Reviews & features: Comedy

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Doctor Brown: Because

29 Aug 20134 stars

Show full of the unexpected is lapped up by the audience

It's not often that you get pelted with olives during a show. But then of course as we've come to realise over the last four years at the Fringe, Doctor Brown's shows are full of the unexpected. Anyone who has seen or at least heard about him before…

Adam Buxton: Kernel Panic

29 Aug 20134 stars

Maximum stupidity and joyous silliness from tech-heavy video show

The title 'Kernel Panic' is derived from the technical term when everything with your computer goes pear shaped. It's the one thing that certainly doesn't happen in Buxton's show – apart from the obligatory 'oh no the macbook's crashed gag'. But then…

An Evening with David Sedaris

29 Aug 20134 stars

Trademark real-life anecdotes and personal overshare stories

If there was any doubt as to the This American Life favourite's popularity in the UK, it was swiftly put down by the snaking queue that went from the EICC's front entrance to its back and right outside again. A mixed audience age-wise – half hipstery…

David O’Doherty: David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything

29 Aug 20134 stars

Still stimulating, wry and utterly loveable, O’Doherty examines a world demystified

David O’Doherty is one of those comedians that now sits deep within the heart of Fringe audiences. Since 2000 he’s charmed and secured a loyal fan-base with the “low-level musical whimsy” that won him critical adoration. The danger, of course, is…

Tig Notaro

27 Aug 20134 stars

The American comedian, famous for publicly discussing her breast cancer, proves she has more to say

Tig Notaro is a grand master of the wind-up. The drawn-out set-ups, the laboured pauses, the controlled nonchalance – it’s all part of her finely honed delivery, a masterclass in pacing and calm. Her soothing, diazepam-dose of a voice is the Fringe…

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Rob Delaney

27 Aug 20133 stars

The US comic puts intriguing spins on icky subject matter, but comes off as Louis CK-lite

Let’s just get this out of the way straight off the bat. There is literally no way to avoid writing about Rob Delaney without drawing comparison to Louis CK: and ultimately, it comes down on the side of an unfavourable one. Delaney moseys on (in plain…

The Horne Section

27 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing off night for the usually on-form Horne and his comedy-music hybrid

At one point early in tonight’s show, special guest James Walmsley (formerly of muso-comedy group Dead Cat Bounce) declares that ‘this hasn’t been rehearsed’. Unfortunately, this is more than obvious. Although there’s a certain sense of tightness…

Jerry Sadowitz

23 Aug 20134 stars

Consistently brilliant illusions and a furiously passionate performance

While it would be misleading to say Jerry Sadowitz has calmed down, he’s certainly mellowed somewhat over the years. Saying that, you’d have your work cut out to find a more controversial comedian at this year’s Fringe, with frequently eye-watering…

Sad Faces Threw a Party

23 Aug 20132 stars

Not one of the better sketchy narrative fare on offer this August

Some people don’t do themselves many favours when adopting a name for their group or show. Sad Faces could, of course, go either way, but this reviewer was left with a decidedly unhappy visage after an hour in their fairly humdrum company. There’s no…

Dave Griffiths: C U In Court

23 Aug 20133 stars

A David and Goliath-like stand-up routine

We all love it when ‘the man’ gets it in the neck and with ‘C U in Court’, the little guy (Dave Griffiths) sure gives the top man (actually, French Connection) what for. A jobbing stand-up, Griffiths thought he was on the cutting edge of satire when he…

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Janeane Garofalo

23 Aug 20134 stars

Rambling but hilarious show from the actor and comedian

There’s a lectern stocked with topical notes pulled from recent news stories that Janeane Garofalo keeps returning to refresh her mind after previous stories wander off track. That’s how we get from an in-depth discussion of why she can never go back to…

Faux Latino Show Pony

23 Aug 20133 stars

Jacob Edwards' delirious character comedy is addictive, joyful and ballsy

There are some who reckon that comedy has got a little too safe in these over-commercialised days. Those people should pop along to see Faux Latino Show Pony and cop a load of the jeopardy and danger on display during almost every minute of its ballsy…

Gravity Boots

23 Aug 20133 stars

Australian duo manages to create a state of incantatory unexpectedness

With a show directed by bizarre-haircutted, Noel Fielding cohort Paul Foot, Gravity Boots put paid to all those shows that market themselves as 'surreal' when they are anything but. Hailing from down under, James Lloyd-Smith and Michael Cleggett display…

Opinion: Edinburgh Comedy Award 2013 announced

22 Aug 2013

Bridget Christie, Nick Helm, Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan and Seann Walsh all nominated for gongs

And so, the Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations are in. And are we spitting blood with the outrage? Well, no, not really. The all-British main list features old-school stand-up (Seann Walsh, Carl Donnelly), a funny feminist (Bridget Christie), a bit of…

Tony Law: Nonsense Overdrive

22 Aug 20134 stars

Nonsense overdrive from Canadian wag

For years, Tony Law has peddled his own unique brand of hardcore whimsy at the Fringe, to varying degrees of enthusiasm and indifference. Staying power (and probably a few more high-profile TV appearances) have ensured that he has finally captured…

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Richard Herring: We're All Going To Die

22 Aug 20134 stars

A delirious exploration of death

‘22 fucking years’. That’s how long Richard Herring has been heading up to Edinburgh with plays and stand-up shows, and while he might come across as sounding a little begrudging that he makes this annual trek north, he clearly still loves it. And after…

Humza Arshad presents Diary of a Badman

22 Aug 20133 stars

Mixed bag from the Badman

Humza Arshad first came to prominence thanks to his phenomenally popular Diary of a Badman series, which has had more than 47 million views on YouTube. In it, he plays a hyper, stereotypical version of himself, deriving humour from the day-to-day life…

Wayne Thallon: Procreation

22 Aug 20131 star

Wholly artless and unenjoyable display from 'A Spanking in Paradise' writer/director

Straight from the kick-off, Wayne Thallon confesses that he’s not a stand-up comic, he’s never even done an open mic slot and he won’t be stepping up on a comedy stage again beyond August. The reason he’s doing this at all is to raise funds for the…

Lebensmüde – A Comedy Show

22 Aug 20133 stars

Pitch perfect sketches fear the dark

After running comedy and performance evenings in that London, Lebensmüde (which consists of Celeste Dring, Edward Kiely and Freya Parker) make their Edinburgh debut. This trio is jostling for space among all the other sketch groups in the Fringe…

Vikki Stone - Definitely

22 Aug 20133 stars

Musical comedian leaves her audience feeling warm and fuzzy

The big ending to Vikki Stone’s latest head-meltingly brash musical comedy hour is one of the cutest the Fringe has seen (or is likely to witness) in a very long time. This climax to a brazen show of double, single and triple entendres and busy, loud…

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US humourist David Sedaris entertains at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

22 Aug 2013

Author's events follow the publication of his essay collection, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls

With over seven million book sales and a Grammy nomination for the Carnegie Hall recording of his droll essays, David Sedaris could be forgiven for resting on his laurels. But the American humorist and author is back on the road, returning to the…

Tim Key: Work-in-Slutgress

22 Aug 2013

Comedy Award winner brings us an excellent work-in-progress

If Tim Key’s 2011 Masterslut could have been dubbed his ‘bath show’, it looks like his next venture will be viewed as the ‘bed show’. This Work-in-Slutgress (man, he has really painted himself in a corner with the old Slut branding) that he is parading…

John Williams: My Son's Not Rainman

22 Aug 20133 stars

Show based on comedian's blog about his autistic son

This decent-sized room is filled to bursting for an afternoon show, no doubt many drawn in by the My Son’s Not Rainman blog which gives the show its title. Stand-up comic John Williams has an autistic 11-year-old son (‘The Boy’) and this is their…

Katie Mulgrew

22 Aug 20133 stars

An amiable if unsubstantial hour about father-daughter relations

Dads, we are told, are simply not funny. The evidence is, of course, difficult to dispute with the phrase ‘dad joke’ surpassing ‘dad dance’ as a term of modern parental abuse. But what if you had one of the most recognisable comedy personalities on…

Matt Green - Alive

22 Aug 20133 stars

Seasoned pro on the matter of death

Matt Green is almost amazed still to be alive. When he reads out the official list of how many people in the UK died from certain causes last year (everything from falling down stairs to bee stings), it certainly makes you pause for thought (and…