The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “absurdist”

Joz Norris: Hello, Goodbye

Man in a box with only head visible inviting audience to come in and sit down. Now that’s what I call absurdist silly comedy.

What follows is a quick visual introduction to the man via family album photos spilling out of the box fax-machine like. The last one is of an elderly gent. The man breaks free of the box – changes his clothes with donations from the audience. A balloon with a drawn-on face and Princess Merida auburn wig takes the man’s place in the box. The elderly gent is the grandfather; the balloon is the girlfriend and the man is Joz Norris.

There is a story involving all three with much stopping and starting, false jeopardy and going off at tangents. The story itself is not so much shaggy dog but woolly mammoth and tangents include stopping off at the Beatrix Potter museum; allowing a tiny man hand-puppet to try stand-up and getting audience ideas for a – very structured – improvisation. But somewhere within all the mayhem there’s a fragile little tale of love and loss.

There’s quite a bit of absurdist silly comedy out there – especially on The Fringe – and if it’s done with a lack of conviction you’re going to be sussed. What joy then that Joz Norris seems like the real deal. Bags of energy with a madcap style reminiscent of a young Jim Carrey – his interplay with the audience is genuine and warm. In fact – you can almost feel everyone relax as we realise Joz is a nice guy whose main aim is to give us forty-five fun-packed minutes (many shows have the intention but can’t deliver).

By the end the fragile little story – more or less – is told and Joz hands back the borrowed shirt now covered in sweat. The owner could be keeping it as a souvenir in anticipation of Joz Norris making it big. Who knows? It could very well happen.

(Review for 21 Aug)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/joz-norris-hello-goodbye

Joz Norris: Hello, Goodbye

Bob Blackman’s Tray 2

What can I say about Bob Blackman’s Tray that I haven’t said already? Furthermore how can I convince you to go and along and see them?

As ever the guys are keeping well below the radar of the thundering Fringe PR machine that propels and destroys performers in unequal measure. There are no posters, there are no flyers. The promotional pic is a silver-coloured paper plate. Of course if anyone wanted to explore further they could Google Bob Blackman and find out all about northern humour. They could then go along and see Bob Blackman’s Tray, get some more references (Charlie Drake, Roger de Courcey, Bernie Clifton) and maybe do some more research. Then they’d realise that BBT is a brilliant distillation of old time Variety shows, working-men’s clubs and classic kids’ telly. I guarantee they would laugh themselves silly as well.

The terms surreal, absurdist, anti-comedy are always bandied around during the Fringe. A lot of times it’s shorthand for ‘not funny, but we’ve got a degree and have studied Lecoq in Paris’ or some such poncy crap. Bob Blackman’s Tray can’t be doing with any of that. True – it is surreal in the way that the host of characters (played by the two guys) appear and disappear before our very eyes like apparitions from a past where times were tough and we laughed at daft things. Daft, silly, uncultured? I’ll tell you what’s uncultured – all the bland nonsense that clogs up the TV channels and rinses The Fringe of any originality. Sorry – rant over. (If you want to see a classic rant look no further than BBT’s Trevor Never still campaigning for winter in-door bowling facilities in the Kirklees area)

The bottom line is – would Bob Blackman’s Tray be something you’d like? Well – I’ve seen them a few times now and audiences have been young and old; people knowing what to expect and people who didn’t have a clue beforehand; various nationalities. We all have something in common now – we’ve all had the Bob Blackman’s Tray experience and we’ll never be the same again.

Wonderful, nostalgic, truly original and very, very funny. Get the experience.

(Review for 16 Aug)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bob-blackman-s-tray

Ed Aczel’s Foreign Policy

If I’d Googled Ed Aczel before going to his show I would have discovered he’s an anti-comedian. Not necessarily a bad thing as Count Arthur Strong also is – apparently. I have to confess I still have love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name feelings for the Count which the strangely anodyne TV series couldn’t destroy. All that obsession with the mundane and the everyday and ‘will he sodding well just get on with it?’ routine so rooted in classic northern comedy is always a winner with me.

Ed Aczel doesn’t appear to be from the north – but I won’t hold that against him. He’s an older gentlemen with more than a passing resemblance to the BBC radio presenter James Naughtie (if using a radio reference for a visual reference isn’t too anti). His style is deadpan and minutiae-obsessed.

I’m not sure if the show itself is anti-comedy. I’d say it’s more deconstructed with Ed signposting the stages of a ‘successful’ comedy routine – the set-up, interaction with the audience, some edgy bits, the uplifting finale – and taking them to levels bordering on the ridiculous (an exchange with an audience member on his shopping habits goes on for a very long time). Therein lies a serious timing issue – with people running off for trains/toilet/other shows – as the show tipped over the hour mark.

There are videos (which are good and professionally done) and pre-prepared surveys and questionnaires which are used to riff with the audience. But even with all the prep it depends on the audience on the day and whether they’ll provide good comic value (I think we were quite middling). I’d say – if you’re up for it – go along. It could fly, it could bomb – it’s up to you.

(Review for  14 Aug)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ed-aczel-s-foreign-policy

 

Olaf Falafel and the Cheese of Truth

‘So what’s this guy like, then?’ asked the Edinburgh woman of a certain age standing behind me in the queue for Olaf Falafel the other day.

‘Well, he’s a bit surreal,’ I replied.

‘What’s that, then?’

‘Erm… you know Vic and Bob?’ (blank) Or maybe – Monty Python.’ (still blank)

‘Ach well, I’ll give him a go.’

I can’t be too snooty as I’m an Edinburgh woman of a certain age myself but she was definitely a Fringe virgin. I was going to say I had seen Mr Falafel last year in Expect the Unexporcupine but thought I’d be wasting my time trying to pitch that one to her. I will however explain to you, dear reader. Expect the Unexporcupine was one of my unexpected top Fringe hits of last year. It featured Olaf along with Michael Stranney but not in a double act type of way. Instead it was a bit shambolic (I’m still not sure whether intentionally or not) and perplexed sections of the audience but if you stuck with it – it was comedy gold.

This year Olaf is all on his own and the act has tightened up considerably. There is a Powerpoint-type presentation all the way through. But before you start to groan – the material is blissfully wedded to the visuals and not just randomly tacked on to pad out the show. The reason the visuals are so good is because Olaf is a bit of a Vine video maestro who’s had over 75 million hits. But in typical deprecating style he compares this to sperm count and… I won’t spoil the punchline to this one of his (many) brilliant jokes.

There’s silliness aplenty but it’s never puerile thanks to Olaf’s lugubrious Nordic cool and bone-dry delivery. And he never gets flustered even when the video clips stall momentarily – such is his laid-back professionalism.  Oh – and there would have been no point in trying to compare him to anyone else – the guy’s unique.

So did my Edinburgh sister last to the end and thank me for the recommendation? I don’t know – it was hard to pick her out in the sea of joyous faces packing out the City Cafe downstairs room. They’re all in on the secret now – do yourself a favour and make sure you are too.

(Review for 6 Aug)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Olaf%20Falafel%20and%20the%20Cheese%20of%20Truth%22

 

 

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