Reviews & features: Comedy

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Kevin Eldon

14 Aug 2014

The comedian, actor and writer discusses his biography of eerily similar poet Paul Hamilton

‘It's all a bit subjective isn't it, poetry?’ asks Kevin Eldon, comedian and well-known face around cult television comedy shows like Big Train and Brass Eye. ‘Well, everything is really. Subjective. Even that opinion.’ He’s discussing the poetry of his…

Spencer Brown

14 Aug 20142 stars

Repetitive sex obsessed show becomes tiresome at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Spencer Brown reads as a sex-obsessed thirty-something offering a whole load of gags about doing the deed laced with an exposé of contemporary society. Naturally, all this is framed with observational anecdotes about his wife, young daughter and dinner…

Come Heckle Christ

14 Aug 20143 stars

Josh Ladgrove's Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show is entirely dependent on audience interaction

You get no prizes for guessing that Come Heckle Christ is a show dependent on the quality of its audience. Character comedian Josh Ladgrove props himself on the cross for (almost) the entire duration, responding to a mix of insults, theological queries…

Sophie Willan: Novice Detective

14 Aug 20142 stars

A mish-mash of theatrical narrative and comedy skits at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Sophie Willan presents a theatrical hour about the search for her estranged father. The detective genre is her theme, and the opening set-piece is a campy nod to the genre from Inspector Clouseau to the board-game Cluedo. After a promising opening…

Abi Roberts' Musical CID invites comedians to talk about their favourite music

14 Aug 2014

Guests at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show include Luisa Omielan, Nathan Caton and Al Murray

'There’s a definite link between stand-up comedy and music. Perhaps it’s a rhythm thing,’ explains Abi Roberts, comedian and star of her own Fringe comedy show, *3Twerk in Progress*2. She’s recounting a car journey with a group of her fellow comedians…

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Natalie Haynes on her debut novel

14 Aug 2014

The comedian turned author promises The Amber Fury is 'not funny. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone'

‘It had to be set in Edinburgh,’ says stand-up comedian turned author, Natalie Haynes, about her debut novel, The Amber Fury, a story of grief, interwoven with the Greek tragedies, published earlier this year. ‘It sets the right tone for a thriller.

Sketch duo Cardinal Burns make a welcome return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

13 Aug 2014

Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, having garnered telly success, are coming back to live comedy

It was way back in the dry sands of historical time, 2009 to be precise, that Cardinal Burns first made their way into the public’s psyche. Their 2009 show in the titchy Pleasance Attic (where everyone from the little known Katy Wix, Anna Crilly and…

Tom Rhodes: Colussus

13 Aug 20143 stars

American funnyman delivers confident performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With the swagger of an over-confident prize-fighter, American comic Tom Rhodes roams his stage ready to land punchline after punchline. But first he has some business to attend to regards his history with the Gilded Balloon, reminiscing the time he…

Dan Schreiber: C*ckblocked from Outer Space

13 Aug 20143 stars

Lively and engaging hour of geek comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The term ‘geek’ has enjoyed singular meanings in the past, such as a sideshow act involving biting the heads off chickens, which draw on its etymology as meaning ‘fool’. This flipped in the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a pejorative term for…

One Man Breaking Bad

13 Aug 20143 stars

A mixed bag of meth-based comedy

Miles Allen’s commitment to Breaking Bad cannot be over-estimated. He claims to have become almost Jehovah Witness-like in his devotion, doorstepping strangers to tell them the good news about his favourite show. Luckily, he’s preaching to the converted…

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Winter is Coming

13 Aug 20142 stars

Messy non-tribute to Game of Thrones is simply all over the place

Edinburgh has officially gone Game of Thrones crazy. Jack ‘Joffrey’ Gleeson is in town with his theatre sketch group, Diana Rigg will be discussing bad theatre reviews and George RR Martin is popping up at the Book Festival.

Danny Mcloughlin Feels Alright

13 Aug 20142 stars

'Competitive dad'-themed 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show doesn’t really cut it

It’s wholly fitting that Danny McLoughlin should be performing Feels Alright in the basement of a pub. His stand-up could actually act as the template for the ‘funny guy entertaining his mates down the pub’ sub-genre that perfectly does the business in…

Mr Swallow: The Musical

13 Aug 20144 stars

Hysterically funny and relentlessly silly musical of Dracula

With the unstoppable force of monstrous nature that is Mr Swallow having pretty much obliterated the competition in Nick Mohammed ’s canon of characters, the next step was almost inevitable: starring in his own musical of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not that…

I Killed Rasputin

13 Aug 20143 stars

Free-wheeling style and strong cast in Richard Herring play at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Comedian/writer Richard Herring's new play has the free-wheeling style of a Marx Brothers comedy, playing fast and loose with historical accuracy- and film noir tropes. Stephanie Williams' gorgeous, ornate set, with large screens which cunningly…

Hooray for Ben Target

13 Aug 20143 stars

Oddity and uniqueness lift curious hour and make for a breath of fresh, daft air at Edinburgh Fringe

The gentle, kind demeanour of Ben Target masks the vicious reality that he is a cold-hearted cynical comedian seeking to destroy both entertainment as we know it and his audience’s fragile confidence. Well, probably not, but it’s difficult to know…

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Mark Cooper-Jones: Geography Teacher

13 Aug 20143 stars

Edinburgh Festival Fringe performance showing a love of learning

Mark Cooper-Jones would like you to know that, actually, he chose to perform in the tiny Globe pub because its name encompasses the theme of his show. A former supply teacher, he's here to share his contagious enthusiasm for geography. The pub's cramped…

Backstage in Biscuit-land

12 Aug 20144 stars

Jess Thom talks Tourette’s to an entertaining effect at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘It’s the only place I can sit in the theatre without someone asking me to leave,’ observes Jess Thom from the stage at the start of her simple but appealing show. Over the next hour, it’s quickly apparent why audiences elsewhere might find Thom’s…

Andy De La Tour

12 Aug 20142 stars

Lukewarm observations from alt-com trooper at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There are just four years between comedy veterans Andy de la Tour and Alexei Sayle but their Fringe returns have proved to be a world apart. Last year, Sayle rolled back the years with a raucous set which had packed Stand crowds breathless with…

Nick Helm's Two Night Stand in The Grand

12 Aug 20143 stars

Flesh, self-abuse and lewdness abound in bombastic show

‘Don’t fuck this up’ is one of Nick Helm’s rallying cries for this ‘two-night stand at the Grand’. The character he portrays on stage (bombastic, spiteful, lewd and very, very loud) appears to be on a solo mission to achieve exactly that. ‘This is…

Danny Ward: Infra Dig

12 Aug 20143 stars

So-so comedy show hampered by the host's own politeness at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Danny Ward had a lot to contend with on this showing of his Infra Dig hour. On the front row to his left, a trio of girls giggling at their own jokes; on the front row to his right, Todd from Corrie accompanied by a small boy wearing headphones. Ever…

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Luke McQueen: Now That's What I Luke McQueen

12 Aug 20143 stars

Ballsy comedian delivers genuine edge of the seat show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There’s one thing you can’t accuse Luke McQueen of and that’s not being totally committed to his craft. The mask barely drops for a second as he plays a man not so much on the brink, but one who’s gone past the precipice and is hanging on by his badly…

Dead Ghost Star

12 Aug 20143 stars

Alternative child-friendly comedy is space oddity lost in a vacuum at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This hour of nonsense clowning in space is a bit like Spike Milligan on MDMA, or Edward Lear doing a guest appearance at the Hacienda. Cheekykita and Mr Dinner bring their odd space odyssey to a hidden room in the flyer-covered maze of Cowgatehead…

The Colour Ham

12 Aug 20143 stars

Comedy magic act played mainly for laughs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With any comedy show where three people are vying for stage time, there’s a real need for the audience to be able to distinguish between the various personae. The Colour Ham have certainly got this aspect nailed. So, Colin McLeod is the semi-serious…

Jason Cook: Broken

12 Aug 20143 stars

Plenty of laughs & decent stories but this Edinburgh Fringe stand-up show lacks higher significance

At the top of Jason Cook’s solo Fringe career, he wowed audiences and critics with My Confessions and Joy, deeply personal, incredibly moving yet hugely funny shows about his family. Since then, he’s become a father and written Hebburn, a BBC sitcom…

Adam of the Riches

11 Aug 20144 stars

Hysterically silly Edinburgh Fringe show of generous and off-the-cuff brilliance

For anyone with a track record of being in the audience or (heaven help your scarred psyche) up on stage with Adam Riches, entering his Pleasance Dome venue might seem like sleepwalking back into your worst nightmare. Sinister music is playing as three…