Kicked off the evening with 101 Jokes in 30 Minutes. Is that possible? According to Masai Graham (17.45 @ The Jekyll & Hyde until 24th Aug) it is. However despite his promise at the start to keep count it didn’t turn out that scientific – much to the annoyance of a local dick sat in front who remonstrated at the end, oh dear… From Masai’s intro: ‘I have a Jamaican father and a Welsh mother… that makes me the black sheep of the family’ through references to Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter ending up with a joke about Rhianna and Chris Brown, you can guess… If you’re thinking this isn’t your cup of Darjeeling, Masai does give a quick warning before presenting his dodgier material letting us know that he is a nice lad and in no way racist or sexist. It probably would have been a bit slicker if he hadn’t felt the need to do that but with afternoon shows and the kind of audiences they attract – that’s got to act like a straitjacket. Give Masai a later slot with a lubricated crowd and he’ll go down a storm. So if you leave your PC sensibilities at home and maybe have a couple of pints on the way you’ll be rewarded with a good few laughs, perhaps not 101 but then I wasn’t counting…
I have to admit I didn’t have a clue what to expect with Frankenstein: Unbolted (as performed by Last Chance Saloon), guided merely by unscientific factors such as preview tickets being a pound and the long queue to get in. As it turned out it wasn’t a bad way to pass an hour. The creation goes something like this: one part Mary Shelley, one part Rocky Horror, a large dollop of pantomime mixed in with sprinkles of a Crackerjack finale and Badger-parade-era Harry Hill. As you might have guessed it’s no great intellectual exercise and it’s hardly original with comedy routines the Chuckle Brothers‘ dad might have thought twice about, along with characters transplanted from other shows (‘Rocky’ from Rocky Horror and Captain Flashheart to name two). But it’s hard to be sniffy as the action moves along at such a breakneck pace with the three-man-cast working their socks off – along with other items of clothing (that may just be an incentive for some to go along). So if you like corny, panto-like humour that’s pretty much family-friendly (there are a few expletives and a slightly raunchy dance routine) you could do worse than get yourself a ticket. The Caves, Just the Fancy Room @ 19.25 until the 24th Aug.
Later that night: The return of Toby Muresianu to the Edinburgh Fringe and this time with friends in the shape(s) of Tamer Kattan (Brando-build, American/Egyptian) and Imaan Hadchiti (tiny, Australian/Lebanese) in American Roadshow. Along with Toby (American with Romanian heritage) they’ve got a good chunk of the globe covered – it not in land mass, certainly in current political relevance!
The show kicked off with Imaan. What a bloody star! A three foot six powerhouse of talent. Needless to say his physicality is central to his act (‘hasn’t Johnny Depp lost a lot of weight?’) but there is so much more to Imaan than just being a wee guy. Politics, religion, cultural identity are all explored along with a great visual gag about confusing paedophiles by looking like a bearded kid. I won’t get into the old cliches of a small person dominating the stage… but he did actually. Imaan did around ten minutes as a guest of the Roadshow but if you don’t catch him here you must go and see him in his own show: Evolution of Imaan @ Just The Tonic at the Caves, 21.20 until 24th Aug.
Next up was Tamer. Brilliant and completely at home on the stage. From jokes about erectile dysfunction (‘I don’t worry when my foot goes to sleep… ‘) to poking fun at his own appearance (‘I look like a helpful drug-dealer’), the laugh content is high with forays into the more serious (‘God didn’t create countries’) being handled with ease, not letting the tempo drop for a second. A true comic in the classic mould – I believe Tamer may just have funny bones.
Effortless, laid back, clever but self-deprecating – Toby closed the show in his own inimitable fashion. A lot more narrative and longer set-pieces than last year when the emphasis was on one-liners, but as that kind of act seems to be more virulent this year at the Fringe than ebola full marks for taking the different route and showing how versatile he is. From the problematic mechanics of finding self-relief in a hostel shower (‘I keep dropping my laptop’) to being given a Kafkaesque run-around by UK immigration.
I guess you could say I enjoyed the show! Don’t take my word for it though – get yourselves along to The Caves – Just Up The Road, 23.20 until 24th Aug. You won’t regret it!