy’s political observations felt poignant or surprising. It was, at times, more of a rant than a comedy set, but he did manage to bring humour into the darker places.
Kealy’s delivery is confidently hesitant and some of his jokes had the audience rolling. There was a section about how terrible London is, including how severe the air pollution is, which is higher than the EU laws, which seemed to go down well. All the more reason to leave the EU, he jokes. Although the show could do with a bit more shaping, I was entertained and would happily catch Alex Kealy again.

A Kealy's Heel is a fun hour you won’t regret. Click Here

August 5, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of James Barr - Thirst Trap
Wonderfully unexpected opportunities can occur at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; even more so at the 'Free' variety. You can be queuing for Stephen Bailey: Our Kid only to discover that, as he's away 'doing some TV,' his slot in the room is filled by another young, gay standup called James Barr. Curiously, as we shuffle in, none of us seems upset by the news, perhaps because no money has yet changed hands.

Either that or a significant proportion of the audience already know Barr from his TV, radio and voiceover work for the likes of MTV, Bauer Radio and Heat magazine (clearly I’m not keeping up with Culture!) and trust him to offer reasonable value. While still relatively new to standup comedy, Barr clearly knows how to both work an audience and structure a show for reasonable narrative impact. If this particular crowd is slightly more inhibited than he's used to, it's likely down to this particular performance starting at 5.15pm rather than 9.50pm, with all the implications regarding inhibitions and alcohol consumption.

Subject-wise, we're on pretty familiar ground; Barr's show is primarily about his (increasingly desperate) search for 'the one' and that perfect, long-term relationship with the man of his dreams. It's a desperation that can be triggered by a Royal Wedding (especially one involving a fellow red-head); it can inspire the fear that he's like an avocado dangerously close to its 'best by' date, ready to be rejected in Waitrose. The costume change involved may not seem particularly necessary, but his riff on being an avocado is a fine example of its kind, delivered with just the right level of innuendo.

There are, of course, obligatory tales of dating apps, but arguably the most interesting moments are with the potential dates – ie, cute audience members – Barr brings up on stage. In at attempt to accelerate the intimacy between them, he asks some of the 36 questions devised by the US psychologist Arthur Aron to bring couples closer together. Despite the risks, this is when Barr proves he can stay absolutely in control, regardless of any weird material the public throws at him. Click Here

August 5, 2018  Edfringe Review
Review of Will Mars: Candid Cafe
Will Mars: Candid Cafe
Seeing the words ‘stand-up’ and ‘tragedy’ side-by-side in the Fringe brochure fills me with a sense of impending doom. It takes a remarkable talent to balance the two, yet Will Mars approaches this challenge with the utmost confidence, despite his assurance he is very much a failure. What emerges is an unexpectedly touching performance which rattles along at impressive pace – a comic tour de force, but undeniably tragic.
Our host’s style is self-deprecating but strangely personable, taking a conversational tone from the moment he steps on stage (the only fanfare a monotone “yeah we’re starting” panned at an individual). Mars takes the old saying that humour is the best form of catharsis and runs with it, bringing the audience on a whirlwind tour of his life that at times is almost too much to take in; one moment he’s despairing that older women are dying out, the next he’s discussing the perils of vegetarianism (although, to his credit, the two are linked). Despite its casual delivery, the whole thing is ridiculously professional, and showcases the best of what Free Fringe can be. He’s a comic with experience – 10 years and 25 countries – and this comes through in the slickness of his delivery. Refreshingly, however, he doesn’t have the self-assured smugness which sometimes accompanies it – “if you’re an international comic, it just means you’re shit at home”.
One of the most surreal features of the show is the openness with which he discusses the comic lifestyle. Although the struggles of being a comedian are fairly common knowledge, it’s rare to have them framed quite so precisely – even to the extent of noting which jokes in his own act are scripted, as and when they appear. Mars discusses the American and British comic scenes with such candour that the title doesn’t just appear a cheap play-on-words. This is also the first time I have ever seen a stand-up director acknowledged, let alone discussed as a central plot-point.
The whole show plays well off the audience, who seem unusually open to interaction. I can’t think of many other people who would take a comparison to a porn star quite so well, and it’s a testament to the rapport he builds up throughout the act. But Mars comes into his own when he brings up serious moments of his life – and there are many – which manage to inspire a sort of respectful silence. Sometimes it seems in danger of becoming too much, but he never quite lets it cross that boundary, knowing when to mention a joke, or left-turn into an anecdote in order to lighten the mood. The audience which leaves are laughing just as much as the audience which enters, despite the heavy territory it crosses in-between. Stand-up and tragedy? It might just work.

August 5, 2018  Mumble Comedy
Review of Death Ray Cabaret
Death Ray Cabaret
Death Ray Cabaret is a real-life couple observing life through the medium of comedy songs. They are Canadian & they are also an intensely satisfying experience, especially after a beer or three before their 22.30 slot. They are to be found just beyond the extremely serendipitous terrace at the Place Hotel, an oasis of neo-modern calm worth experiencing in itself – it is only open to the public during August. Add to this the two performers you’d most want to find yourselves in a train carriage with at the start of a 12-hour journey, & a fine Fringe night is on the cards.

I have already told my band mate he needs to see this show – he is an excellent pianist – & this is pretty much what I told him. ‘O My God Roy, I saw this duo from Canada singing some tunes, like, they were proper funny, & the keyboardist, swear down, her fingers were simply twinkling all over the shop – she was superb.’ This lady is called Jordan, whose electric blue eyes gazed into the distance as she sang the quirky, catchy, well-crafted tunes alongside the infinitely amenable Kevin Matviw. That they have the occasional soft marital nit-pick only adds to the warmth.

Its caramel comedy this, each tune is poetic & melodic, arrowheads fleck’d with the Flight of the Conchords as we hear lines along the way such as ‘the first escape room was the woman’s uterus’ & have a bangin’ rave down the library. The time, the location & the quality of the gig all invite a visitation this Fringe. Its free, so you’re not gambling your cash, but sitting down to experience such lucid comedy songcraft & performance after, & with, a beer is a fine antidote to the endless streams of comics & improv & wotsits paraphernaling all over Edinburgh. Its also difficult to negate the effects of Jordan’s beaming pearly smile at the end of the each song. She – & Kevin – clearly enjoy what they do, & so, almost certainly, so shall you. Click Here

August 5, 2018  The Mumble
Review of Death Ray Cabaret
Death Ray Cabaret is a real-life couple observing life through the medium of comedy songs. They are Canadian & they are also an intensely satisfying experience, especially after a beer or three before their 22.30 slot. They are to be found just beyond the extremely serendipitous terrace at the Place Hotel, an oasis of neo-modern calm worth experiencing in itself – it is only open to the public during August. Add to this the two performers you’d most want to find yourselves in a train carriage with at the start of a 12-hour journey, & a fine Fringe night is on the cards.

I have already told my band mate he needs to see this show – he is an excellent pianist – & this is pretty much what I told him. ‘O My God Roy, I saw the this duo from Canada singing some tunes, like, they were proper funny, & the keyboardist, swear down, her fingers were simply twinkling all over the shop – she was superb.’ This lady is called Jordan, whose electric blue eyes gazed into the distance as she sang the quirky, catchy, well-crafted tunes alongside the infinitely amenable Kevin Matviw. That they have the occasional soft marital nit-pick only adds to the warmth.

Its caramel comedy this, each tune is poetic & melodic, arrowheads fleck’d with the Flight of the Conchords as we hear lines along the way such as ‘the first escape room was the woman’s uterus’ & have a bangin’ rave down the library. The time, the location & the quality of the gig all invite a visitation this Fringe. Its free, so you’re not gambling your cash, but sitting down to experience such lucid comedy songcraft & performance after & with a beer is a fine antidote to the endless streams of comics & improv & wotsits paraphernaling all over Edinburgh. Its also difficult to negate the effects of Jordan’s beaming pearly smile at the end of the each show. She – & Kevin – clearly enjoy what they do, & so almost certainly so shall you. Click Here

August 4, 2018  The List
Review of Strictly Carl Donnelly!
An hour that resonates when it stays fresh
The setting of last year's show may have been the 25-seater upper deck of Bob's BlundaBus, but for 2018, Carl Donnelly is back in a more familiar performing environment. Here, he reminisces on the past decade of his life, questioning the big changes that have resulted in him straddling the intersections between a middle and working-class identity.

Donnelly has a tendency to go off on tangents, as he readily admits from the beginning, and the majority of the time, these digressions slot in well with his observational-style comedy. But where this doesn't work is when the observation in question seems overused and all-too obvious. One example is in his reflection on Queer Eye, in which his study of the Netflix show is humorous but wholly predictable if you're a follower of memes and social media in-jokes of any kind.

Despite this, his skills as a storyteller appear to come naturally, especially as he relays tales of stag dos and proposals gone awry. It's entirely understandable then, how his ten years at the Fringe have included two Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations, numerous accolades and plenty of sell-out performances. As he returns to Edinburgh with this latest solo run, it's safe to say that Carl Donnelly's story is one that continues to resonate widely with audiences. Click Here

August 4, 2018  The Wee Review
Review of 'Once in a Generation'
Smart and witty piece of new writing about a future-defining national vote. No, not that one.
Once In A Generation is a play about a decisive political vote: a referendum that was eventually won by only a few percentile points, and which would decide the future of a nation. Refreshingly, though, and very much bucking the trend for this year’s Fringe, it’s not about Brexit.

Mary is a flag-waving, badge-wearing Yes voter. She returns home on the day of the 2014 Scottish Independence vote, jubilant and excited for the future. Her husband Dave is not so sure.

Julie A. Calderwood’s script is witty and smart, and full of natural-sounding relaxed dialogue. There is, by necessity, a lot of exposition that has to be delivered in a play like this, and by and large the script manages it very well, only occasionally lapsing into soundbites or awkward info-dumps. The relationship between Mary and Dave is at the heart of the play, and Anne-Marie Feeney and William Speirs are both excellent. Their relationship is believable and nuanced. The love that underscores their bickering is clear to see, and very nicely played by both.

Whilst it’s obvious where the play’s political opinions lie, there’s very little browbeating of the audience, and each of the characters is given several moments in which they can deliver some winning blows for their side. This play – just like each of its three characters – is proudly, unapologetically Scottish. There are a few jokes and colloquial nods that only a Scottish audience will appreciate, but Once In A Generation is not cliquey or exclusionist, and actually does a credible job of representing the debates that went on in Scotland in the run-up to the referendum. The direction makes the most of the quite restrictive space at The Mockingbird Upstairs, and while the occasion use of projection is very hard to read, the play actually feels very much at home here. Ultimately, it’s a subtle study of a long-term relationship as much as it is a political call-to-arms. Click Here

August 4, 2018  Chortle
Review of Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
The Edinburgh Fringe holds bad memories for Nathanial Metcalfe. Four years ago he was dumped by his girlfriend on the last day of the festival, after spending nearly four weeks telling strangers how much he loved her. During his show, that is, he’s not a weirdo.

Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature is about how he could bring himself to write another show after that heartbreak. Well very loosely. That’s the jumping-off point for a number of substantial routines, bound together with some hefty structural scaffolding, based around the notions of what it means to be a performer.

Anecdotes include that time David Bowie, whose lyrics give this show its title, quit his Ziggy Stardust character on stage, while Metcalfe has unearthed a wonderful car-crash interview with a grumpy and intense Jeremy Irons that provides a great running gag.

... Click Here

August 4, 2018  Chortle
Review of Olaf Falafel presents There's no i in idiot
Two sorts of Vines are key to explaining Olaf Falafel. The first Vine is the now-defunct six-second video platform on which he became something of a social media star. The second Vine is Tim, whose world of childish stupidity and gleeful ‘dad jokes, the Swede happily shares.

He has puns galore – you can guarantee he’ll be on every ‘joke of the Fringe’ list going – jingles, props and daft bits of audience interaction of a very non-threatening kind. ‘A lot of comedians are afraid of bad jokes,’ he says, but Falafel leans into them.

Falafel is not, however as manically cheesy as Vine. He’s friendly, but with a certain Scandinavian aloofness that treats his idiocy seriously.

... Click Here

August 4, 2018  Fest
Review of STRING THEORY
In front of me, an excited row of eight to ten year olds are swapping stories about the last time they saw the special blend of circus tricks and comic improvisation that Martin Mor presents in his family shows. Its an auspicious start, and one that is borne out by the talent and chutzpah of this boldy bearded Northern Irish entertainer when he appears.

Smartly dressed in earthy-toned plaids—waistcoat and plus-fours—he boldy engages audience members young and old with "science and stuff". It's easy to overlook just how strong his juggling and balance skills are because we're having so much fun. Nearly 8 foot of it, to be precise. We have a measuring system. All Mor's tricks require assistance from audience volunteers – and there are no shortage of hands shooting up when he as much as raises an eyebrow in our direction. Mor knows his audience inside out, working a perfect level of teasing and bigging up members of the crowd.

He spins balls on sticks, tosses wooden blocks—known in the trade as cigar boxes—and reduces a cascade of five coloured balls down to zero as his current young helper is directed to catch them one by one into a large net. Twinkly-eyed charisma is amplified in the small indoor space, and a novel twist on the classic tablecloth trick is as funny as the recurring interaction with audience snacks.

String Theory includes new material for those who had had the pleasure of seeing Mor's shows before, but keeps all of the familiar rib-tickling charm. Click Here

August 4, 2018  Fest
Review of @JohnLewis - Never Knowingly Undertweeted
John Lewis is a middle-class, British retail chain. John Lewis is also a computer science teacher in America. Another John Lewis is a black congressman in Georgia who fiercely opposes Donald Trump.

The Twitter handle @johnlewis belongs to the second of these John Lewises, and his patience with tweets sent to him about late deliveries and the current American political landscape is a thing of wonder. Using real tweets from @johnlewis's feed, satirical performer Simon Jay looks at individuality on social media in this gently funny sketch show.

Billed as a theatre show, though much more of a series of sketches, Jay plays a range of characters that are clearly differentiated from each other through the use of voice and physical mannerisms. From the John Lewis behind @johnlewis as a beleaguered teacher whose students relentlessly nag him about his Twitter account, to annoyed customers, to the retail chain's social media team, Jay employs them to loosely consider the importance of identity online. This thematic thread isn't fully developed, and there's scope for more commentary that ties the sketches together more firmly.

Jay is an engaging performer with a good sense of comic timing. He has a warm demeanour rather than a cold and spiky one. His brand of humour elicits chuckles rather than belly laughs and ends on a positive note instead of one of cynicism or despair. It's an intimate show that makes a big theme personal, though the clever show concept isn't totally integrated with the theme. Click Here

August 3, 2018  Mumble Comedy
Review of Conscious Comedy with Samantha Pressdee
Conscious Comedy
The emotional bubble fest that is Sam Pressdee might just have found her natural calling. A socio-political & cultural butterfly, her many talents have coalesced into the assembly of exciting comedians like a Catherine the Great making an excellent gazpacho.

"It’s a sacred space, not a safe space. I see comedy as a platform for the truth. Not just another bland form of entertainment. In a way, comedy saved me. I like comedy with depth. I believe that great comedy can inspire change." Read the full interview here

For two nights only this Fringe, our holistic hostess rules the roost for one hour in the surprisingly pleasant-to-be-in, churchlike ‘arena’ that is Dropkick Murphys. Five acts are on the cards & with last night being the first of the Fringe, each was energized with personal enthusiasms, dashing thro’ their ten minute sets like speedboats on a still Irish loch.

Mags Mchew was up first, a woman who told me & the wife before she went up that she picked up accents by osmosis. Confident, cheeky, quirky as a chipmunk, she was a smart ice-breaking start to what would become some kind of therapeutic comedy session organised by mistress Pressdee. Next up was Dan Collins, a carouseling traditionalist & a gag-merchant of some merit; followed deftly by the anarchic, plunge-in-yer-midriff fun-knives of Becky ‘I’ll go with anyone for a nandos‘ Fury. She’d hosted the Malcolm Hardy awards last year, & with her piercing eyes, her breasts out, & her dreamy stare she was an enthralling watch.

The penultimate comic was Alex Hylton, a comedians’ comedian who opens his psyche up to anyone with cudgeling honesty & invites us all just to chill out & laugh. The final act was a half-Egyptian half-Irish young lady called Zahra Barri; a buzzy fluffball of comedy unafraid to take risks, like a cute lhasapoo puppy with a surprising snarl.

And then it was done. Perfect. Five wicked acts doing cartoon-length time slots, & the wife & were I delighted we’d made the effort to go to town. And it was free, & Sam Pressdee had somehow created that vibe she’d been imagining for months. Mission accomplished, m’lady, & lets hope it goes just as well next week.

Damo Click Here

August 3, 2018  Short Com
Review of Life Coach (Age 14)
★★★★ - Short Com
Anthony Jeannot is a raw sort of comedian. Naturally funny (very in fact) but unpolished. Despite being at least thirty, an adult by anyone’s estimation, he exudes a sense of modern youth like few acts I’ve ever seen. That would be the misanthropic kind of modern youth rather than the Instagram influencer kind, as his show makes clear.

Life Coach is a haunted house ride of millennial angst, philosophical in its own manic way, but with an endearing streak of optimism that steers it clear of defeatist or nihilistic. If it has a theme it’s disillusionment, Jeannot ferrying his audience through his personal perspective on becoming an adult. While it has an almost microscopic focus on his own bizarre coming of age, for people in mine and his generation it’s eerily familiar.

Jeannot himself is a huge presence, all expressive face and gesticulating limbs. As thoughtful as Life Coach is, it’s intense exactly where it needs to be, as well as vulgar in all the right places to boot. It’s certainly not for everyone – Jeannot’s finger is far too on the pulse for this to work as well for an older audience as it does for a younger. That’s not to say that people over 40 need not apply, but I’ll put it this way: if you can’t work social media then this probably isn’t going to work for you. Nor is it particularly interested in popular culture, however. Aspiration is an enemy and anxiety is your only friend. This is a show about the existential crises of the twenty-somethings of today. Jeannot isn’t the voice of a generation – who is for ours? What he does is articulate the anguish of growing up to find that your prospects are worse than your parents were and he does it whilst making you laugh a whole lot.

It’s tempting to say Jeannot is self-deprecating, but with ire flying in all directions, I think deprecating period is a better description. Not content to just wallow in negativity, however, he manages to make the bitter a little bit sweeter as he does it.

Grim, sharp, hilarious, and a great Fringe debut. There’s graft to be done for Anthony Jeannot, but he’s working with a lot of raw material.

★★★★ Click Here

August 3, 2018  One4Review
Review of Jim Tavare - From Deadpan to Bedpan
It seemed for a number of years, albeit a decade or two ago, that the distinctive presence of Jim Tavare was on every poster board around Edinburgh, dressed in his tail suit in tandem with the inevitable double bass and this together with his delightful deadpan delivery style and well-constructed material enabled him to sell out his venues on a regular basis. He hasn’t performed at the Fringe since 1998, but he is back his year and even at this early stage of this year’s run it is obvious that the years haven’t blunted his charismatic presence.
The suit and bass are no longer in evidence, but as he relates the tale of the trauma that has occurred in his life recently who cares? His story, well-crafted and compellingly delivered as only he can, had this audience hanging on his every word, and the accompanying AV added to illustrate some of the events along the way.
There are plenty of his style of humour woven into the story as one would expect, yet one could not call it a gag fest. In this all too quick hour it’s the story and the man himself that are the selling points and make it a show not to be missed. Click Here

August 3, 2018  The Mumble
Review of Conscious Comedy with Samantha Pressdee
The emotional bubble fest that is Sam Pressdee might just have found her natural calling. A socio-political & cultural butterfly, her many talents have coalesced into the assembly of exciting comedians like a Catherine the Great making an excellent gazpacho.

For two nights only this Fringe, our holistic hostess rules the roost for one hour in the surprisingly pleasant-to-be-in, churchlike ‘arena’ that is Dropkick Murphys. Five acts are on the cards & with last night being the first of the Fringe, each was energized with personal enthusiasms, dashing thro’ their ten minute sets like speedboats on a still Irish loch. Click Here

August 2, 2018  The Mumble
Review of Ron the Plumber meets God-Cilla
Ron the Plumber Meets God-Cilla
I’m gonna give you a sample scenario. You’re at the Fringe, you like a bit of theatre, you like a bit of comedy, but you just don’t know what mood you’re in right at this moment. If that sounds like you, then Ron the Plumber is the performer for you. For those who feel a smile is the gateway to the soul, Steve Attridge is its Saint Peteresque gatekeeper, so pleasant a sensation it is to be in his company. Even before the show started he was chatting away to the audience, making us all feel relaxed, & eager for the show to commence. For example, some of the crowd were from Arizona, & before long we found out that an 18-year old Steve had once won a competition to meet Rod Stewart & The Faces in America, & ended up becoming the roadie. Three months later he turned up back in Britain & perhaps has never quite recovered.

I digress. The best way to describe this creation of Mr Attridge is ‘high-brow toilet humour.’ As follow the adventures, escapades & Cockney trade-tricks of Ron the Plumber it is impossible not to guffaw ridiculously at the sheer accuracy of Ron’s mammoth knowledge of Plumbabilia & his appreciation of social niceties, all delivered with hilarious & lyrical honesty.

Long story short, if one was to judge the very quintessence of laughter, then Attridge & his adorable Ron are funnier than about 80% of the stand-ups at the Fringe. The stagecraft is a little sparse, but the combination of Steve’s genuine quality & a cleverly thought-out, gag-punctuated, innuendo-pregnant script brings dividends. Totally go see this show… its 35 minutes long – which is perfect for the Fringe I think – its free, & its clearly class! You will also massively increase your knowledge of that oblique corner of reality that keeps us all well flushed!


 Click Here

August 2, 2018 British Comedy Guide
Article about Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke!
BRITISH COMEDY GUIDE TOP TIP FRINGE 2018
'1001 Moments With Troy Hawke' one of the British Comedy Guide's Top Tips for the Fringe Click Here

August 2, 2018 Fringepig
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Pulling It Together (WIP)
What we're watching
The Black Country's own Free the Nipple advocate is best known for performing and campaigning topless. A sidekick and advocate of Russell Brand, her views and her comedy are free-thinking, hard-hitting, and anarchic, but delivered with a twinkle in the eye. Click Here

August 1, 2018 ARTIFICIAL WOMB
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Pulling It Together (WIP)
A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE (FEMINIST) FRINGE 2018
14:25 Samantha Pressdee: Pulling it Together (WIP) [FREE]
Laughing Horse @ City Café, 19 Blair Street, EH1 1QR
Four years ago Samantha Pressdee’s life fell apart, now she’s trying to pull it all together and navigate a welfare system that seems to be designed to punish the mentally unwell. Click Here

August 1, 2018 The Mumble
Article about Nicky Wilkinson: Happy
An Interview With Nicky Wilkinson
Hello Nicky, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Nicky: I’m from Hull and right now I’m in Edinburgh.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Nicky: When I was 7 I was ‘playing out’ with my brother and three or four of our neighbours on our bikes. The aim of the game was to pedal as fast as you could and duck underneath a taught rope which was tied between two posts. It was finally my turn, I peddled as fast as I could but couldn’t duck down far enough when I approached the rope, this caused me to fly backwards off my bike, landing in a puddle with a lacerated forehead. Everybody laughed and laughed and laughed. I knew from that moment I was a born entertainer and now try to whack out a prat fall weekly… for anyone who’s watching.

How did you get into stand-up comedy?
Nicky: I worked in a comedy club in London for about 5 years before I started stand-up, watching enthusiastically from the back of the room, I always wondered if it would be something I could do. One day I gave it a crack and turns out, I’m alright at it.

... Click Here

July 31, 2018 All Edinburgh Theatre
Article about CeilidhKids at the Fringe - Free!
EdFringe shows for Children By Thom Dibdin
CeilidhKids at the Fringe – Free!
CeilidhKids
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170)
2 – 26 Aug 2018 (not 16, 21, 23). 10:15, 11:15 (45 minutes)
Very basic but hugely fun Ceilidh dancing for all the family. Not strictly theatre, but a fabulous way to start the day and burn off energy for three to seven year-olds (and carers!) before sitting in dark room watching something more cerebral. Traditional music – but clever adaptations of the basic dances. Click Here

July 30, 2018 Mumble Comedy
Article about Conscious Comedy with Samantha Pressdee
An Interview with Samantha Pressdee
The ultimate Love Muffin, Sam Presdee, is back at the Fringe, & this time she’s bringing her pals…

Hello Samantha, & welcome back to the Fringe, how’s your comedy going?
Samantha: Thank you! It’s going good. I’m excited to start work on my new big project about mental health, which includes a new stage show. Since last year I have started my own night ‘Conscious Comedy’ which I’m also bringing to the fringe. I’ve done a few gigs across the country but have had to keep a low profile due to stalking and harassment. I’ve had a lot of grief and trauma the last few years.

Can you tell us about Love Muffin Productions?
Samantha: It’s my social enterprise, baked in 2016 with the help of the new enterprise allowance. Which essentially means, my topless comedy show Sextremist was partly funded thanks to the Tory Government! Our mission statement is to create experiences which bring people together for the purpose of empowerment and the greater good. As well as Sextremist we’ve produced Back 2 Basics, The Men, Sex & Feminism Podcast and now Conscious Comedy. My number 2 in this operation is the wonderful Clare Morgan. She’s been with me since the beginning. I’m Bipolar. So get an access to work grant to pay Clare. Bipolar is a disability, there are things I can’t do as well as neurotypical people, like admin! But I also consider it a blessing. I have a deep compassion for humanity and am very creative. It’s a label I share with some of my comedy heroes Alfie Brown, Russell Brand, also Jim Carrey I read is Bipolar.. According to an article in The Guardian from 2014 us comedians are the most likely profession to be diagnosed. I had to show a judge that article when I had to go to court to get the Personal Independence Payments I was entitled too early in my recovery because a paramedic sent from the private company Capita had decided if could do stand up comedy, and didn’t take meds – I was fine. Cutting off resources which vulnerable individuals need to survive is a human rights abuse!


Well, Sam, lets take a look at the all important question of 2018, on the lips of every comedian, is this: you’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Samantha: 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.

Last year you brought Back To Basics to Edinburgh, how did it go & what did you take from the experience?
Samantha: Despite 3 massive knocks, as well as all the harrassment, it went well. I’m proud of myself. I got my first 4 star review and the show went on to tour with 3 professional bookings and acceptance into the Bath and Leicester comedy festivals. Heartbreakingly, I found out days before the Edinburgh run that my dear friend and supporter Sarah Munro had passed away. She was only 36. Also, I experienced professional betrayal. On the journey up, my director who I had paid £2250 told me she wouldn’t be at the fringe to support me running in the show as she had the year before. I should have had her sign a contract, but she knew what I expected and I trusted her. That really shook my confidence, I felt like she’d duped me. Then I got struck with the flu. All that and I still completed the run. I think that proves my mental stability.


This year you are involved in two projects, including your solo show, Pulling it Together. What’s your show about?
Samantha: It’s about my journey back to sanity after a mental breakdown in 2014, following the death of my Dad. I talk about my fight with public institutions to get my basic needs met as a marginalised member of society. The journey starts, and ends – with the police. My sanity has been truly tested by recent events. This is a story of resilience. I’m writing it for the one in four and those who love us.

How do you feel when you are telling such deeply personal stories & how do you hope the audience will respond?
Samantha: I hope to provoke compassion and empathy within the audience, which is mostly what happens. There were so many hugs after Back 2 Basics and people would tell me their stories. There was an emotional connection. When people come to see me, I feel connected, empowered and heard. My loneliness goes away. I read somewhere once that expression is the antidote to depression. Expressing myself feels enlightening. Connecting with people on the vibration of truth is deeply comforting.

You are also hosting Conscious Comedy for a couple of dates, can you tell us about the concept?
Samantha: It’s a sacred space, not a safe space. I see comedy as a platform for the truth. Not just another bland form of entertainment. In a way, comedy saved me. I like comedy with depth. I believe that great comedy can inspire change.

Who have you got on the line-up?
Samantha: I have got Zahra Barri doing both nights. I’ve been a fan of her work since 2015 when she did a showcase I hosted at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has a very interesting perspective, eastern meets western. Very well structured jokes and adorable as a person too. Also Alex Hylton, he’s very funny and has a warm aura on stage. I’ve seen him on my local circuit, he told me in his show he is talking about gender, identity and social politics. Looking forward to that. Also booked are; Janet Bettesworh, I gigged with her recently on a gig that was originally shut down by censors. She had a very interesting story about Greenham Common. Then there’s Dan Collins, Mags Mchugh, Paul Savage, Pope Lonergan & Alice-India Garwood. If there are any cancellations. I’ve got fellow anarchist Becky Fury on standby. She did a great job hosting the Malcolm Hardy awards last year.



You’ve got 20 seconds to sell both shows to a random on an Edinburgh street. What do you say?
Samantha: For Pulling it Together I will just quote this from my badass bipolar sister, Britney Spears; “People can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth but the question is, can you handle mine? They say I’m crazy.” For Conscious Comedy, this is more than jokes. It’s a platform for comedians who have something to say. It’s comedy with a conscience.

What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Samantha: I will continue doing my spiritual work, I’ve been a psychic reader and presenter on Psychic Today, Sky channel 560 for over a year now. I’m also going to continue working on my new mental health project. I plan to launch a new podcast next year along with the finished stage show. Then I’ll be looking at publishing a book. Also my husband and I are planning on moving back in together after a long separation. He’s been my saving grace though all this drama. I’ve got some lovely people in my life. Tough times reveal true friends. Silver linings. Click Here

July 28, 2018 The National
Article about 'Once in a Generation'
Union at breaking point: the agonising final moments of the indyref
 Click Here

July 27, 2018 The Times
Article about Samantha Hannah: How to Find a Husband in a Year
How comedian’s dating experiment led to love
 Click Here

July 26, 2018 BBC
Article about Samantha Hannah: How to Find a Husband in a Year
I gave myself a year to find a husband
 Click Here

July 26, 2018 Chortle
Article about Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
Edinburgh 10x10: Ten shows with animal-themed titles
 Click Here

July 24, 2018  Manchester Salon
Review of Live Your Best Life
'Live Your Best Life' Manchester Salon Review
Live Your Best Life
A one-woman show by Emmy Fyles
at Gullivers NQ, Manchester
Reviewed by John Waterhouse, July 2018

What is your best life? The self-help shelves of book shops are full of definitions whilst advertisers are constantly telling us how their products can help us achieve it. Can a whole industry of therapists and councillors really advise us on how to get it and are we convinced by images of both celebrities on TV and people we know on social media seeming to have it? With this premise, Emmy Fyles has put together a very comprehensive exploration of all these questions.

This is in essence a one-woman comedy act but it is so much more than just an hour of stand-up. It is a very funny comedy show using multi-media presentation, but rather than just presenting the audience with an hour of meaningless jokes or observations, Emmy takes us on a journey of discovery which is powerful, insightful and relevant. Live Your Best Life is not group therapy nor is it just self-evaluation but elements of both are employed to deliver a very original and engaging show which will make you laugh throughout whilst leaving you pondering some of the thoughts or issues raised for a long time afterwards.

The show starts with a startlingly honest statement of where Emmy is at today, with a difficult year behind her and certain aspirations and issues still being worked out or unrealised. This is handled with an easy, funny style which avoids any possible suggestion of self-pity or plea for sympathy. Rather, it provides an ideal platform from which to explore what really is the ‘best life’ and how can we find it, if at all. Having put her own cards on the table, Emmy invites us, in a very unthreatening way, to look at our own hand as she takes us through various ways we both try to find and are possibly manipulated to thinking we’re living ‘the best life’. Comedy is found in every corner along the way and frequent surprises are thrown in for good measure.

Emmy Fyles is a time-served actor-singer but remarkably, considering the self-assured confidence displayed throughout the show, this is her first venture into stand-up comedy and in so doing, has gone far beyond just standing up and being funny. This is a show which takes a side-ways look at many things and comparisons can be drawn with the likes of Bill Bailey and Dave Allen, both of whom clearly thought very seriously about life whilst looking for elements of humour and satire within it. In a TV format Live Your Best Life could work well with breaks of quick sketches or perhaps on the 6.30pm Radio 4 comedy slot with the odd comedy song but the show at Gullivers was certainly complete in itself, requiring no additions.

A very refreshing aspect of Live Your Best Life is that there are no rants or vicious attacks on anything or anyone in this show. It completely free of any political biases and the overall feel is satisfying and uplifting. It will be very hard for anyone not to take away something from this show and which brave and bold in the way it challenges personal issues. It is also high relevant in a time when young people in particular seem to be under great pressures to succeed whilst just surviving for many is a real challenge with mental illnesses very much a matter of national concern.

Emmy Fyles is a talent to look out for and Live Your Best Life is a truly excellent show, both as a comedy act and serious food for thought. Click Here

July 23, 2018 the Courier
Article about Samantha Hannah: How to Find a Husband in a Year
 Click Here

July 16, 2018 Laugh Out London
Article about Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
15 free comedy recommendations for the Fringe
 Click Here

July 10, 2018 Buxton Fringe Website
Article about Phantasmagorical
Buxton Festival Review of Phantasmagorical

This show is true immersion into the shadowy world of Victorian gothic spiritualism with magical Spirit Guide, the impish and engaging Miss Sylvia Sceptre.
Wonderfully evocative storytelling prepares believer and sceptic alike for thrills and spine-tingling chills with dazzling magic, mind-reading and psychic demonstration.
Audience members don’t need to commune with the spirits to enjoy expertly performed magic and misdirection from a character created by one of the few female Magic Circle Members.
Trick or treat? Scene or séance? Magic or misdirection? Gift or curse? You decide. But whatever you do, challenge yourself to sit with the shadows in the company of Miss Sceptre before she heads to Edinburgh’s ghostly streets.

David Carlisle
Buxton Fringe, 9 July 2018
 Click Here

July 7, 2018 Fringepig
Article about Interruption Show
A Piggy Interview with Dalia Malek

Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

Interruption Show is a stand-up compilation I started at All Out Comedy Theater in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I bring rotating co-hosts to sit on stage with me panel-style and interrupt a showcase of stand-up comedians mid-performance to ask them questions and dig for backstories about their jokes. This is usually by ringing a bell, honking a horn, or some other annoying sound-making thing. Comedians react, think on their feet, and find new angles to their jokes, audiences learn previously unheard stories from their favourite comedians, and no two shows are ever the same. It’s a wonderfully fun show and having co-hosts adds banter and energy.


Tell me about your first gig.

Comedy Virgins in Stockwell! It was well-attended, I had terrible stage fright, and like six or seven friends came to support. I did well, which assured me and then made my next couple years of bombing all the more painful.


Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Peeing and peeing and peeing and peeing and peeing. I don’t really get nerves anymore but all this peeing must be a physical expression of nerves that has separated itself from my now-dead emotions. I pee and drink plenty of water and pee.


Tell me about your best and worst review.

Reviews are mostly a UK thing and I stopped getting them after I moved, so I only have a small handful to choose from. The best was Steve Bennett from Chortle calling me “a very promising writer.” The worst wasn’t really negative but was just poorly written by some rando. It said it was a review in the title, and the other comedians on the show were reviewed, but my set was just described with no evaluation like a play-by-play, including giving away a punchline. So the reviewer’s conclusion was…that I was there. I’m sure I’d have more negative reviews if I’d continued living in the UK, so that’s what y’all get for deporting me.


During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?

Do people review compilation shows? That sounds sad and kinda thirsty but if that happens sure, I’ll read it if I have time.


How do you feel about reviewers generally?

They should have to provide a list of their favourite races and genders right at the top so we know their biases going into it. And they should have to justify their credentials as writers and as people familiar with comedy. A lot of times it’s people who can barely string together a sentence, and it feels like it’s their first time ever writing anything, and probably their first time watching comedy. Prove to your audience that your mother didn’t just give birth to you at this comedy club today, and that you didn’t just now decide to try your hand at the written word. It’s really easy to critique something and really difficult to create something, let alone create something good, so I think people should review reviewers, call them on their biases, and at the very least correct their weak ass grammar.


In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?

What on earth is a “YouTube comedian”? You mean the website for music videos? Whether it’s a criminal offence depends on which country he did it in and what the laws are there. Couldn’t have been America; if that happened in America they would have made him Secretary of State.


Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?

There are no unsuitable premises, but if your punchlines are boring you risk boring your audience to death, and that should be criminalised.


Have you ever gone too far?

No, I am a good Egyptian girl and I am saving myself for marriage. Please don’t ask me any more personal questions.


Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.

Any gig where I crush in front of my enemies or people who booked me as a token is a great gig in my book. Click Here

July 5, 2018 Deadline News
Article about Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
PREVIEW: Clean cut piano teacher’s descent into smoky-voiced burlesque queen
BREATHY burlesque tunes and a backstory to die for suggest that Sabrina Chap’s cabaret show could well be one of the standout hits of the Free Festival in 2018.

The provocatively titled How To Be A Bad Girl is less an attempt to shock and more a tongue-in-cheek description of how a clean-cut, classical piano teacher and wannabe choir teacher ended up singing in burlesque clubs instead.

Chap, the Illinois-born daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, insists she was a “good girl” while growing up. However, then she released Oompa!, her first album of ragtime-infused cabaret tunes.

The album proved a hit on the burlesque scene with performers stripping to her tunes across the world. As her promotional material puts it she was soon “singing filthy songs alongside world-famous burlesque acts, circus luminaries and cabaret starlets. Here, she learned that she had to be just as entertaining as a bouncing nipple tassel.”



Against that sort of competition she not only sharpened her songwriting and singing skills (she is described as the “love-child of Tom Waits and a whisky-soaked angel”) but also developed a razor sharp wit and sadistic humour.

With original tunes, story-telling, and a finely-honed stage presence, How to Be a Bad Girl chronicles Sabrina’s delightful descent from classical pianist into the world of smut, booze and burlesque in her own words. Click Here

July 3, 2018 FF News
Preview Season at the Three Sisters July 28th-31st
This year, we have a four day preview season of shows at the Three Sisters, every night July 28th to July 31st to give you an early taste of some Free Festival shows, and some shows from other venues around the Fringe before the main event kicks off.

All shows are Free with Donations - come along and check out this early taster of the Fringe!

Maggie Chamber


Sat 28th


6.30pm – Aiden Jones: 52 Days
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5645
  (Comedy)


7.45pm – Sassy Von Sparkle: Tartan & Tassels
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tartan-and-tassels
(Burlesque)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Sun 29th


6.30pm – Aiden Jones: 52 Days
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5645
  (Comedy)


7.45pm –  Simon Caine: Sex, Drugs and other things I
Never Do

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/simon-caine-sex-drugs-and-other-things-i-never-do

(Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Mon 30th 


6.30pm – James Nokise: Britain, Let’s talk about the
Golliwogs

http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5844
(Comedy)


7.45pm – Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5581
(Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Tue 31st 


6.30pm –  Nathan Cassidy: If I Caused the Financial Crash
of 2008
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/nathan-cassidy-if-i-caused-the-financial-crash-of-2008

(Comedy)


7.45pm – James Meehan: Gaz - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/james-meehan-gaz (Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


 Click Here

June 29, 2018 The AM Show
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Ever had a boss you just don't get on with?
Ever had a boss you just don't seem to get along with?

Well, writer and producer, Hope Kennedy-Smith wants you to use that experience to better understand mental health..

She spoke to Duncan Garner. Click Here

June 25, 2018 GET TICKETS HERE
LONDON Free Festival showcase - 19 July Free Tickets available - Click Link below
A London showcase of some of the best comedians who will be performing at the Free Festival during Edinburgh Fringe 2018 - held at the Comedy Pub, and just like in Edinburgh the show is FREE ENTRY with a collection at the end. Save a train fare, and see some of the Fringe's best comedy in the capital!

The show features:

Daisy Earl
Scottish Comedian of the Year - “Impressive… an appealing vulnerability but awakening steeliness” - The Scotsman

Sunil Patel
Time Out's One to Watch, BBC New Comedy Awards finalist, Chortle Best Newcomer nominee

Russell Hicks
"A sharp wit. The pessimism of Jack Dee mixed with the deadpan aggression of Denis Leary.★★★★ " Broadway Baby

Masai Graham
Funniest Joke of the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 & UK Pun Champion
‘Flashes of proper genius’ - Chortle

Dave Chawner
'This is one comic you have to make the effort to see' - The Scottish Herald. As seen on BBC, ITV and Channel 4

LJ DA FUNK
"refreshingly bizarre beside the Fringe’s more down-to-earth comedians" - Three Weeks

and compere Nik Coppin
Charmingly hilarious host Nik Coppin’s comedy was effortless" Rip It Up, Adelaide Fringe

Free Tickets available in advance to guarantee entry. Click Here

June 19, 2018 FringePig
Article about Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
A Piggy Interview With Nathaniel Metcalfe
 Click Here

June 19, 2018 Mumble Comedy
Article about Nathaniel Metcalfe: Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature
An interview with Nathaniel Metcalfe
 Click Here

June 19, 2018 Fringepig
Article about Samantha Pressdee: Pulling It Together (WIP)
A piggy interview with Samantha Pressdee
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

Pulling it Together is a bit like Humpty Dumpty, but with a happier ending. It’s about rebuilding myself after a breakdown which happened four years ago after my Dad died. It’s both a personal and political story as I had to fight to get my needs met a number of times. It highlights the effects of austerity and how social stigma is still very real. I hope to inspire others to believe they can get better despite odds often being stacked against us.

Things can also get better. There are lots of lovely caring people out there advocating for us nutters. When I got sectioned, I phoned my cousin Mark Thomas, who I greatly respect and look up to. When he asked me what I wanted I screamed “FREEDOM!!!” He told me “Things get better.” I believed him, and they did. Mental health is extremely important. I’ve lost two good friends in the last couple of years who both had a diagnosis similar to mine. Tom Palmer and Sarah Munro. They were both young. 28 and 36. I believe had their lives not been so difficult due to austerity and stigma from society they would still be with us.

My other show Conscious Comedy is a mixed bill of socially conscious comedians. I intend to create a sacred space by invoking the energy of Hindu God Shiva, to destroy the unjust restrictions placed on comedy and transform the industry in order to save art! Lofty ideals but I’ll probably just get taken down with an accusation of cultural appropriation. Seriously, I believe comic license gives us agency to joke about anything. Context is important of course, hence the conscious bit. I’m aiming to give people a platform who have an important messages, personal or political within there shows. I’m interested in the truth, not what views are currently in vogue.



Tell me about your first gig.

It was lovely. I did a comedy course at City Lit with Rob Hitchmough. Yuriko Kotani was also in my class. I chose City Lit as they offer concessions for people on low income. I had previously done an acting course there, where a fellow student invited me to audition for the play that brought me to the Edinburgh fringe for the first time in 2013. Rob organised a showcase for us at The Comedy Pub in Piccadilly Circus, it was an audience full of our friends and family so was a very supportive atmosphere. I was still bricking it though and had to have 3 glasses of wine to muster the courage to get up there.



Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

I usually have one drink, which I take onstage. A pint of lager, and I do 7 / 11 breathing in the yogic power pose. I also tend to go over my lines, because my memory is not as good as it was before my breakdown but it’s got a lot better.



Tell me about your best and worst review.

The worst one, was the first one I ever got as a comedian. My first hour was called Consume Shit & Die. It was described in the brochure as shock comedy and that is exactly what I delivered, at one point putting a condom on my vibrator using my gob, then flashing my grey murkin to the room in the character of a sex addicted granny, before finally whipping my tits out as I cried for revolution. I got a one star from a young lady from Broadway Baby! She completely dismissed me as a comedian, saying she thought I should find a different platform. I felt it was unfair and misrepresented my show and it’s message. I just don’t have it in me to be unjustifiably cruel to people. I called the reviewer a bitch on twitter, and later in an interview, a snotty nosed brat. Some people liked that show, it wasn’t her cup of tea, but others laughed throughout. I felt she was just cruel to dismiss it completely.

I’m proud of the 4 star review I got last year for Back 2 Basics but my favourite review was also from Broadway Baby, Paul Cockburn. He came to see Sextremist. It was my first review since the one that traumatised me and his 3 stars felt like 5. I cried tears of relief. 3 stars meant I was good enough. Something to build on. Giving me the strength to carry on. I’ll be forever grateful to Cockburn.



During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?

I’m not inviting reviewers to my work in progress obviously but if I get one for Conscious Comedy I will be grateful for the feedback as long as it’s not written by an ideological student. The tagline is ‘A sacred space, no a safe space.’ Students seem to be all about safe spaces, so I’m hoping that will scare off the weaker ones.



How do you feel about reviewers generally?

During Sextremist I would freeze if I knew there was a reviewer in the room. The trauma inflicted by Broadway Baby had left me with a complex. It affected my performance, knowing I was going to be judged. It got easier throughout the run then, after 2 sessions of hypnosis and conversations with the fair minded Geoff from One4Review, inspiring Kate Copstick from The Scotsman and words of encouragement from Fringepig’s Martin Walker, who’d previously worked with the offending publication. I am now at peace with critics, both inner and outer.



In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?

Absolutely not! The comedic context with the intent of pissing off his girlfriend was crystal clear. Hence why there were no complaints from the public. This was an act of state authoritarianism and for once we actually should all be outraged. Last year I combined my Free the Nipple rally with a free speech rally, it was the lowest turnout ever. I think people are scared to advocate for free speech because they think it’s associated with the far right, but it transcends the duality of left and right.

Free Speech is the bedrock of democracy and without it we will all end up living under tyranny.



Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?

No. We can laugh and joke about anything. Context is important to write good jokes but even bad jokes shouldn’t be punished, we need room to fail. That’s how we get better as comedians and as people in general. It builds resilience. Condemnation doesn’t help anyone. Humour is a force for good. Even if the jokes are dark. Laughter is like an internal massage, relieving the tension in our souls. Who doesn’t love a massage? Maybe authoritarians. I bet they also have really boring sex.



Have you ever gone too far?

I’ve never intended harm. Some would say I have. I stuck tiny #freethenipple stickers on posters one year and a couple of comics were very angry with me for that (not even their posters!) The stickers peeled off without marks so I knew I had done no real damage.

In retrospect, calling that Broadway Baby reviewer a bitch on twitter was wrong. Her name’s Katie Rose (ironically also the name of one of my best friends, it wasn’t her!) Probably wasn’t the best way to express my anger, I’ve learned to be more assertive rather than aggressive since. Thanks to our NHS for the psychoanalytic therapy and to Walsall Council for granting me a personal budget to pay for stuff like kickboxing and yoga. Personal budgets are great, my mom learned about them from the Mind website. It enables me to stay well and seek treatment for my Bipolar symptoms on my own terms. I’ll be talking more about stuff like that in my work in progress show, Pulling it Together.



Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.

I’ve had some amazing gigs, like the time when my entire audience joined me in topless solidarity, all 4 of them. And performing Back 2 Basic which was a tribute to my friend Tom in front of his lovely mom Judy and brave brother Chris. It was tough but also healing for us. Tom’s anarchic warrior spirit lives on the hearts of those who loved him. My favourite gig this year was the We Are Funny Project’s Feminist Talking Points. There was an atmosphere of contained anarchy that you couldn’t recreate that night. The gig had been previously shut down, likely due to a rally cry from the hysterical Kate Smurthwaite. Feminism seems to be one of those subjects people feel like they can’t criticise or take the piss out of. Like I said, I believe we can laugh about anything, as the great Jordan B Peterson would say, fighting with words prevents us from fighting with our fists.

Peace! Click Here

June 18, 2018 Various
Article about Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
Collection of Reviews
 Click Here

June 8, 2018  Fringe Guru
Review of No Name Show
' A touching show. Comedy with a message.'
Stone is a multi-talented performer. She is engaging and confident in her stand-up; at home in a packed-out but intimate space, she builds instant connections with her audience.
The overall tone is of Radio 4 gone ever-so-slightly rogue.
Slipskin has its laugh-aloud moments, but it's also a gentle meditation, an appeal to remember the important things in life. It's an impressive hour from Stone – and a well-thought-through, subtle, salient example of comedy with a message. Click Here

June 7, 2018  Theater Jones
Review of Drunk Lion
Chris Davis' piece at the Dallas Solo Fest brilliantly dives deeper into humanity.
Chris Davis' piece at the Dallas Solo Fest brilliantly dives deeper into humanity.

by Teresa Marrero
published Thursday, June 7, 2018


Photo: John Pankratz
Chris Davis in Drunk Lion
Dallas — A celebration of solo performance is currently taking place at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts with a lineup of six artists in the fourth Dallas Solo Fest. One of these is Chris Davis, a Philadelphia native, who writes and performs his 55 minute solo piece, Drunk Lion, based on his three-year experience living with a Mexican host family in the lowlands city of Chiapa de Corzo, in the southernmost state of Chiapas.

He knew no Spanish upon arrival and his intent was to experience something vastly different from his hometown and to learn Spanish. And so this redheaded young gringo guy lands in one of the most remote areas of Mexico, bordering Guatemala. Chiapas is a state rich in natural resources but ranks among the poorest states in Mexico. It has had a long history of armed resistance to government corruption (take the neo Zapatista Movement of the 1990s) and abuse of indigenous Mayan peoples. Add to this a high incidence of machismo and alcoholism, and well, you get the picture.

Davis treads upon slippery ground in this piece, as his double personae, himself and the Mexican Drunken Lion, engage in a bilingual conversation in a lowdown cantina. (No worries, he repeats everything into English.) Playing a Mexican drunk (be he a metaphoric lion or not) can easily degenerate into unsavory cultural stereotypes, and to be honest, at first I cringed.

However, Davis does not fall into this pit, and the way he does it leads me to an analogy with another creature of the animal kingdom: the camel. While Chris begins portraying the Drunken Lion as, well, a drunken machista lion who says things like “a hole is a hole,” making an obvious reference to the female sexual orifice, he, as himself, then follows it with a sort of surreal deconstruction of the notion. That is chewed and regurgitated several times, each adding a more metaphysical layer of meaning until the hole becomes something that’s nothing short of an analogy for the meaning of life. In a hilarious twist of hyperbole, he does the same thing in the many Juanitas segments. Brilliant and hilarious. While the drunken lion is never anything more than this, Davis manages to not judge or moralize. He also frequently engages the audience in direct conversation.

Dressed down in a pair of torn jeans, gray high tops, and an orange T-shirt with “Jaguares” across his chest, his only props are a simple chair and three full bottles of Modelo beers, set up in a pyramid next to the chair. Directed by Mary Toumanen, a graduate of the Lecoq School of Movement Theatre in Paris, Davis’ economy of movement is one of the most interesting features of this performance. There is not a single clichéd movement in this piece, which is marked by high energy and wit. Click Here

June 3, 2018  Voice Magazine
Review of Stand Up, Weather Girl!
Sam Fraser Stands Up and Causes a Storm in Gender Politics!
If you were to question the relevance of feminist sexual expression in 21st century, then ‘Stand Up, Weather Girl’ by the multifaceted BBC weather reporter and comic Sam Fraser can provide you with an answer; it’s as controversial and as important a requisition now as it was in the past.

Before Fraser entered her spotlight in the dimly lit, compact theatre above The Temple bar, there was an almost instantaneous sense of intimacy established by the secured environment alone; the accompanied blaring sounds of Blondie and the Pet Shop Boys arousing anticipation and the audiences optimistic murmurs coating the small room. And when our host did arrive, an electric conjunction of alliance and charisma engulfed the entirety of her small audience: having enough glistening charm within the first five minutes of her introduction to evoke feelings of familiarity with even the most foreign of strangers.

She begins by humorously interrogating ethics of somatic conventionality, professing to her onlookers that her promotional image for the public event is unaltered. This would be the first of various courageous, yet casually articulated revelations during the one hour set with immense self-awareness on both her individually, and the institutions around her. With authentic agency, Fraser directs between working class adolescence and contemporary womanhood, personal and professional, successfully accentuating how they motion between one another as animated concepts. She opens discussions on the historical fetishisation of the weather girl, the voyeuristic nature of the media, the male gaze, coming of age enlightenment and pornography amongst other topics.

Her delightfully crude character full of obscene references to sex and female physicality is somewhat signature of her act in total honest exhibition; she possesses a dejection to the prohibitions primarily initiated by the taboos of misogynistic etiquette, emphasising dialogue on how comprehension and raw expression can work in tandem, rather than as separate or faulty traits. Fraser notes how femininity is expected to fit the patriarchal aesthetics of the past and the reigning digital age; through such, she triggers a tangent of socially conscious comedy intersecting women and sexuality, highly relatable to her receptive mixed gendered, mixed generation audience, to whom she rarely breaks contact; proving the more how substantial the atmospheric connection between performer and spectator is.

If her unfiltered, thought provoking satirical appeal were to teach chauvinists anything, it’s that weather women aren’t pseudo intelligent ‘bimbos’ whose currency is determined by the length of a skirt; rather, with profound inspiration, Sam Fraser broadcasts how she can be complex, funny, absurd and triumphant through her permission alone.


 Click Here

June 2, 2018 City Beat Cincinnati
Article about Show Up
A tour-de-force of improvisation!
Marino’s sly introduction about having no idea what’s to come is the trope of this highly entertaining performance. Don’t be fooled: Marino knows exactly what he’s doing. He and those in attendance have fun, because it’s very much about audience participation as Marino assembles a laugh-out-loud solo performance. Remember “Mad Libs” in which a participant fills in blanks that result in a disjointed but amusing story? Marino has advanced this approach to a high art. Click Here

May 31, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Will Penswick: Dank Verse
he premise for Will Penswicks’ show is simple. Imagine the world’s most deluded poet, no doubt encouraged by his well meaning Granny, and a car wreck candidate at a Britain’s Got Talent audition and give them their own show. It works and it works well.

Laugh out loud funny

Will is already on stage as the room fills, apparently asleep. Audience interaction is almost instantaneous as he wakes up and ineptly propositions an attendee. Words tumble headlong from Will’s mouth. Obliquely connected, rhymes contrived and convoluted, the subjects bizarre, but the nonsense poems created are clever and humorous. But it’s the interruptions that bring the performance together. He creates a running commentary to his own show. A device that shows his character’s conceit, halting the poems stuttering flow to clarify or merely regroup before plunging back in. It could easily be tedious but we are seduced. We are invited to laugh with him and at him at the same time. It’s embarrassment humour without the cringe - no need to peek through fingertips. He interacts with almost everyone in the room (ok, not that hard today) as the blazing Bank Holiday weather has discouraged the masses, there are less than a dozen of us. When any of us are put in the spotlight a gentle teasing ensues, quickly turned around, with a shrug or a snort, to once again make himself the butt of the joke.

The poetry is the theme that gives the performance its raison d’etre but it’s the intrusions of his commentary, of audience participation and a series of highly contrived one-liners of dubious wit and wisdom that draw laughs and groans from us all. The topics for abuse centre on himself, an imaginary dissolute Tim Henman and the recent royal wedding. Many of the poems have a recurring theme. To me these mini tag lines feel like the leverage of the first successful joke at a relaxed dinner party which is returned to throughout the evening - it invites everyone to be an insider as well as being in on the joke. It’s intimate, we are no longer an audience but a gang. The treatment of these themes is so outlandish that no one could take offence, even Tim and the royal couple.

This is a lovely gentle show. The only jarring note is the unnecessary love hate relationship with a French maitre d’ penguin, not quite as bizarre as it’s sounds in the context of Will’s universe. Laugh out loud funny with many pleasing whimpers of approval throughout. Keep listening to all the encouragement of well meaning friends and relatives. Will has Got Talent. Click Here

May 31, 2018 Free Fest News
The 2018 Free Festial programme is launched!
Welcome to the 2018 free Fest programme! Our New programme of over 400 shows for the Edinburgh Fringe is now ready to view on this website Click Here

May 27, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
LoveHard
The scene is set. It’s Christmas Eve at Drenchblood Heights, the home of the gentile Lady Titan (Genevieve-vieve!) and her rambunctious husband, Lord Titan, and they’re waiting for the invited guests of their murder mystery party to arrive. One by one, or sometimes two, the guests make their entrance and yet the stage, throughout this performance, is only ever occupied by two people...

Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (Edinburgh Fringe LST Sketch-Off Finalists, 2017) form the comedy writing and acting duo LoveHard and for the next 60 minutes in Murdered By Murder these gifted performers, alternately and continually, morph into ten (I may have lost count!) different characters without the help of any additional props, save for a waiting napkin draped over the butler’s forearm. Instead of costume changes, make-up, wigs or facial hair each new character is heralded by an uttered “whoosh”. There then follows a believable metamorphosis: a change to the accent or tone of their voice, an exaggerated facial expression (love the Butler’s gawp!) or a pretend prop, as per the cigarette à la Arabella Penne Arrabbiata (a vacuous, London ‘IT’ girl) and voilà! - a new character is formed.

The unfolding narrative is a pastiche of any Agatha Christie novel you’d care to mention (particularly the end reveal), with a hint of Priestley’s The Inspector Calls and a smattering of Cluedo thrown in for good measure. It’s also a send-up of English country life, with the vicarage inhabitants, the mayor and the aristocratic upper classes all taking a bashing from Lovick and Harding’s perceptive and insightful writing. Each character is caricatured to the max; Lord Titan, for example, strokes his rotund tummy, splutters and guffaws, and struggles to utter the word “purrr” (the poor) whilst sitting in his four-kitchened mansion with a lawn made out of Victorian children. He’s an odious country gent - each guest seems to have a reason to want him dead and, as the murder mystery game is about to begin, real life events take a sudden and dramatic turn. Drenchblood Heights is now no longer the setting for a Christmas Eve party, but a murder investigation. But who-done-it? Was it Shivers the Butler in the living room with the leaded pipe? Or Reverend Bell Sniff in the kitchen with the dagger? To solve the crime, we need to pay attention and follow the twists, turns, flashbacks and character reveals... it’s complicated stuff but very, very clever and highly entertaining!

This show is simply brilliant: in script, characterisation and delivery. These two young talents deserve all the praise they have had and will have. There’s a little bit of Fry and Laurie in their performance and, like their famous predecessors, Lovick and Harding’s partnership is comfortable, their writing intelligent and their timing impeccable. These actors seamlessly role-switch (it’s impressive), their memories are phenomenal (the script is complex and jam-packed) and their acting is, invariably, superb. A mention should also go to Nick Charleworth who ably provides appropriate background music that adds to the show’s drama and amusement. At the risk of repeating every other reviewer – this duo are a Fringe-watch-must and are surely destined for great, great things. Click Here

May 25, 2018  VOICE MAG Brighton
Review of Stealth Aspies - autistic people speak for the second year.
Stealth Aspies: Autistic people speak out.
Stealth Aspies: Autistic People Speak Out
by Sarah Hobden

Four brave adults stand for those who were afraid to.

Stealth Aspies: Autistic People Speak Out

Returning back to Werks Central, I was particularly excited to see this show. The name had caught my attention, but it also tackles a subject close to my heart as someone with autism.

Upon entering Studio 2, I noticed that the stage was occupied with the following: four actors, four chairs, a table with books & sealed CD’s on it, a clipboard, a microphone, and some corner speakers providing audio. The books & CDs were later sold as merchandise sales after the show.

The Stealth Aspies Company is the world’s first performance collective, and this show was comprised of Janine Booth, Alain English, Sarah Saeed and Paul Wady. Together, they told us the personal stories of autistic people, and how they received their diagnosis, how they lived their lives and how they eventually stopped pretending to be normal. Then the actors themselves shared their story.

The show provided humorous moments, poetry and spoken word that opened a window to these people’s lives.

To me, experiencing the show was a breath of fresh air, to know that I’m not alone in this world - that there are others out there like me. One of my personal goals is to raise awareness of my gift - and the actors here contributed to that goal. The audience was mostly quiet throughout the whole thing, but it was a good thing - that meant the audience listened and understood. Also, the stories and poems were told not just with speech, but with body language as well - further showing what life is like for those with the gift.

Overall, this was a great show to end my Fringe year and I recommend it to those who wish to understand more about my special gift. Click Here

May 24, 2018  The Reviews Hub
Review of Jon & Nath Like To Party
****½ Jon & Nath Like To Party @ Brighton Fringe
From the moment the duo leap on to the stage wearing white shirts and black trousers and ties, music blaring, the crowd know they are going to be in for a good time. Like an acid house version of the Blues Brothers, Jon Levene and Nathan Lang are going to teach us how to really live, for as the title of their show proclaims: Jon and Nath Like to Party.

Just as quickly as the party starts, it is halted by the comedian’s first character creations: the detectives (one senior and one junior as the superior ranked officer loves to point out). Here the audience are treated to some fabulous anarchically funny crowd interaction and a threat that they are all going to check all our ID’s to see if we are underage drinking.

As the night progresses the throng witness many more crazed personalities and sketches, each becoming more outrageous and gross. Crowd favourites include the creepy Scent of Jesus sketch (one of a trilogy), Lang’s impersonations of Hollywood legends and a pastiche of 1970’s horror film The Shining, with a fabulous, low budget, rivers of blood sequence. As well as a very interesting take on “trendy” deconstructed pizza that has the gathering howling with laughter and disgust.

Levene and Lang (one can’t help wondering why they didn’t call themselves this as it is much catchier) are great comedic performers with a willingness to do anything to produce a laugh. Lang’s strength is playing the put-upon whilst Levene turns up the heat. It is a combination that is hilariously stupid. If you like you humour cerebral this is not for you, but if you enjoy physical comedy and wanton silliness they are your men. Click Here

May 15, 2018 Brighton and Hove Independent
Article about No Name Show
Brighton Independent news - Sami Stone ponders nature and language...
 Click Here

May 14, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of A Beginners Guide To Bondage
Review
 Click Here

May 14, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of A Beginners Guide To Bondage
A Beginner's Guide to Bondage
Fifty Shades of Grey was the bestselling book that gripped the world with its stories about Mr Grey and his sexual appetite for pain and pleasure. I found no pleasure in the book and after several chapters gave up. So when I went to see the one-woman show A Beginners Guide to Bondage by Sara Mason I wondered if this would be more pleasurable.


Sara tells us of her real life experiences of her alter ego - the dominatrix Mistress Venetia

At the beginning, Sara tells us that the real life world of BDSM and bondage is nothing like the book Fifty Shades of Grey. She says you don’t have to be mentally damaged or rich, like the book's main character Mr Grey, to be into the lifestyle. Through PowerPoint and props, Sara tells us about the real life experiences of her alter ego - the dominatrix Mistress Venetia. Dressed in thigh high boots and PVC, she recreates the scenarios of her dungeon and talks about all kinds of clients she has encountered in a very amusing, but informative, style. One minute the audience are laughing and the next gasping with some of the things her clients like for sexual pleasure. Members of the audience volunteer to help Mistress Venetia and are led around like dogs on leads and others are spanked. This makes the rest of us roar with laughter. It’s all done safely and no one is really hurt. Via PowerPoint we learn about different types of sexual deviancy and the audience seemed to be listening intently and learning a lot.

Mistress Venetia is very high energy, but tells us spanking someone for hours can be exhausting.

The dark point of the show is when she tells us about a client who killed himself. This makes the atmosphere serious and silent, but quickly Mistress Venetia takes control again and makes us laugh with her ideas for new sex toys. Sara Mason has written a show that's informative, fun and a little bit naughty. She’s a natural storyteller.




Louisa Lord


By Louisa Lord
Joined 1969
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Louisa Lord has worked in the Entertainment business for over 20 years and has been seen on TV and Stage in Europe, UK and America. She is also a regular guest on talkRadio.

Reviews by Louisa Lord Click Here

May 6, 2018  Voice Magazine
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World Review by Isabella Colletta
Logan manages to quickly and smoothly segue from testing the comedic waters of the crowd into his main material on travel, which retains its bizarre and unique humour. From lamenting the troubles of sleeping in hostels as a snorer, to working in Australia and discovering the beauty of five-dollar domino’s pizza, he authentically captures the trials and triumphs of travelling and trying to expand as a comic in completely foreign countries. His travel anecdotes are particularly well prepared and structured. Every story, not matter how small, ties in seamlessly with his other material, and he manages to successfully incorporate audience interaction and improvise new anecdotes without losing direction or momentum. Whilst occasionally losing himself in commenting on audience reactions, for the most part he maintained his persona as a truly authentic comedian with a true passion for the stories he delivered.

A highly candid comedic voice, this newcomer to Brighton Fringe is certainly one to put on the list for a relaxed and entertaining hour of interesting and personalised comedy. Click Here

May 6, 2018 Chelsea Now
Article about Show Up, Kids!
His Show Will Only Go ‘Up’ If You Help
“I had this notion,” Marino recalled, “that ‘Show Up’ would be fun for kids, because, like the adult show, it puts them in charge of the content.” Marino noted that his own experience with social anxiety — a thematic undercurrent of the adult show, is also a component, albeit an age-appropriate one, of the family-friendly version. Youthful audience members, he said, will be contributing to the show’s content by sharing “things they are scared of.” The premise of the show, he told us, “is that the performer they came to see is not there, and I have to fill the time. To do that, I’m going to have to face my fear and create a show, using them as the inspiration for the settings and costumes and plot. So I get examples of their own issues. It starts off with things they’re afraid of or don’t like to do, and transforms into things they love or want to accomplish.” Click Here

May 5, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about No Name Show
Fringe Review's 'Top Ten Pick' at Brighton Fringe 2018
Comprising of that delightful balance of silly and clever.... Click Here

April 13, 2018 Love Midlands Theatre
Article about LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere review
Never before have I seen such a terrific parody of the classic 80’s sci-fi movie genre as comedy duo LoveHard have created in their new show Tales From The Elsewhere. Take all the classic examples such as E.T., The Goonies, Back To The Future, the recent phenomenon Stranger Things, strip them down to their nostalgic clichés and inject them with the energy, hilarity and genius of LoveHard; that is what this show is. And it is utterly, utterly brilliant.

Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding look as if they have arrived at The Old Joint Stock by time travel, wearing funky 80’s jackets and headphones. And yes this duo consists of…well…two people, but they constantly and effortlessly swap through an entire suburban American town of individual characters in (literally) a whoosh. Distinctive voices and small mannerisms distinguish the cast members of this sci-fi story of a group of ordinary school kids, who discover some mysterious cassette tapes at a yard sale and inadvertently initiate a monster invasion putting their town in jeopardy. Jumping from the group of high school misfits, their crushes, bullies, moms, teachers as well as a pair of dim-witted undercover agents and cops to list but a few, the energy presented in this duo is so fast-paced and it is remarkable how they can remember each character’s certain aspects. Also their use of space around the small Old Joint Stock stage is effectively presented.

The humour relies on parodying the genre but also LoveHard parody themselves, especially at times breaking character and corpsing (particularly during a scene with a hunchbacked old man). Their one-liners and recurring gags are so clever, witty and to some extent reminiscent of the contrast of sarcasm and innocence of Rick and Morty as well as the humour of Leslie Neilson in Police Squad and Airplane!

What is also excellent about this show is that while lighting and sound effects are used, it is a very natural and organic form of theatre presented by this double act. It is simply the pure creative minds among two comedy geniuses that entertain and make us laugh for an evening. Wherever they are heading to next it is crucial that you grab yourself a ticket and witness LoveHard do what they so brilliantly do. I would rush to watch them parody any form of genre or tell any form of hilarious story as amazingly as they did in Tales From The Elsewhere. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018 Plays To See
Article about Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 20, 2018 The Dominion Post
Article about Charmian Hughes - Bra Trek
NZ Fringe Festival: Bra Trek, The Race: Must-see tales of bras and homelessness
Charmian Hughes – Bra Trek
Created and performed by Charmian Hughes
The Race
The Hobson Street Theatre Company, directors Bronwyn Bent and Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwhaho
NZ Fringe Festival, Bats Theatre, until March 21.
Another stand-up comedian, Charmian Hughes, performs at Bats this week, fortunately somewhat unique and different from the normal run-of-the mill comedians usually seen on stage these days.
Having successfully entertained Wellington audiences last year with Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth, her return show this year – Bra Trek continues with witty, insightful stories about herself that also shine a light on many social issues of today.
Beginning with reference to our own iconic fence of bras down in Cardrona, Hughes continues on a trek of how we as humans are having more and more trouble "fitting in" and, on a personal level, finding a bra that fits.
READ MORE: Wellington's NZ Fringe Festival: The Top 10 acts you need to see this year
She then proceeds to relate stories about herself growing up, dealing with family and friends, not too dissimilar to her stories last year, yet from completely different angles.
And the uniqueness of her stories is that they offer intelligent, pithy comments that often have an underlying ring of truth to them, but always with a very funny, upbeat, punchline.
A confident performer, Hughes works her audience with ease, making her well worth watching. Click Here

March 20, 2018 The Dominion Post
Article about Charmian Hughes - Bra Trek
Big Bra Hit Down Under
Another stand-up comedian, Charmian Hughes, performs at Bats this week, fortunately somewhat unique and different from the normal run-of-the mill comedians usually seen on stage these days.
Having successfully entertained Wellington audiences last year with Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth, her return show this year – Bra Trek continues with witty, insightful stories about herself that also shine a light on many social issues of today.
Beginning with reference to our own iconic fence of bras down in Cardrona, Hughes continues on a trek of how we as humans are having more and more trouble "fitting in" and, on a personal level, finding a bra that fits.
READ MORE: Wellington's NZ Fringe Festival: The Top 10 acts you need to see this year
She then proceeds to relate stories about herself growing up, dealing with family and friends, not too dissimilar to her stories last year, yet from completely different angles.
And the uniqueness of her stories is that they offer intelligent, pithy comments that often have an underlying ring of truth to them, but always with a very funny, upbeat, punchline.
A confident performer, Hughes works her audience with ease, making her well worth watching. Click Here

March 13, 2018  The Music
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
The Music Review Roundup 4: Fringe World
Although Struan All Over The World is Struan Logan’s debut at Perth Fringe, this Scottish comedian is no stranger to Australia, having travelled across the country on a working holiday visa a couple of years ago. He relays his backpacker experiences, like staying in hostels and working in hospitality and gives us an outsider’s perspective on things we take for granted. His also tells us about hilarious interactions with different cultures and religions while performing in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Despite the less than optimal conditions in a sauna of a room, Logan keeps the audience engaged and laughing throughout. Logan is adorably goofy and his story relatable and light-hearted. If this show doesn’t make you want to go backpacking, you’re probably dead inside. Click Here

March 8, 2018  The Clothesline
Review of The Travellin' Man Showcase
Aidan Jones – The Abersham Flat: Living With A Con Man For A Flat Mate – Adelaide Fringe Review
 Click Here

March 8, 2018  Adelaide Advertiser
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
Adelaide Fringe Review 2018: Struan All Over The World
TRAVELLING through various countries means you need to do your research on different cultures, but for comedian Struan Logan it meant he had to make sure his comedy was actually relatable without just being ignorantly offensive and stereotypical.

A humble Scotsman, he's not afraid to talk about comedy shows that have gone terribly and self-righteous hipster comedians he's encountered during his travels.

This honest account of the highs and lows of being a comedian will have you cackling and his relaxed demeanour makes for a highly enjoyable show. Click Here

March 5, 2018 Craccum University of Auckland Student Magazine
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Welcome to Self Co. THEATRE REVIEW BY MILLY SHEED
Welcome to Self Co.
THEATRE REVIEW BY MILLY SHEED
Mental illness is an intricately difficult subject
to broach when devising a performance. Even
more so, when introducing comedy onto the
stage. Hope Kennedy-Smith smartly manages
both in her production of Welcome to Self Co.
This play expresses the brutal rigidity of
mental illness. It presents the monotonous
reality of the corporate workplace, balanced
cleverly with the agility of comedy. We see
protagonist, Louise, willingly plunge into the
servitude of mental instability, and come to
true defiance of its grip over her life.
The play provides a fresh perspective of
mental illness and its function. Kennedy-Smith
does an incredible job of subverting
our ‘standard’ perception of mental illness
as a black-and-white issue, and muses
that mental illness is more a societal burden,
much like a job, rather than a “choice”.
By personifying Louise’s struggle with mental
illness as a “shitty office job”, the reality
of mental illness, from a seed to a raging
fire, is laid bear. I was forced to recognise
the impact of mental illness, in a way both
relatable and highly intriguing. Boldly, the
play establishes mental illness, and our
ability to carry on daily life as best we can,
are inextricable concepts.
Comedy not only made this play attractive
and, lets face it, light-hearted in the face of
extremely heavy undertones, but created an
intelligent irony. Millennials are not unknown
for the ability to mask traumatisation with
laughter. This play magnifies this ideology,
tenfold. A stark juxtaposition throughout,
between gags and brazen theatricality, and
mental disease; made this play sobering
relatable; a slight nod towards a societal need
for the responsibility of mental illness.
Kennedy-Smith was not ashamed to be
vulnerable in the presence of onlookers.
Capturing my attention whole-heartedly,
she beautifully presented the layers and
complexities of mental illness. With very few
props or set design: Kennedy-Smith creates
some serious belly-laughs, as well as confronts
us with the reality of mental illness, in a
society fraught with mental labour.
Enjoy your “on-boarding.” Click Here

March 5, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think: 4 star review by Frodo Allan

Many stand-up comedians like to be super punchy in their comedy. It’s all about the laughs per minute and working the audience to hone their wit and establish their prowess as masters of comedy. Justin Matson has a different approach. His comedy is paced a little slower with an almost storytelling vibe that doesn’t bring as many big laughs, but keeps you smiling and chuckling throughout this very enjoyable hour of purposefully awkward self-deprecation and confessional with a few great one-liners.

His likeable persona makes it even funnier

Telling us tales of being shamed at the gym, working as an intern, and his on-going problems with rollercoasters, Matson is very easy to warm to and an hour in his company goes by pretty fast. His demeanour makes him easy to listen to and the confessional element of his comedy never feels maudlin or self-serving; he’s just telling us of his experiences and making it funny whilst doing so. Indeed, his likeable persona makes it even funnier when he occasionally lets the jokes go to a dark place before shutting himself down and getting back on track. Click Here

March 1, 2018 Internal eBulletin Mental Health Foundation New Zealand
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Review: Welcome to Self Co. Nicola Corner, Mental Health Foundation
In my experience, some of the best plays are the ones that are open to interpretation. They move us beyond the theatre to the discussion afterwards, and to new perspectives.
I found Welcome to Self Co to be one of those shows. Inventive, witty and satirical, the play centres on Louise, a young woman who, after being hounded by an inner voice telling her she “must be productive”, finds herself a new office job. As the audience soon discovers, however, this is not just any job. The job interview swears a commitment to a life of stress and Louise’s first assigned task is to give herself a panic attack. Induction then involves practicing selling “existential dread” to a client. The positions description, condescendingly narrated by her manager, reads:
Do you have what it takes to become our next DEPRESSION SUPERSTAR? We are looking for a super inefficient, dedicated team member to join our established brand. Our ideal candidate will be an anxious, stressed out individual with excellent self-loathing and low motivational skills, pays high attention to the negative details and a willingness to waste their time and give up on their dreams and goals.
In brilliantly sardonic fashion, the play then follows Louise as she sells depression packages to “Welcome to Self Co clients”, all while dealing with an overbearing manager whose entire job appears to be predicated on tearing down any feelings of enjoyment, confidence or self-worth. Though this sounds heavy, the play stays away from being overly serious, revealing its depth through entertaining, over the top characters and clever satire.
Yet, as anyone that has had a draconian boss or felt consumed by the pressures of working life can relate to, the extreme scenario at Welcome to Self Co could easily be read as a caricature of the strain that working life can sometimes exert over our mental health. Louise loses touch with her friends, obsesses over work after hours and is called in for menial tasks over the weekend. When her manager suggests Louise take a break and go on holiday, she is told to fill it with drugs and alcohol. In a context of growing workplace stress, it’s incisive commentary.
Yet, another closely linked interpretation that a friend and I discussed after the show explored the notion of mental illness as the full-time job in and of itself. Phrases like “the daily grind” and the “treadmill” have a traditional workplace association, yet the metaphors could easily carry across to the work that is put into managing a condition like depression. Just like a treadmill, there can be the feeling of being trapped on a plane that you can’t seem to get off, of being sapped of your physical and mental energy, of constantly pushing to regain control. And the experience of having to do this, day after day, can feel exactly like a “daily grind”. In this sense, the play could be read as an exploration into the “work” of mental illness, with the packages that Louise is selling to clients day in and day out really being sold to herself. A striking example of this in the play was reflected in a scene where Louise is asked to sort through files, grouped according to their particular affliction: self- loathing, existential dread, self-destructive behaviour. Through the mundane symbolism of sorting files, the scene felt like a poignant reflection of how mental illness is not always punctuated by dramatic events, but rather can also manifest in the same thoughts and habits circulating day by day, to the point of almost numbing routine.
It’s these complexities that make Welcome to Self Co so important. It’s funny for sure, and it’s superbly acted, but more importantly it opens up dialogue on a much needed conversation. It’s worth seeing - whatever your interpretation may be. Click Here

February 25, 2018  GLAM Adelaide
Review of Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Fringe Review: Justin Matson – Fatter Than You Think
Fringe Review: Justin Matson – Fatter Than You Think
Brian Godfrey | February 25, 2018

Presented by Justin Matson
Reviewed 24 Feb 2018

This is American comedian Justin Matson’s first visit to Australia and the Adelaide Fringe – hopefully, it’s not the last.

Matson is a mild-mannered comic who can still deliver big laughs as well as any of the more gritty in-your-face comedians. But his is a nice, pleasant persona. As soon as he walks out, you know that this is a guy you are going to like – and he doesn’t disappoint. Think Ray Romano, but with a smile.

Subjects such as suicide, temping and being Gay are all covered, with a huge emphasis on being fat (although we Aussies would probably call him ‘cuddly’). But Matson has a beautiful self-deprecating sense of humour about it all that seems to make it all light, bright and very funny. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending.

This is a very funny and pleasant way to finish up a night of frantic Fringeing.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Venue: Basem3nt Studio at Basem3nt

Season: Wed to Sat 28 Feb – 17 March

Duration: 50 min

Tickets: Full Price: $25.00 Concession: $22.00 BankSA Customer: $19.50 Group 6+: $20.00

Bookings: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/justin-matson-fatter-than-you-think-af2018 Click Here

February 22, 2018  Theatrey Stuff
Review of Welcome to Self Co
Review: Welcome to Self Co (Tiny Theatre Garnet Station)
Corporate humour is, for the most part, fairly safe ground. It is an area to which most people can drag up unpleasant memories about being a mouse in a wheel to relate to the jokes about them. The only risk when making a sketch show of corporate humour is to play it too safe and tell jokes and create scenarios we have seen a million times before, or else don't deliver on the physical comedy as much as necessary to truly mock the office work place., for example see "Enterprise" at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017. "Welcome to Self Co." introduces us to Louise, who has just landed her "dream job" working for Self Co., working hard to produce and sell depression and poor life choices to herself and others.

The sketches comprise of fast and sharp comedy where Louise's life gets more and more down hill as she is gradually lumbered with being over worked, underpaid, and underappreciated, all delivered in painful corporate lingo. In doing so the show spoke about a serious issue without being too serious in delivery, coming across almost as forgiving for anyone in the audience going through similar emotions caused by similar reasons.



Written by and starring Hope Kennedy-Smith, each joke isolated is only as good as its delivery. Some jokes go on for long stretches of time, for example when being interviewed for her new job Louise is asked if she is willing to "binge eat", "work long hours", give up on her "hopes, dreams and aspirations", the list goes on and on. Even so, jokes like this remain funny throughout on the back of the performances of Kennedy-Smith and the supporting cast - Michaela Spratt as the Boss and Titiana Daniels as Louise's friend and co-worker. Spratt is especially entertaining through her incredibly expressive face portraying her eternal disgust.



There is not a great deal of variety in the performance - most jokes are one liners ("Then go down to the paranoia department - don't ask anyone anything I don't trust them") and are delivered at one hundred miles per hour, but it has a satisfyingly consistent pace and it thoroughly entertaining for it. You will most likely recognise some aspect of Louise's predicament in your own life, so whether you're looking for a little relief in the black comedy of office-induced depression, or just a chuckle at the lunacy of the corporate world, "Welcome to Self Co." is definitely worth seeing. Four stars.



Whispers from the crowd:

"I thought it was really good - it's a challenging subject, but it could apply to anyone, which is really cool." Click Here

February 21, 2018 Seriously Journal
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Laughing in the Dark
Writer and actor Hope Kennedy-Smith insists that her play Welcome to Self Co. is relatively light-hearted, considering it focuses entirely on the most suffocating aspects of dealing with depression and anxiety.

Desperate for work, two women (played by Hope and first-time performer Tatiana Daniels) take jobs at Self Co., where their boss (Michaela Spratt) is a nightmarish, Miss Trunchbull-esque embodiment of the worst aspects of both mental illness and office life.

Directed by Patrick Graham, the play draws on the absurdism of Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and is heavily influenced by the work of controversial writer Johann Hari. His book Lost Connections makes a case that there needs to be far more of a focus on the social causes of mental illness — letting people gain a sense of meaning and belonging, for example.

“He was quoting these stats from America in a recent Gallup poll that said only 13 percent of people in America love their jobs, 24 percent of people absolutely hate it, and the other 63 percent of people are just doing it because they have to,” Hope says.

“If you think about that, the majority of people’s waking life is spent at work, rather than something you really enjoy, and most jobs are about making someone else money at the end of the day so they can have more luxuries.”

This makes Hope’s own political leanings fairly clear, but she’s worked hard to make the play challenging for even the most liberal audiences.

“You always want to make the audience think for themselves,” she says. “You always want to make it subtle and get both sides as well.”

“It’s always good to make the audience a bit uncomfortable.”

The confronting play moves at lightning speed, and is based on the idea that having depression and anxiety to having a full-time job, while also delving into “how workplaces can be quite toxic”.

Hope says that even if the audience hasn’t experienced mental illness themselves, it remains relatable as “everyone’s had a boss they hate”.

“You can be really lucky with certain jobs where people are really good about mental health things and you can talk about your problems and your work is like, ‘It’s fine, you’re depressed, you need to take time off’. But I think the majority of people don’t work in workplaces where they can do that,” she says.

“It’s quite often that, depending on how high up you get, you get infantilised a lot and people who have shifts that are very very stringent — you only get fifteen minutes for a break and you have no control over your work either. That causes people so much stress and can be really dehumanising.”

“It also seems to be a thing that people who are bullies seem to be quite perfect for management roles.”

While the laughs flowed throughout the show at Garnet Station, as we left the theatre, I heard people saying it felt strange to laugh at, and therefore identify with, the play's darkest humour in the company of strangers, or even friends.

My friend pointed out it’s exactly the kind of jokes you'd usually give a quiet like to on social media: you can know that others have felt the same sense of self-loathing, or "existential dread", but you don't actually have to discuss it with anyone.

Hope says she finds shows and podcasts that deal with mental illness through comedy to be “empowering” and loves hearing creative people share experiences she can identify with.

She cites US podcast The Hilarious World of Depression as an influence, as well as the 90s comedy Office Space for its portrayal of menial work.

“When you’re down and depressed or anxious being able to laugh at your own misery is completely sometimes the only thing that can get you through,” she says.

“I have a really great best friend and we do that all the time. We send each other 15 minute updates on our mental health all day long and they’re always funny and it’s good having someone to laugh with about the absurdity of the situation.”

“I think laughing at depression is a really good way of addressing it: I’ve had lots of people who have seen the show and said it’s an insight into what it’s like for people, even if they haven’t experienced depression or anxiety,” she says.

“But it’s in a comedic way because nobody wants to go and be depressed in a theatre.”

Hope says there’s a potential it will go on to be used as a resource in schools and she’s also applied for the Edinburgh Free Fringe.

Personally, she says the process of creating and acting in Welcome to Self Co. has been incredibly cathartic and that she’s been “so much healthier since doing it”.

“I’ve been finding it’s a really great process being able to somehow capitalise on my mental health to beat it in a way.”

“It’s a way in my head to be able to manage it and control it, writing it all down and forming it into something has worked really, really well… I wish lots of other people could find ways to do things like that.” Click Here

February 4, 2018 Redbrick
Article about Wings
Happenchance Theatre’s ‘Wings’ at the Old Joint Stock Theatre
Happenchance Theatre Company is a small body of actors, improvisers and comedians, extending their graduate days at the University of Birmingham together in their experimental theatre company based in Birmingham. Currently consisting of 12 members, and seeking to grow more, the young company are testing the waters with new spaces, genres and new twists every night in their performance. Nothing is ever done exactly the same way twice.

‘Wings’ is a charming short play injected with comedy, the subtleties of romance and just generally the intention to have a good night with the audience. Although smaller-budget, Happenchance utilise the bare minimum and the crucial aspect of audience attentiveness to unfold the story of two comedic writers in a relationship, Eva and James. The seamless two-man show/sketch toys with the boundaries of human vulnerability in the arts and using oneself or others as a muse for ridicule, yet the most progressive element of the play’s narrative are the peaks and troughs in the two comedians’ relationship, challenging gendered dynamics, humility and sacrifice, all within the confines of this hour-long comedy sketch.

What makes this short-play innovative and witty is the lack of distinction between the sketches the character Eva directed at her audience, and her intentional interaction with the present audience and James. At the beginning of the play, Eva’s breaking of the fourth wall to go into the tech box was hard to distinguish as either intentional or improvised, due to the nature of Vita Fox’s performance and the black box theatre; however, this may be part of the ambiguity and improvised nature of Happenchance that the audience learn to love. The unpredictability of the company and its production make Happenchance an exciting company to watch for future creations.

The proxemics of the Old Joint Stock Theatre’s auditorium, seating approximately 50 people, instantly creates an intimacy and relaxed dynamic between audience and actors. This stage set-up coincides perfectly with the improvised and relaxed nature of the comedy play, physically asking the audience to be patient and cooperative with whatever innovation the actors decide to pursue on the night. The comedic and touching relationship, portrayed with the bare minimum of a stand-up mic and a mock bottle of wine, is so charming and humble that one cannot help but smile at the slowly disintegrating yet hilarious relationship of James and Eva. There is a brief touching on the role of feminism and gender in comedy and the creative industry, which is very fitting to the narrative of a successful female comedian and the sensitivities of a male performer also. The highlighting of masculine vulnerability was a relevant social comment on our predominantly male comedic landscape today.

Happenchance, despite being new and slightly unpolished in the extent of their improvisation, have created an innovative and charming piece that guarantees the audience laughs and silliness, which is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. Click Here

February 4, 2018 

January 22, 2018 Metro
Article about Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke!
Comedian helps catch 'thief' during street performance
 Click Here

January 22, 2018 Metro
Article about Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke!
Comedian helps catch 'thief' during street performance
 Click Here

November 17, 2017 PragueBarsClubs
Article about It's a Joke Life
Joke Life in Prague - Interview
James and Kirthy will not deny the universal fact that ‘Life is hard’. These two comedians have dealt with tough situations in love life, thug life, high life, street life, married life, corporate life and cultural life but have now finally found some form of redemption in ‘Joke Life’. It’s this mockery of their lives that forges the uncanny alliance which creates this unique stand-up comedy show.

Crappy late night dinners, cheap hotels, and complicated relationships are some of the key perks/punishments of living the ‘Joke Life’, all worth it as long as you guys are laughing.

Ahead of their gig Velvet Comedy Presents: Joke Life tomorrow at The ACT Prague we caught up with stand up comedians James Rankin & Kirthy Iyer to find out a little bit more about them and their project.

So… A very open question… Tell us about yourselves?

James: Well I’m the son of a painter, named Peter who…

Kirthy: …can’t answer simple questions.

James: And hates being interrupted.

Kirthy: By a foreigner.

James: Who can’t pronounce the words ‘wealthy’ or ‘water’ properly.

Kirthy: Try again!

James: I’m Australian, I’m 32 years old. I now live in Berlin, I love Europe! I’ve done different studies and projects in my life but comedy has always been that thing I was really good at you know? That I felt at home with. Even as a kid, I loved making people laugh. There’s magic in that moment. I would get out of trouble with it. Meet girls with it, avoid bullies with it. Now, I’m traveling around Europe with it, seeing new places and meeting new people. Talking with you Andrew, you know, what more do you want from life? 🙂

Kirthy: I’m an Indian born, Germany-resident, English-speaking comedian. So, my life is a joke! Really! What else can I tell you? Well, from childhood, I have been a creative individual. OK, that sounded pretentious. Let me rephrase. Maybe we are all born creative. That sounded equally pretentious. Anyways, as a kid, I loved comics and did drawing most of the time. I transitioned to animation early on and got into the video-games industry. I have been doing Stand-up comedy for the last 7 years, I love storytelling, it doesn’t matter what medium. And I love food. Most people, when they get super-rich, they want a Ferrari. Not me. When I get that wealthy, I want a personal chef, trained in all sorts of cuisines. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

Kirthy. How did you end up in Frankfurt via Canada?

Kirthy: I did a diploma in 3D Animation and Visual Effects at Vancouver Film School. Then, after graduating, I got a job offer from one of the biggest computer games companies in Germany – Crytek. I had never heard of them either, but my brother had. So, he convinced me to take the job, immediately!

What can you tell us about the German sense of humour?

Kirthy: Being married to a German, and slowly being devoured by the German lifestyle, I have started to understand their sense of humor. It is dark and mostly hidden deep within the souls of German folk.

James: Not the only thing.

Kirthy: They find non-functioning foreigners funny but the minute they see a German not operating within reasonable German standards, they press the panic button.

James: Also, young German audiences are definitely sharing the same sense of humor as the rest of the world. A lot of the audiences we play to are from everywhere so it’s always a mixed crowd with a great vibe.

What’s the English comedy scene like in Germany?

Kirthy: The English comedy scene is thriving in Germany. You get the opportunity to learn the ropes of the trade from the bottom and this also gives you a safe platform to build your comedy. In established scenes outside Germany, you don’t get that many chances to take a lot of risks and discover what works best for you.

James: That’s true. I live in Berlin and the scene is quite good there. I mean it was one of the deciding factors in choosing Berlin, over other European cities… that and the hard drugs and sex clubs. No, I had performed there in the past and spoke to a few people in the Berlin scene who said it was thriving. They were right. There are nearly two English shows per night at the moment. And the mixed expat crowds are so up for the shows, it’s a real treat.

James. Where have you performed in Europe and where did you find the best audience?

James: I’ve been lucky to perform in a lot of different places actually. I mean as an Australian, everything is so close and within reach in Europe. I’ve performed in Spain, London, Amsterdam, and the Czech Republic. Kirthy and I also did our show in Poland and in Edinburgh as part of the festival.

Have you performed in the Czech Republic before?

Kirthy: Sexually, yes. Comedy-wise, no, this is my first time.

James: Good answer. I’ve performed in Prague once before actually, as part of the Berlin show Cosmic Comedy, who did a showcase at the Czech Inn. It was a lot of fun actually so I’m looking forward to getting on stage again.

What is JokeWorks and how did it come about?

James: Well I was producing shows in Berlin under the banner Rankin Comedy and Kirthy was producing shows under SUP Comedy. As we begin to work together more we realised it was a pain to market both of us separately so we created JokeWorks for all our joint projects, such as the shows we are doing now.

SUP Comedy still operates and Rankin Comedy still produces shows in Berlin.

What’s the story behind SUP Comedy?

Kirthy: Well, I wanted to try stand-up comedy in Frankfurt but there were no open-mic nights or anything. So, I started an open-mic out of necessity. This way I could perform and build my own comedy. Slowly, it grew into a community and then it became a very popular show. Over the last 2 years, Sup Comedy has been providing amazing and entertaining shows in which local and international comedians from all over the world delight the audience with quality performances.

Who’s your favourite comedian?

James: Well besides the favourites, Louis CK, Bill Burr, and Seinfeld. I always loved Bill Hicks, for just saying it like it is. Not only do you laugh but you learn and become ‘woke’ as the hip kids call it. It’s such a fine balance to get right and only the best comics can do that; teach you something and keep you laughing.

Kirthy: My top favourites are Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and Norm MacDonald. They definitely crack me up easily. I generally have a huge list of favourites and I am inspired by any comic who is doing something original and funny. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Owen Benjamin, that dude is funny.

How do you define ‘funny’?

James: Haha! Great question, but why would you want to define ‘funny’? That’s the beauty of it, it’s intangible!

Kirthy: ‘Funny’ is subjective. But I always have sort of narrowed down funny as an ‘innovative truth’. It’s like when you hear a joke, you hear an idea of a world that is believable yet completely out of the ordinary. This idea gives you this A-ha moment in your head and you can’t help just laughing.

How do you deal with hecklers?

James: I was always quick witted, even on the playground in school. I got out of a lot of trouble like that. So I just trust that I’m funnier and faster. But it’s not always the case and can be tough. If they’re real dicks, the crowd will turn on them on also, so one clever line and you’ll shut them up!

Kirthy: I have been hosting shows for almost 7 years, have dealt with my fair share of heckles. It trains you well. Besides, most heckles are harmless or just a ‘call for attention’.

What can people expect from your gig in Prague?

James: If you pay me 4.7654 euro I’ll tell you it all, mate!

Kirthy: That’s what James thinks we’re going to get per ticket, haha.

James: No, this is going to be a good show. We have a local host, Kristyna Haklova, who is doing really good things for English Comedy in Prague, with Velvet Comedy. She’ll be hosting the night and we’ll just be sharing our stories and jokes from our joke lives, really. We’ve toured together a lot, we’ve worked hard on shaping this show and we can’t wait to get out there and meet everybody.

Obviously we can’t wait for the Prague show but what’s next for you guys?

Kirthy: Well we have a few more stops on this tour first – Brno, Bratislava, Frankfurt, Mannheim. Then we’ll be working together on a few other projects before touring again next year. But you could see us anywhere, so stayed tuned!

How can we purchase tickets for your Prague gig?

Tickets are available from:

https://jokelifepra.eventbrite.com/

Where can we follow you on social media?

JokeWorks – www.facebook.com/Jokeworks/
SUP Comedy – www.facebook.com/SUPComedyNights/
James Rankin – www.facebook.com/rankincomedy/
Kirthy Iyer – www.facebook.com/kiComedy/ Click Here

November 15, 2017 
Article about It's a Joke Life
Two Travelling Comedians Bringing The Laughs To Prague
Take a tough teenage life, mix it with weird family situations and mysterious growing up feelings, then season all this with strict religious heritages, the discovery of sexuality, a complicated adult life and even having your own children … The result? JokeLife!

JokeLife is a new amazing comedy show that is currently touring through Europe. The show was conceived and is performed by two fellow comedians James Rankin and Kirthy Iyer, whose intent is to make fun of their own life and experiences as they go through memories and perceptions of their past and present lives. During this journey, they don’t just deride their experiences, but also life in its entirety.

James Rankin
One half of the show is James Rankin, an Australian stand-up comedian who currently performs all over Europe. He left his hometown off the back of a successful run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, performing his hit show ‘Be A Man’ who thrilled audiences in 2016. James's brave and hilarious story-telling performances also earned him a television appearance as the feature-artist of the Australian television show ‘The KK Factor'. He has spent two years as a writer and presenter on the Australian comedy radio program ‘Retreating Laughs’. Having hit the stage on three different continents, James has now become a leading figure in the ever-expanding Berlin Comedy Scene, where he can be found performing, hosting, and producing popular shows.

Kirthy Iyer
“Born and raised in India, studied in Canada and surviving in Germany” is the perfect summary of Kirthy Iyer’s life, the other half of JokeLife. After having moved to Frankfurt am Main, Kirthy noticed quickly that an English comedy scene Click Here

November 15, 2017 
Article about It's a Joke Life
Two traveling comedians bringing the laughs to Prague.
 Click Here

October 28, 2017 Theatreview
Article about Welcome to Self Co
MOSTLY SEEN AS AN EXISTENTIALIST NIGHTMARE
Hope Kennedy Smith has written a show as a contribution to the Atawhai Festival that evokes the dull squirm of mental illness as it might sit in the corporate workplace. This carries an uneasy reflection on the universal state of unwellness that might pervade the isolated existence of any young person who finds themselves trying to do the right thing by taking a job in an office – whether as a Customer Service rep for a large company on the phones, or at a computer desk – and questioning the time they give away to the corporate world.

The Atawhai Festival, created by Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho, has centred mostly at Te Pou theatre in New Lynn, but the Tiny Theatre at Garnet Station is well purposed to host small theatrical works, and works in development, as an ‘off-off-off-Broadway' kind of space.

With a very simple set, and support from director Patrick Graham, Kennedy Smith puts words in the air that reflect the meaningless oppression of the workforce without creativity, without solution and without escape.

On the wall behind her are the many tasks she is set to achieve. In this corporation, the nature of the work is to suffer and any real-world context of what exactly the job is, is ignored amid a sea of manila folders: Shame; Under Achieving; Irrational Fears; Wasting Time; Insomnia ...

The show is demure and linear, taking the almost stupefied protagonist to the brink of despair, but even the despair is couched in a banality that falls short of any emotive turmoil.

I would suggest that it is a difficult task to make theatre about mental health. The jury is still out on the meanings and impetus of the words we use in discussing mental health issues, because the whole gamut of mental health has not been a regular discourse – and that will be evident in the reasoning behind making a festival of this nature. Atawhai means to show kindness, caring, and the Festival succeeds in its community and its willingness. I hope very much it becomes a regular occurrence.

The Boss in Our Lives is very honest in its approach and its message, effectively reminding us that the main tonality of mental health issues, as they are suffered by a majority, is of suffocating and disabling rigidity. It may lead to desperation and awful demanding choices, but the apparent aspects of mental health are often quiet.

Quiet. ‘Not waving but drowning' is the main social message I receive as a reminder from this show. In fact drowning is a great analogy for this warning because it also happens silently, and often when we least expect it.

Between the worlds of anxiety as it exists in the personal and the corporate worlds, we may see a multitude of people who are suffering from mental health issues. But when issues are compounded, or when the supportive aspects of life – as in friends, family, creative endeavours – are missing, the protagonist turns inward rather than outward and a kind of push-me pull-you thought process invades her head.

A simple show to a simple purpose, it nevertheless provides some hefty food for thought. I will refrain from critiquing the stagecraft, except to say that Jaqui Whall and Sarah Mules host a great presence on the edge of the stage and their further involvement in the dynamic of the show would probably enhance Hope Kennedy-Smith's performance. Conversely it's possible the show could mould itself into a one-woman show.

However I mostly see it as an existentialist nightmare, linear in context and absurd in its entrapment. And in the tradition of great existential constructs, it would be good to see further development in character and character relationships, even if they are unsolvable and open-ended. A counterpart of joy does emerge very briefly, in the curtain call.

One tenacious aspect of this work is the theme of greater society's responsibility in mental health. A prominent theme that is bound to come out of a mental health festival of arts (which has included seminars, workshops and poetry performances as well as theatre) is a closer look at the membranes of responsibility and accountability between those suffering, the organizations designed to help them, and the wider community.

This is a large topic but it's important to get those conversations happening. To extend the ‘corporation as psychopath' theme – read Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, or watch the movie – there's a powerful and important discourse to be had in New Zealand in direct relation to our political structures as they have unfolded over recent years.

It's been thrilling in the last couple of weeks to see so many New Zealanders at all financial levels and walks of life acting with a determination to have and continue those conversations. Government certainly cannot be run as a corporation without a devastating effect on its people. And people cannot run as a cog in the machine without mental health ramping up into a national disaster that rings bells for international watchdogs. One thing that has been evident from Government in New Zealand over the last nine years is an attack on intellectual thinking, critical thinking in education and on the arts and performance industry.

Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho's Atawhai Festival puts a case for more drama in the theatre and a little less, perhaps, in the police cells, the jails, the overflowing hospital emergency wards, the funeral parlours, and the busting-at-the-seams mental health organisations of our country.

The Boss in Our Lives runs for one more evening at the Garnet Station Little Theatre, at 8pm tonight (Saturday the 28th October). Click Here

September 19, 2017  What did she think?
Review of Twenty Minutes To Nine
Twenty Minutes To Nine - Theatre Review
Every so often I come across a show which is so simple and so honest it is positively magnificent. Twenty Minutes To Nine is that moment, that show. Playing (so very appropriately) in the smallest room in the world you can only catch this show - if there is room - for two more nights in The Dock at the Courthouse Hotel.

The Dock is a bedroom in the hotel, and whilst there is no bed in there at the moment, the ambience is perfectly suited to the intimate and honest story telling Santuccione is about to share. Santuccione is here to tell us the story of loss, the story of love.

It may be fair to say she has experienced more than the average Joe and especially more suicide than you might think possible. Rather than raging and blaming though, Santuccione talks about experiencing death in such an honest and adult fashion.

It is her experiences. She does not project onto any else. She does not talk about things she does not know or has not experienced. More importantly, she opens up her inner self and shows us what is real for her - the things that resonate and why, the things she remembers and why, the things she has forgotten although she doesn't know why.

Twenty Minutes To Nine is not just a reminiscence. Having been touched by the unspeakable death, suicide, Santuccione says in her press release "I am wanting to make it ok, I am starting the conversation because it is important to talk about it." She achieves her goal with beauty, pain, and pathos.

Santuccione is not just a great story teller. She is also a beat poet and intersperses the monologue with spoken word art. Her pieces on feeling feminine and what ifs resonate deep in the soul and left me breathless. I was also especially astounded with how seamlessly they merged in and out of the monologue. All of sudden we find ourselves in a rhythmic arrow pointing directly at the point she is making, the pain she is feeling, and the wisdom of sages as she processes her world.

People talk all the time about how great theatre does not need bells and whistles. Rarely do pared back shows actually exemplify this truth, but Santuccione does it. It is the raw honest, openness and garnered wisdom which makes this show phenomenal. There is not much time left, but don't miss it.

4 Stars Click Here

August 26, 2017  
Review of Need(y)
 Click Here

August 26, 2017  The Scotsman
 Click Here

August 18, 2017  Fringe Guru
Review of Show Up
Well worth showing up to
"Show Up" stands out! Marino's ultimate message is that even when we're not ready for what the world throws at us, the first step is just to carry on. Click Here

August 16, 2017  Bunburry Magazine
Review of First World Problems
Andy Quirk's Got First World Problems
Bunbury Magazine: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bunbury Award: Best Use of A Mic Stand 🏆

From the start, this show was different to any I’ve seen so far. Aimed at audiences ages 14+, it is a clean break from many shows in the Fringe that have more adult content. Interaction with the crowd is excellently handled and used to great effect. A great level of showmanship is instantly apparent and the performance spaces is used in an awesome wayin this highly relatable show. The writing is of a very high standard and it translates perfectly from page to stage with superb timing and an ability to switch music genre with ease.

In the relaxed atmosphere of this show, the audience are at ease with the interaction kept at a fun, encouraging and friendly level.

Andy’s partner and on-stage support (Andy’s ‘Crew’) was perfect, not only providing a classic R&B feel but managed the audience effortlessly.
Covering topics from Social Media to DIY, this energetic show may be a little different from other shows you’ll see at the fringe but it is excellent and we thoroughly recommend. Click Here

August 15, 2017 One4Review
Article about Malaysian Sensation
The Comedy Reserve
Nigel NG 5*****
Nigel is from Malaysia. We join him on a voyage of discovery as he observes our western ways. He likes the water, particularly the Scottish water. He is not so keen on the fast food. His story of a retired sushi chef touring our high streets is reason enough to see this show. Click Here

August 15, 2017  BroadwayBaby
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka – Review
This hour-long dramatic and comedic monologue is a persistent exploration of why the existence of the gadulka – a traditional Bulgarian folk instrument – is the worst thing that ever happened to a gadulka player. The three-stringed instrument is constantly berated and insulted by sole actor Miro Kokenov throughout this fascinating stream of consciousness. It is ugly and depressing, and fits into Bulgarian folk songs only when drowned out by the tupan drum and bagpipes.
The script of this play, written by Rayko Baychev and translated into English by Angela Rodel, is an oddly enthralling glimpse into Bulgarian folklore and traditions. Kokenov is the perfect fit for this part: energetic and engaging, he is seen screaming and wailing at the instrument, encapsulating self-indulgence, mania and heartbreak with skill. He perfectly captures the typically Bulgarian self-flagellating humour, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the performance. A particularly memorable scene is where Kokenov, lying seductively on his side, tries (unsuccessfully) to avoid telling an imaginary lover that he is a gadulka player. He also goes on to recount the Bulgarian folk orchestra’s madcap adventures on tour in France, and a lot of the comic delivery is achieved by how the obsessions of the Bulgarians are totally out of step with any of the musicians from anywhere else in the world.
It is a shame that we did not get to hear Kokenov play the gadulka for a more extended period, treated only briefly to an intentionally terrible rendition of Für Elise. Then again, giving the gadulka its own space and time to shine would defeat the very point of this one-sided polemic. At once a nostalgic ode to the traditions that are being killed off by the mechanisation of music, and a screaming good riddance.


At once a nostalgic ode to the traditions that are being killed off by the mechanisation of music, and a screaming good riddance.
 Click Here

August 11, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Show Up
Marino has created a unique hour of entertainment
Hilarious! Marino has created a unique hour of entertainment by taking the overplayed solo show format and fashioning an improvised comedy routine that works all the better for the audience’s connection to the source material. Click Here

August 8, 2017  The Wee Review
Review of Show Up
Peter Michael Marino turns one-man show on its head and makes it all about you
Subverts the clichés and tropes you might expect from a solo performance. A compelling actor, drawing us in with moments that are funny, ridiculous and even poignant at times. Click Here

July 14, 2017 My Entertainment World
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
I loved Anesti Danelis’ solo show. Alone on stage with just his natural presence, a handful of funny stories, a guitar and a great voice, Danelis is goofily charming and self-deprecatingly hilarious as he works his way through a series of comedic songs that skewer both the state of the world and those who are freaking out about it (“Where Did the Love Go?” he asks in both the opener and closer, listing ways in which people acted totally normally towards their fellow man). If musical comedies are your thing, Songs for a New World Order will surely delight you as it did me. Click Here

July 6, 2017 Mooney On Theatre
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
If you know a friend that loves Flight of the Concords and maybe has a smart sense of humour, tell them to check out “Songs For A New World Order” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. They will LOVE you for it. Click Here

July 6, 2017 Mooney On Theatre
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
Anesti Danelis is just a boy with a guitar who wants to find the love that’s gone missing in this topsy-turvy world. In his show, “Songs For A New World Order” produced by his own company, Third Wheel; the audience is taken through a series of clever songs about everything from slow walkers on the TTC to accidentally kidnapping babies all tied up in an optimistic bow.

Much like the musician/comedian hybrids who have come before him (like Bo Burnham and Tim Minchin), Anesti Daniels delivers the funny with a hefty side of heart. Not only were his songs expertly composed, the lyrics we’re freaking hilarious. Let’s just say, if there were albums available, I would have definitely bought one.

Although the show had very minimal lighting and little to no props, we didn’t need anything more than Anesti and his guitar. His songs had that quality where you swear you’ve heard it before, yet it’s totally original. That’s how good he is…

As for content, he covered everything from wearing pyjamas at a funeral to role-playing in the bedroom using the Meisner Technique. My favorite song out of the bunch was the final song “We’re All Human”. It made me go “d’awww” inside while still being as clever and witty as the songs that preceded it.

This boy had enough light in his heart to fill the whole stage. If that sounded cheesy, it’s because I’m still running on the love fumes I picked up from his final song.

Songs For A New World Order isn’t trying to be some flashy show and that’s why it’s so great. It’s built on a solid foundation of great jokes and awesome writing so it’s really a no-fail. If you know a friend that loves Flight of the Concords and maybe has a smart sense of humour, tell them to check out “Songs For A New World Order” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. They will LOVE you for it. Click Here

June 22, 2017 The Guardian
The Outsiders: Some of the UK's more unexpected candidates
 Click Here

June 21, 2017 The Blog of Theatre Things
Article about Social Media Suicide
HerStory Feminist Theatre Festival 2017
Social Media Suicide by Clare McCall showed us the behind-the-scenes of a very special, perfectly set up, live streamed 27th birthday party, at which she – for the benefit of you lucky viewers – was going to kill herself after much cam-girl style foreplay. The show goes out, quite literally, with a bang as the likes come rolling in. Click Here

May 24, 2017 Brum Radio
Article about Wings
Review of Wings at The Victoria
As much as I love spending all my time at Brum Radio, it’s occasionally refreshing to get out from behind the mixing desk* to soak up some of Birmingham’s culture, and on Tuesday the 15th of May I was able to do just that: I was invited to review a play performed by fledgling theatre company Happenchance Theatre: Wings

The play was staged upstairs at fine Birmingham venue The Victoria which provided for an intimate setting that enhanced the cramped feeling of two performers whose personal and professional lives were spilling over into each other.

The plot of the play went thus: James and Eva are two comedians with a reasonable degree of success who have found a chasm of different between their philosophies in the form of how much their personal lives should be shared with their audiences.
James is petrified Eva is sharing too much of their relationship on stage to the detriment of not only his social standing, but his career, while Eva has noticed her shows have been much better received and reviewed since she has started sharing details of her personal life, especially her relationship with James.
The fundamental disagreement between them provides the meat and drink of the plot as the two debate back and forth how much of their personal lives should be shared with an audience.

While the future doesn’t look bright for our protagonists on stage, the fun of the play is the fact that the plot is also just a device to service some spectacularly hilarious improvisation between the two performers. It seemed there was as much laughter on stage as in the audience as they tried to get each other to break character and burst into giggles, which was a delight to behold.
Even better was a scene were the audience were made to represent party guests and the performers ran around doling out wine in a need to keep their guests lubricated, ensuring I received 2 whole glasses of wine, which in no way should be seen as a bribe to ensure a good review.

The wine was adequate.

After the play, I was told this was the first full-length performance in front of an audience of Wings, but if that is true, it didn’t show. The actors, Jacob and Vita were naturally at home in the comedic moments but also showed real depth in the more emotional parts of the piece, and this will only become more apparent as they keep performing it.

Go see this play whenever and wherever it is performed. As good as they all are now, they’re only going to get better with experience. Click Here

March 10, 2017  BgBen
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka – Review
The Performance The Burning Gadulka by Rajko Baichev presented by Miro Kokenov is an extremely exciting journey that reveals universal problems through the prism of folklore traditions and music.

The protagonist in this story is a Gadulka player (Miro Kokenov) with years of experience in the folklore ensemble. The Gadulka player from the outset clearly indicates the source of his distresses – the Gadulka (his own musical instrument) and the problems the gadulka has caused him. Problems like – fear of taking responsibility, self-pity, his inability to keep pace with the modern times and his inability relationship of the other gender. The Gadulka player persistently blamed the gadulka for his shortcomings and failures. He may as well have chosen a chair or a pen to lash out his inmost anger, dissatisfaction, and interpersonal inadequacy. The gadulka is a mere symbol that brings out all our hidden personal issues and fears.

The Burning Gadulka also reveals the issue with technology reducing the demand for unique craftsmanship and crashing traditions into pixels. The Gadulka player is extinguishing and computers play forever finer tunes. The folklore ensembles breathing their last breaths with last standing members who have no one to hand their skills over to. Some get by from one concert to another, making ends meet, just! Others, however, leave the ensemble and abandon their instruments. I never had the perseverance it takes to master an instrument, but I know it takes years of excruciating labour. It’s like a child that you have brought up with so much care, such efforts and pain. Now seeing it’s all been in vain, must be heart breaking!

Finally, the Gadulka player finds his strength and smashes the gadulka into pieces. Then we see him alone, waiting for the change that will never come, with all his personal issues still unresolved.

After the show I asked myself what is my ‘Gadulka’. For me it was my parents. Only if they’d not argued so much, if they’d not split up, if they’d not sent me to live and study alone at 13 years of age… I would blame them for all my struggles, all my miseries. Then I grew up and met people with perfect families, who were going through the same struggles and so I snapped out of the blame game and managed to get a grip of my life. But not many manage to do so. I wonder what’s your ‘Gadulka’? Do you also use alcohol to run away from it all? Do you use all sorts of excuses, outside of your control or buried into the past, for your failures today? People have a unique way to see beyond the cover and pierce into the depths the others’ self-worth.

On the one hand I'm familiar with technological advancements and I can’t help but favour it, but on the other hand I think of the performance I saw where the symbols of one nation - its folklore and traditions are slowly disappearing due to upcoming technological development. A sinking realisation dawned on me that this loss is irreversible. And I cherished ever more this consuming and purifying hour I spent watching The Burning Gadulka performed by Miro Kokenov. I hope the audience will take this chance to enjoy Bulgarian folklore and as well as The Balkan’s culture.
 Click Here

January 29, 2017  London Theatre 1
Review of The Burning Gadulka
“It turns out that while you’re supposedly a musician, you can’t play anything nice by yourself. This, in turn, weighs badly on your self-esteem and throughout your whole life you can never shake the feeling that you’re a total zero without the others, and that you constantly need their help.”

The gadulka in The Burning Gadulka, or indeed anywhere in Bulgarian society, for those as uninitiated as I was before seeing this show, is a string instrument, held vertically, with three strings. Miroslav Kokenov, the sole actor in this intense production, sets about explaining the place of the gadulka at an individual, local, national and international level. I’m still undecided as to whether it genuinely does sound awful (yes, the audience is treated to some gadulka playing) or if I was conditioned to think so beforehand by a long and depressing preamble, in which it is explained, in some detail, and with examples, how the gadulka has led to unhappiness in this professional gadulka player’s life.

At least twice, the musician barks directly at his instrument: initially I thought this ranting at an inanimate object is surely a sign of some form of madness. But I’ve called my computer a ‘stupid machine’ before, and sworn at a self-service checkout at the supermarket – and, on one of my first occasions to use one, said ‘thank you’ to an ATM. Anyway, I mention this being a solo performance as the show draws attention to the gadulka really being an orchestral instrument. On its own it sounds terrible. As part of a Bulgarian folk orchestra, along with everyone else, it blends into the overall sound.

“I steadfastly believe in the ensemble,” the musician tells the audience. I steadfastly believe in them, too (take them out of musicals and the live theatrical experience is much diminished), but in a solo show, it only begs the question: where are they?

There’s a whole backstory as to how this musician ended up a gadulka player – the long and the short of it seemed to be that somebody had to be. But as the complaints stack up, the line of argument seems a little like the violin player who felt the brass section in the orchestra he plays in should get paid less – that is, musicians should be paid by the note (whatever that means – some notes are longer than others, and so on and so forth). I do, however, have some sympathy with Mr Gadulka (as I shall call him), particularly when he talks about the computerisation of music, whereby the technology now exists for software to ‘play’ any instrument. It could, taken to its logical conclusion, spell the death knell for orchestras everywhere.

It’s a sparse set, with few props, one of which is a giant panda, for quite charming reasons, or rather a charming reason, which is explained during the course of the evening’s proceedings. Mr Gadulka tells his story by thinking out loud, as opposed to relentlessly sticking to the subject of the gadulka. It’s like a stream of consciousness that comes across as though improvised, or at least semi-structured (the play is, in fact, fully scripted in the conventional manner). In that regard, it’s not so much the gadulka that’s literally ‘burning’ as the gadulka player, figuratively speaking.

As times are a-changing, the play asserts that the Bulgarian folk orchestras are worthy, if such a thing were possible, of being placed on an equivalent list to WWF’s ‘endangered species’ directory. I don’t think the play will change anyone’s minds, at either a micro or a macro level. The modernists will continue to think we should move with the times and embrace the twenty-first century. The traditionalists will insist that hundreds of years’ worth of folk music can and should continue. For my part, if his instrument is seriously as dreadful as Mr Gadulka says it is, perhaps it is best consigned to history after all. To put it another way, I wasn’t sold on the old gadulka.

Still, it’s easier said than done to embrace change. The play does provide an intriguing insight into Bulgarian living, delivered at an appropriately brisk pace. Albeit mostly of a sarcastic and slightly bitter variety, there’s humour to be found in this touching production. A worthwhile experience.
 Click Here

November 11, 2016 Fringe Review
Article about Guerilla Aspies - fourth revolutionary year.
Fringe Review 2016 (Brighton) Highly Recommended Show
Paul Wady directs and projects his one-man show Guerilla Aspies at the Dukebox Brighton. Guy Wah and the Sweetvenues team were on hand to curate and photograph the show, in the Dukebox small space.



Ever felt normal, or wanted as a neurotypical to make pointless small talk, get mutually emotional, wrote Barbara Cartland novels, use expressive faces? Wait for someone else to finish because they’re obviously more interesting than you or you’d be talking, work I open pan offices, go out socialising…? Welcome to the terminally depressive world of neurotypicals as seen from the point of an Aspergers conditioned (like cask conditioned) man, Paul Wady whose show this is, whose film you can watch and whose book you can buy.



You’ll be subjected anyway to Newton, Spock, eventually Vladimir Putin and his inexpressive face, the heroine of the bridge (or hero of The Code for that matter) and so many other scientists from Newton Einstein and Curie to well it might e libellous to name them.



And there’s the point, the world of the diagnosed and undiagnosed. Aspergers’ or high-functioning autism is a condition, a gift beyond the number-crunching savant of the Rain Man, inflecting not infecting a range of behaviours from extreme non-involvement to uncontrollable emotions in a flash sometimes, but otherwise a to more ‘normal’ than the attempts at branding and cure. The tortures with ECT and far more dare one say shocking treatment that children in America are being subjected to is humans rights abuse on an unimaginable scale, with parents of the Ayn Rand disposition subjecting their children to a tripled kind of electronic torture in specialy directed schools or in one horrific application, a douche to wash out the parasitic worms some imagine to be the cause. We’re into the casting out of demons here, though it’s not notably Christian fringe individuals who perpetrate this.



There’s humour too, the how-to of socialising even going with a prostitute (I asked about the how-to of CIA hacking without being caught). And in contrast to Cartland who might have enjoyd issues of her own with a formulaic repeated novel 723 times, various factually rich correctives from the OIU or Sven Hassall novels are raised as comic alternatives.



Wady’s incredibly interactive, asking us to wave our hands share our obsessions (giant guinea-pigs in drams anyone?) and when the screen projector crashed (did it really?) it allowed him to walk round the audience with a series of slides on his Mac. These swing from a variety of directives to more quizzes. Wady refers to his stalking, which he’s never in fact enacted, the subject being an old friend of over 26 year standing. but confronting obsessions labelling and then un-labelling them is another Wady sleight, as is the discombobulating manner of naming say Spike Milligan as an Aspie with bipolar combo, and asking what this means perceptually.



Rifted in here is an extremely serious programme dressed as comedy that both savages and caresses prejudice so prejudice whirls about confused and can’t find its way out.



This is an absolutely necessary and enagaging show we need to see back. The audience was packed, and exhilarated, Wady making contact with nearly everyone but in a creative and – yes – neutrotypical way. ‘And when were you diagnosed?’ he asked me.

Published November 11, 2016 by Simon Jenner Click Here

September 19, 2016  The Reviews Hub
Review of Bullingdon Revisited
Review - Bullingdon Revisited
It’s that classic tale boy meets pigs-head, boy makes love to pigs-head, and boy becomes Prime Minister! You’d have to have been living under a rock to escape the allegations made by Lord Ashcroft that, while at university, former Prime Minister David Cameron slipped his right honourable member into the mouth of a dead pigs-head. Despite ferocious denials that this event took place, these allegations made Cameron a laughing stock which saw him the butt of satirical jokes across the land and may define his legacy more so than Brexit!

Writer Tess Humphrey takes Cameron’s alleged penchant for pork to form the basis of her new satirical play Bullingdon Revisited: Looking at the moment when Dave, a wet behind-the-ear, first year Oxford student, first encounters Boris: a charismatic third year student and president of the Union, but more importantly a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club which Dave desperately wants to be a part of. The two share an awful lot in common: both are extremely wealthy, both show complete and utter contempt for the working class, and both loath foreigners and the disabled.

A series of events lead the new chums to embark on an adventure to London, a quest to meet their ultimate pin-up girl: Margret Thatcher. Along the way there’s a police chase, the opportunity to abuse a disabled person, and of course the now infamous pig-gate.

Humphrey’s script is razor-sharp: it pulls no punches and is all the better for doing so. It’s hugely entertaining and hilarious from start to finish, however, it doesn’t shy away from addressing the social divide that now plagues this country, highlighting the rise of food banks and poverty that is rife in Britain. The cast are superb, Elliot Lloyd and Tom Sidney are clearly having a ball playing David Cameron and Boris Johnson and both throw themselves into the roles with gusto.

These two are aided and abetted by Harriet Forgan who plays all the other characters which include a down trodden bar maid, train passenger and the iron lady herself. Her scene-stealing turn as Margret Thatcher is comic-gold. Her mannerisms and facial expressions are worth the price of admission alone. All three clearly have a gift for comedy and their performances superbly work in conjunction with a fantastic script.

Top marks to director Sam Hart, who certainly knows how to get the best out of his cast. Stand out scenes include: a set photographs showing the debauchery and carnage of Cameron and Johnson’s night out, a sprint to Parliament which had the audience in stitches. That being said the production does have its flaws: there were a few opening night nerves which were minor. My only real gripe was a scene involving an attack on a disabled lady, which is out of place and misjudged in comparison to the tone of the rest of the production.

The play also has a fantastic soundtrack which includes The Smiths – This Charming Man and VIM – Maggie’s Last Party, which adds to the general ‘piss taking’ at the heart of the of the play.

This is fantastic production by the Grand Dame Theatre Company and if this is the quality of its output, then it is certainly exciting times ahead for the Manchester based Production Company. I would also like to give special praise to the 3 Minute Theatre: it’s a cracking unique venue, and a little gem to be found on Oldham Street.

This is a suitably silly, fun and highly entertaining production, which has something, for everyone: greed, power and bestiality. Bullingdon Revisited wouldn’t be out of place doing the rounds at Edinburgh Fringe in years to come. Click Here

February 4, 2015  Australian Stage
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
It was a dark and stormy night.

Well actually it was.

Lightening flashed, rain splattered and came and went in torrents. The canvas of the Teatro 1 tent flapped and moaned in the wind.

Enter a seedy P.I. Stubbled chin, obligatory trench coat, burning cigarette and a rather becoming slouch hat. It was none other than that jaded dick, Dirk Darrow.

The scene was set. It was 1932, the height of the U.S. depression. With it came prohibition and a healthy sub culture of criminal activity.

The 30 something souls who had braved the elements at a quarter to midnight on a Monday were amply rewarded for their trouble. Tim Motley gave a tour de force performance. It is easy to see why he has won Awards in London, Winnipeg and Victoria Fringe Festivals.

The audience was spellbound.

His Damon Runyon-esque monologue was cleverly drawn and tongue in cheek wit peppered the gritty noir tales. I will resist quoting any of the multitudinous puns and quips. The joy is in the corny punchlines and they belong to Motley.

This solo performance was seamlessly delivered with a flawlessly held drawl throughout. Amazing card tricks, illusions, comedy mind-reading, graphology (the reading of handwriting) thrilled and stunned the crowd.

Motley was confident enough to work in some ad-libs and his charm coerced “volunteers” to participate on and off stage with little reticence and no ill will. No mean feat in such a small crowd.

His casual, rather shambolic stance belied the enormous amount of skill that went into these illusions and the crafting of the busy but extremely well written script.

I joined with other Fringe audiences in awarding him 5 stars and a standing ovation!


Tim Motley presents
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation

Venue: Teatro 1, Perth Cultural Centre Click Here

August 19, 2014  Edmonton Journal
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
Fringe review: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
“It’s tough being a jaded private dick,” our hard-boiled host laments in that deep, husky, slow-talking detective voice.

Dirk Darrow is a cynical dick but one helluva funny dick too, with no shortage of phallic puns, giggly catchphrases and long-winded analogies. “Your groans just make me stronger!” he says after each corny joke with a sideways grin, eyes hidden under the brim of his fedora.

The one-man show blends comedy with audience participation and first-rate illusions, including mindreading, card tricks and disappearing-reappearing acts. You won’t just be wondering whodunit, but howdhedunit.

Tim Motley of Australia plays the world-weary, rude, highly likable jokester in this film noir parody, set in the height of the genre. Chain-smoking, check. Femme fatale, check. Sax music, thugs, a defective dollar-store cap gun, check, check, check. We missed the Venetian blind silhouette, but our charming dick makes up for it with all the magic and quips. “There’s danger around every corner. That’s why I only ever live in round houses!”

No mystery about it: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is an excellent show. Don’t be shy about helping our world-weary dick catch the bad guy; it may be lucrative for you.

— Elizabeth Withey

Runtime: 60 min Genre: Comedy Click Here

August 7, 2014 The Circus Diaries
‘The Little Big Show’, by Laughter House Productions
Inside the Spiegeltent’s light and child-friendly younger cousin, the Kazador, we enter to sit around the tiny stage to an upbeat Elvis soundtrack, welcomed at the door by genial smiling host Mr Vita.

We are a tiny audience, but he invests as much energy and warmth on us as he would a full house, gently getting us going, and explaining the nature of his ‘mostly silent show’. Who needs words when you have a face – and eyebrows – as expressive as his?

The morning version of The Little Big Show is a half-hour solo spot, followed later in the day by a 45 minute mini-cabaret of four various artists. If they are all as engaging as Mr Vita, I wouldn’t hesitate to book.

His generous and warm-hearted clowning doesn’t falter for a minute when confronted by two very shy children of the three in attendance, and he gently coaches them to become the next generation of volunteer superstars – whilst cheekily involving the ‘Mummy’s too.
IMG_2935
‘The Little Big Show’ at the Kazador

His object manipulation generates an awed ‘It’s floating!’ from in front of me as he smoothly rolls a large crystal contact ball over his fingertips, arms and chest; a cigar-box style manoevre with three big red balls is fun, and he loves our appreciation so much that we love giving it to him.

He balances objects on his face, launches forks that emerge from his creaking box of props into a dartboard, and is a strong and funny communicator through his mime and few words, faux-preening and showers of confetti.

Mr Vita is a consumate professional and charismatic performer who can entertain the whole family. A big personality on a little stage. Click Here

August 7, 2014 The Circus Diaries
Article about Grumpy Pants
‘The Little Big Show’,
Inside the Spiegeltent’s light and child-friendly younger cousin, the Kazador, we enter to sit around the tiny stage to an upbeat Elvis soundtrack, welcomed at the door by genial smiling host Mr Vita.

We are a tiny audience, but he invests as much energy and warmth on us as he would a full house, gently getting us going, and explaining the nature of his ‘mostly silent show’. Who needs words when you have a face – and eyebrows – as expressive as his?

The morning version of The Little Big Show is a half-hour solo spot, followed later in the day by a 45 minute mini-cabaret of four various artists. If they are all as engaging as Mr Vita, I wouldn’t hesitate to book.

His generous and warm-hearted clowning doesn’t falter for a minute when confronted by two very shy children of the three in attendance, and he gently coaches them to become the next generation of volunteer superstars – whilst cheekily involving the ‘Mummy’s too.

His object manipulation generates an awed ‘It’s floating!’ from in front of me as he smoothly rolls a large crystal contact ball over his fingertips, arms and chest; a cigar-box style manoevre with three big red balls is fun, and he loves our appreciation so much that we love giving it to him.

He balances objects on his face, launches forks that emerge from his creaking box of props into a dartboard, and is a strong and funny communicator through his mime and few words, faux-preening and showers of confetti.

Mr Vita is a consumate professional and charismatic performer who can entertain the whole family. A big personality on a little stage. Click Here

June 13, 2014  London Free Press
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
Gumshoe comedy a tour de force
Dirk Darrow is a throwback, the kind of private detective some will recall from noir movies set in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.

But in the hands of his creator, Tim Motley, he’s one funny guy for a modern audience at the Spriet Family Theatre, where 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is being performed for the 2014 London Fringe Festival. This is a new show featuring an old character created by Motley, who is based in Melbourne, Australia and has seen wide success with his shows around the world.

Motley’s may well be the best performance at this year’s Fringe, as he fuses stand-up comedy with magic and story­telling, all of it supported by a lightning fast wit, confidence and commanding stage presence.

The show opens with Darrow walking into a spotlight to run off a string of “It’s tough being a jaded dick . . .” jokes that get the audience laughing and sets them up for a few surprises.


Dressed in fedora, rumpled overcoat, loosened tie and pants with a sling holster and temperamental handgun (cap gun), and puffing on a cigarette (one of those pretend varieties), he’s got the voice and speech pattern of a tough, gritty detective nailed.

“She was deader than a doe-eyed donkey, doppelganger in Deadman’s gulch in December,” he says at one point.

In addition to the character, Motley tells the story of an investigation using not only words but the magic of a mentalist, cards, cash and casino chips. They are too good to spoil. You just have to see and experience them.

Not all the tricks were perfect, but any hiccups in the show were beautifully covered by Motley’s quick wit, that makes you feel like the flaw was intended. It was a surprise to learn he’d performed the show less than 10 times, considering he delivers such a tight, well-paced performance.

The only surprise was I’d hadn’t heard more buzz about a show that’s among my top five for pure entertainment and comedy, perhaps only slightly less entertaining than God is a Scottish Drag Queen and High Tea: Life and Depth.

2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is a slick, fun, brilliantly performed show — a must-see for the London Fringe crowd.

– – –

IF YOU GO

What: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick, created and performed by Tim Motley.

Where: Spriet Family Theatre, Covent Garden Market.

When: Saturday 7:30 p.m. Click Here

August 7, 2012  ThreeWeeks
Review of 101 Comedy Club
101 Comedy Club – Free (Laughing Horse Free Festival)
'Funny. Fast. Free' ★★★★ (ThreeWeeks) Click Here

December 31, 2011 Las Vegas Informer
Brad Tassell
(From previous one man show in Vegas, Comic-therapy)
If you want to spend an afternoon feeling good and feeling happy, then head out to the Royal House in Las Vegas to see the comedy of Brad Tassell. Brad headlines his show, called “Comic Therapy” that makes the audience feel good. It is very evident of how much he loves his wife and daughter as he talks about family and about life. www.bradtassell.com As you enter the showroom you will see Brad Tassell mingling and talking with everyone, putting them at ease and making a connection with the audience before the show starts. He asks everyone to get a Thera-cookie and paint a picture on it with colored icings, which he later will analyze and interpret and tell them about themselves from the artistry. I would pay attention to what Brad is saying because not only is he a gifted author and comedian, he is finishing up a Masters in Counseling and Gifted Education at Western Kentucky University. He brings all this knowledge into his show which is funny and enlightening at the same time. His singing and guitar playing is very good and he holds the audience’s attention the entire 60 minutes of the show.
Brad has been a stand up comedian for 23 years and eight of those years he was a favorite on the Carnival Cruise Lines. He said by working with Carnival all those years, he was able to be a stay at home dad which he loved and it made a big difference in his life with his family.

Brad has been seen with Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, to name a few. Brad is known as the clean comedian and puts on a great show for children. He loves children and has visited over 100 schools and spoke to them about his award winning best selling novel “Don’t Feed the Bully.” The book teaches important lessons about bullying and at the same time it is very funny and entertaining. It is the story of Hannibal Greatneck III who must deal with the bully problem at the elementary school he is enrolled in. The information in the book helps students to use their intelligence in dealing with and overpowering the bullies.
I recommend you go to see Brad Tassell at the Royal House on Convention Center Drive for an afternoon of sheer joy and laughter. His show starts at 2:00 p.m. everyday. Click Here

August 8, 2010 London Evening Standard
Article about John Lenahan: Up Close
Be Amazed By Lenahan
Is someone playing tricks on me? Last time I attempted to review magician John Lenahan, he pulled out due to a double booking. Last night he was present, but the audience did the disappearing act.

The box office's loss was his loyal followers' gain though, as a small circle of devotees was treated to a truly intimate hour of exceptional close-up magic.

If there is a better sleight-of-hand merchant than this politely sardonic Philadelphian, apart from the impolitely sardonic Jerry Sadowitz, I've yet to encounter them.

Lenahan spent the first half making a deck of cards dance to his every whim as if on invisible strings. And there definitely were no strings attached. I was so near I could see every hair on his forearms.

A witty history lesson added context. Making four aces switch places is called Doc Daley's Last Trick and Arthur Daley never pulled off a better stunt. If familiar card cons did not tickle one's fancy, the second half dealt out more varied fare.

Tying knots in un-knottable ropes and predicting a random number of casino chips, known as The Trick That Fooled Einstein, were two of many feats executed with seamless aplomb.

In the Nineties, Lenahan was the first magician to be expelled from the Magic Circle for revealing trade secrets. These days one can probably discover his quickfire techniques on Google, but please resist. Pack out the Etcetera instead and be amazed. Click Here

 

 

      

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