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Free Festival News & Reviews

This is where you can read recent news articles and reviews of shows in the Free Festival.


List News & Reviews: By Star Count | By Date


FRINGE REVIEW: “Sam See: Government Approved Sex”

August 15, 2022    Scottish Field

Review of Sam See: Government-Approved Sex

FRINGE REVIEW: “Sam See: Government Approved Sex”

STOOD in front of a small, cramped, and oppressively-warm room in the Counting House’s Attic was Singaporean comedian Sam See with a half-delighted, half-apologetic smile on his face as he warned people to grab drinks before he began. Kindly, he supplied branded fans for his soon-to-be-sweaty audience along with a condom that would set the theme for the show.

Both the wee room and fun freebies helped to break the ice, creating an immediate intimacy with audience members that would carry on throughout the rest of his show.

Despite his small stature, Sam has a big presence – likely one reason that the Singaporean government mistakenly asked the gay comedian to run a series of panels on sex. As many people may or may not know, homosexuality (strictly concerning two men) is not yet legal in Singapore and talking about it openly in a government-run library is not without its risks – but as Sam See flippantly stated, he’s a comedian and not one to turn down a guaranteed payday.

So, filled with fun facts and cardboard graphs about sex and dating – both straight and queer – and his own personal dating anecdotes, Sam See invited us to laugh and participate with him as we guessed at statistics and cringed along with him as he recalled the trial and tribulations of dating the delightfully named doctor, Blond John.

At the beginning of the show, Sam spotted my red press lanyard and told his audience that they better laugh to make him look good, but the half-hearted threat was totally unnecessary. Sam See’s Government Approved Sex is a genuinely funny and endearing set that had members of the audience practically cackling throughout – myself included. I don’t think there was a joke that didn’t land well. This show is a part of the Free Fringe, so make sure you grab a ticket and tip generously. It’s well deserved. Click Here For Review


August 13, 2022    Binge Fringe

Review of Best In Class

Best in Class brings together 8 working class comedians for a night of stand up, featuring a rotating 3 comedian act. The crowd-funded and profit-sharing event allows working class comedians to perform at the fringe, without the systematic barriers and costs involved with performing at a world class festival. Tuesday nights acts were casual, relatable and each unique. Come without expectations – every night is different, some will leave you in stitches whilst others will leave plenty to be desired.

Lovdev Barpaga was MC for the night and kicked off the show. Whilst the audience chuckled along, his puns and one liners could not be considered hilarious. Lovdev’s energy and charisma is relatable and likeable, however awkward moments ensued when the predominantly white audience was often unresponsive to amusing yet misunderstood cultural references. He would benefit from a more cohesive set with some level of narrative which strays beyond wordplay. Timing and delivery work would also improve his set and avoid uncomfortable silences where he was often the only one laughing.

Molly McGuinness’ hilarious anecdotes and observational stand up are complemented by her cool and casual accounts which kept the crowd laughing. Her narratives on the reality of work, sex, love and life at 30 can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever experienced any of these things. Molly’s body language and props were minimal yet effective. Molly’s show would (and should!) be easily extended for a solo full length set. Molly has huge potential – keep an eye on this one, she is no doubt here to stay.

John Meagher is enthusiastic and endearing. He describes with much gusto how growing up surrounded by the troubles in Northern Ireland has impacted his adult life. He does well in incorporating discussions of mental health which add to an atmosphere of honesty and vulnerability. Most of John’s jokes land, and his quick paced chatter and sincere mannerisms allow the audience to empathise with his anecdotes. Though John could refine his set to keep his narrative on track, his performance was enjoyable and refreshing.

Best in Class allows a diverse and refreshing mix of stand-up comedians to share the stage without the prohibitive overheads of a solo Fringe show. Buy a ticket or pay what you can at the event, and don’t be surprised if you stumble across the next big-name act. Click Here For Review


August 12, 2022    The Wee Review

Review of Anxiety vs Depression: A Comedy Game Show – Pay What You Can

In Anxiety vs Depression: A Comedy Game Show our energetic compere Moni Zhang welcomes the audience in, asking the important questions, ‘Depression? Anxiety? Or both!’ This dark, comic stand-up showcase neither shies away from the topics at hand nor talks incessantly about them. It is framed as a quiz show with two teams competing for the audience’s cheers over three rounds to see which mental illness is funnier!

Tonight on Team Depression is Kylie Vincent and Philipp Kostelecky, while on Team Anxiety we have Ed Mulvey and Mihai Tartara. For the first round, they face off in some stand-up. Vincent is up first with an honest and open set, where we find out the advantages of having a disabled assistance dog. Followed closely by her teammate, Kostelecky, whose energy is as engaging as his observations are sharp, after all the cost of one therapy session would buy a lot of ice cream! Tartara starts for Team Anxiety with his unique perspective and anecdotes, including why squat toilets are the scariest. While finishing up the final round Mulvey shares with us his paranoia about offending his local off-licence, rounding this section off nicely.

... Click Here For Review


Life's A Drag

August 12, 2022    The Student

Review of Life's A Drag

Life's A Drag

Dean Misdale is a joy and a pleasure to watch. In a world that so often seems heavy and dark, they brought an hour of lightness and hilarity. Within seconds of walking in, they made the audience feel immediately at ease and safe; an ability that is actually quite scarce at the Fringe, amongst many of the stand-up performers.

Misdale captured the audience’s attention with a fabulous sequined blue dress that shimmered as they strutted into the intimate, packed venue at The Pear Tree. Despite the heat and the pressure of performing in front of an audience in a foreign country, given Misdale’s Australian roots in Perth, they managed a flawless look and performance throughout.

Misdale showcased their exceptional talent for singing, with an incredible range and an ability to engross the audience with their rendition of famously difficult numbers such as Whitney Houston and Tina Turner, amongst others. A particular highlight was when they showcased their parody piece that they wrote during lockdown, whilst working as a cleaner (or ‘special hygienist’ according to the job description) in a primary school, to make ends meet. A true ‘Quarantine Queen’!

Each musical piece was introduced with anecdotes from their own life and the trials and tribulations Misdale faced, especially throughout lockdown. These were as funny as they were heart-warming, and led to raucous laughter amongst the audience. Some of these musical interludes also featured a more serious message, with Misdale highlighting how important it is to support your children and loved ones, regardless of their sexuality or gender. This message, rightfully so, was met with applause, and approval which was so refreshing to hear – when so often this community is met with harassment and abuse. Not only this, but Misdale managed to segway smoothly between light-hearted jokes, songs and important messages, all whilst maintaining a space that left you feeling safe and at ease – which is no easy feat.

The performance left me with a smile on my face and feeling empowered to be myself, or whatever version of myself I wanted to be. So often at shows, as a woman, one is left feeling like your existence has been criticised or made fun of, but Misdale’s Life’s A Drag had the opposite effect. Life’s A Drag leaves you aching with laughter, having not only enjoyed an incredibly talented singer, but inspired, having seen someone who, despite the challenges they have had to face, has always made the best out of a situation, and always with a sense of humour.

Life’s A Drag is a hidden gem of the Fringe. A must watch show filled with comedy and musical talent by an Australian star. On at The Pear Tree at 6PM until 28th August. Click Here For Review


August 12, 2022    The Scotsman

Review of Olaf Falafel: STOAT

I arrive at my allotted show to be told that the comedian doesn't want reviewers in until the world is a better place. Or something like that. But because this is the Fringe, I just go downstairs and, through a curtain in a pub, I find a world of happy. A world with a laugh in every moment. Except the ones that take us to the edge of tears. But Olaf keeps them till the end, which is, structurally, the best place. Fun, Olaf insists (with the help of a visual aid and an enthusiastic call and response) needs structure. STOAT has everything. It has a duck-covered insult hat, sausage hurling for blessings (Halle Berry!), a lizard in a power tool and even a Mind Reading Mic Stand which reveals our thoughts to the room. Surprisingly, it turns out we are all hilarious.

I thought I gave my inner child up for adoption years ago, but two minutes with Olaf Falafel and we are giggling uncontrollably as we are shown the original prototype Spongebob Squarepants (much better) and strawberries being levitated. And of course we are treated to a barrage of ridiculously silly one-liners and Olaf's legendary Cheese of Truth makes an onscreen comeback in “Xtreme” form. Even the charismatic Falafel Daughters make appearances along with Snake, the comedy cat with musical paws and life lessons to teach. This is a big, beautiful bearhug of a show. I will not spoil the ending but a Neil Diamond Singalong makes everything seem better. These days comedy is used to do many things. Olaf Falafel uses it this afternoon to make my life a lot more fun. And for that I thank him. Halle Berry! Kate Copstick


August 12, 2022    The Scotsman

Review of Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

It’s a strange thing to find yourself in a tiny room with a person from Wuhan right at the tail end of a global epidemic. Moni Zhang could have made more of her closeness to the source of an epoch-making event; instead she introduces us to her hometown through its favourite food – a kind of crunchy noodle. And she gives us an astonishing glimpse into her own early life, growing up with a disabled single mother who ran a sweatshop. Zhang now lives in Europe, in Berlin. But her account of an impoverished Chinese childhood is unforgettable. It’s a pity she tries to get laughs from overt sexual references and clumsy cultural stereotypes because her storytelling is beautiful. You will never forget her account of the shame and humiliation of living in extreme poverty. The descriptions of food are particularly evocative, and her disgust at the stuff eaten by western people – particularly the Dutch – is funny. She ends her hour with a real moment of transformation, which movingly explains how she overcame her self disgust. She has a way to go as a comic, but it is a privilege to hear her story. Claire Smith


August 12, 2022    On The Mic

Review of Sam See: Government-Approved Sex

In strictly controlled Singapore during the pandemic the government asked a gay comic to run a series of sex and love panels in the National Library.

The dynamic and irrepressible Sam See takes off from this unexpected call in a country where being gay was criminalised to talk about many aspects of sex and love here at the Fringe. He tells us about the five languages of love, many fascinating facts about sex around the world, who cheats on whom – the naughtiness of the human species. All with the lightest of touches. Sam’s total lack of inhibition – including when talking about his own sex life – and his delight in what he is doing, makes this show a joy from beginning to end.

Never mind that the Attic is reputed hot – Sam provides fans. And this show will bring him a great many fans. Get along to this show for an hour of unexpurgated bliss! Click Here For Review


August 12, 2022    Broadway World

Review of Banana Split

Banana Split: A Stand-Up Comedy Show, an aptly named show at this year's Fringe considering it is quite literally a stand-up comedy show that is split in two.

Taking place in The Wee Room of The Three Sisters, the aptly named show also takes place in an aptly named room, specifically because the room is, as the first comedian of the afternoon Niamh Curran called it, a karaoke room. Tiny.

There are certainly better places to be during a heatwave, but in the hands of these two comedians you'll quickly forget about the heat (granted the massive fan in the room does help).

The show kicks off with Niamh Curran who warms up the crowd for both her and her partner's sets, asking the names and occupations of audience members. Things get off to a hilarious start when she happens to speak to a festival programmer and a critic back-to-back, a situation which she uses to jokingly slump under the pressure, but really it is clear that she takes it in her stride.

...

After the first 30 minutes the second performer of the afternoon enters the stage, Louisa Keight. Right off the bat Louisa is full of energy, rattling through a series of jokes but always feeling cool and calm, not rushing it.

... Click Here For Review


August 12, 2022    The Student Newspaper

Review of Cordelia Butters Investigates

In the middle of the most recent spells of uncharacteristically Scottish heat when I perhaps would’ve been better off sunning myself on the Costa Del Forth. I instead found myself crammed into a tight, hot sweaty room at the top of The Counting House in Newington, perched on the end of a row of classroom chairs, staring at a layer of black fabric, whilst fanning myself with a leaflet for a different nonspecific show, all the while wondering if any of this was worth it.

The show was Cordelia Butters Investigates, part of the Pay What You Can Scheme that many venues are putting on, where you can go see a bit of light afternoon performance for little to no money – no pressure on the part of anyone, basically.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Cordelia Butters Investigates, (a title which does eventually justify itself, if not quite enough to counteract the cringing reactions it induced when I told others what I was off to see), is the secret crown jewel of the Fringe, though I don’t think lead performer Sarah Kempton is under any illusions on that front either, to be honest. What I do think CBI (shortening from hereafter for efficiency) achieves is exactly what it was supposed to; tight, serviceable fun.

... Click Here For Review


August 12, 2022    The Student Newspaper

Review of Life's A Drag

Dean Misdale is a joy and a pleasure to watch. In a world that so often seems heavy and dark, they brought an hour of lightness and hilarity. Within seconds of walking in, they made the audience feel immediately at ease and safe; an ability that is actually quite scarce at the Fringe, amongst many of the stand-up performers.

Misdale captured the audience’s attention with a fabulous sequined blue dress that shimmered as they strutted into the intimate, packed venue at The Pear Tree. Despite the heat and the pressure of performing in front of an audience in a foreign country, given Misdale’s Australian roots in Perth, they managed a flawless look and performance throughout.

Misdale showcased their exceptional talent for singing, with an incredible range and an ability to engross the audience with their rendition of famously difficult numbers such as Whitney Houston and Tina Turner, amongst others. A particular highlight was when they showcased their parody piece that they wrote during lockdown, whilst working as a cleaner (or ‘special hygienist’ according to the job description) in a primary school, to make ends meet. A true ‘Quarantine Queen’!

Each musical piece was introduced with anecdotes from their own life and the trials and tribulations Misdale faced, especially throughout lockdown. These were as funny as they were heart-warming, and led to raucous laughter amongst the audience. Some of these musical interludes also featured a more serious message, with Misdale highlighting how important it is to support your children and loved ones, regardless of their sexuality or gender. This message, rightfully so, was met with applause, and approval which was so refreshing to hear – when so often this community is met with harassment and abuse. Not only this, but Misdale managed to segway smoothly between light-hearted jokes, songs and important messages, all whilst maintaining a space that left you feeling safe and at ease – which is no easy feat.

The performance left me with a smile on my face and feeling empowered to be myself, or whatever version of myself I wanted to be. So often at shows, as a woman, one is left feeling like your existence has been criticised or made fun of, but Misdale’s Life’s A Drag had the opposite effect. Life’s A Drag leaves you aching with laughter, having not only enjoyed an incredibly talented singer, but inspired, having seen someone who, despite the challenges they have had to face, has always made the best out of a situation, and always with a sense of humour.

Life’s A Drag is a hidden gem of the Fringe. A must watch show filled with comedy and musical talent by an Australian star. On at The Pear Tree at 6PM until 28th August. Click Here For Review


August 11, 2022    Entertainment Now

Review of Dave Chawner: Mental

Dave Chawner has had to deal with some mental health problems in the past, now he wants to change the narrative. While acknowledging that these problems are very important, he wants to get people talking about mental health, and why it’s different from mental illness.

Despite the topics of the show being quite heavy, Dave Chawner produces a delightfully entertaining and wholly hilarious hour of standup. The Free Fringe has always been a great source of talent at the festival, and this is one of their shows that you should definitely go and see.

“Mental” mainly focuses on Dave’s struggle with anorexia, and the stigma that came attached to it for him as restrictive eating disorders are normally more associated with women. But throughout the show, he addresses what he went through, how he learned to deal with it and how people going through tough times can learn to feel better and accept themselves. But, the way he chooses to teach people about how to cope with mental illness is through comedy, something he is clearly qualified to teach. His material is funny, his delivery is well thought out and his experience and storytelling make for an interesting show.

Dave Chawner has the comedic talent to go far, and the basis of his show is also an important social issue. There are few comics at the festival who are both able to joke about a subject and be a reliable authority on said subject. The Free Festival is very extensive, with a great variety of shows on offer to cater to all audiences, but Dave Chawner’s “Mental” could be one of the highlights. Click Here For Review


August 11, 2022    Fest

Review of Sam See: Government-Approved Sex

A government sex seminar you won't want to miss.

It is, you have to admit, an intriguing title. What happens when a gay comedian is asked to run a series of sex seminars in the National Library of Singapore, a nation where being a gay anything is definitely not encouraged? He takes the job and writes a show about it, naturally.

Quite a few weeks it was too, as those panel discussions were the catalyst for an intense affair with a leading medical figure, and an eventual revelation that leads See to look at relationships in a whole new light. And he’s very keen to share the knowledge he amassed during that process: you will walk out of this show armed with facts about our procreational proclivities that should enliven even the dreariest dinner party. Not that our host is big on important take-homes: “Don’t take advice from comedians!” he yelps, and cites the ludicrous amounts many comics are gambling to stage Fringe shows. Admittedly that’s the set-up for an excellent bucket speech – there’s an entertaining donation chart, and rewards – and lots of thought has clearly gone into this show generally. It has a bit of everything: romance, global politics, explicit sex scenes, graphs, a virginity guessing game and, most importantly, Sam See, who radiates effervescent positivity even when the subject turns darker.

He even provides branded hand-fans, having played the toasty Attic before – which then advertise this show everywhere else they’re flapped, of course. See really has thought of everything. Click Here For Review


August 11, 2022    The Scotsman

Review of Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines

More punch is to be found with Alex Farrow, who has been fascinating to watch turn from a philosophy teacher doing stand-up, to a stand-up who once was a philosophy teacher. As his confidence and technique have grown, so the academic level philosophy element has reduced. I rather miss it but Alex is now a slick and accomplished stand-up who has the skills to find the sexual funny in BF Skinner, to worry us into laughter at the growing sentience of AI and to encourage us all to disobedience and justify it philosophically. We also get some stories about Come Dine With Me and a lengthy discussion on the hand gesture which, for purposes of publication in The Scotsman I will refer to as “The Shocker”. Click Here For Review


August 11, 2022    The Scotsman

Review of The Alternative Book Club

The Alternative Book Club is a quintessential Fringe Experience for me, starting as it does with the heart-in-mouth entertainment offered by a burly techie on a wobbly ladder poking at a dodgy looking projector with a screwdriver. He gets a round of applause. The show is hosted (and created by) Shirley Halse who manages to be funny, friendly and focused, all with a small girl called Bramble in a harness on her back. The cost of daycare in Edinburgh, along with everything else, is out of reach of the Fringe-creating performer.

Bramble, however, has great stage presence and plays peek-a-boo with two young women in the front row while her mother guides us through the Louvre and introduces Chelsea Birkby (chosen book "Be A Great Stand Up Comic”), Alex Farrow who doesn't have a book but worries that the machines are coming for our jobs and has one for a therapist, and headliner (or 'Top Shelf Comic', under the circs') anaesthetist Ed Gamble, who cheekily brings his OWN book along but if his set today is anything to go by, it might be worth getting a copy. Click Here For Review


A government sex seminar you won't want to miss

August 11, 2022    Fest

Review of Sam See: Government-Approved Sex

A government sex seminar you won't want to miss

It is, you have to admit, an intriguing title. What happens when a gay comedian is asked to run a series of sex seminars in the National Library of Singapore, a nation where being a gay anything is definitely not encouraged? He takes the job and writes a show about it, naturally.

Quite a few weeks it was too, as those panel discussions were the catalyst for an intense affair with a leading medical figure, and an eventual revelation that leads See to look at relationships in a whole new light. And he’s very keen to share the knowledge he amassed during that process: you will walk out of this show armed with facts about our procreational proclivities that should enliven even the dreariest dinner party. Not that our host is big on important take-homes: “Don’t take advice from comedians!” he yelps, and cites the ludicrous amounts many comics are gambling to stage Fringe shows. Admittedly that’s the set-up for an excellent bucket speech – there’s an entertaining donation chart, and rewards – and lots of thought has clearly gone into this show generally. It has a bit of everything: romance, global politics, explicit sex scenes, graphs, a virginity guessing game and, most importantly, Sam See, who radiates effervescent positivity even when the subject turns darker.

He even provides branded hand-fans, having played the toasty Attic before – which then advertise this show everywhere else they’re flapped, of course. See really has thought of everything. Click Here For Review


August 11, 2022    The Scotsman

Review of Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

Over at the Laughing Horse's Counting House, always one of the most 'grown up' venues with free shows, Edinburgh legend Brian Dobie points me at The Attic where the eternally charming Charmian Hughes’ She! offers stand up reborn as a funny and fascinating memoir, in which she (Charmian) enthuses, shares and vents in turn as she takes us back to the day her teenage self met the immortal She (fabulous cult movie from 1965). Charmian's shows always feel so relaxed and guileless that you have to remind yourself of the perfectly matched writing and performing skills that it takes to dance this comedy waltz. Life lessons from She Who Must Be Obeyed and the Colossal Squid, age gap marriage, ponies and some delightful sexual similies, make for an engrossing hour. You may never again thread a needle without thinking of Charmian. Perhaps I am biased because I, too, love She (dusty end and all), but, Ursula Andress herself could not enchant you like this.


Samantha Pressdee airs her beef with the Fringe Society

August 11, 2022   Copstick's Slaughtered Again

Article about Samantha Pressdee: Clown Pray Love (Work In Progress)

Samantha Pressdee airs her beef with the Fringe Society

Semi-erect at the Surgeons Hall

Another riotous Slaughtered in the bag.
Tonight at the Surgeon's Hall, Copstick's stellar guests included Arthur Bostrom, Joey Rinaldi, Samantha Pressdee, and Richard Stamp (Stompy). Click Here For Article


3.5 stars

August 11, 2022    Chortle

Review of Ian Stone: Righter of Wrongs

3.5 stars

Ian Stone is not a comedian of great whistles and bells: just a common-sense man approaching 60, giving it straight about the world as he sees it, on both a micro and macro scale.

Indeed, the one gimmick he does employ in Righter Of Wrongs – getting the audience to assign scores to all the variables used to calculate nations’ rankings on the world happiness scale – seems like fruitless time-filling. Although the crowd dialogue does establish a fluidity to the gig, and the education section throws up a cracking anecdote from his schooldays.

Stone’s been in the business so long he makes it look easy. He’s relaxed and conversational, instinctively hitting the cadence needed to get the most out of every punchline, and the hour whizzes past.

... Click Here For Review


August 10, 2022    Ed Fringe Review

Review of Whisk(e)y Wars

Thomas Messner:

At the outset of her blistering one-woman show, Joyce Greenaway declares whiskey to be pure emotion distilled and bottled. Deeming the milestone appropriate for the situation, this reviewer had himself drunk his first whisky (a significant distinction from Greenaway’s Irish spirits, given the Edinburgh pub in which the intimate performance was fittingly held). While said first drink was so overpowering that I cannot wholly attest to the truth of this claim, what I can say for certain is that the drink’s pellucid potency proves to be strongly redolent of the show itself.



Throughout, Greenaway’s show blends casual, conversational tones with commanding theatricality; a consummate storyteller sharing anecdotes over drinks with fellow barflies. The tale she recounts is a vivid intergenerational epic centred on the family of one Tam Tully. She cycles through disappointing fathers, little-known grandparents, much beloved daughters and the Ulster distillery that binds them all together. So unassumingly eloquent and precise is her imagery that one can picture it clearly without the slightest effort. However, the clearest picture painted is of Tully herself.



At varying points, Greenaway’s alter ego is warmly funny, wearily resigned and on fire with righteous fury. In the monologue’s painful last act, Tully oscillates from a primal scream of anger to an immediate, nigh uncanny regaining of her wry composure. The moment is a startling testament to Greenaway’s exacting control of her material, and to the ability of a lone performer to conjure an atmosphere hypnotic enough to seemingly stop time itself. Indeed, when Greenaway stands at the show’s conclusion for a brief, self-effacing rundown of the process behind Tam Tully’s creation, the effect is that of a magician pulling back the curtain on their act. For a moment, one is taken aback to realise that the story she’s been telling is not in fact of her own life, or at least not as much as we thought. However, this does nothing to diminish the immersive power of the preceding performance. For an hour, the only discernible sounds are Greenaway’s voice and, fittingly, the bustle of the other patrons out front. Perhaps they are abuzz with stories of their own, though they are unlikely to be as well told.


Meg Erridge:

It is rare to find a story-teller capable of enthralling an entire audience for 90 minutes with nothing more than words and a glass of whiskey. This is not a show with glitzy props and special effects. Instead, Joyce Greenway relies on sheer talent in this stripped-back, one-woman family saga.

Clamber upstairs to a pokey backroom of the Dragonfly pub, and you are met by Tam Tully (Greenway), an unassuming character sipping a whiskey as she reels you in with tales of the family distillery. Spanning several generations, we learn of the Tully family’s struggle to keep the distillery afloat, a struggle steeped in lies, love, and deceit. However, it is Tam, sweet Northern Irish girl turned ‘difficult woman’, with whom we really fall in love. She is so totally believable as a character that I did question whether the tale I was being told was fact or fiction. I was genuinely shocked when, at the end of the show, Greenway broke character and described writing Tam’s story in three days over lockdown. It’s hard to decide whether Greenway shines most as a writer or an actor, so restrained and poised is she as both.

Whisk(e)y Wars has all the charm of a story one might be pulled aside and told in the corner of a darkened pub, but it never feels slow or stuck in the past. Greenway knows just when to move on, and her understated, yet highly emotive delivery keeps the audience rivetted. Situating this family tale within a political landscape (The Troubles, Brexit, the Coronavirus pandemic) keeps the story vital, and stops it from slipping into the hazy backwash of the past. But, be warned: described as a comedy, Whisk(e)y Wars is packed with charm and wit, but don’t go expecting light entertainment. I was on the brink of tears for the majority of the show, and I’ve watched Bambi without so much as a furrowed brow!

Whisk(e)y Wars is hard to fault. It stands confidently against the trend for maximalist, fast-paced drama which is always on a quest to break boundaries and discover the next new thing. Ironically given its traditional tone and format, I have never seen anything quite like Whisk(e)y Wars, and probably never will again. My only complaint is that there is not more of Greenway’s work to see. Click Here For Review


August 10, 2022    Chortle

Review of Sid Singh: Illegally Funny

It’s been said before: why isn’t Sid Singh bigger than he is?

An American comic of Indian heritage, he has huge energy – or maybe I just mean he’s very loud – and a manner of unstoppable bonhomie. He is obviously smart, a human rights lawyer, but is judged to have his priorities skewed, as that is what he fits around his main job as a comedian.

Singh can obviously ride both those horses well, although I must admit to being more impressed by his legal skills blocking something terrible that Donald Trump wanted to do than his undeniably vigorous material about politics, conscience and where to get life guidance.

He has some wonderful stuff on conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers, a theme that crops up a lot this year, but he has the best takedown. This is only a fragment of his show, Illegally Funny, but it resonated with me.

... Click Here For Review


August 9, 2022    Edinburgh Guide

Review of An Irish Disgrace

A show that lives up to its name if there ever was one, An Irish Disgrace, is 50 minutes of jokes that make you laugh out loud while secretly thinking to yourself, "Oh my god, did he actually say that!?"

Maybe not the show to bring your mother unless you have a very unique relationship. Some of his jokes were about his sex life (how proud he is of his ... abilities), pretending to be a "full gay" to get a free STD test in Berlin, and discovering the magic of topless beaches in Spain. I didn't count, but if I had, I'm sure he would have easily surpassed about 200 swear words in under an hour.

But if you're anything like me, his material will have you wiping away tears of laughter - especially when you hear about his ongoing feud with an Australian child called Rueben who wanted to be called Ruby.

Be warned: if you don't want Mike's attention, sit in the back, he loves to encourage (force?) audience participation. Sometimes you'll be in on the joke, and sometimes you'll be the butt of it, either way you'll laugh at it. Click Here For Review


August 9, 2022    Edinburgh Guide

Review of Cordelia Butters Investigates

Cordelia Butters is the conglomeration of every semi- famous female true crime podcaster and true detective wannabe - except while they may seem to have it all together, she is falling apart.

Not only is she podcasting about a local murder, but she's also trying to solve it - and the clock is ticking. A woman was found in a water supply, and her husband was found guilty- but he swears he's innocent - so Cordelia Butters is on the case.

This isn't Cordelia's first venture into podcasting; she's tried about half a dozen other podcast topics that haven't been an instant skyrocket to success, so why not try true crime? She's got a plan and she's sticking to it, come hell or highwater!

Kempton is fast, funny, and fun; she brings you into Butters' world from the first moment and keeps you there until the very end. A few technical issues (that Kempton handled with grace and wit) only added another level of unintentional humour to the show.

Even if you're not into true crime or podcasts, Cordelia Butters Investigates is a great lunch time laugh. Click Here For Review


August 9, 2022    Fringe Biscuit

Review of Transhumance

Following a clown's whistle-stop tour of the land of gender expression, while discovering their identity, @thinkery_verse handles a complex subject with a delicate yet playful touch. Emotive physicality & quirky props captivate the audience from the outset. 4/5 Click Here For Review


August 8, 2022    Butterwort

Review of Sid Singh: Illegally Funny

5 stars – ocean-broad hilarity

Is racism weirder in the US, in the UK, in Malta or in Romania, from the eyes of an Indian Californian (illegally(?)) living in Great Britain?

Sid Singh is a professional stand-up comedian, a human rights lawyer, and… an idiot (his word, not mine!). Through jokes and stories about dating smart women and touring all around the world, his comic voice leads one to keep their laugh ready. Nonetheless, at the core of this play are some fundamental questions: who do you listen to? That is to say, who or what do we ‘believe’, when it comes to controversial pieces of news, or conspiration theories?

Theoretically, one can believe their partner, or father, until you see that, however much of a genius they can be, their point of view is also biased. And here starts the hero’s quest, a reflective basis upon which amusing episodes stand out.

The comedian who won a legal battle for human rights against Donald Trump has some stories to tell. And you won’t regret listening to them. Click Here For Review


Edinburgh’s cost of laughing crisis

August 8, 2022   The New European

Article about Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

Edinburgh’s cost of laughing crisis

The Norwegian town of Kragerø is famous for its restful ambience – even the relentlessly troubled Edvard Munch found peace there. So it’s an apt place for Pernille Haaland to contemplate her life choices as a well-travelled comedian passing through on her way to Oslo, the airport, and the Edinburgh festival fringe for a month of shows, stress, expense and exhaustion.



“I mean, I should just not get on the plane,” says Haaland, with a slightly manic glee, as she contemplates what might lie ahead.



The run-up to this year’s fringe has been marked by a string of troubling news stories – a row over the scrapping of its official ticketing app and cut-price ticket booths, making it harder for shows to turn a profit; “budget” chain hotel prices of up to £526 for two nights; a petition signed by leading comedians including Joe Lycett that criticises organisers for failing to help with rising accommodation costs (1,200 rooms are available for performers at under £280 per week, but there are over 3,000 shows).



“The fringe will always be the most masochistic thing we can do,” admits Haaland, whose life has been eventful of late anyway: moving to the family farm, starting therapy, rebuilding her stand-up career from scratch, back home. “I honestly didn’t know if I should do it. And then, for some reason, I decided to tell my story of what it’s like moving to a farm in the middle of a pandemic living with my two batshit-crazy Norwegian parents.”



The Edinburgh fringe is long-established as the focal point of the live comedy year, in Britain and further afield, with thousands of comedians hoping to make a splash, if usually not much cash. But doing a month-long run is increasingly expensive. Rent, venue fees, promotion, insurance and getting there costs thousands upfront, and most performers expect to make a loss, even if the show goes well.



Indeed, with no full Fringe since 2019, many stalwarts wondered if that spell would finally be broken. And particularly for acts from abroad, given all the pointless red tape.



Yet here we are. The fringe is back and comics have arrived from across Europe with wildly different stories. Haaland suggests that life as a wandering performer is probably in her roots.



“I was born in Texas, ended up in London, and then kind of stumbled my way to Norway again: no clear agenda or plan,” says the comic, whose show is called Resting Confused Face. “I seem to be a comedian because I literally live out of a suitcase.”



It is surprising what idyllic settings comics will give up for the fringe. Ignacio Lopez is lounging on the upper deck of a cruise liner when we speak, moored off the coast of Valencia. The Spanish/Welsh comic has found an enviable new role recently, performing on cruises. “I wasn’t going to do Edinburgh at all this year, I had two cruises, a holiday booked…” Then an offer landed. Lopez is currently in that tantalising almost-famous zone: a popular live comic with some useful TV/radio work, and a unique story. His new show, El Cómico, is about immigration, and he’s gone big on Brexit in previous shows.



“I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the EU,” he says. “If my mum hadn’t been able to go out [from Wales] and work in Spain, where she met my dad… then I was born over there. My family are all from different countries.”



Lopez is in an illustrious Fringe venue this year, at the Gilded Balloon, and admits the gamble “could be a complete disaster. But there’s only one way to find out.”



That said, critical acclaim can lead to other opportunities for ambitious comics. It’s surprising where that type of material works. “Even big Leave crowds,” Lopez reveals. “I say at the end: ‘if it wasn’t for the EU, you would have been staring at an empty stage.’”



Fringe audiences – and particularly reviewers – expect some grit with the gags. For Moni Zhang, the Edinburgh spirit has been a spur to create her debut show: Child from Wuhan has been a hit back home in Berlin.



“It’s my real life story,” says Zhang, over Zoom. “How I came from a sweatshop, overcame tremendous disadvantages, and my journey of looking for love. In the show I deal with my childhood trauma, with my own depression, and my dysfunctional family. And at the end how I finally was able to see the silver lining.”



Discovering stand-up was a big part of that. She has developed an extra show for this fringe: Anxiety vs Depression: A Comedy Game Show. “It’s the best concept I’ve ever had,” she says.



But a fortnight before Edinburgh, her Airbnb cancelled (“I had a very emotional week”).



Accommodation is the festival’s major issue, particularly for newcomers. Rents have risen dramatically in recent years, partly a side-effect of new regulations to stop landlords ousting their regular tenants. The remaining rooms can be laughably expensive – up to £5,000 is not uncommon for August – which also affects tourism, and ticket sales.



Michelle Kalt, from Zurich, is making her debut this year, and sounds slightly perturbed: “I think I can speak for everyone doing this for the first time that we vastly underestimated how much admin it will entail.” Which says a lot, given that she’s also a lawyer.



Staging a simple stand-up show can be surprisingly complicated. Kalt’s admin included a last-minute scramble for the required public liability and employer’s insurance – “lots of insurance companies would refuse me based on me not being a UK resident” – and a similar struggle to actually take people’s money.



One positive fringe change in recent years is the rise of pay-what-you-want shows. But with less cash around a card reader is now essential, and “I couldn’t find anyone offering that to non-UK residents either”. She wound up with a device that reads QR codes, “more hassle for the punters but I’m hoping it’ll work.”



Kalt is doing a memorably titled show – God Hates You – about a weirdly peaceful break-up; clearly not a Brexit allegory. She’s largely avoiding politics as “it’s hard to know if material I try here will work in the UK too,” but hasn’t found Britain’s anti-Europe stance too off-putting. “I feel like there are parallels between Switzerland and the UK. We have never been a member of the EU, and we kind of want to have our cake and eat it too.”



The aforementioned admin also includes paying up to £400 to the Fringe Society, to be listed in the physical Fringe Guide; then the society belatedly admitted that this year there would be no fringe app, which previously nudged punters towards nearby shows. That caused a huge social media backlash: 1,700 comedy people signed an open letter, bemoaning big cuts and huge rents. Many performers vowed not to return.



That app was particularly useful for smaller shows with no budget for poster campaigns or PR: just being found is tricky if your venue is not in the busier hubs. Kalt has stumped up for one of the more popular locations, The Caves. “You also want to have a good poster and a good flyer,” she says; “why would you spend so much money and then not do the promotion?”



Then again, everyday life is making fringe expenses seem less bizarre. For comics just doing normal gigs around Britain, “the cost of travel and stuff, it’s just not viable,” says Lopez. “That’s one of the positive things about Edinburgh… you can walk to work every day for a month.”



And you can vent about the red tape affecting your other job. Stefania Licari is an Italian actor, clown, and NHS doctor, whose debut show, Medico, is a semi-fictional romantic farce, with real-life dramas.



“I talk about a moment of panic just before Brexit took place,” says Licari. “I look back at the preparation I put into the British culture test – one of the requirements to gain citizenship – and I find it very funny that I took it so seriously.” To prepare, the already too-busy doctor/comedian “did 10,000 online questions and read three books three times each,” she says.



It became an entertaining section of the show, though. More serious is the moment where a patient insists “that she be treated only by British doctors, refusing my care as I was not British. Unfortunately, this is a true story. Even more unfortunately, this is not the only example of racist or xenophobic behaviour towards NHS staff that I have encountered.”



The communal spirit is a unique fringe draw though, and you do find a remarkable mix of people.



The Comedy Estonia showcase features a rotating cast from a nation with a burgeoning stand-up tradition.



“In some way we do feel like cultural ambassadors,” says organiser and performer Karl-Alari Varma.



One intriguing theme this year is how comedians reference the ongoing global strife. “In Estonia we like dark humour a lot and heavy subjects are second nature to us,” says Varma. “Some of the comedians were born while under Russian occupation, and grew up in a time where all the political and societal wounds were still raw, and that kind of post-Soviet survival mentality has carried over to their comedy.” But “even with heavy subjects,” he says, “the main goal is to be funny.”



Haaland agrees. Her show has no grand mission, but perhaps big communal laughs are enough this year. “There is still a need to connect,” she says. “And I think that’s what comedy does best.”

 Click Here For Article


August 7, 2022    One4Review

Review of Life Drawing With a Comedian

Life Drawing with a Comedian is perfectly titled, and does almost exactly what it says on the tin, except we were treated to three, not just one, lightly-clad comedians for our artistic endeavours. In every other respect, however, it is as you’d expect: not-entirely-nude persons (male, in this case) holding (increasingly daft) poses in front of an audience so we could attempt to draw them.

There were definitely a variety of skill levels in the audience, and though my primary-school-level doodles were far outclassed by most of the room, there were a few other beginners there too. Part of the fun is the show-and-tell with the class, abetted by exhortations to ‘daub your friends in’, a tactic which elicited more examples to show off than asking the artists directly.

There’s no ‘teaching’, so this show is a chance to have a go at drawing a figure in a convivial lunchtime atmosphere. Host Ruven Govender facilitated the show by introducing different artistic styles for us to try out, as well as providing encouragement while we were drawing. And while there are comedians present, I’m dubious about rating this as a comedy show, however it’s listed in the guide. As an experience, rather than a comedy show, this is a lovely way to start a Fringe day. Click Here For Review


August 7, 2022    On The Mic

Review of Old Jewish Jokes

Ivor Dembina agrees to perform a comedy fundraiser to help pay for a new synagogue roof.

But what does the Rabbi think of Dembina’s old Jewish jokes?

This show quietly sets about defending freedom of speech, while exploring one Jewish man’s relationship with his own community.

There are, of-course, old Jewish jokes a-plenty, including a few gags that the Rabbi definitely doesn’t approve of. This largely Jewish audience loves every second of it. Among the Jewish mother-in-law quips, Dembina has jokes on Israel and Palestine, on the subject of Jews and money, and, most challenging to the Rabbi, The Holocaust.

Only exceptional comedians get away with this stuff. Here, the experienced Dembina is in complete control.

If you’re good enough a comedian and if the joke is funny enough, it turns out that you can say anything nowadays. Click Here For Review


August 7, 2022    Chortle

Review of Patience : Zero

Comedian Dan Cardwell has that special morning spot for comedians who have the range and sensibility for storytelling as well as stand-up, but not the big agent or the budget.

I love this genre of thoughtful, emotionally truthful shows that come from unexpected directions. They always deserve a bigger audiences, and punters lucky enough to find these little gems will remember them long after the bigger, later, louder balls-out comedy shows have blurred into one.

Cardwell’s style is low-key and undynamic, narrating a common but frequently smothered tale of trying for a baby. Initially I thought it was just a bit too quietly blokey, but it grew on me. The self-deprecating approach of, ’I’m a bit hopeless but the wife’s great’ is familiar, but that’s because it is so frequently true.

The man is currently on crutches, which adds to the pathos of this poignant tale. The small audience laughed, smiled and were held rapt by the tale of multiple rounds of IVF, his genetically weird DNA – should he really be passing this on? – and a tendency for damaging accidents that pile the pressure on the stoic Jacqui as she has to tend to this hopeless, variably unemployable, case.

Cardwell’s restrained performance enhances the story and reminds us that there’s pain and hope in every life that is more powerful for not being given the full vent. He is a quietly devastating raconteur, powerful in his ordinariness, which sound like an awful putdown, but isn’t meant that way.

He acknowledges that this story isn’t only his to tell (I did have a moment of thinking, ’Typical! Pregnancy and miscarriage and he makes it all about him’ but I stand corrected). His ability to create laughs and be funny while dealing with strong and difficult emotions made this a heart-squeezing and heart-warming story. All credit due. Click Here For Review


August 7, 2022    Entertainment Now

Review of Stand-Up Philosophy - Free!

Are you willing to question life, the universe and everything?

This show is an inclusive hour of major philosophical thought married nicely with witty comedy. Three philosophers come stand-ups each perform a set that is rooted in an overarching theme before the discussion is opened to the audience for a wider scope on the topic. They are like your philosophy teachers, but cool. And here you don’t need knowledge of Descartes or Plato, you can just sit back and enjoy some very clever people’s very funny jokes.

This particular set had the acts discussing identity and just as you are rethinking everything you thought you knew about yourself; they catch you off-guard with some tremendously punchy lines. What is great about this show is the way that these cerebral topics become goofy observations about themselves and others. Do occupations define us? Does a diagnosis change you? Has technology shaped us too much? We can’t say for sure, but we can all laugh at the search for the answers. And as with a lot of philosophy, these can be found by looking inward to our own life experiences, and these comics are no strangers to hilarious life experiences.

The crowd interaction often turned the light-hearted storytelling a touch more serious. Are labels good? Or do you think you are who you are autonomously? Heavy. But the comedians do a great job of discussing this in a well-informed manner while simultaneously lifting the mood to remind you once again you are in a comedy show. It’s a fine line between daft and serious but the cast of ‘Stand-Up Philosophy’ walk that line with ease.

The theme the artists focus on being randomised daily makes this show a standout for seeing more than once (already there were a few repeat attenders). This isn’t the show that is going to have you on the floor laughing but the fascinating conversations combined with the massively entertaining comics is formidable duo for piquing your interest. And you never know you may leave the show with an entirely new perspective on life. Click Here For Review


August 7, 2022    Entertainment Now

Review of Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

Moni’s storytelling abilities are profound.

The beginning of your time with Moni instantly warms you to her. She pokes fun at Chinese stereotypes in a really creative and funny manner. As a Chinese woman, she is proud, and she takes her time in explaining her love for her country – which has a lot to do with noodles.

What is so pleasantly surprising about this show is the eloquence of the monologue, it’s rare to see a free show have an act so confident in their script. What this allows is the gravitas of Moni’s story to truly shine. She has you on tenterhooks as she details the brutality of growing up in the Wuhan ghetto which is hardly eased by her aggravatingly judgemental family. Life beyond Wuhan has been no plain sailing either. Culture shocks and finding love have proved hard for Moni but her undying resilience is both endearing and inspiring.

Even at the darkest moments of this show Moni will slip in a deeply humorous line. Her life may have been difficult, but she helps us laugh through it as she clearly has herself. She doesn’t shy away from crude jokes which land with mixed effect yet there is a fearlessness to the comedic side of this story. Racy jokes on gender, race and life in the bedroom are often highlights of the narrative.

Moni’s story is really solid from start to finish. She intimately connects to the audience in an equally intimate venue. And while there is a lot of content in this show that can lower your mood, Moni manages to keep spirits high, creating this unique feeling of optimism. This person has been through it all but has come out the other side laughing and smiling.

This show doesn’t contain wall-to-wall laughs, but it doesn’t have to. If you want to see an excellently performed telling of a truly tumultuous life story, especially set in an environment you may know little about, then ‘Child From Wuhan’ is a gem. Click Here For Review


August 7, 2022    Broadway Baby

Review of Love & Sex on the Spectrum

It’s four years since George Steeves brought his Magic 8 Ball show to Edinburgh, winning the heart and mind of at least this reviewer with such an honest, bold theatrical collage of spoken word and song narrating George’s somewhat confusing childhood and early adulthood as someone with Asperger’s. Love and Sex on the Spectrum is, in some respects, a sequel, given it continues with the previous show’s near-final big reveal that he’s actually gay.

In form, though, this new show is quite different; not so much theatre as stand-up, with George re-moulding his material to fit the small rectangle of the room’s “stage”, while holding onto a microphone as his only prop. And you know what? For someone best known as an actor and singer, he’s remarkably good at it: there’s a real sense of energy in the room as he shares the often humorous, always authentic, ups and downs of his sudden flowering as a sexual being with a smartphone and a clear desire to catch up for lost time. (Swipe left!)

Many people with Asperger’s are “late bloomers”, he tells us: George is honest in describing himself as both asexual (and desperate to be straight) for the first 27 years of his life. So the heart of this show is partly about how that – remarkably quickly – changed, and how trying to find “the one” for a longterm relationship can prove to be a particularly dangerous addiction for someone “on the Spectrum”, for whom restrictive repetitive actions are quite a thing. Even though, for a time, he thought he was “so picky” when it came to potential partners’ age, height and hygiene.

At the top of the show, George apologies for all the American references he’s going to use. Thankfully, the likes of Justin Timberlake, Sex and the City and Glee are sufficiently well-travelled not to require too much translation: that said, various 1990s horror film references may be more challenging for some. In any case, despite some necessarily US-based specifics, George’s story is surprisingly universal; and one delivered with heart, skill and engaging honesty. Click Here For Review


Recommended Show

August 7, 2022   Fringe Review

Article about Sketch Up!

Recommended Show

With a wide variety of radio sketches packed into an hour from the pen of writer Rachel E. Thorn, this was a gentle and satisfying way to start my morning reviewing at the Fringe. Thorn has written for the likes of Dead Ringers, among others, her work has been performed by Rory Bremner.

Three talented performers (including Rachel E. Thorn herself take us through an hour of sketches, some less and a minute long, most running into a few minutes. These are sketches rooted in comedic observation of the lives we live and there is much to savour and recognise in the sharpness, but never cruelness of this material.

With scripts in hand, radio style the 32 Below venue provides an intimate space and, though script-based there is plenty of eye contact with the audience as Thorn introduces each sketch. From pug cancellation to the weather, the variety is a core strength.

The hour rushes by and this is gentle, sharp-witted, observational radio comedy. You’ll leave at the end with favourites from the many sketches on offer and, in my case, craving a cup of Builders’ tea.

Sometimes the actors gesture a bit, other times it is pure, fairly physically static reading and this was a little inconsistent across the hour. I closed my eyes during one sketch and it came to life in my imagination, as good radio drama should, with me creating the pictures. At other times I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to engage with the physical bits of acting or not. That may be ironed out as the show runs here at the Fringe.

This was my first review at this year’s Fringe and it felt like quintessential fringe, not over-designed, very direct and nonsense. comedy doesn’t have to scream to be heard and it can simply draw upon the quirks of life in all its light and shadow. This is what Sketch Up! achieves.

It all comes down to the intelligent and funny writing combined with the high quality vocal skills of the three performers who are joined up, well calibrated between each other. It is all very accomplished and there were plenty of giggles and laughs to be had. The audience clearly enjoyed the variety, the payoff lines and the geniality of the performers. Rachel was a warm host and this was a generous helping of morning comedy, unfussy,deliberate in its intentions and pulled off well by the threesome on stage. Click Here For Article


Silly prop-heavy comedy for any generation

August 6, 2022    The List

Review of Olaf Falafel: STOAT

Silly prop-heavy comedy for any generation

Olaf Falafel (Derek Chickpeas’ daftly endearing alter ego) graces any day of Fringe comedy-going with his singular presence. Delivering a smorgasbord of puns, prop comedy, song pastiches, video gags, crowd engagement and general feelgood silliness, STOAT ought to appeal to all ages and anyone with a sense of humour.

With the motto that ‘fun needs structure’, he breezes through his list of set-pieces, which include levitating a strawberry and a glorious running joke in which he updates that dismissive 1990s brush-off ‘talk to the hand’ for millennials. A childish sense of play is instinctive in everything Falafel does. And his video content testifies to a happy home life with his daughters and cats, the latter of whom come to play an increasingly important role in the show and afford it an unexpected bit of emotional heft by its finale. Superior, multi-disciplinary idiocy. Click Here For Review


August 6, 2022    Edinburgh Guide

Review of Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines

Can machines think? What will it mean for humanity if artificial intelligence can feel? How do we return to a time when we repaired instead of replaced? In an hour-long laugh-and-learn, so-very-likeable Alex Farrow delves into the topics of technology and nostalgia in the manner of your cool history teacher who’s knocked back a few and proceeded to go off the cuff.

A comedy show for the book club audience as well as the Friday night crowd, Philosophy Machines is cerebral but never high brow, fervently geeky with a few shameless puns thrown into it. A gem of the Free Fringe, Farrow has created a show Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data would love, posing fascinating questions about AI sentience, virtual mental health care, philosophy and ethics.

From a raucous and raunchy discussion of the Cerne Abbas Giant to a pondering on American enthusiasm, this is an enjoyable hour of clever stand up in the quirky confines of the Cab Vol caves. Click Here For Review


August 5, 2022    Entertainment Now

Review of Ian Stone: Righter of Wrongs

We could all be a little happier, right? This is something that Ian Stone has been trying to achieve with seemingly mixed success. The entertaining hour you spend with Ian makes it painfully apparent that this is an intrinsically British trait. He starts the show by compiling the audience’s opinion on our own nation to gauge how we stack up on a global ranking. Naturally, the crowd responds quite negatively when discussing topics such as governance, but this sparks a genuinely fascinating and funny conversation as to why we aren’t happier.

Ian tackles this potentially tricky subject in a genuinely admirable manner. His way with words is eloquent, managing to seamlessly jump between menial issues such as the packaging of fruit to seriously infuriating issues we face in our lives, all while keeping the audience smiling. The anecdotes he tells will draw you in before climaxing into a totally visceral belly laugh.

The show flows nicely and is often aided by rib-tickling conversations Ian has with the audience, even if these sometimes fall a little flat. When asking questions about what makes everyone else happy, the responses are varied massively – “motorcycles”, “dogs”, “family”. This can throw the show from subject to subject but no matter where the audience is taken, Ian’s wit stands up. And while this is no secret, the crowd work in this performance just proves how naturally funny he really is.

‘Righter of Wrongs’ makes us look at ourselves and the people around us and in doing so, no one is immune from a light roasting; especially one audience member who found his happiness in his undying love for Yorkshire. Ian can laugh at others, he can laugh at himself and he can laugh at others laughing at him.

Ultimately, Ian Stone is a happy man, someone who manages to find pleasure out of anything. While it is often too easy to see the downside of a good situation, Ian finds the joy within terrible (hypothetical or not) scenarios and makes them funny and engaging. Click Here For Review


August 4, 2022    Entertainment Now

Review of Life Drawing With a Comedian

Life Drawing With a Comedian is a free pass to mess around in art class like you were never allowed to in school. You won’t be told off for drawing a strangely erotic anthropomorphic zebra or caricaturing the teacher. Absurdity is actively encouraged meaning the wilder the better!

Throughout the performance, the audience are given different prompts about what their next drawing is to express. This can start with a simple self-portrait but before you know it, you are drawing scenes of drug-induced euphoria or a cubic impression of a surprisingly well-sculpted comedian. It does not matter if you have the abstract ability of Jackson Pollock or if you have never sketched before (like me), the light-hearted atmosphere gives you the confidence to truly express your weird and wonderful ideas before sharing them with the class.

Life Drawing With a Comedian is a free pass to mess around in art class like you were never allowed to in school. You won’t be told off for drawing a strangely erotic anthropomorphic zebra or caricaturing the teacher. Absurdity is actively encouraged meaning the wilder the better!

Throughout the performance, the audience are given different prompts about what their next drawing is to express. This can start with a simple self-portrait but before you know it, you are drawing scenes of drug-induced euphoria or a cubic impression of a surprisingly well-sculpted comedian. It does not matter if you have the abstract ability of Jackson Pollock or if you have never sketched before (like me), the light-hearted atmosphere gives you the confidence to truly express your weird and wonderful ideas before sharing them with the class.

Life Drawing With a Comedian is a free pass to mess around in art class like you were never allowed to in school. You won’t be told off for drawing a strangely erotic anthropomorphic zebra or caricaturing the teacher. Absurdity is actively encouraged meaning the wilder the better!

Throughout the performance, the audience are given different prompts about what their next drawing is to express. This can start with a simple self-portrait but before you know it, you are drawing scenes of drug-induced euphoria or a cubic impression of a surprisingly well-sculpted comedian. It does not matter if you have the abstract ability of Jackson Pollock or if you have never sketched before (like me), the light-hearted atmosphere gives you the confidence to truly express your weird and wonderful ideas before sharing them with the class.

The near hour-long show does not necessarily have a strict narrative or set punchlines (which is occasionally very apparent), but the comics’ quick-witted remarks and enjoyably questionable poses are as hilarious as a considered script. While it might sound like the beginning of a bad joke, the natural charisma of this Scouser, Aussie and South African keep the laughs coming.

The energy of the crowd is matched by the seriously funny comics of Laughing Mob which means that the more you give yourself to the performance, the more you get out of it. There lies the magic of Life Drawing With a Comedian; somehow a group of strangers in a dark room giggling at each other’s badly drawn pictures leaves you feeling closer to everyone by the end of it. This is what the spirit of the Free Fringe is all about.

At its core, this show is simply fun. You may indeed find better stand-up this Fringe, but the way this show makes you forget that you are in a performance and leaves you feeling like you are at a games night with friends is special. When audience and comedian alike are in hysterics, you know you are on to a winner. Click Here For Review


Tomorrow’s Another Day

August 4, 2022   Entertainment Now

Article about Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

Tomorrow’s Another Day


Tell us about your show. Why should we go and see it?

Have you ever fantasised about bumping into your first teen love and showing them how much better than them you are now?



As a kid did you see a horror film that persuaded you obsession, jealousy and revenge were attractive qualities that would make everyone fancy you?

If the answer is yes to both then your mind is like Love Island that’s been swallowed by a colossal squid.

But if the answer is no, Then you haven’t lived! And by ‘lived’, I mean been an immortal being waiting for the reincarnation of your first love who you stayed in a hissy fit.

By the way, Why aren’t immortals ever satisfied?They have it all, literally, but they are always wanting more!

Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?

Just me on my ownsome! No PR, no door person or tech, but I have a marvellous flyerer called Shaun. Also I am sharing a flat with two other women- a feisty American stand-up and a performance artist exploring the world of a woman’s work.

What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?

To get an audience every day! To get through it without developing boils. I have a dodgy knee so hoping that is going to be better not worse!

What makes you laugh?

Funny things in any form! Professional or civilian! In my mind the funniest thing ever which made me feel I had appendicitis with laughing, is John Thompson’s Cheeky Monkey from Alan Partridge.He is so funny but the narrative is so painful ! We have all died on our arses in the moment of our greatest opportunity.

What is it that made you a performer?

I found something I could do well that brought me joy. To be honest I was terrible at everything else.

How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?



In New Zealand where my comedy shows are digested with great earnestness, a woman accosted me in the street the day after seeing one and said ‘You have changed my life. I’ve been writing my diary all night about how seeing your show made me realize it’s ok if I’m a failure’ I cured her depression!

Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?

My flatmates.

Anne Rabbit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Self%20Service%22

Maureen Langan https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Don’t%20Make%20Me%20Hate%20You%22

What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?

Tomorrow is another day (Gone with the Wind)

Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?

My first ever solo show, Greyfriars Bobby Speaks to the World where I channeled the wisdom of my dog Arthur while he licked his bits. Massive hit!

Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.

Arthur Smith without a doubt. He does his show, he sings, he does a midnight tour, he is a legend.

Charmian Hughes She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life, 18.00, The Counting House, Pay What You Can Click Here For Article


Three to See: Three Shows About Neurodiversity

August 4, 2022   Three Weeks

Article about Guerilla Autistics - Year Eight - Scenes from an undiagnosed life.

Three to See: Three Shows About Neurodiversity

There are way more than three autistic performers appearing at this year's Fringe, of course, and lots of them are women, but we seem to have inadvertently pandered to the stereotype of neurodivergent types being predominantly male by picking three male acts for this section. They're all great shows by great acts, though, so I won't worry about this too much. Let's instead get on with talking about these three great shows we can look forward to, starting with 'Guerilla Autistics Year 8' by Paul Wady, whose autism went undiagnosed until he was forty one years old. Expect "laughs, tears, obsessions, autism and neurodiversity". Click Here For Article


Three to See: Three Shows About Life Experiences

August 4, 2022   Three Weeks

Article about Sid Singh: Illegally Funny

Three to See: Three Shows About Life Experiences

The Fringe is full of people telling life stories, whether it's their own or someone else's, whether true, embroidered or false, so I think it's time to honour that particular type of show. They occur all over the Festival, in fact, in every kind of genre, but our first pick for this section is from comedian Sid Singh, who returns to Edinburgh to explore "what it means to actually be smart by making you laugh at the crazy things he did and the amazing things you did since the last time he was at the Fringe". Expect to hear about his work as a refugee lawyer and advocate, his anti-vaxxer girlfriend, about helping to beat Donald Trump in court, and arguments with his former gang member turned cancer scientist and climate change sceptic father. Phew, a lot to take in. Click Here For Article


Three to See: Three Shows About Sons + Fathers

August 4, 2022   Three Weeks

Article about Aidan Jones - Taco

Three to See: Three Shows About Sons + Fathers

Australian comedian Aidan Jones is something of a festival favourite – and not just at the Edinburgh Festival, of course, I am talking Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne’s festivals too. This year he is doing two shows at the Laughing Horse venues, and you should definitely see both if you can fit it in, but let’s talk about the one we’re here to talk about and why it sounds so interesting. In ‘Taco’, Jones tells the story of his Colombian parentage: how his mother became pregnant while backpacking in South America at the age of 22, and how in September 2019, he finally met his biological father for the first time. An interesting story in the hands of a great comedian. Click Here For Article


Moni Zhang – stand-up comedy is not in my culture

August 2, 2022   Entertainment Now

Article about Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

Moni Zhang – stand-up comedy is not in my culture

Tell us about your show.



This show is an autobiographical story about trauma, love, and diarrhea.



Why should we go and see it?



I grew up in a sweatshop in Wuhan. The story I’m telling is from my unique point of view. It’s authentic & funny. Plus, I promise you, by the end of the show you’ll be thinking “Thank god for the diarrhea”. “How’s THAT possible?” You’ll know if you come to the show



Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?



I’m doing this show alone. However, there are a bunch Berlin comedians at Edfringe this year. I will have emotional support!



What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?



I hope I can survive the tough month, staying sane till the end. I would really love to connect to fellow artists and see if some project ideas coming out from this experience.



What makes you laugh?



I watched Luke Rollason’s “Bowerbird”. It’s also coming to Edfringe this year. This show got me really into physical comedy. I laughed like a monkey and felt like a monkey. It’s great to forget all the real-life issues and be a monkey for a bit.



What is it that made you a performer?



Coming from China, stand up comedy is not in my culture. Then I discovered the art-form when I was severely depressed. It was amazing that it can transform my pain into comedy. As a performer, the pain and frustration I got from real-life is my fuel for my comedy. I like to be authentic & speak my truth on stage to build a special bond with my audience.



How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?



I performed this show around 40 times in continental Europe. Audience often told me they are touched and they laughed as much as they had goosebumps. Sometimes I see audience members laughing with tears on their faces.



Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?



Vir Das. I love that his shows are interesting for indian as well as western audience. From his shows I always learn something about indian culture. The last special he released has such a creative format. I’m really looking forward to see him live for the first time.



What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?



When I was starting, once I saw German comedian Paco Erhard performing at a theatre with only four audience. He killed it. This really taught me to adjust the energy of the room, when it’s a small audience, get intimate & personal.



Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?



It’s my first fringe. Looking forward to create memories!



Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.



Mike Birbiglia. There’re so much truth and vulnerability in his shows.



https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/moni-zhang-child-from-wuhan-pay-what-you-can



Moni Zhang



Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan



Venue: 272 Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters – The Wee Room



Time: 17:00 – 18:00

 Click Here For Article


Moni Zhang – stand-up comedy is not in my culture

August 2, 2022   Entertainment Now

Article about Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

Moni Zhang – stand-up comedy is not in my culture

Tell us about your show.



This show is an autobiographical story about trauma, love, and diarrhea.



Why should we go and see it?



I grew up in a sweatshop in Wuhan. The story I’m telling is from my unique point of view. It’s authentic & funny. Plus, I promise you, by the end of the show you’ll be thinking “Thank god for the diarrhea”. “How’s THAT possible?” You’ll know if you come to the show



Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?



I’m doing this show alone. However, there are a bunch Berlin comedians at Edfringe this year. I will have emotional support!



What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?



I hope I can survive the tough month, staying sane till the end. I would really love to connect to fellow artists and see if some project ideas coming out from this experience.



What makes you laugh?



I watched Luke Rollason’s “Bowerbird”. It’s also coming to Edfringe this year. This show got me really into physical comedy. I laughed like a monkey and felt like a monkey. It’s great to forget all the real-life issues and be a monkey for a bit.



What is it that made you a performer?



Coming from China, stand up comedy is not in my culture. Then I discovered the art-form when I was severely depressed. It was amazing that it can transform my pain into comedy. As a performer, the pain and frustration I got from real-life is my fuel for my comedy. I like to be authentic & speak my truth on stage to build a special bond with my audience.



How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?



I performed this show around 40 times in continental Europe. Audience often told me they are touched and they laughed as much as they had goosebumps. Sometimes I see audience members laughing with tears on their faces.



Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?



Vir Das. I love that his shows are interesting for indian as well as western audience. From his shows I always learn something about indian culture. The last special he released has such a creative format. I’m really looking forward to see him live for the first time.



What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?



When I was starting, once I saw German comedian Paco Erhard performing at a theatre with only four audience. He killed it. This really taught me to adjust the energy of the room, when it’s a small audience, get intimate & personal.



Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?



It’s my first fringe. Looking forward to create memories!



Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.



Mike Birbiglia. There’re so much truth and vulnerability in his shows.



https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/moni-zhang-child-from-wuhan-pay-what-you-can



Moni Zhang



Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan



Venue: 272 Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters – The Wee Room



Time: 17:00 – 18:00

 Click Here For Article


50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

July 28, 2022   Chortle

Article about Disabled Cants

50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

A bit of a change for our Edinburgh preview feature today. Rather than based on any theme, these are 50 shows chosen by comedy connoisseur Corry Shaw.

In a long career in the industry, she worked for Chortle, tour promoters and agents Gag Reflex, and the Stand and Komedia comedy clubs – and was one of the organisational powerhouses behind Mark Watson’s marathon shows.

However, illness forced her to retire from the business she loved a few years ago, and has left her unable to attend the Fringe this year. Yesterday she posted this list of 50 shows on Twitter as what she would have seen, were she able to make it Edinburgh.

’This list isn’t exhaustive and I’ve almost definitely missed people off,’ she said. ‘Blame it on my damaged brain, not on the quality of their show. Please go and see as many shows as you can of people you’ve never heard of. Support live comedy.’

Watson then took up the baton and asked his fans to fill this schedule – and vowed that for the first ticket bought to each show on the list he and his partner Lianne Coop would match the price with a donation to a new fund to help build a fairer, more widely accessible Fringe.

Most of the shows have now been claimed but a few have not. If you want to help complete the list, check tinyurl.com/corry50 and buy a ticket for one of the unclaimed shows. Put your name down and tweet @watsoncomedian a picture with your confirmation.

Watson tweeted: 'The emotional side of this for me is: Corry are I are famously like THIS (closeness gesture), met at Fringe, it was our playground, and comedy is her oxygen (not literally).

‘For her to be too sick to go is heartbreaking. This is a way of her Fringing vicariously and in the process starting to build a financial bedrock which will help the two things she cares about most (other than cheese): access/equality, and the health of the comedy ecosystem in general. The fund will soon have its own proper donations page. But this is a "loosener".

‘So, please get involved and also share this, if you are comedy-involved-or-adjacent. It's easy (and fair) to complain about the Fringe but it's on people like me, who have been treated so well by it, to start building drawbridges for the next lot. This is a start. Thank you!

‘Is drawbridges what I meant, is that a good analogy? Well. You get the idea. OK, as I say: THANKS, OFF YOU GO.)

... Click Here For Article


50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

July 28, 2022   Chortle

Article about Raul Kohli: Russian Weapon of Mass Destruction

50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

A bit of a change for our Edinburgh preview feature today. Rather than based on any theme, these are 50 shows chosen by comedy connoisseur Corry Shaw.

In a long career in the industry, she worked for Chortle, tour promoters and agents Gag Reflex, and the Stand and Komedia comedy clubs – and was one of the organisational powerhouses behind Mark Watson’s marathon shows.

However, illness forced her to retire from the business she loved a few years ago, and has left her unable to attend the Fringe this year. Yesterday she posted this list of 50 shows on Twitter as what she would have seen, were she able to make it Edinburgh.

’This list isn’t exhaustive and I’ve almost definitely missed people off,’ she said. ‘Blame it on my damaged brain, not on the quality of their show. Please go and see as many shows as you can of people you’ve never heard of. Support live comedy.’

Watson then took up the baton and asked his fans to fill this schedule – and vowed that for the first ticket bought to each show on the list he and his partner Lianne Coop would match the price with a donation to a new fund to help build a fairer, more widely accessible Fringe.

Most of the shows have now been claimed but a few have not. If you want to help complete the list, check tinyurl.com/corry50 and buy a ticket for one of the unclaimed shows. Put your name down and tweet @watsoncomedian a picture with your confirmation.

Watson tweeted: 'The emotional side of this for me is: Corry are I are famously like THIS (closeness gesture), met at Fringe, it was our playground, and comedy is her oxygen (not literally).

‘For her to be too sick to go is heartbreaking. This is a way of her Fringing vicariously and in the process starting to build a financial bedrock which will help the two things she cares about most (other than cheese): access/equality, and the health of the comedy ecosystem in general. The fund will soon have its own proper donations page. But this is a "loosener".

‘So, please get involved and also share this, if you are comedy-involved-or-adjacent. It's easy (and fair) to complain about the Fringe but it's on people like me, who have been treated so well by it, to start building drawbridges for the next lot. This is a start. Thank you!

‘Is drawbridges what I meant, is that a good analogy? Well. You get the idea. OK, as I say: THANKS, OFF YOU GO.)

... Click Here For Article


50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

July 28, 2022   Chortle

Article about Olaf Falafel: STOAT

50 Edinburgh shows picked by a true comedy lover

A bit of a change for our Edinburgh preview feature today. Rather than based on any theme, these are 50 shows chosen by comedy connoisseur Corry Shaw.

In a long career in the industry, she worked for Chortle, tour promoters and agents Gag Reflex, and the Stand and Komedia comedy clubs – and was one of the organisational powerhouses behind Mark Watson’s marathon shows.

However, illness forced her to retire from the business she loved a few years ago, and has left her unable to attend the Fringe this year. Yesterday she posted this list of 50 shows on Twitter as what she would have seen, were she able to make it Edinburgh.

’This list isn’t exhaustive and I’ve almost definitely missed people off,’ she said. ‘Blame it on my damaged brain, not on the quality of their show. Please go and see as many shows as you can of people you’ve never heard of. Support live comedy.’

Watson then took up the baton and asked his fans to fill this schedule – and vowed that for the first ticket bought to each show on the list he and his partner Lianne Coop would match the price with a donation to a new fund to help build a fairer, more widely accessible Fringe.

Most of the shows have now been claimed but a few have not. If you want to help complete the list, check tinyurl.com/corry50 and buy a ticket for one of the unclaimed shows. Put your name down and tweet @watsoncomedian a picture with your confirmation.

Watson tweeted: 'The emotional side of this for me is: Corry are I are famously like THIS (closeness gesture), met at Fringe, it was our playground, and comedy is her oxygen (not literally).

‘For her to be too sick to go is heartbreaking. This is a way of her Fringing vicariously and in the process starting to build a financial bedrock which will help the two things she cares about most (other than cheese): access/equality, and the health of the comedy ecosystem in general. The fund will soon have its own proper donations page. But this is a "loosener".

‘So, please get involved and also share this, if you are comedy-involved-or-adjacent. It's easy (and fair) to complain about the Fringe but it's on people like me, who have been treated so well by it, to start building drawbridges for the next lot. This is a start. Thank you!

‘Is drawbridges what I meant, is that a good analogy? Well. You get the idea. OK, as I say: THANKS, OFF YOU GO.)

... Click Here For Article


Review: Experiment Human, The Cockpit

July 21, 2022    Everything Theatre

Review of Experiment Human

Review: Experiment Human, The Cockpit

This surreal, quirky and at times bonkers show from Hooky Productions uses impressive comedy and outstanding physical performances to break down complex questions of what it means to be human.

Musician Natalie Russo starts the evening off by letting us know that this a relaxed performance and that we are free to leave or move around at any time. She then reveals that the show will be starting…now.

A body is seen on stage, and we’re led to believe that it is actor Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s a story about how he got there and what has happened since, and this is told by two Monkien. The Monkien (he/they) are non-human creatures that live in the attic. They don’t have family and often seem grumpy. What Monkien do have, however, is an interest in what makes us human, and a little bit of an obsession about their new friend/pet, Benedict Cumberbatch.

The lighting design by Lilli Fisher is extremely clear and effective, moving us along to different areas of the story, and there is obvious differentiation from when the audience are being spoken to or being directly involved. Audience participation is key to this show, and although I’m sure some may have felt uncomfortable at times, it is always a safe humorous environment. Most importantly, the intentions of the actors are consistently clear.

With the play being so surreal and highly subjective with its content and meaning, there are still things about it that I am trying to work out. Yes the play is hugely unpredictable, but it’s very funny too. It certainly makes you think as well as laugh. The jokes on the night landed well. More credit is due as the audience had such a wide age range, yet everyone was enjoying themselves; in terms of the humour, there was something for everyone.

The text was clever, allowing us to be laughing one moment and then thinking about complex problems regarding the human species as a whole the next.

The two central performances from Maya Hallpike and Rosa Thomas are outstanding. These characters demand so much both physically and vocally and the actors deliver. They exude confidence and skill, while joined on stage throughout by Russo who plays violin well, yet mirrors the off-beat and uneasy vibe the actors set.

This was the show’s first night at The Cockpit, the first two being cancelled due to the extreme weather (global warming is real!), although you wouldn’t have thought it. The production was composed and certainly hit the ground running.

Experiment Human is an extremely well made, bold, unique, surreal comedy that explores the things that make us human, and what makes us happy. The team holding it up are incredible and the central performances extremely admirable.

Written by: Maya Hallpike and Rosa Thomas
Produced by: Hooky Productions
Light design by: Lilli Fisher

Experiment Human has completed its London run. It will play at EdFringe throughout August. More information can be found here. Click Here For Review


Interview

July 14, 2022   On The Mic

Article about Ben Miller's Stand-Up Science

Interview

Please tell me about your 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, Ben Miller’s Stand-Up Science

Thank you for asking politely, it’s a multimedia comedy show about science! I use personal stories on topics ranging from milk to thermodynamics to my musculoskeletal condition as jumping off points for comedic and scientific exploration. I also have a PowerPoint going on in the background if you get sick of looking at my face.



What is the attraction of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe?

I’m hoping to grow as a comedian and performer, but also grow another inch (2.5 cm) so I can finally be taller than my older brother. In space, your spine grows up to 3 inches (7.5 cm), but Edinburgh seemed like the easier option. I’ve never been to Edinburgh, but the pictures look nice, and the rent was so affordable, how could I resist? I am genuinely looking forward to going though!



Who inspires you?

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin because he accidentally left his petri dishes out in the lab over holiday and found that mold had grown in them. He won the Nobel Prize for being too lazy to clean his dishes. Similarly, I’m hoping that one day I can just leave a notebook out and come back to it and find that the perfect joke has spontaneously grown. And then I’ll get a Netflix special, the Nobel Prize of comedy. Just like Alexander Fleming, I’m trying to work smarter not harder.



Are there other shows you want to check out during the Fringe? What are they?

Yes, I only have 3,284 shows on my list! The 3,285th show knows what it’s done. I’m excited to see lots of NYC comics like Joey Rinaldi, Kylie Vincent, Anthony DeVito, so many more. Also, there are so many wonderful comedians that I’ve seen online, but never in person like Stewart Lee. Probably some stuff that isn’t comedy. I’ve heard they have things other than comedy shows at the Fringe.



Finally, ask and answer a question of your own.

What’s it like to be answering the last question of this interview?

First of all, great question. Whoever wrote the question probably knows lots of cool science facts and is way taller than his older brother despite what the results are when they stand back-to-back. I guess it’s bittersweet to answer the last question. We’ve learned and grown so much since the start of this interview, even though it’s over I think some part of this interview will be with me forever. We are all made of star dust, and someday stars will be made from the dust of this interview. Click Here For Article


Morecambe Fringe Festival Relaunches

July 11, 2022    Lancaster Guardian

Review of Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

Morecambe Fringe Festival Relaunches

She! Immortal horror Queen's guide to Life/Charmian Hughes

You are met with a warm smile as soon as she enters the stage, emitting a lovely stage presence which automatically keeps the audience engaged. Mrs. Huges uses her charming and quick-witted sense of humour to recall her past experiences growing up. Although some parts I was too young to fully understand the references to, I was still vastly enjoying her crude jokes and excellent comedic timing. I was laughing from beginning to end, a smile not once leaving my face for the duration of her performance. She was very attentive to the audience, ensuring they all felt involved. Mrs. Huges is a woman of many talents, such as her delightful voice acting when performing her bit with the colossal squid. A truly iconic part of her performance.

4/5

Morgan Logan. Click Here For Review


A Digital Pint with… Charmian Hughes, the Immortal Horror Queen turned Life Coach at Edfringe 2022

June 10, 2022   Binge Fringe Magazine

Article about Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

A Digital Pint with… Charmian Hughes, the Immortal Horror Queen turned Life Coach at Edfringe 2022

Ever had a life coaching session inspired by the mysterious, murderous (but quite literally voiceless) Queen in the 1965 fantasy adventure flick ‘She‘? Today we’re joined by Charmian Hughes for a binarised beverage in the Binge Fringe Pub. Charmian is bringing her experiences with femininity, first loves, failed relationships and a colossal squid to EdFringe 2022 in her new stand-up show She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life. Let’s dive right into our chat!

Jake: Hi Charmian, you’ve mentioned that the impetus of your show starts way back with you seeing a mysterious and murderous queen in the Hammer Horror film ‘She’ – tell us about your experience and your relationship with Ursula Andress.

Charmian: As kids, we’re so impressionable; and films we thought amazing then, we’d find ridiculous now..and maybe that’s the same with relationships.

So when I was 8 I saw a Hammer Horror film called ‘She’ and thought it was the most frightening thing ever. Basically, x-bond girl Ursula Andress, the sexiest woman on the planet, plays ‘She’, an immortal mysterious gorgeous queen of a lost kingdom somewhere in Africa that gets discovered by some British explorers. One of them turns out to be the reincarnation of her dead love – she has been awaiting his return across the centuries! So that’s a lucky coincidence.

‘She’ is a proper evil cow, but she gets away with everything because everyone fancies her- a bit like my beautiful older sister. Also she is two thousand years old, and at the end of the film she becomes her real age, starts wrinkling and greying in front of our eyes, shrivelling, grimacing and ending up a skeleton then a pile of ash. I was terrified!!

But that wasn’t the scariest bit! The scariest bit was that this beautiful woman with all that power and immortality should waste it longing for her old boyfriend to come back.

In parallel, Ursula Andress had everything: beauty, intelligence and a great film career. But she wasn’t allowed to use her real voice in the films ‘She’ or in ‘Doctor No’. She was dubbed as it was too German sounding and bossy! She literally had no voice.

So, There’s no point being jealous of people who seem to have it all. Sometimes when it comes to real personal power, we already have it all.

Jake: In your show you run into “that old boyfriend” – how did you find extracting the humour from that situation and how does it link back to your younger self coming to understand her feminine/feminist identity?

Charmian: You never forget your first horror film and you never forget your first love and the two can get confused.

We comedians turn trauma and shame into laughs. We’ve all fantasised about running into old loves, looking our best so they regret us forever.

The reality is we bump into them when we don’t expect to, popping to the shop in the middle of dyeing our hair, plastic bag on our head and red gunk dripping down our forehead.

Then a lightbulb moment shows us the strong, interesting individual we are now would not have been happy with that first love and that if we had stayed with them we would not be the strong person we are today!

Jake: You’ve been described as “a mad aunt on acid”, what’s your comedy style and what can the audience expect?

Charmian: I am an older person myself now after over thirty years in stand -up, and I wear my age with pride. I started my performing life in clowning all those years ago, and that expressive eccentric physical essence is still in me. I want to be dignified and sophisticated but I can’t stop gurning. I want to have fun on stage and share that with my audience so they have fun too.

Jake: The show is a self-described “immortal horror queen’s guide to life” – are you willing to share a nugget of wisdom with us?

Charmian: Yes! Being dumped by your first boyfriend shouldn’t define your life and if you are an immortal goddess use that time to have fun and learn! Don’t waste it in what-could-have-beens.

Also you will get away with everything if you are an old person.

Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Fringe season, what are you most excited for?

Charmian: We’ve all been shut in for too long. I can’t wait to get to Edinburgh and perform a solo show again. I can’t wait to see loads of shows and share a flat with other performers.

Jake: Where in all this does the Colossal Squid come in?

Charmian: In 2020 I went to New Zealand to perform at their festival. I was sucked into their lockdown after just two performances! I still managed to visit the museum in Wellington and see their most famous exhibit, The Colossal Squid, (deceased) the largest non vertebrate animal on Earth and the only captured specimen. Like our memories of First Love and like the immortal Queen in ‘She’. The Colossal Squid is trapped in a moment in time. Can I break her out and let her move on?!

Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life lands at EdFringe 2022 between August 4th and 14th, then again between the 16th and 28th at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House: The Attic. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.

Jake Mace
Jake Mace
Our Editor-in-Chief, Jake is a theatremaker and playwright interested in political theatre, new writing, comedy and international theatre. Jake has a particular interest in the post-Soviet space, Queer performance, British grassroots politics and Scottish new writing. They started their Fringe journey in 2018 and is an avid festival-goer. Their favourite drink is an IPA – no hops held back.



 Click Here For Article


FRINGE REVIEW: (A)Sexy and I Know It

May 10, 2022   GScene Magazine

Article about Eliott Simpson: (A)sexy and I Know it

FRINGE REVIEW: (A)Sexy and I Know It

In sharp purple suit with frilly cuffs, Brighton Fringe comedian Eliott Simpson tells us right off : “let’s get one thing straight: I’m not”. And Eliott is of course an anagram for toilet, so prepare for lots of excruciating dick jokes in this quick fire hour, with more one-liners than he or we can count.

Oh and he’s also autistic, which accounts for some of the frenzy in his non-stop performance. But Eliott has a serious mission- to educate us about the nature of asexuality – both what it is and what it isn’t, and to maybe make the world more tolerant to this group which he says are too small to be a recognised minority.

Asexuality, he asserts, is like being Gay, but not as fashionable, going on to add: “an asexual comic is a gap in the market but not one you can fill”. His bedroom fantasy is getting 8 hours of sleep, and he also points out that if we don’t laugh at his autism, it’s a hate crime. And it’s a hate crime if we do laugh.

I’m guessing by now you’ve picked up on Eliott’s technique – to self-deprecate but also explain why. As he says: “I sometimes go on Pornhub just to admire the wallpaper”.


And he points out that you can’t really come out as asexual, pondering whether asexuality – the lack of interest in sexual activity – is proper sexuality at all. “It’s not a low sex drive- it’s just that I don’t care,” he tells us. But he adds that globally 78 million identify with it – making them truly the 1 per cent.

But it’s within the safety net of sarcasm that Eliott’s show works best: “pornography gives you an unhealthy expectation of how quickly a plumber will come to your house”, he says. And he wonders if the name of the nature should be changed to “ shagnostic”

But in the end he gives us – appropriately – a serious anti-climax: “ we are a real community. We are real people and we don’t need to be fixed”.

Eliott’s show had a very short run at the Walrus in Ship Street. Click Here For Article


Depression, love and diarrhoea: Meet Moni Zhang, the stand-up comic from Wuhan

May 6, 2022   Euronews

Article about Moni Zhang: Child from Wuhan – Pay What You Can

Depression, love and diarrhoea: Meet Moni Zhang, the stand-up comic from Wuhan

“Depression got me into comedy!” Moni Zhang proclaims with a huge smile.



Originally from China, the 32-year-old is now a full-fledged comedian in Berlin having quit her job last year as an analyst for a tech company.



The comedy spark dates back to 2018. While Zhang was in the throes of a deep depression and on medication, she went to see a comedy show and discovered the world of stand-up.



“I didn’t know what it was and then I went back and started to do it - I spoke about my experiences,” she says. “For my first show, I got five of my European male friends to sit in front and I basically roasted each of them. I felt on top of the world and then, I wanted to do it again and again and again.”



It’s been a speedy rise from beginner to comedy regular. This year, Zhang began a short circuit across Europe with shows in Germany, Spain and Brighton, performing 'Child from Wuhan', her one-woman comedy show.



This summer, she’ll be at the Edinburgh Fringe, Aug 4-28 with ‘Child From Wuhan’ at The Free Sisters and with the Anxiety & Depression Comedy Game Show at The City Café.



Half comedy, half tragedy



Zhang's set is a dramatic and comedic performance that starts with the strange reactions she gets as a Chinese person in Europe. Zhang first moved to Europe to study in the Netherlands for four years before moving to Berlin in 2016.



Then, the set takes a sharp turn into the dark parts of her childhood in Wuhan, a city that leapt into the spotlight in 2020 as the place the COVID-19 pandemic was first identified.



“I make fun of Dutch food a lot because the food is so bad, coming from Asia. I have Dutch people at my shows and they like the jokes,” says Zhang. Poking at European sensibilities was a major part of her earlier shows.



“I grew up in a sweatshop in poverty and moved to Germany for a better life only to discover gluten can kill me! This gluten allergy is the most white disease,” Zhang intones in one of her YouTube videos from earlier days.



Since then, the show has morphed into something deeper - a polished storytelling performance.



“During the pandemic I was doing Zoom comedy and stand-up doesn’t work well on that, so, I started to host a storytelling show online every two weeks and encouraged people to contribute. During this, I stumbled into a story about my childhood.”



In October of 2020, she heard about World Mental Health Day and wondered if it could be the impetus for a festival about depression. She posted her ideas on several Facebook groups and connected with other comedians.



In November 2021, she launched the 10-day Berlin Mental Health Festival which included storytelling shows, a panel on suicide prevention, a photographic exhibit, and a stand-up show for parents.



“I had no budget, it was all crowd-sourced. Everyone volunteered. A comedy club offered itself as a venue,” Zhang enthuses. “It was there that I told this Wuhan story in front of an audience for the first time. And then, magic happened. The audience was clapping for a long time and the club manager said, ‘You had a standing ovation, Moni!’”



After that, Zhang had to figure out how to fold her childhood trauma into a full comedy show. She holed up in her Berlin apartment for two weeks and the result was ‘Child From Wuhan’: “I have a really sad story and created something funny around it.”



Zhang delves into the Berlin dating scene, riffs about her pet and having diarrhoea before she transports the audience to Wuhan.



There are evocative descriptions of Wuhan and its famous noodle dish. It's a visceral account that blasts away the city’s COVID 19 connection.



Then, as if a light is turned off, she describes a brutal childhood - the only child of a single mother who walks with a limp and works in a sweatshop. The hours spent studying, the bullying, and the punishments meted out by her mother. The room goes quiet.



Touching audiences



“The show is a powerful mix of strong emotions and humour,” recalls Brenda Penante, a Brazilian who caught the show in March. “I found it particularly touching how she talked about the complex relationship with her mother…it made my heart tremble. I remember thinking ‘this was so much more than a comedy show.’”



Finally, Zhang artfully brings the audience back to the present where she has faced her demons, what the diarrhoea actually taught her, how therapy has re-adjusted her lens on her past, and how she discovered an inner resilience and love that had been missing for so long.



“I find it touching when female audience members, especially Asian ones, tell me they can relate to this, but they didn’t have the words to summarise their experience. It gives them inspiration about their past and their relationships with their family.”



László Czöndör, a Hungarian living in Berlin, caught the show in January and then returned with his sister to see it again.



“Her life story evoked deep emotion. She always knew the correct time when to lighten the mood with a punchline,” describes Czöndör, adding that he hopes to bring his other sister to see the show, for a third time. “I liked how she taught us about règānmiàn, a traditional Wuhanese food and how to order it. And of course, her story, her dog, and [the concept of a wise teacher] Shīfù – I still have goosebumps to this day.”



Both Penante and Czöndör reached out to Zhang to tell her how they felt. It’s these kinds of interactions that spurred her to do a weekly podcast about depression and the struggles of life, interviewing fellow comedians about their challenges.



“The worst thing about depression is that you believe you’re the only person suffering and when you hear stories from others, you don’t feel alone. It is comforting.”



Comedy is a coming out for Zhang: “I was used to hiding. I was so ashamed of who I was. In Europe, I encounter lots of Europeans or Chinese who are middle-class or upper-class. I felt I was living in a cage, that no-one knows who I really am.”



Family values



For Zhang, the most important person she needed to be open with was her mother - the person towards whom she had felt intensely antagonistic.



Capturing the 2019 Berlin Comedy Newcomer Award was a personal triumph. For a long time, Zhang’s mother didn’t understand what stand-up was and couldn't get her head round the fact Zhang wasn’t getting paid for it.



“I told her I entered a competition against 50 comedians, most of them native English speakers and from the Western world, and I won. I asked her, ‘Now, can you believe that I’m talented?!’



Her answer? "Okay, yes."



“Typical Asian mom answer,” laughs Zhang.



As Zhang herself has changed and so has her mother: “She once gave me a long speech after I asked if she’s proud of me. She said she’s so proud of me, her whole life she gave to me and now I give her purpose in life.”



“I name the show ‘Child From Wuhan’ because it’s the story of a child, her experiences. I’m making peace with her.”

 Click Here For Article


Audience feedback from 23rd April showcase

April 23, 2022   

Article about Apradhini - Women without Men

Audience feedback from 23rd April showcase

 Click Here For Article


Life's A Drag Review

April 6, 2022    Broadway World

Review of Life's A Drag

Life's A Drag Review

Following a successful 2021 run but with more of an amazing life to explore, Dean Misdale returns to Perth Fringe Festival with LIFE'S A DRAG: THE SEQUEL. Ever wanted to know how one of Perth's premier drag queens got to where they are? Prepare to find out in an entertaining and honest hour of anecdotes and matching songs.

As is normal for any of Misdale's shows, there is no warm-up or easing into it. They burst onto the stage and, after their first song, you are immediately taken into a hilarious anecdote of Misdale's early life. The story is honest and deeply personal, matched with a song that suits the anecdote. You may know Misdale's wonderful singing voice already but by prefacing each song with a story from their life allows the audience to explore and understand the feeling Misdale puts into each song. Over the course of the night, you find out a great deal about Misdale's personal journey to coming out, losing weight, and moving to Perth and discovering and becoming a part of the drag scene, told openly and honestly.

The songs are a wonderful journey from drag queen staples, songs that match the mood, and humourous reworkings, with a particular treat being a reworking of My Way that documents Misdale's troubled relationship with food in years gone by. Whilst each story is punctuated heavily with humour, there is room for a touching moment where Misdale speaks of their relationship with their mother and sings a tribute song. Misdale also touches on life, relationships, and being a pin-up for the vaccination campaign.

LIFE'S A DRAG: THE SEQUEL is unflinchingly honest, perfectly heartwarming, and hilarious, all in perfect balance. At times the connection is so genuine that Misdale's singing seems a nice treat rather than the bulk of the show. Whether you arrive as a fan/stalker of Misdale or as someone unfamiliar with their past and their body of work, you'll leave knowing a great deal more about them, and with a smile on your face. Click Here For Review


Factually Inaccurate #6: Athena Kugblenu, Monica Gaga, Suchandrika Chakrabarti, Dan Willis, and Charlie Vero-Martin

November 17, 2021   Factually Inaccurate Stand Up

Factually Inaccurate #6: Athena Kugblenu, Monica Gaga, Suchandrika Chakrabarti, Dan Willis, and Charlie Vero-Martin

Dan’s timing… [when interacting with his own recorded voice] … was impeccable; a high-tightrope act, because if you f*ck up once, the whole thing would unravel like a ball of comedy yarn. He did not f*ck up. He nailed it.

Factually Inaccurate Stand Up
 Click Here For Article


At Home with Miss Angela Bra

September 2, 2021    North West End

Review of Angela Bra: Life Lessons

At Home with Miss Angela Bra

“Do you have the socials?” an unsuspecting punter is asked. No, not some new contagion to be wary of, simply a way of finding out if the audience prefers Tik-Tok or Facebook.

Miss Angela Bra (better known as Andy Quirk) is busy holding court on life as a part-time musical teacher, rising social media star, and owner of two cats – Pinot and Grigio – treating us to her very own brand of banter, singing and occasional costume changes.

As with many drag-based acts, the success of these can live and die with the audience interaction and whilst Miss Angela (the full name pronounced like ‘Candelebra’ and just as classy she tells us) does her best with the small but warmly appreciative audience.

You can’t help but wonder though how the act could develop if unleashed on a slightly rowdier crowd where more acid-tongued barbs could be let loose to full effect. (“Don’t get too smug” she tells one couple smiling at the audience’s applause for their 20th anniversary milestone, “we were celebrating four weeks at the last show”).

Instead, we have a friendlier, cleaner whistle-stop tour through songs on Alpha males, shopping at Lidl, yellow discount stickers and hand-sanitiser use amongst others. The lyrics are clever, the singing occasionally off-kilter and the delivery falls somewhere between monologue and stand-up in a way that doesn’t quite hit the mark. A little tightening up could allow the funnier lines of the show to get the recognition they deserve.

But with plenty of audience participation, including Angela’s own amusing take on musical statues, it all in good fun and you won’t begrudge the hour spent in her company. Click Here For Review


At Home With Miss Angela Bra

August 24, 2021    Lou Reviews

Review of Angela Bra: Life Lessons

At Home With Miss Angela Bra

Spending an hour on Zoom in the company of Miss ‘Angela Bra’ (rhymes with candelabra), the alter ego of Andy Quirk, is a lot of fun.

As a family were present on the Zoom call, Angela may have been a little cleaner than at her 18+ Bonkers Bingo shows, but her songs, games and patter are wholly professional.

With the odd joke inducing groan-infused laughter (a tale of a sapling and oak’s punchline being a particular case in point), the topics in this At Home were wide-ranging.

It is inevitable that any comedy turn these days has to mention Covid, and a song about hand sanitizer got this out of the way quick so we could move on to non-lockdown matters.
Promotional image for At Home With Angela Bra

Any woman aged forty worth her salt can chat for England about exes, exercise, social media presence, self image, value shopping, takeaways and Zooming, and Angela doesn’t disappoint on any of these topics.

The audience doesn’t get to sit on their laurels, either, as games and dancing are encouraged. It’s a method that works well for a live Zoom just the same as a club stage, and Angela is more of a warm friend down the pub than a spiky drag act.

Based now in the North of England, Quirk has got the sense of the women of the area spot on, and pitches Angela in the yellow sticker shopper (try saying that in a hurry!) and cat-owning part-time teacher pigeonhole perfectly. Click Here For Review


At Home With Miss Angela Bra

August 5, 2021    Chortle

Review of Angela Bra: Life Lessons

At Home With Miss Angela Bra

This is a show about ‘being yourself, apparently. Although – irony aside for a performance conducted in character – that’s just a throwaway line to try to imbue the hour with some importance that it never really seeks to have. Rather, it’s all jolly but trivial nonsense: cheesy puns, song parodies and ‘join-in-at-the-back’ participation.

Angela Bra – ‘pronounced like Candelabra and is equally classy’, we’re told, amusingly – is a singer/songwriter, social media addict and part-time primary school music teacher from Essex. Not that any of those characteristics are particularly developed, but they offer the backdrop for a gag or two – and an excuse to crack out a recorder for one of the numbers.

She takes us through life in lockdown, with observations and songs (some original) about taking up exercising - or failing to - glitchy Zoom meetings and online shopping. Nothing particularly original, but Angela, the alter-ego of comic Andy Quirk, conveys it all with the upbeat spirit of a cruise ship party organiser. And some of the wordplay is enjoyably convoluted in a ‘dad joke’ way - which she sells well.

It’s a cheerily endearing persona, and she will get you taking part, whatever your initial reluctance. Like the rewritten hits that feature prominently (eg, Stuck In The Lidl With You) she – and indeed the whole show – is crowd-pleasing but a little basic.

Those limitations become more exposed the deeper into the hour we plunge. The songs, especially, are samey as the electro-beat of a pre-programmed keyboard does not make for much variety. And we’d like to get to know the character better than the shallow references to her life allow. For that reason, contrasting herself with her strait-laced, responsible brother proves one of the better ideas as it fleshes out her persona just that little bit more.

So as it stands, although there’s plenty of jollity here, this Bra has too much padding. Click Here For Review


She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide ....

July 21, 2021   Buxton Fringe Review

Article about Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide ....

CHARMIAN HUGHES: SHE! IMMORTAL HORROR QUEEN'S GUIDE - Charmian Hughes

I have very strong memories of watching the film, She – Hammer Horror’s foray into derring-do adventure – on TV one Saturday afternoon in the 70s. It featured the reassuring presence of Bernard Cribbins amongst the cast, as well as Peter Cushing and the impossibly glamorous Ursula Andress. It made quite an impression.

Not as much of an impression as it made on the 8-year-old Charmian Hughes when her teenage sister took her on an illicit cinema trip to see it. It made such an impression that she has based her latest comedy show around it.

The plot of She revolves around a virtually immortal queen (She Who Must Be Obeyed) who has spent the last 2000 years searching for the reincarnation of her lost love. Charmian uses this as the jumping-off point to talk about looking up ex-boyfriends, having a younger husband (only 8 years, not 2000, but still …) and feeling a connection with the Colossal Squid she encountered in a New Zealand museum.

Charmian’s show is full of nice detail for anyone of a certain age (such as duvets being referred to as ‘continental quilts’), the jokes and anecdotes come thick and fast and she has a good rapport with her audience. She also, gamely in the heat of a Buxton summer, wears two dresses simultaneously – something even the all-powerful She might not have the courage to attempt.

Robbie Carnegie Click Here For Article


An Evil Immortal Controlled My Life

June 6, 2021   Beyond The Joke

Article about Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

An Evil Immortal Controlled My Life

When I was a kid, I saw a terrifying Hammer horror film about an immortal evil beautiful white queen of a lost African kingdom. In petrifying hissy fits, she throws screaming love rivals down bottomless pits of fire. In the nightmare finale she shrivels to her real age of two thousand years old in front of her horrified young lover. Gross!

The film was called ‘She’. It starred 29-year-old Bond Girl Ursula Andress as the two-thousand-year-old temptress, John Richardson as the posho sap who pursues her, and Peter Cushing as the voice of common sense in the madness of her irresistible beauty.

Her irresistible beauty drove me mad too: She got away with everything! She was loved and worshipped because she was gorgeous- people fancied her even as they tumbled to their fiery deaths.

Yet I, a plainer mortal, always got blamed for the slightest thing! It was so unfair.

Worse! This ‘She’ person wasted her gifts. She could have been so happy without killing people. ‘She’ had everything! Brains! Beauty! Riches! Queenly Power. But her greatest gift was her immortal life. ‘She’ had infinite choice!

But she wasn’t interested! All she wanted was a boyfriend, preferably the one she had chucked two thousand years before. And by chucked, I mean stabbed to death in a jealous rage. Thank goodness for
Reincarnation!

‘She’ spent her immortality just moping around till he turned up again in a new bod.

But while I hated her, her values secretly drip fed into my very soul, much like an ‘’influencer’’ of today.

But I don’t think Kim Kardashian would recommend making Jealousy, Obsession and Revenge your motivational forces. Or setting men deadly quests to make them fancy you. Which became my signature copping-off technique at 17.

The film ‘’She’’ was released in 1965, the middle of a decade of massive British cultural convulsions: Christine Keeler brought down the Tory government (with her irresistible beauty); we were beginning to hear about Women’s Lib in the mainstream, and Britain lost the last of its colonies.

But the 1965 film was based on H Rider Haggard’s book – written in 1887 when Empire and Patriarchy reigned supreme.

And the message was the same - Look what happens when women have power- - their hormones will destroy the world. Or Like Lord Byron said – ‘’Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence’’. . Yuk!

But here am I - in my grown up wisdomness. So lucky to be born into the modern age where women can experience freedom and have real choices about who we love and how we work. I want to be a good person, a fair person, a reasonable person.

How can a monster like ‘’She’’ have any influence on me now? Well, running into my first-ever boyfriend for the first time in over 40 years was enough to trigger the sleeping ‘’SHE protocols’’.

And to remember the rules of ‘She’
- You NEVER forget your first love.
- You certainly never forgive them!
- Better to torture yourself over what might have been instead of seeing the wonder of the life you have built.

But what really happened and what will happen next? Click Here For Article


Kate Copstick: Brief return of live comedy is a reminder that online shows are no substitute

June 6, 2021   Scotsman

Article about Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Life

Kate Copstick: Brief return of live comedy is a reminder that online shows are no substitute

I have plans to watch the adorable (apologies if that sounds patronising, but it is the adjective which eternally springs to mind) Charmian Hughes in her 2020 offering She, part of the Free Festival’s online programme. The combination of this diminutive, delightful lady comic and Rider Haggard’s legendary, merciless temptress is almost as irresistible as Ayesha was herself. But the great charm of Charmian is the woman herself, in warmly personable person. So I shall save myself and see her in the flesh. She currently tops my list for Fringe . Click Here For Article


REVIEW: Sketch Up!

February 4, 2021    The Phoenix Remix

Review of Sketch Up!

REVIEW: Sketch Up!

Instead of old man yells at cloud, this review starts with young-ish man shakes fist at Covid. These sketches, the work of Sheffield based Rachel E. Thorn and produced by Melanie Crawley and Gerard Fletcher were to be performed this month at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and it sure would have been fun to go see them in action.

For fairly obvious reasons, this will not be happening now, so Sketch Up! have stuck a bumper 45 sketches up online (peformed by Rachel E. Thorn, Melanie Crawley, Gerard Fletcher, Rowe David McClelland, Ali Mylon, Letty Butler) for you to enjoy at your leisure, perhaps while in the bath or building an elaborate cardboard maze for your hamster and / or toddler.

Rachel said in a pre-festival interview in these pages that these sketches are non-satirical, and make zero reference to Covid or politics.

It is indeed a delight to hear ludicrous civil service interviews, Enid Blyton characters sending lashes of texts from the beach, and the idiocy of door-to-door fairytale Princes without thinking about face masks, hand sanitiser, or the incompetence of Boris Johnson.

But everything is at least a bit political; the former, for instance, is a fairly brutal takedown of that middle class staple the fast track career interview. Lines like “You live in a shared house with people you don’t like in Clapham” are both funny and a fairly savage takedown of the banality of ambition and the invisible rails that guide privileged or otherwise lives.

My favourite sketches here were the ones with a bit of bite, and those telling little moments of despair amid the well observed parodies of fairy tales and ancient children’s’ fiction. So a Dad’s reassurance that there are no monsters under the bed somehow descending into explaining how a furtive morning wank in the shower is now his only source of joy, or mother bear and daddy bear discussing their porridge and suspiciously young girl problems at marriage guidance counselling, give these deceptively simple sketches a salty undercurrent.

Just as with all good sketches, these all settle into their premises quickly and escalate with satisfying pace. The punchlines can be hit and miss, as with all comedy ever, but there’s enough bubbling away here for that not to be a problem. I particularly enjoyed the Weatherman sketch, which starts off as a simple list exercise but heads off on weird and wordy winds, and the repeated mining of the absurdity of pregnancy, childbirth and marriage.

There’s also a lot of fun being had here with the banality of small talk: these characters are frequently taking things very literally indeed, with some fairly dark and at times jarring consequences.

If you were the sort of person to take sketches far too seriously – and take it from me, don’t be that person, you’ll never get invited to any good parties – there’s a fairly decent critique of late capitalist heteronormativity amid the doomed engagements and pretentiously worded gastro pub menus.

But! Pretend I didn’t say that. Instead, please enjoy these sketches with as much or as little politics as you like, perhaps with a class of mid-price Merlot, and your headphones on so as to block out the noise of those infuriating Clapham housemates.

Rating: **** 4 stars Click Here For Review


REVIEW: Ashley Haden: F*ck You and F*ck Your Beliefs

August 2, 2019    Radio Haha

Review of Ashley Haden: On The Outside Pissing In

REVIEW: Ashley Haden: F*ck You and F*ck Your Beliefs

Attacking politics from an angsty angle runs the risk of being divisive to an audience. Performers like Frankie Boyle highlight the risk of becoming comedy marmite; people either hate you or love you. Thankfully Ashley, although still quite aggressive, has found the sweet spot of being able to say how fucked off he is with everything and why it’s everyone else’s fault but his.

Following the success of the ‘Cunting’ trilogy’ where Haden explains how everything is fucked; this side-splitting show is Ashley appearing to reach his breaking point as no-one did anything afterwards – and now the world is completely fucked.

‘Fuck you and Fuck your beliefs’ is the hidden dark gem at the Free Fringe. Ashley’s well-informed knowledge of various issues means he’s able to craft eye-opening jokes. Whether it’s about anti-vaccinators, the royal family or politics both home and abroad – expect jaw dropping and spectacularly shocking comments. No one is safe from Haden’s cutting sense of humour. If you’re not laughing, you’re definitely learning.

This show is definitely not one for the faint-hearted. Click Here For Review


Stand Up, Weather Girl!

June 3, 2018    The Voice

Review of Stand Up, Weather Girl!

Stand Up, Weather Girl!

 Click Here For Review