The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “Laughing Horse Free 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)



Jen Carnovale Wronger Than You

It’s spooky when life imitates art. And when it’s your own life at a particular moment in time (it’s complicated) and the art is the stand-up you’ve gone to see at that particular moment in time it’s quite mind blowing. So when Jen Carnovale started going on about a ridiculous old pervy Australian bloke she had encountered I had to laugh out loud. Especially as the bloke fitting that description (from my own particular nightmare, it’s complicated) was sitting along from me – I don’t think he was laughing at that bit…

Jen is one of the many Australian comedians at the Fringe this year. And while she gives a quick nod to the usual stereotypes that land has given us the material is more orientated to the personal. Her main job is working with troubled teens but she’s got a stack of mundane former jobs (including handing out sweets to kids hence the perv story) which she wrings every ounce of comic potential from.

Jen is playing the (big) Gothic Room at the Free Sisters and it was packed out the day I was there – and pleased to say she handled the crowd with ease. She’s got a good confident style which starts off sweetly low-key in a routine and builds to a neurotic crescendo which she just about manages to rein in. A bit like Victor Meldrew trapped inside a young Olivia Newton-John’s body! I hope that doesn’t sound too pervy but then I’m sure Jen can handle it! Good on ya, girl!

(Review for 5 Aug)


Comedy Mash

press_3995_img_002Kicked off the (Free) Fringe 2015 in style with Comedy Mash at Espionage. Our genial host for the run is Jack Gleadow. Now, in a Fringe world full of bland guys going on about junk food and shopping in Ikea you should never underestimate the gift of funny bones which usually means having an expressive face which looks – you know – funny. So Jack – I’m sure you’ll take it as a compliment when I say you have funny bones. Adding to that a slight air of Norman Wisdom or a northern comic from yesteryear with his flat cap and waistcoat – the guy makes an effort which is always appreciated. His humour is well pitched for the time of the day with jokes about being sponsored by Morrison’s (potatoes, mash… ) with an easy going style essential for hosting duties. I was there on the first day of the run (6 August) and call it luck or serendipity but nearly all the acts were from the north (of England) with Hull, Stoke, Leeds and Salford being represented (Peterborough was the southern most point).

Call me biased but give me a northern accent and I’m half way to comedy satisfaction. Good quality from everyone but for me standouts were Jo Darcy with her stories of escaping from teacherdom and confessions of feeling weirdly flattered by the school bad-boy’s crude gesture – all deftly re-enacted showing she has a knack for physical comedy.

Other highlight was Red Redmond. A tense wire crackling with nervous energy packaged up as a ‘ginger goth’ (his words). Effective routine about comparing the mean streets of Salford to staying in Leith. There’s also original stuff about life with his pet rabbit. All a refreshing change from the deepfriedMarsBars routines. So full marks to the Comedy Mash for serving up a tasty treat – and not merely reheated leftovers. With a daily changing menu and Jack Gleadow as your maitre d’ I’m sure you’ll be well satisfied.

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