Reviews & features: Comedy, Brian Donaldson

509 reviews

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Nish Kumar - Who Is Nish Kumar?

13 Aug 20124 stars

An astute and positive debut from a comic with an infectious love of words

Nish Kumar has been kicking around the Fringe for a few years on various projects (most notably alongside Tom Neenan in Gentlemen of Leisure), but this superb hour marks an astute solo debut. Biding time before launching himself as an Edinburgh stand-up…

Casual Violence: A Kick in the Teeth

11 Aug 20123 stars

Dark sketch material with an absurdist, surreal tone

It’s rare that a comedy show is very nearly spoiled by an audience member being too nice. But here, at every single moment of vague pathos, mild jeopardy and thwarted ambition, a very audible ‘aaaw’ erupted across the auditorium as though what we were…

Magnus Betnér Live

11 Aug 20124 stars

One of Sweden's finest comic exports prefers to look on the bleak side of life

In one shaven-headed, tattooed man appears to be encapsulated the downbeat, morose nature of the Scandic peoples. Letting us know that everything he says on stage is absolutely true, who couldn’t feel worried about his suicidal thoughts? But it’s ok, he…

Kristine Levine: Fat Whore

11 Aug 20122 stars

Tales of filth don’t quite transfer to stand-up

Kristine Levine has spoken previously of writing a book about her life and given the many tales she has at her disposal, it’s unlikely that writers block would be a problem. Whether she has chosen the correct route in stand-up to reveal the details of a…

Daniel Simonsen: Champions

11 Aug 20123 stars

Warm comedic chat about dentistry and weather

He may claim to have learned English from Ali G, but Daniel Simonsen’s grasp on his new language and its comedic possibilities are solid. The young Norwegian kicks off this warm, serviceable show behind the curtain, building up a low-fi sense of…

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11 Aug 20124 stars

Promising debut from ‘young upstarts’ Rosa Robson and Matilda Wnek

Cambridge just keeps on churning the comedy talent out. Rosa Robson is a Pembroke Player (former participants include messrs Idle, Oddie and Cook) while Matilda Wnek is a Footlights ‘general member’. Together they are Beard, a fuzzy, comforting…

Jack Jerome's Journey of Life

11 Aug 20122 stars

Energetic but ill-fated character

Some comedy creations are just too successful for anyone to even attempt a retread. There will never be another Pub Landlord thanks to Al Murray’s world domination of that character type. In Edinburgh Fringe terms, anyone who comes along with a…

Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro!

10 Aug 20125 stars

An operatic voyage around his father

The very least you would expect from a show about a son arranging for an opera to be performed in his dying father’s living room is to be moved. And in Bravo Figaro!, Mark Thomas achieves that on at least two occasions, but in surprising ways and at…

Diane Spencer: Exquisite Bad Taste

8 Aug 20123 stars

Rude and crude, but is it that good?

Diane Spencer is a very rude comic. We know that because she tells us she’s rude, calls her show Exquisite Bad Taste and backs it all up by launching into the most scatological opening 10 minutes seen on the Fringe since, well, probably her debut last…

Alfie Brown: Soul for Sale

7 Aug 20125 stars

Saving his soul and salvaging comedy in one fell swoop

In one thought-provoking hour, 25-year-old Alfie Brown singlehandedly reminded the Fringe that there’s more to the comedy world than profits piling up on the backs of homogenised Roadshow-rabid joke-automatons. It’s rather kneejerk and easy these days…

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Des Clarke

7 Aug 20123 stars

Solid stories from mercurial comedian

Not for the first time have the words, ‘this is the weirdest gig I’ve ever done’, come out of an exasperated comedian’s mouth. But with the ever-enthusiastic and chirpy Des Clarke, you feel inclined to believe what he says. On reading that his new…

McNeil and Pamphilon

7 Aug 20123 stars

An intriguing sci-fi twist distracts from their true gift

With a show entitled Addicted to Danger!, Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon made a real splash at the 2010 Fringe with a series of dark and inventive sketches, interspersed with some snappy banter. Last year the pair were in consolidation mode but this…

And Now for a Nice Evening With Wallan

7 Aug 20123 stars

How to light up a room with surreal banter

Walking into the venue, one question burns deep: who, what, where and possibly when is Wallan? After 50 minutes in the company of Lou Sanders, you will leave absolutely none the wiser about Wallan, but resting assured that the young comedian is quite…

Billy the Mime

6 Aug 20124 stars

Surprisingly tender silent comedy show from the boundary-pushing Aristocrat

Billy the Mime came to Edinburgh with a reputation for smashing barriers of taste with his clever silent work on the likes of The Aristocrats movie. The reputation he may well leave with is as an accomplished artist fully on the side of the vulnerable…

Hennessy & Friends: A History of Violence

6 Aug 20124 stars

Displeasure turns to dynamic sketch doings

For two whole sketches and a bit, this looked like being one of those long Fringe hours when only your internal battle against the heat of a small room is likely to keep you amused. After the simple displeasures of Hennessy & Friends’ opening passages…

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Eddie Pepitone's Bloodbath

6 Aug 20124 stars

High-energy, self-heckling anti-comedy from New York

Allow yourself to imagine, if you dare, Ed Aczel having his levels of energy cranked up by, say, 716% and being forced to talk in an even-paced New York accent. You’re now sort-of on the way to getting a sense of a night out with Eddie Pepitone. Or to…

The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek

6 Aug 20122 stars

Disappointing sketch comedy from the much vaunted trio

With early endorsements from Johnny Vegas and Catherine Tate ringing in their ears, the three Gs have developed a hefty following. With the sell-out signs already being slapped up for their twice-daily appearances, they clearly have it made. From where…

Mark Watson: The Information

5 Aug 20124 stars

Another top show from the pointedly non-Welsh Fringe veteran

Ever since making his breakthrough on the Fringe in the mid-Noughties, Mark Watson’s ethos has remained constant: deliver solid, frequently hilarious stand-up amid an audience environment in which things can kick off at any moment. The more offbeat a…

Brendon Burns: Home Stretch Baby

5 Aug 20123 stars

The former comedy bad boy reflects with faded glory and bruised emotions

Like many hard-living, taste-baiting rock’n’roll comedians of the 90s and 00s, Brendon Burns is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he’s now over 40 and the law requires him to slow down. Turns out he’s pretty comfortable with that and having…

The best of comedy at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2 Aug 2012

Dylan Moran, Tim Key, Russell Kane, Jimmy Carr amongst stars

Dylan Moran The first of three winners on this list of the big Edinburgh comedy award in its various guises shows that he’s no less grumpy on stage now as he was when he scooped the Perrier back in 1996. Edinburgh Playhouse, 0844 871 3014, 15, 23 Aug…

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Top 5 sketch comedy shows at the Fringe 2012

30 Jul 2012

The Silky Pair, Hennessy & Friends, Beard, The Pin and Graham Rex among the best Fringe sketch teams

Essex girls Kathryn Bond and Lorna Shaw debuted with a free show in 2011, but good hard cash is required to see them do their musical comedy thing this year. Miranda (good comedy name, that) introduces us to some pals for a jaunt through A History of…

Conchords man Rhys Darby courts the apocalypse in 2012 Fringe show

27 Jul 2012

New Zealand comedian's show on how to survive Armageddon

Whatever lies ahead in Rhys Darby’s career, one showbiz stat might continue to haunt him: he may never be as popular as Zippy. Or rather, not Darby himself, but one Murray Hewitt. The feckless Kiwi band manager he played in 22 episodes of Flight of the…

Universal humour: 5 international comedians at the 2012 Fringe

27 Jul 2012

Featuring Naz Osmanoglu, Trevor Noah, Michael Mittermeier and Marcel Lucont

Naz Osmanoglu Given the damp evidence of his debut solo affair last year (he’s also a core member of the WitTank crew), this Turkish prince will provide an energetic sweat-fest like no other. This year, he’s an Ottoman Without an Empire. You getting…

Life is a cabaret: 7 cabaret shows at Fringe 2012

27 Jul 2012

Featuring Auntie Myra, Bourgeois & Maurice, Damsel Sophie, Ria Lina and more

Auntie Myra’s Fun Show As the legendary Jeremy Lion showed, reluctant children’s entertainers make for bleak but blisteringly funny comedy. We suggest that Rotherham’s Myra Dubois may be in the same vein. The Voodoo Rooms, 226 0000, 3–26 Aug (not 6…

Young comedian James Acaster returns to Fringe with Prompt

25 Jul 2012

‘Daft and whimsical' Edinburgh show after introduction to comedy via Scouting

Stand-ups get their first taste of the comedy stage in different ways. Some might be forced by their long-suffering partner into doing an open mic night, others might have done some stand-up in their student days, a few have ditched their well-paid but…