The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “lunch-time shows”

Punel Show

There’s always going to be potential for a very diverse – and possibly sparse – audience when performers decide to slip in an extra show¬† when it’s meant to be their day off. The two extremes are: the super keen Twitter users only too glad to hot-foot it along to a Free Fringe hot-ticket and those who haven’t heard of the performers and have wandered in by chance.

Out of the seven audience members I think two of us were in the first category; two in the second; two open to debate and one was Darren Walsh’s mum-in-law. There was another couple at the start but they were definitely in the second category and made a hilariously inept phone-assisted escape when they decided after five minutes it wasn’t for them. (I’m not sure what they expected – the name of the show pretty much tells you everything you need to know. It’s a panel show with puns)

Also did they not know they were in the company of punning royalty with Darren Walsh and Mark Simmons as hosts? Those of us who know and appreciate their work (and use Twitter) were a bit stunned by this point. Great comedy, packed houses so far in the run, seven people in the audience today – really? I think the hosts were stunned as well but they were far too professional to call off or give us a stripped back show. I can’t be sure what happens on other days but I can’t imagine having any more fun than we did.

I don’t know if it’s a bit silly to try and describe the set-up of an essentially silly show but here goes. Darren and Mark are team captains each with one panel member in the shape of a guest comedian. On the day there was Fraser Geesin (quite grumpy but I think that’s his comedy persona) and the excellent and completely bonkers¬† Trevor Feelgood (I believe he’s a resident panel member so that’s a treat on its own). There are rehearsed puns, there are ad-libbed puns and much general silliness. The fun and games extends to the whole audience but as we were seven this was probably inevitable. It was a bit like being at the best family get-together – if you’re lucky enough to have some top-notch comedians in your family.

Of course it will be different each day and you may have to fight to get in. But I’m sure you’ll have a gloriously fun time – I know the seven of us did!

(Review for 16 Aug)




Cook It How You Like, It’s Still a Potato!

There are an awful lot of people (and a lot of awful people) doing comedy at the Fringe. When you’ve seen a few you may feel tempted to ask them – ‘who told you you’re funny?’ I get the feeling with Romina Puma people will have been saying to her for years ‘look, love – you’re hilarious – get on that stage!’

I caught Romina’s show – Not disabled, enough! – last year and had such a brilliant time I definitely had to catch her again this year. The noon start was a bit of a big ask for me (think how she feels!) and I imagine for the rest of the audience as well. Therein lies a potential problem but it’s a problem that afflicts the vast majority of Fringe performers who find themselves doing a night-time show during a daytime slot. An audience with very little alcohol and a whole lot of inhibitions can be a very tough gig.

The inhibitions thing is a big deal when it comes to Romina’s material. She deals with subjects some people may be uncomfortable with – sex, disability, the two together. And even if the audience are okay with the themes – that next step of actually laughing out loud might just be too much for them.

Another thing they may have an issue with is the use of language – PC or otherwise. That could be a problem with Romina’s show this year as it’s all about that. The title comes from an Italian proverb and features in a set-piece comparing and contrasting Italian (obsessed with food) and English (a bit mundane). More potentially controversial is the quiz about PC and non-PC words used around disability.

Actually the only way I would use the word controversial when talking about Romina Puma would be if someone said: ‘this woman isn’t funny’. With her beautifully physical knockabout style – which in many ways harks back to classic Hollywood screwball – Romina is one funny lady. End of controversy!

(Review for 17 Aug)

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)



Previously on Maff Brown

It’s very satisfying when you go to a Fringe show and you don’t have to do any of the work. No ‘what’s your name?’ ‘where are you from?’ ‘what’s your opinion on.. ?’ Instead you can just sit back and be entertained. That’s how it is with Maff Brown. Of course there’s the general ‘where’s everyone from?’ at the start and he does enlist the help of a couple of guys in the front row later on in the proceedings. But we’re never in any doubt that Maff is in charge.

Maff is a seasoned professional and one of a growing number of comedians who used to do the paid Pleasance-type gigs but now prefer the Free Fringe. Good move as the Cabaret Voltaire big room was packed out with a very appreciative audience when I went along on a Sunday lunch-time.

There’s a rapid succession of one-liners with a lot of the material veering towards the laddish (he does have a recommendation from GQ). And he warns and worries that things may get a bit dark but honestly there’s nothing majorly offensive unless you get offended by jokes about Rolf Harris and how self-pleasuring becomes a chore when you’re a man in your forties (that seemed to mystify the young lads sitting along from me).

The whole ‘appropriate for the time-slot’ thing is always going to be an issue during the Fringe.But Maff addresses this in true cheeky chappie style noting ‘that’s one for the evening show’ as he rattles through his repertoire. Some of it’s cheesy, some of it’s a bit dodgy but most of it is very very funny.

(Review for 7 Aug)


Bob Blackman’s Tray

2015BOBBLAC_2ASometimes you will find something different on the Fringe. Sometimes you will be visited by an enigmatic man wearing a pin-stripe jacket and a red balaclava who will sit silently in the corner of the room and use thought-waves to will you to his show. That show will name-check people like Charlie Drake, Bernie Clifton, Roger de Courcey... and will feature the ‘funniest men in Newcastle-under-Lyme’.

Apart from the thought-waves Bob Blackman’s Tray is astonishingly below the radar so the tiny Three/Free Sisters’ Staff Room (fast getting a reputation for class acts) at yesterday lunch-time was sparsely occupied. Never mind – those of us who were there can boast in future about the experience or else wonder if it was some kind of acid-spiked dream.

There’s Richard Drake (wearing the balaclava) who provides segueways of an existential nature – a bit like Peter Cook’s E L Whisty but with a Northern accent. The totally wired component is the other bloke who takes on the guise of Johnny Sorrow – comedian from yesteryear – and Trevor Never – outraged indoor bowls fan with a grudge against Kirklees Borough Council. Physically he’s like a cross between Bez from the Happy Mondays and the ‘Committee’ MC from the Wheel Tappers & Shunters Social Club for those who remember or who have maybe studied UK social history.

I don’t want to give too much away but imagine a working man’s club run by the Theatre of the Absurd or an end-of-the-pier at the end-of-the-world show. It’s like Vic and Bob before they got on the telly but with less props. It’s a glorious vinegar-soaked valentine to northern comedy. It’s Frank Randle, the Crazy Gang and of course – Bob Blackman. It’s delightfully unhinged but never steps outside itself with Johnny providing some cracking lines and Trevor showing how a convincing meltdown should be done.

For all those who thought cult comedy had disappeared – don’t despair Bob Blackman’s Tray is here. Well, in Edinburgh until tomorrow…

Scenes of a Sensual Nature – Jo Romero

2015JOROMER_ATWI knew I was in for a treat when I saw that two of my favourite comedians David Mills and Gary Colman were going to be involved. I had also heard of the impeccable comedy credentials of Mick Ferry and James Dowdeswell. Jo Romero I wasn’t so familiar with but I certainly am now – and I think I can speak for the whole audience on that one!

As you can probably guess from the title the show is a series of vignettes exploring love, sex and the whole damn thing. Jo appears in every scene playing four characters in total. In the four different scenarios – the first (Happy Endings?) opens, closes and reappears in the middle. It’s probably the most attention-grabbing of the collection with Jo playing an Armenian sex-worker to Mick Ferry’s shy, Northern everyman customer. Appearing in less-than-flattering semi-bondage gear Jo presents a character whose body is bent and broken with years of disappointment. It’s a wonderful piece of physical acting.

Other characters played by Jo are – a born again Christian seeking revenge for earlier rejection; an Aussie swinger persuading her bullied husband to make a tantric sex tape and a Southern belle lush in a scene which is pretty much lifted from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The male support is very able – even if none of them will be causing the Academy Awards panel any sleepless nights… The star however is Jo Romero. Slipping in and out of accents and characters with astounding ease – this woman is a mega-talent.

Nice – and very rare – to get a piece of theatre on the Free Fringe especially when it’s of this quality. Funny, poignant and massively entertaining – get yourself along for a lunch-time treat.

Review for 10 Aug

Twayna Mayne – Underwhelmed

twayna_mayneI caught Twayna Mayne‘s show Underwhelmed the other day. Very impressed. Maybe ‘show’ is the wrong word as that suggests jazz hands and bursting into song. Twayna is most definitely not like that as her delivery is very low key and measured. Also her material deals with the mundane and crushingly boring aspects of life – hence the title.

The material itself is very effective and well observed. From frustration at being a wages slave and the banality of office etiquette to dealing with family politics it’s stuff we can all relate to. Male or female. Black or white. A bit more niche however is Twayna’s recollections of being in the Girl Guides and thinking she looked like a little tree trunk in the uniform. One of the very few colour references Twayna makes. It’s an indication of her impressive talent that she doesn’t need to exploit her two main USPs – being female and being black.

In the Fringe where the look-at-me always gets taken to more desperate levels how refreshing to find an assured young voice that’s not trying to shock, shout or beat you into submission. Definitely one to look out for.

Review for 13 Aug

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