REVIEWS FOR CHORTLE
EDINBURGH FRINGE, 2006
PENNY DREADFULS - AENEAS FAVERSHAM
sadly old enough to have been at the Fringe in 1981 and seen that
years Footlights Review which included Emma Thompson, Stephen
Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Tony Slattery. I remember Stephen Fry and Emma
Thompson being good but undeveloped; the others were fairly innoccuous.
The talented team behind Aeneas Faversham, The Penny Dreadfuls, are
far more developed as both writers and performers.
they have been developing this show for about a year, including performances
at the 2005 Glastonbury Festival, the 2006 Glasgow Comedy Festival,
the BBC Comedy Units Rough Cuts nights and at Camdens
Etcetera Theatre in London. Theyve even developed a radio-show
version, "The Aeneas Faversham Radio Show Spectacular",
which was recently performed at Edinburgh's Left Bank venue.
I spy a straight-to-BBC2 TV series and two years of fame perhaps followed
by who knows what? The four-man cast of Jamie Anderson, Humphrey Ker,
Dave Reed and Thom Tuck come fully-fledged with charisma, talent.,
an impressive range of accents, sharp characterisations, stark stage
lighting, strong music tracks... and they even have the one
who is as tall as John Cleese and the one who darts around
like Michael Palin.
havent missed a trick in this enchanting portrait of bad children's
entertainers, vampire hunting, 'barren' wives and various evocative
slices of Victoriana.and this is only one of four shows that The Penny
Dreadfuls - who come from an improv background - have developed. They
are frightenighly professional; amazingly ahead of any competitors.
landscape with comedy" is one possibility but makes it sound
arty and dry. In fact, the show is a helter-skelter, exciting sound
montage of rap music, comic songs, severely surreal combinations of
words and utter nonsense (thats a compliment).
starts with Reggie donning an impeccable English accent then building
up rap music riffs live on stage with sampler, then reverting
to his own American voice, cod German, bits of French and occasional
gobbledegook with impeccable little surreal touches.
Ive seen a fair bit of comedy, but this was totally original,
mixing Fat Boy Slim, Eminem, neo Lewis Carrol and even unintentionally
old school British comedian Norman Collier (there was a section where
Reggie pretending the microphone went faulty, which was Normans
famous act in the 1960s - but Reggie would never have seen it).
am speechless. In the best sense, unpredictable and indescribable.
Eminem creating a new hip-hop version of Lewis Carrols Jabberwocky
sonic Salvador Dali.
sell-out audience loved it and rightly so.
Oh, I almost forgot - there's even a very funny song about giving blow jobs, for those who like knob gags.
lyrical, wistful, whimsical and sophisticated, they are still coming
up with breathtakingly good songs, in this case bundled together fairly
randomly and only faintly linked by references to Larners unseen,
dead grandmother (whose non-existence delivers an unexpected twist
at the end of the show).
can you not like Larner (singing) and Stevens (on keyboards) - people
who start off with a song about a fish that took a walk in the woods
but whose innards were torn apart by a badger.
include a couple of Quup songs but have even more dazzling
ones to add with starting points like:
dressed in jeans and rumpled shirts, the duo live up to the title
of one of their songs - Me and Mark, Were Real People
- but such is the sophistication of their songs, both lyrical and
musical, that they perhaps need to dress up in some way. Its
so casual it looks a bit like a rehearsal. With just a tiny addition
of stage persona and characterisation - Im ashamed to say Im
suggesting neat traditional and slightly old-fashioned suits and even
ties - they would make more of an impact.
are also unlucky in their choice of venues - the rather tucked-away
Diverse last time and this time the, for me, never smoothly-run C
Venue - the show was 20 minutes late starting due to sound desk problems,
there was no-one on the doors so audience members wandered in and
out not knowing if the show had started or not even once they had
found the badly-signposted room.
Next year, they should try the Free Fringe: just as professional and often just as efficient.
COCACOLAMCDONALDS EXPLAINS ALL!
combination of Beck with Syd Barrett, Chris Lynam and a serious acid
casualty at an early Glastonbury Festival.
good Doktor appeared white-faced and naked throughout except for a
pair of green swimming trunks bearing a red floral pattern... a pair
of black socks (different shades of black) and either one or two ties
round his neck (difficult to be certain).
was accompanied by various musical instruments including a Casio Keyboard,
a Yamaha keyboard and a Nintendo GameBoy, the last providing a superb
backing to a song titled Why Did I - Did I - Think of That?
is basically a good music act which, for obvious reasons gets laughs,
with the music pitched somedwhere between rap/hip-hop, Syd Barrett
and the aforementioned legend that is Wild Man Fischer.
has written 17 songs about Gene Hackman including Gene Hackman
Is Better Than PacMan. But his talents are not tied to Gene.
Film Do You Adore? - Rocky One, Rocky Two, Rocky Three, Rocky Four?
song so good I would buy it. The unexpected treat with these songs
is that they are not just one gag titles but are actual songs and
musically good songs at that.
Not so much comedy. More a fully-fledged one-man Event which has escaped via a worm hole in time from 1967. Doktor CocaColaMcDonalds is not just in his own class but on his own planet and it was a privilege to visit it.
WEHN - FOUR WORLD CUPS AND ONE WORLD POPE!
is, in fact, a double-hander with Otto Kuhnle, winner of Germanys
most prestigious comedy award but, on this display, a cracking variety
stage, Henning claims, Comedy is quite easy in Britain if youre
German - all you have to do is mention the War.
enough, but he expands his repertoire of My father died in a
concentration camp - he fell out of the watchtower to include
amiable attacks on British Moslems - Those teetotal terrorists
dont know ow to party and commendably sexist references
to women and cookery. The biggest insult, he says, must
be to be too inferior to be mocked, so good-natured racism is
Germanic stereotypical humour is alternated with Ottos musical
interludes, broom-juggling, magic act with knife & balls and what
he does while singing Love Me Tender is not original but
was masterfully timed and genuinely had people doubled-over in laughter.
All this plus gnome acrobatics, a rousing finale and Henning Wehn lines like What is football without nationalism and sectarianism? We might as well play bowls. make this superbly-paced feelgood show top notch entertainment for most if not all of the family.
FAY - MAGIC STEVES DISAPPEARING ACT
relatively inexperienced Isabel Fay gives a barnstorming performance
in this superbly-crafted script which she wrote and which keeps a
thin idea going strongly for 55 minutes because she pulls out all
the plot, character and bits of business stops possible.
It reminded me of Groundhog Day - a single tiny idea which
should not work but triumphantly does.
lovely but vulnerable assistant has a soft Wiltshire accent with an
excited schoolgirl enthusiasm for showbiz and her own inevitable sparkly
success: she is an innocent wide-eyed, gossipy but talentless wannabe
who wants to make very bestest friends with the audience. So innocently
enthusiastic is she that she is unaware (but the audience is) of dark
elements in Magic Steves character and aquaintances though,
occasionally, she flips into a hard-eyed catatonic stare and intones
in a blank monotone:
must not tell Steve that Franks got Cynthia
hook that is not fully-enough resolved at the end but one that keeps
The joy of this monologue is that it is about an unsubtle airhead but is scripted with extreme subtlety and it is performed very much in yer face with all the stops pulled full out yet the acting is under consistently subtle control. With audience participation, magic tricks, Polaroid photos passed round the audience and even a singalong with hairbrushes, this is an extraordinary calling card by Isabel Fay. Magic Steve may not have turned up to show his talent, but Isabel clearly has and does. Its magic.
STUTTERS PICK OF THE FRINGE
lunchtime audience mostly comprises cosy, middle-of-the-road Fringe-goers
looking for a shortcut to good shows. As a result, the cosy, middle-of-the-road
image has rubbed off on Mervyn
what exactly is wrong with presenting a good variety of around eight
acts for a relatively modest admission price?
the afternoon I went, the audience was ushered in by around ten kazoo-playing
performance artists and the show extracts included a naff comedy sketch
show, two world-class jazz singers and a dramatic but impenetrable
Korean performance of indeterminate meaning. With its catholic taste,
it does for multi-genre performers what Later With Jools Holland
does for musicians.
his separate one-man show 20 YEARS AND STILL IN THE PINK
Mervyn recycles his best music and jokes, showing at times a far more
vicious political bite than many a trendy young comic. in 1992, Mervyn
stopped playing comedy clubs and started to concentrate on comedy
for menopausal flower children but he never lost his edge. Take,
for instance, his song against American foreign policy which includes
a repeatedly screamed-out chorus: 'Fuck the US!
Mervyn gets 4 stars for both his shows. His Pick of The Fringe is a thoroughly enjoyable top-notch production of its type. His 20 Years showcases a vastly under-rated and under-seen comic talent: himself.
ROBERTS: ME DADS DEAD
was only the second time he had performed this show and it was a one-off
performance at the Fringe.
began with 15 minutes of excellent mainstream comedy which the Fringe
audience lapped up. Superbly professional amiable fast-talking upbeat
bam-bam-bam performance in warm orange lighting.
the lighting suddenly changed to stark dark and white and, intercut
with the jolly orange stand-up routines were ad, barren vignettes
of the events surrounding his fathers death, with Smug instantly
changing from loveable outgoing entertainer to crushed, empty and
vulnerable lonely son.
one scene - sandwiched between two long lively sections of warm orange
stand-up - he sits in the dark telephoning his dead fathers
answerphone again and again and again and again just to listen to
his voice - then we are back with feelgood Smug again, performing
smoothly and happily.
is an extraordinarily affecting demostration of how a highly professional
comic can put on a mask of sincerity which may, indeed, be real and
while it is happening not a mask.
sets a foot wrong when one comic highpoint involving a joke about
Robert De Niro is immediately followed by a mystifying and misjudged
use of the Godfather theme. And he does not quite pull off the end
switch from comedy to seriousness.
these are small quibbles.
very brave and successful attempt.
WILLIAMS TELLS A JOKE
this show, Alfred Williams tells one shaggy dog story with no punchline
for 60 minutes. The show might possibly be better in a bar than in
a performamce space and Alfred talks so fast many of his jokes could
pass you by. But, if you like an interesting journey with a man fascinated
by random facts and ideas, this will amuse you.
you want a show with a point or climax, you will not be satisfied.
is a very presentable, clean-cut storyteller with a philosophy that
a groan is as good as a laugh with gags such as:.
got into an old four-poster bed. Three of the posters were of Nell
Gwynn, which tells you how old it was.
sat in a corner nursing his pint. It had just had flu.
There is a danger of pun exhaustion. Impressive that he can sustain it, but inconsequential.
KYRIA - A SPARK IN THE DARK
Solons show was a masterclass in how to write and perform a
series of character monologues. Alyssas characters are far less
subtly drawn and performed.
we have a loud audience member with a mobile phone, a female, clearly
copied from Ali G, doing an X-Factor audition, a
self-loathing woman phoning to employ a hit man kill her.
all tends towards caricature rather than characterisation and I suspect
Alyssa is more performer than writer.
- and it is a big however - in the final character of a pregnant Hillbilly
singer in an extravagant wig performing a rousing knees-up of a song.
Alyssa absolutely bloomed, blossomed and shone. She suddenly became
a potential star. My jaw dropped.
guess - and I could be wrong - is that Alyssa is trying to create
and perform a subtle 9.00pm BBC2 comedy show which would get well-reviewed
in the broadsheets and much smarmed about in the Groucho Club, but
get low ratings. But she actually has the potential to be a Saturday
evening peaktime performer in the Ant & Dec area - with giant
My advice - forget Oxbridge reviewers. Come back next year with a Daily Mirror wham-bam populist show. To hell with subtlety. Go OTT and become a star.
J LEDERER'S ANTHOLOGY
living with a giant Mexican football-like guy with a moustache, a
cigarette and a scrapbook of pornstars hed slept with... living
in Paramount Studios as a bum with everyone thinking he was an actor
playing the part of a bum on some unknown sound stage... a car trip
across the US with an ex-crackhead who was giving up the drug but
had been on a last massive 9-hour crack binge before leaving and believed
for three days the car was on fire... a story that involves living
for weeks in the New York subway system... wearing other peoples
clothes found randomly left behind in laundrette dryers... and secretly
living in the basement of his parents house without them knowing.
doesnt kill you,| says Lederer, shows you how stupid
while preparing this show on his former lifestyle, he ended up re-living
a cousin of Method actor Lee J. Cobb, is a man who can speak in ornate,
grammatically-correct sentences. He is (in the best way) a man who
knows a little about a lot and, he says, I am exceedingly digressive.
I was going to call this show The Parenthetic Man.
it took him fifteen minutes to start the show, telling us instead
of a girl he had met in Edinburgh two days before, that Benelux is
the only collection of countries that sounds like a vaccuum cleaner.
is also worried about failure, so perhaps initially digresses to avoid
the start of something which could fail. Something which, in itself
makes for a good show with digression turning him into a stand-up
He is a man who just enjoys talking for its own sake. Dont expect gags. But expect laughs along the way. It is the journey that is interesting. His shows that dont work are more worth seeing than most other comedians successfully scripted shows.
DAMAGE & KRYSSTAL - RADIO PEAR
are sections for stand-up, songs, news, gardening tips, DIY, luvvie
of the week, weather, a quiz, Australian sheep shearing, two
Irish women and some rap singing. But the format is slightly uncertain
- 1930s radio subjects and people are interspersed with 2006. There
is also the awkward decision for both the performers to stand at their
separate microphones holding and reading scripts. Realistic for a
real radio show but unsettling in a stage show.
This is really a 4-star show held back by a not fully-worked through format. But it remains a cracking ready-made radio show.
SUTTON - PANDORAS LUNCHBOX
went to a public school but, to de-program himself he joined the RAF
in the ranks as an engine mechanic only to be charged with and found
guilty of reading, something much disapproved-of. In 1950s Soho, he
found that Existentialism was a very good excuse for lying around
doing nothing except read Camus and Sartre.
In this collection of humorous poems and anecdotes, there is a wonderful description of 1960s London being a black & white city because of the combination of pea-souper songs and uncleaned sooty buildings. There was a jolly poem about gents toilets in tribute to Joe Orton. A reference to Tony Blair being Scotlands revenge on England for Culloden. And a passionate attack on state restriction on freedom called Following The Twin Towers - Who would ever have thought, asks Dudley, that we would now be looking to the Lords to protect us from the Commons.
FREAKS IN THE BOX VARIETY CABARET SPECTACULAR
Clowns, jokes, cabaret, acrobatics, an Igor figure near-stripping a fat punter, a Nosferatu vampire figure, a fake bright red vagina on a fake woman. All performed by two men - an ex Blue Man and an ex Cirque du Soleiler. Jonathan Taylor and Voki Kalfayan have performed around the world for over 10 years. So they have their performances polished.
claim this show is "largely improvisation... Every night is different
as the two freaks follow their impulses and audience on an unknown
ride accompanied by vampire fangs, a couple of microphones and original
I have my doubts. It looked fairly shaped and scripted to me with only the audience interaction different each night. More suitable for the Spiegeltent than the rather characterless C in the Carlton Hotel, it is very energetic, very audience-friendly but I'm afraid to say it's fairly run-of-the-mill 'new circus'. Good of its type but I long for the return of Archaos and a bit of genuine loud anarchy.
SUTHERLAND - FUNNY MONEY
even appeared on the TV series Wife Swap - the Channel
4 version not the Channel 5 version, shes quick to point out.
the way, we get meetings with Charlie Chaplin, Dave Allen, Dylan Thomas,
debt collectors and wishing the cat would piss in your bed just to
keep you warm in a Scottish room you cant afford to heat.
Immensely likeable, although capable of a gag-based act as he proved last year, she Jojo has now developed an easy-going conversational style with humour so interwoven it seems effortless.
MURPHY: TRAVELS WITH MY HIP FLASK
the first third has nothing to do with the billed subject of the show
and is about Scotland; presumably this is Kearas normal stand-up
act tacked-on to make up time. But its a good stand-up act.
passably funny anecdotes which reveal the exotic culture of Spain
is not really that exotic to the average British audience in 2006.
Kong is more exotic, though still not exotic enough to stand on its
the Balkans is excellent and Bosnia exotic enough though the comic
material doesnt have the strength of her Scottish material.
was the bad news.
good news is that Keara is an effective and talented Scots stand-up
whose motormouth delivery makes Ben Eltons seem like Stephen
The act needs more work on the writing, so there is more impact, more shock/surprise, but Keara is one to watch. She got a critical mauling at the Fringe in 2002, by 2004 was hosting the interestingly titled Hungary For Laughs Comedy Society in Budapest and has now turned in a workmanlike Fringe show. Definitely one to watch in the next two or three years.
CARTERS THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF FRAZER
so its three routines stitched together and adjusted to sound
Scottish and attract Fringe audiences - the House of Frazer is closing
down and these are a punter in the sale queue, the security chief
and the boss. But thats fair enough; it is an obvious
and successful showcase for the talents of Keith Carter, billed as
2005 North West Comic of The Year.
queuer is sad loser Romeo Sole (R.Sole - say it out loud), a well-rounded
and gently-handled northern character who could easily have been in
TVs greatest unsung sitcom - the much-under-rated Coronation
Street - if he were slightly less warped. The acting is impeccable,
so fast, fluent and naturalistic that it seems unscripted (though
it is). On the downside, the delivery may be sometimes too fast and
fluent, making the audience miss or only partially appreciate some
of the details.
the soft, sad loser R.Sole comes the hard-edged store security chief
with a violent hatred of his new boss and an accent oddly reminiscent
of Christopher Walken. Again, deft touches, though a reference to
dishcloths celebrating the hanging of Lord Haw Haw totally
distracted me from what came next. How did Lord Haw Haw get into this?
The reference seemed to have stumbled in from some other sketch.
the less successfully-realised boss Mr Frazer who has so many voices
in his head we end up listening to about two-thirds pre-recorded tapes
and one-third live performance.
What can I say? Its a showreel for Keith Carter and I hope he gets work out of it. It was certainly professional, workmanlike and only spoiled by the distraction of three laugh leaders at the back, imported to pep up the audience but only succeeding in confusing the natural rhythm like a bad laughter track. Keith is good enough not to need help like this.
LANNIGAN: SONGS OF THE UNHINGED
has performed on stage in London and on Broadway, created the title
role of stage play Beethoven: Genius Unleashed, played
double bass in the BBC Symphony Orchestra for several years and has
played backing for Robbie Williams, Madonna and the Harry Potter/Lord
of The Rings movies.
where on earth did this extraordinary show come from? From his worst
a long and arty film prologue combining The Da Vinci Code with Omen-style
music and forboding satanic voice-over, Lannigan finally appears in
the flesh looking like the Rene half of tragically-forgotten 1980s
duo Rene and Renato with a moustache on his lip and a Carmen Miranda
pineapple hat atop his head, singing Braaa--zillll! You know
we always shoot to killllll.....
least, I think thats what he sang. I am beginning to think I
dreamt the whole show. The next hour showed a puerile 4th form schoolboy
obsession with extreta, general bodily functions, sex and underwear.
I loved it.
is clearly a performer whose greatest ambition is to have his paying
punters react like the First Night audience in Mel Brooks original
movie of The Producers. He hailed as an artistic triumph
the fact that most of his audience had walked out en masse a few days
then we have religion and terrorism and Al Quieda, references to the
Twin Tower attacks and shots of the shoe bomber in the rather overly-arty
and over-used film inserts, plus quotes like One mans
terrorism is another mans fetish and For every action,
there is an equal and opposite reactionary.
high point for me was a performance of the old comedy song The
Laughing Policeman with the changed to refer to having cancer.
Oh - and an Ipanema-less version of the bossa nova classic The
Girl From Ballymena sung in Portugese with English subtitles.
have absolutely no idea what any of this show was about and I suspect
neither does Lannigan. If you like genuine alternative comedy that
is utterly unpredictable, constantly stimulating and possibly pointless
nonsense, this is for you. I recommend it highly.
Anarchy at its very best, but you couldnt really give it four stars.
Its a fun club, were told. its about
forgetting your troubles.
And indeed it is. This is a sketch show of the type people who dont go to the Fringe think a Fringe show will be like.
cuttring edge, but a pleasant diversion. Its like a very energetic,
joyous student review performed to fellow students at the end of term.
A bit like watching a very good amateur dramatic society version of
an OK comedy rather than seeing a National Theatre production o0f the
show. Unpretensious, wide-eyed and increasingly endearing as it progresses.
cast are four amiable twenty-something youths all with their own moustaches,
which are strangely never referred to except on the flyer.
playing characters, the four tend to remain themselves playing characters
rather than becoming the characters. The exceptions are an England football
fan and two Slovakian comics. Any of the four might develop into a more
substantial performer in two years but, at the moment, its difficult
man without a limp is here...
the two-second memory man Mister Dave Javoo...
three gay Hitlers singing songs round Mein Kamp fire...
theres one very funny gag about a thimble and Jesus.
Well worth seeing their show next year and still well worth the price of admission this year.
COOPER RE-WRITES HISTORY
has the cracking Unique Selling Proposition that she is a transexual
who has two daughters and a good entrepreneurial mind. That is both
good and bad news. It gives her the basis for near-unique comic shows.
But there is a difficulty in extracting yourself from so strong a central
is trying, though. This show ends with a section that has little to
do with trans-gender and a middle section which involves a chat show
with another Fringe act - on the night I saw it, Jason Wood talking
unexpectedly about being sexually abused as a child (the previous nights
guest had been Janey Godley).
shows format proves unwieldy with the sit-down chat/guest performance
sandwiched between and interrupting the flow between Shelleys
two stand-up routines: the first trans-gender section and the final
more general section.
Cook and Lee Fenwick of D.C. apparently ran a Soup sketch show in Newcastle,
their hometown, for 3 years before moving to Manchester, then became
D.C. at the Fringe. They have now re-constituted Soup with excellent
character comedian Keith Carter and Dan Nightingale.
the first sketch, a 35 year-old schoollboy who has three arms applies
to a new school - an all-girls school - and it feels to me slightly
"Beyond The Fringe", certainly non-cutting edge and non 2006.
In my opinion, to use an unfortunate quote from the show, "It's
adequate" but no more and that pretty much covers the whole show.
are two standout sketches, though.
Fenwick's "white Chris Rock" character (developed over several
years) and Keith Carter as a camp comedian being forced by his agent
to perform as a stereotypical homosexual character rather than performing
the 'art' he really wants to. Carter towards the end brought a quiet
sadness into his characterisation and more depth than most of the show's
In various combinations, the four performers seem to be developing TV projects. And they may well be adequate. But get Carter - he's the one to watch.
YOUNG - A FAILURE ON TWO CONTINENTS
will be worth waiting for.
title of this show is never referred to and completely inappropriate.
Steven is a very accomplished, successful, almost effortless stand-up
in the traditional but none-the-worse-for-that mode.
comes from the South - New Orleans way - from Southern Baptist stock
and boxed on two occasionas, all of which he works smoothly into his
show, as do his pieces of good local UK knowledge which he inserts.
Britain, why does bollocks mean bad but the dogs
bollocks mean good?
is no Unique Selling Proposition. Just good, solid, confident, funny
See him while there are free seats.
unflagging observational routines on the Scots, the weather, football,
Welsh TV, ads on TV, the media in general, drinking, well-crafted jokes
about singer David Gray, about Cockneys who whistle swear words and
experienced and a dependable audience-pleaser worth the price of admission
but, then, so are 300 other stand-up acts on the circuit. He is a perfectly
personable chap in open-necked shirt and faded blue genes but, then,
so are many other comics.
He wore unusual two-tone showbiz shoes. I have never seen their like worn by another comic. They showed individuality and that is what his act needs: a unique selling proposition. Some of the longer stories towards the end of his act showed hints of a slightly surreal turn of mind; if that can be developed he should go for it. Otherwise, he will make a decent living from making audiences happy but no-one outside his social circle will remember 10 years after his death that he ever existed.
LITTLER: STUBBLE TROUBLE
you are going to steal, steal from the best - in this case, Peter Cook.
I have nothing against Tony either. A Laughing Horse New Act finallist, he is a perfectly standard, professional jobbing comedy singer who presumably makes a good living on the folk/pub circuit with perfectly presentable if occasionally non-PC pastiche songs set to good (though copyright) music. There was not an original tune in the 60-minutes but, here in a small upstairs room on the outer edges of the increasingly large Free Fringe, no-one is going to object at being short-changed.
OF YORK COMEDY SOCIETY - CHIPPING STORTFORD GOES LARGE
Chipping Stortford and the show are a sort of fresh-faced and clean
version of the League of Gentlemens Royston Vasey. We are talking
here Pam Ayres not Brendan Burns. Refreshing, gentle English whimsy
(although one of the cast is inexplicably Scottish).
A lot of work has gone into the script of this production and the promotion even included a newspaper selling the joys of Chipping Stortford. It is impossible to dislike anything about the idea, the show, the cast or the production. It just needs a bit editing (most items could do with a 25%-33% cut in length and some slightly more committed acting.
possibly also needs a reason for it to exist: in a sense, it needs some
philosophy of comedy as a backbone.
is nothing, as such, wrong with the well-detailed script - I enjoyed
the idea that the knock-knock joke and pop-up books originated in Chipping
Stortford and that its one department store contained the only possessed
escalator in the world. One question on the local pubs quiz machine
asked if ten squirrels could beat a rotweiller in a fight. But the show
was commendably workmanlike rather than in any way inspired.
was also apparent was that there was one standout performer amid a cast
that otherwise never totally inhabited their fictional characters. DETAIL!!!!!!!!!
She did what the other performers almost never did; she lost her self
in each character and she made each syllable of each word the characters.
STRAIN: THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
material is fine - Glasgow housing estate / hard man routine, gun,
bank robbery affectation, steady laugh-worthy material, but the gags
were not connected well enough for a 20-minute routine and the delivery
on the day I saw the show was more catatonic than deadpan. No enthusiasm
in the voice; no enthusiasm or liveliness in the delivery; no enthusiasm
or liveliness in the eyes.
Del has twice been a Hackney Empire finalist. Nothing wrong with the material. Needs an injection of several cans of Red Bull to perk the delivery up
song was titled: You should really see me with my clothes on.
between would-be torch songs, skits on RTE1 afternoon TV shows, underwear
and bits of random swear words which dont outrage, there is
the germ of a show here, smothered by a tad too much performance art.
It needs a single concept thread to hold it together.
- from nowhere - without warning - there was one stand-out top-of-the-pile
song Only Half a Hen sung by a girl in a hen mask, but
not just sung. She performed it with all her heard with small, twitchy,
bird-like movements. A triumph.
Its ironic that a feathered bird impressed more than birds in bras and basques.
HORNEY DEVILS: SIN!
show was performed by a young blonde-next-door... a gay-seeming young
man with cropped hair and a beard... and a middle-aged couple - shes
a bespectacled woman with short dyed black hair; hes a neat
older man with white hair. They could well be a demented family from
was a sexually suggestive sketch involving fresh fruit interrupted
by the middle-aged man wearing a leather flying helmet and holding
an erect black truncheon.
from the Flying Squad, he said.
this had to do with sexually suggestive fruit or any of the other
sketches I have no idea.
man being interrogated by a policeman for being found in a brothel
with no trousers and eventually utters the climactic punchline: Ill
confess, but not to the likes of you.
woman with dyed black hair did a poem about bondage and S&M.
played the part of a mother introducing her daughter to her (the mothers)
new boyfriend, who was dead.
Irish priests talked about religious belief with the punchline Frock
off, Murphy, and then one sang:
thee behind me Satan
was a crazy plant lady and what
It was like 60 minutes of getting a glimpse of life on an alien planet in a parallel universe where the locals seemed to be acting logically to a script that seemed to make sense to them but made no sense at all. As we left, the Germans were trying to explain the show to each other. I wish they had explained it to me.
EVER SO SLIGHTLY - SQUARED
The people just starting to have a go.
The people who have some experience but arent quite there yet.
The ones who are good enough or almost good enough to get BBC Radio
afraid this show falls into the first category.
started with a sketch in which Noah (of the Ark) was talking to a
Customs man. Both characters appeared to be speaking in cod-Indian
accents which occasionally lapsed into Welsh and it ended with the
Customs man taking a photo of Noah on his mobile phone. None of this
made any sense - not the situation, not the accents, not the mobile
phone - it wasnt thought through enough.
kept being reminded of a heckle at the Up The Creek comedy club:
not quite good enough pretty much covers it
the writing duo and the cast of ten say, Were all local
teens enjoying the full Fringe experience which being part of Just
Ever So Slightly is giving us.
say - Go for it! Do it again next year. And the next. Always do the
Fringe three times.
The writers and performers are enthusiastic, are just starting out and, if they take my advice, should call me a talentless wanker who doesnt know what hes talking about and prove me wrong. I suggest not kneeing me in the bollocks - although that might be quite funny.
BYRNE: OVER THE HILL
biographical sections are interesting - not only that he changed his
first name from Alf to Benny in honour of US comedian Jack Benny but
that his father sold condoms by mail and Alf/Benny was, for a time,
trouble comes in the songs. I was never a great fan of Benny Hill,
but his songs are beautifully crafted and delivered comic routines.
Byrne sings them ever-so-slightly too fast and, although copying the
pauses fairly faithfully, he does not have Benny Hill's comic timing.
is an interesting demonstration that 'it is all in the timing' even
if the comic raw material is the same.
Benny Hill's case, it was in the timing and the twinkle in the eyes.
John Howard Davies seems to be getting fingered as the man who was responsible for sacking Benny Hill (the story is repeated in Wikipedia). I have always understood the two-minute sacking was carried out by David Elstein.
THOMPSON - REBUS McTAGGART
set-up is that Thompson is Ecclefechans top cop, giving a lecture
to other cops in his white trench coat: basically rather a lot of
overconfident, unstructured waffle with what seemed to me a variable
was billed on the flyers as a very funny physical comedian
but did not demonstrate this.
he did show was a superb ability to ride laughter and control the
audience through that interplay of their laughter and his delivery
and an expert use of his good delivery to disguise waffle in a thin
script with no linear development and a lack of structure.
a bid for casting directors in the audience, he also threw in a beaded
Balkan expert, a nowhere-near fully-realised female police sketch
artist, bringing an audience member on stage, a lacklustre song Drugs
or Jesus and his impression of a sniffer dog.
It was a dogs dinner of a script: more a training exercise on an acting course than a show and it needs advice on script structure.