The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “Laughing Horse Free Comedy Festival”

Dharmander Singh

The show’s full title: Dharmander Singh from Bollywood and Birmingham to Berlin and Brexit is clarified pretty early on in the proceedings. Dharmander shares a name with a Bollywood actor; he originally comes from Birmingham (although he doesn’t have to explain that one – the accent rather gives it away); he now lives in Berlin so obviously Brexit will be mentioned.

However as the show isn’t overtly political the Brexit element is quite low in the pecking order. This is a wise move as Dharmander (or Da – as he helpfully invites us to call him) isn’t your hectoring politico type of comedian but rather the kind who invites you into his world and introduces you to all its quirks and oddities. In Dharmander’s case this means a fair amount of culture-class comedy centering on the Berlin psyche – on one hand avante-garde and anything goes – on the other petrified when the ticket-inspectors board the train. Even if life in Germany in general – and Berlin in particular – isn’t a hot topic for you Dharmander’s mega-watt smile and brilliantly energetic style will win you over. And of course there’s the Brummie accent which adds to the cheeky chappie persona and is always good value in the comedy stakes.

Dharmander is also appearing in two other shows for the whole Fringe run. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep those energy levels up!

(review for 4 August)


Ahir Shah: Machines

Ahir Shah is definitely the youngest comedian (mid-twenties) I’ve seen so far at this year’s Fringe. It hasn’t been a conscious decision although I have stated in the past that I was getting a bit tired of pale male thirty-somethings moaning about their lives. Ahir starts off well in my book then as he only ticks one of those boxes (male). Could it be though that the movement of frustrated ‘Generation Y’s as stand-up’ is growing and could one day outnumber the older slackers who probably can’t be bothered doing it any more?

One thing you can say about the younger guys is they have bags more energy and loads to say/moan about. And so it is with Ahir Shah who bursts onto the stage all dazzling white shirt and mega confidence. His voice is cultured and a bit actorly and he strikes James Dean-like poses as he rails and rallies against ‘the machine’.

The material is excellent and I would imagine has probably been written, re-written, honed, obsessed about and re-written until something approaching perfection is reached. Subjects are basically the world, how it’s going to hell and how we are all impotent to do anything about it. The delivery is equally excellent with assured set-ups and pay-offs – Ahir playing the radical idealist in the setting up and the ineffectual middle-class leftie in the paying off (‘I like to keep my Labour Party membership beside my Waitrose card to remind me of where I come from’).

Machines comes in at just a shade over an hour which is v. rare for a one man stand-up on the Fringe (Free or otherwise). That might be my only criticism as there’s only so much railing and rallying an audience can take. Plus – for Ahir he must be exhausted – even if he’s a young guy!

(Review for 9 Aug)



Late With Lance!

LanceIt was a rainy grey Edinburgh afternoon and I wasn’t expecting to find my big glittery highlight of the Fringe so far… but I’m so glad I ‘took a chance with Lance’! I was thinking Bonnie Langford meets Alan Partridge with a large measure of Glee thrown in… I wasn’t far wrong but there was so much more…

Lance is a bit of a deluded man-child who manages to cope with past traumas – like witnessing his mother being strangled by her own feather boa mid-performance and alienation from his two gay dads – by putting them in a big sparkly bin and living his life in the eternal sunshine of an MGM musical. There’s a touch of Tennessee Williams there but also a lot of Dorothy and Gypsy Rose Lee and just about every classic character from the musicals who smiles and sings through their tears and believes that the show must always go on. Lance’s big problem however is that he’s never had the chance to get out on that stage – or ice rink – and show people what he’s got.

That’s the biggest laugh – that Lance (or rather Peter Michael Marino) has no talent. The guy has it in trailer-loads! And energy? You know the old joke about the showbiz performer who does an hour long set when they open the fridge door and the light goes on? That pretty much sums up Lance/Peter. Only instead of a kitchen think dingy room on a grey Edinburgh afternoon although I have to say our surroundings were magically transformed by Lance’s stardust (well, some charmingly home-crafted stage props).

Along with the back story the main premise is that Lance will fulfill a dream by hosting his own chat show but when his star guests don’t turn up a couple of audience members take their places. Now – frigid-Fringe-goers don’t be put off as Lance doesn’t make (too much) fun and the conversation soon turns back to his favourite subjects – himself and his celebrity idols.

The show is packed with so many good things from a very witty summing up of how to get noticed on the Fringe (say you’ve survived addiction, abuse etc) to The Sound of Music performed in five minutes. The whole back story thing is so well crafted as well with Lance even handing out his resume at the start. Like Lance the music and the comedy are unstoppable but what is perhaps the greatest joy of the show is its lovely big irrepressible heart. The end of the show distills just about every Broadway/Hollywood final moment of optimistic magic – I won’t describe it, you’ll just have to go and see…

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