Reviews & features: Comedy

2,708 reviews

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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…

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…

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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…

Dan Nightingale

22 Aug 20133 stars

Meandering fun from Nightingale, a comic who's silly and intelligent in equal measure

Dan Nightingale seems to have settled into the idea that he’s not going to be majorly famous in comedy. He would love to be a ‘bumper sticker big’ stand-up but his priority now seems to be getting a girl. Love in the Time of Cholesterol might be the…

Nick Hall: Live!

22 Aug 20133 stars

Promising debut in trying circumstances

There are some spaces at the Fringe that really shouldn’t be used as venues, and this is one of them. There’s nothing but a vague partition to separate the show from the diners in this spot’s restaurant, while its main bar runs alongside the audience…

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Ed Byrne: Roaring Forties

22 Aug 20134 stars

A master of the stand-up art lets rip

By now, you know exactly what you’re getting with Ed Byrne: a slice of first-rate stand-up comedy that acts as an anchor of quality in the often choppy storm of the Fringe. ‘Since I’ve hit my 40s, I’ve felt the need to be a dick more often,’ he opens…

Matt Okine: Being Black & Chicken & S#%t

22 Aug 20133 stars

Grasping towards a bigger narrative

With this solid Fringe debut hour, affable Aussie Matt Okine races through a torrent of material with an eye for the intermittently strange. Gentlemen, how many of you have attempted, even just the once, to orally pleasure yourself? The ensuing…

Sofa Specific

22 Aug 20133 stars

Slapstick and silent buffoonery

Certainly, there are few shows that will be like Sofa Specific this Fringe. Anyone assuming that an hour featuring four young guys will be just another patchy sketch show has something of a surprise awaiting them. For there’s a fifth character on board…

Kubrick3

22 Aug 20134 stars

Being Stanley Kubrick, the story of Alan Conway

During the early 1990s, a failed North London travel agent named Alan Conway successfully passed himself off as the famous filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Despite looking nothing like the legendary director, Conway ‘conned’ several dozen people and…

Lead Pencil

22 Aug 20133 stars

A bubbly sketch show

Lead Pencil are the Portlandia of the Fringe. Like the US cult TV comedy, the trio of Louise Beresford, Maddie Rice and Dave Bibby have chosen to pitch their hour as being rooted in the 1990s. But, like the Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein show…

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Akmal

22 Aug 20133 stars

An engaging but often obvious hour

He may be little known on these shores but, on Australian TV, Akmal is a familiar face; though not, he notes, quite as ubiquitous as Adam Hills. Much of his material concerns how he moved Down Under at the age of ten with his orthodox Christian parents…

At Wit's End

22 Aug 20132 stars

Good chemistry but trite material from this sketch comedy show

If you’re trying to escape the railgun hustle and bustle of the Fringe, this might not be the show to remedy it. Spoofs from London-based sketch group Rankin & Holme are almost one a minute, featuring all the regular hang-ups of modern life: speed…

David Trent: This Is All I Have

22 Aug 20133 stars

Strong satire let down by flaccid finale

Cassetteboy meets stand-up in David Trent’s new Fringe show. The follow-up to last year’s debut success, Trent has brought along his trusty PowerPoint once more to unpick the hidden subtext of modern advertising, corporate oligarchs who are slowly but…

Paul F Taylor Presents The Greatest Show in the World Ever

22 Aug 20134 stars

An unhinged, dizzying but quality hour

Having picked his show title for the Fringe brochure back in March, Paul F Taylor spent the intervening months searching for a mysterious Chinese man to buy The Greatest Show in the World Ever from. Cue a dodgy accent and a not-so-mysterious looking…

Sight Gags for Perverts

22 Aug 20133 stars

Zig zagging through a warped world

John Kearns is a very strange man. Judging by the fright wig, false teeth and opening ‘musical’ number, you know this isn’t going to be conventional stand-up. The Guardian review that he mentions here is right on the money: there are no jokes per se…

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Eric's Tales of the Sea - A Submariner's Yarn

22 Aug 20133 stars

Fringe regular shares affable story of life on the ocean

There may some who see the title of this show, read that it features the stories of a former submariner and conclude that this will be a more than subtle character hour to match Count Arthur Strong or the Pub Landlord as a precisely authentic creation.

Piff The Magic Dragon

22 Aug 20133 stars

Faux-grumpy yet fun magic show

His glamorous assistant rolls her eyes whenever his back’s turned; his sidekick is a vacant chihuahua, stealing his limelight with a sleepy thousand-yard-stare; and the guest star is a mindreading goldfish who forgets his lines. In short, Piff the Magic…

Liam Mullone: Game Over

22 Aug 20133 stars

One of the more enjoyable stage presences you'll see at the Fringe

In Liam Mullone’s poster image, his facial strain is so tight with unrestrained rage that his glasses look as though they are about to explode with the force. On stage, his fury has been boiled down to a manageable level of barbed annoyance, as the…

Jigsaw - Jiggle It

22 Aug 20134 stars

A tight little sketchy bundle

From their entrance – charging onto the stage pursued by an unseen threat – to their exit 50 minutes later, Dan Antopolski, Tom Craine and Nat Luurtsema barely pause to catch breath while delivering a rapid-fire series of sketches that consistently hit…

Kai Humphries: Shameless!

22 Aug 20133 stars

Salt-of-the-earth stand-up

Kai Humphries considers himself to be shameless and not, as he points out, in the sense that he’s from the Geordie equivalent of the Chatsworth Estate. Instead, he means that he’s prone to being a bit naughty. But really, he appears to be a genuinely…