Fantastic start to the Festival/Fringe – Clever Peter at The City Cafe. These guys are award-winning and have had their own show on Radio 4 (but don’t let that put you off!). Apparently their influences are Monty Python and they have been compared to League of Gentlemen. Sure enough I saw shades of the MP ‘Yorkshire-men’ sketch and LoG without the prosthetics but I was reminded more of early Channel 4-era Armstrong and Miller which is no bad thing. There’s three of them and one behind the scenes (okay – rather like League of Gentlemen… ) and the whole thing is delightfully lo-fi with a couple of wigs and basic props serving as the fairy dust. Various awkward social situations are played out – meeting prospective in-laws, travelling on the underground etiquette – and all have a satisfying and clever pay-off. Sketch shows – particularly good ones – are a rare breed on the Fringe these days, and to get this level of energetic professionalism at an afternoon free show has to be a bargain of Aldi proportions! Honestly though, these guys are so good I will definitely try to get along to their non-free show at the Pleasance – which incidentally they were hot-footing it to just as the show at the CC ended. Until the 24th August every day @ 16.15 at The City Cafe; and then at the Pleasance Courtyard @ 17.45.
Serendipity is a wonderful thing and it does happen – quite frequently I’m glad to say – on the Fringe. Walking along the Cowgate, looking for our next show, we were accosted – in the nicest possible way – by Mark Simmons; the time and the place (20.00 @ Just the Tonic, The Mash House) suited so we went along; glad we did as an hour in ‘Mr‘ Simmons company is a very satisfying one indeed. Very much in the Tim Vine mould with loads of one-liners, visual gags and a few slow burn set-pieces that resolve themselves very nicely. A bit more laid back than Mr Vine, with a gentle Kentish-lad-accented delivery and more than a passing resemblance (self-acknowledged) to Ed Sheeran, Mark has bags of star and ‘alternative-heartthrob’ potential – if the younger girls in the front row were anything to go by… So instead of staying in to watch Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy or going to see Tim Vine interview members of the audience get yourself along to see Mark Simmons do what they used to do – ie being funny, creative and engaging. You won’t regret it!
Finished the night with the totally manic Japanese Terminatol at The Free Sisters (Maggie’s Front Room @ 22.15). Energetic, sweaty and just a little bonkers – Hiroshi Shimizu has balls of steel (if not epic size – one of the stereotypes explored) doing his stand-up routine in English (admittedly he probably wouldn’t have a terribly big audience if it was in Japanese). A fascinating and breakneck journey through racial stereotypes – not just Japanese and British – using characters like Superman and Godzilla as cyphers. Well worth a view if you’re in the vicinity at the time. Hiroshi also does a mind-bogglingly early show at the same venue at 10am – moving to a 9am (!!!) slot the following week. So if you need something other than caffeine to kick-start your day – he’s your go-to-guy!