Reviews & features: Comedy, Brian Donaldson

509 reviews

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Kumail Nanjiani

22 Aug 20124 stars

Accomplished stand-up debut from the Pakistani-American comic

Kumail Nanjiani is a big fan of horror films. But as a natural beta male, he can’t quite cope with the feelings of terror they inspire in him and much of his life is spent in a state of fear. When he talks of being unable to visit the toilet during the…

Late Night Gimp Fight

22 Aug 20121 star

Risible, regrettable and rotten sketch comedy

Where to begin? Firstly, perhaps the lads behind Late Night Gimp Fight deserve some praise for sheer audacity. Not sure who thought they would regularly cram people into a venue the size of Pleasance Forth but it’s barely half-full on a night when not…

Sarah Kendall - Get Up, Stand-Up

22 Aug 20123 stars

Anticipated comeback show is good rather than glorious

When Sarah Kendall became the first woman in what felt like an entire generation to receive a solo Perrier nomination in 2004, her future glory seemed assured. But after one further Fringe stand-up show, a theatrical piece about a college initiation and…

Erich McElroy: The Brit Identity

22 Aug 20123 stars

A permanent cultural exchange with laughs

Whenever a comedian brings a show to the Fringe with any kind of social or political bent, the evolving nature of world events can often turn around to bite them in a soft fleshy place. In 2005, Andrew Maxwell was compelled to rewrite swathes of…

Neil Delamere - DelaMere Mortal

22 Aug 20123 stars

Safe but solid hour of craic

With such an easy-going manner and propensity for chatty audience banter, it helps if Neil Delamere can scoop out an interesting front-row character or two. And on this occasion, he uncovers a children’s author and the son of a notable ITV newsreader in…

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Denise Scott - Regrets

22 Aug 20123 stars

Charm offensive from veteran debutant

One of the least likely comedy debuts this Fringe comes from Denise Scott, a jovial fiftysomething Australian who just so happens to be ‘incredibly famous’ back home. As she retells in one of several stories about her regrets, that fame was nearly…

The Great Puppet Horn

22 Aug 20122 stars

Shadow puppetry show that leaves the comedy in another room

The Great Puppet Horn showed a devilish side recently by using their vast shadow puppet skills to project an image of Stewart Lee onto Edinburgh Castle. It was not an act of idolatry towards the agitprop comic, but the Horn guys were expressing their…

Gravity Boots

22 Aug 20121 star

Crashing down to earth with a massive bump

Making surreal humour work is probably the hardest trick to pull off in the comedy arena. Nail it and you will go a very long way; mess up and you just make a complete tit of yourself. Adelaide absurdists Gravity Boots do their best to be as weird as…

Horse & Louis - The Curse of ...

21 Aug 20122 stars

Musical comedy duo who aim for Conchordian heights but crash and burn

It seems the way of things now that any musical duo will compare themselves, if only fleetingly, with Flight of the Conchords. To their credit, Horse & Louis can make this link with more justification than most, given that they both bear a striking…

David Trent - Spontaneous Comedian

21 Aug 20122 stars

Unoriginal, uncontroversial, unfunny

This schoolteacher has come to the Fringe with plenty of hype behind him but his multimedia Spontaneous Comedian is a befuddling affair. You know someone is in trouble when they constantly refer to jokes that usually get bigger laughs (slap on wrist…

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Andrew Maxwell

21 Aug 20123 stars

That’s the Spirit is a safe and sound set

A couple of local punters perhaps expressed it best at the end of their 2 for 1 visit to Andrew Maxwell’s 2012 show. ‘He wasn’t as good as last year.’ ‘Aye it was a bit childish.’ Certainly, there is always a fair bit of playground mocking in a Maxwell…

Tony Law

21 Aug 20123 stars

Surrealist banter misses by a hat stand

There’s something very frustrating about Tony Law. At times, he feels like an on-form Canadian Eddie Izzard with magical surrealism sliding almost effortlessly from his mouth; other times he’s awkward and stumbling around as though he has absolutely no…

Chris Stokes

21 Aug 20124 stars

Tremendous tales of a nerdy loser

You can picture the club circuit of the alternative comedy boom-years being filled to the rafters with cardy-wearing anti-machismo vegan stand-ups. But in these post post-ironic times, Chris Stokes feels almost like a novelty act. Lucky for him (and us…

Leads & Stern

21 Aug 20123 stars

Patchy sketch debut with some lovely touches

Imagine the terror of being in a comedy threesome when one of your party dies just hours before the Fringe kicks off, leaving the surviving duo to either pack it in or somehow soldier on? This is the central made-up dilemma at the heart of the sketch…

Matthew Crosby

20 Aug 20123 stars

Slightly stilted affair from an otherwise very funny man

Given the majesty of this year’s main Pappy’s show, we can surely forgive Matthew Crosby (the small, bespectacled, beardy one of the trio) if he’s not firing on the same number of cylinders that powered his 2011 solo debut. Even so, he is able to…

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John Conway - The New Conway Dimension

20 Aug 20123 stars

Small and daft is the order of the day in Conway's semi-anarchic routines

If you find yourself tiring of the slick, professional, often identikit comedians in town, you should cop a load of Australia’s John Conway. With laptop-wielding sidekick Michael Burke trying his utmost to keep proceedings reasonably on track, Conway…

Pappy's: Last Show Ever!

19 Aug 20125 stars

An hour of undiluted joy

First rule of comedy reviewing: never sit in the front row with a big notepad on your knee, scribbling away without a care in the world. Sometimes it’s not easy to get a spot where you can remain in the shadows and utterly anonymous but in a venue as…

Sammy J & Randy - The Inheritance

19 Aug 20123 stars

Triumph of style over substance

Yes, it’s funny that a purple puppet might swear and drink and smoke. And it’s probably amusing that he would hang out with a socially inadequate skinny nerd. But once you get used to those facts, and have nodded in admiration at the production values…

Taylor Glenn - Reverse Psycomedy

19 Aug 20123 stars

Playing mind games with her crowd

There can’t be too many Fringe comedy shows (ie zero) that casually drop in phrases such as ‘cognitive behaviour’, ‘Gestalt theory’ or ‘psychodynamic therapy’. But then, not many Fringe comedians will have worked for eight years as a professional…

Gareth Morinan

19 Aug 20123 stars

Slim pickings amid a frenzy of facts

Quite a busy boy is Gareth Morinan given that he has seven different shows at the Fringe including political debates, a bit of improv and spoken word events in which he speaks out about his opinions on David Cameron and Ricky Gervais (he’s not a fan of…

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The Not Quite Quartet

19 Aug 20123 stars

High fives and top tunes

If you have yet to make your way through The Wire or somehow haven’t yet seen Fight Club or The Sixth Sense or Citizen Kane, best take some earplugs with you to The Not Quite Quartet. ‘The Spoiler Song’ does exactly what it says in the title but it…

FNT Live presents … The Jingling Lane Family Singers

15 Aug 20122 stars

Funny bits few and far between in ill-executed sketch comedy

At the start of this doomed sketch affair, there are more people on stage than in the crowd. Given that FNT Live features ten members, that’s not as cringeworthy as it might sound. The opening features an American family of fundamentalist Christian…

Tania Edwards - Killer Instinct

15 Aug 20122 stars

Funny Women finalist in career regression

Straight off the bat, the eminently likeable Tania Edwards insists that this is going to be her year. It’s ‘break or breakdown’ time. Unfortunately, several things could be conspiring against her as she moves ahead with her grand plans (which may have…

Trevor Noah: The Racist

13 Aug 20124 stars

Identity crisis makes for hilarious comedy

It takes a particular kind of individual to get up on stage and open their soul to a room of strangers in order to achieve ratification for their existence. Part of that drive might come from the oft-cited routes about having learned to use humour to…

Through the Looking Screen

13 Aug 20123 stars

A black tale of loneliness and log-ins

The experience of turning The Office into an operatic extravaganza for Comic Relief in 2009 clearly gave Anne Chmelewsky a taste for the comedic possibilities of a musical form normally associated with grim tragedy. But the ‘high heels and high Cs…