Reviews & features: Comedy, Brian Donaldson

586 reviews

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Dan Clark: Me, My Selfie and I

1 Sep 20143 stars

Enjoyably bitter observations about love and shame at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Herring once did a show about how anxious he was feeling at having just entered his fifth decade. You can really sense that something similar is on the horizon from Dan Clark who can’t quite believe how he has managed to get this elderly (he’s…

Al Donegan: The Five Worst Things I Ever Did

1 Sep 20143 stars

Technical comedic skills and stories to burn at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

You have to admire the brave act who makes that their show title. It’s practically an open-goal invite to any cynical hack looking for an easy ‘in’ to give that show a kicking. Thankfully (or annoyingly), Al Donegan has technical skills (he’s a…

Rhys Mathewson: Hombre Lobo

28 Aug 20142 stars

Charmingly likeable comedy in need of stiffer writing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It can’t be easy performing to three charity workers, your own dad, a reviewer and a dog. That might sound like the set-up to a decidedly poor joke, but it was the stark reality of his evening. At the tender age of 23, Rhys Mathewson has been up on…

Dangerfield: Sex with Children

26 Aug 20143 stars

Comedian Chris Dangerfield delivers stand-up confessional at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The stand-up confessional might soon need a Fringe programme category all of its own. And Chris Dangerfield might well be the sub-genre’s new poster boy. The name of his show certainly raised a few eyebrows ahead of August, people assuming that Sex with…

Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again

26 Aug 20142 stars

Freewheeling surrealist comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Lou Sanders is amazed and relieved her room is so full, given that her show has been advertised as a morning affair. It certainly makes the mind boggle as to what her brand of stand-up nonsense would look, sound and feel like at 10.30am. Shakespeare for…

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Tommy Rowson: Down and Out in Powys and London

27 Aug 20142 stars

Disappointingly mundane and occasionally mean-spirited show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

While he wets the palette of an audience member by offering them a free shot of Jameson’s, Welsh comic Tommy Rowson’s deadpan delivery is dry as a bone. In itself, such a laidback presence and limited-tone presentation is far from a stand-up crime…

Kitten Killers

22 Aug 20143 stars

Female foursome deliver strong sketches at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This sketchy female foursome haven’t just plucked out an eye-catchingly controversial name for themselves, as they do actually live up to their title with a feline-destroying skit. In a festival which hasn’t looked too fondly on the sketch show (if the…

The Grandees: BaBoom!

28 Aug 20142 stars

Childlike comedy in need of a revamp at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A man who can make emit an earth-shattering sound. The parliament of owls. Projectors in hidden realms. Welcome to the wacky, wacky world of the Grandees. Perhaps BaBOOM! and its over-arching daftness is something you just have to get onboard with…

Chris Coltrane: There's No Heroes Left Except All of Us

28 Aug 20143 stars

Strong political comedy from committed activist at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

There’s no denying that Chris Coltrane is a man who has the cojones to back up his beliefs. A self-proclaimed ‘Maltesers Marxist’, he has doorstepped the Daily Mail editor (he wasn’t in) and larked around relentlessly at a BAE Systems shareholders…

Ed Gamble: Gambletron 5000

28 Aug 20143 stars

Blokey but non-laddish stand-up from Almost Royals star at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This feels a little like Ed Gamble’s break-out year. Having worked closely for years with Ray Peacock, he can now be seen on E4 screens in Almost Royal as a (very) minor heir to the throne making a posh twit of himself in the US while here he has come…

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Get Divorced and Join the Circus

28 Aug 20143 stars

Harp playing comedian unique to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There’s little doubt that Ursula Burns has a unique selling point for a Fringe comedy show. She has a harp and she’s not afraid to use it. Remarking from the off that being placed in the comedy section is merely a ploy to get people into her show, Burns…

Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues

28 Aug 20143 stars

Hayley Sproull's monstrous music-teacher creation hits the right note at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Dubbed as the new Tim Minchin or Flight of the Conchords, it’s little surprise to learn that Hayley Sproull is of antipodean extraction and can bash out a mean tune on her keyboard. But her Miss Fletcher music-teacher creation is a more fully-formed…

Clever Peter: The Dreams Factory

28 Aug 20142 stars

Lukewarm sketches from comedy trio at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Clever Peter have been tagged as one of the brightest sketch trios to emerge in the past few years but there seems to be no real evidence to back up that claim here. The Dreams Factory is a hotchpotch of bits and bobs and predicated on pretty shaky…

Brydie Lee-Kennedy Repeats On You

27 Aug 20142 stars

Uninspired comedy in need of editing at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Even though this is a free show, it’s still bad form to leave after less than five minutes as a trio did here, one of whom rather rudely waves at our comic for the hour. But the sympathy vote towards Brydie Lee-Kennedy soon dissipates as her tale of LA…

Darius Davies' HBÖ Special Uncensored

27 Aug 20142 stars

Confident performance fails to mask thin material at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This is one of those gigs when almost everything that could go wrong on the night for a comic actually does. Even with just six in his crowd, including 90s Edinburgh comedy club legend Reg Anderson, Darius Davies feels he is up to the challenge.

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Lords of Strut: Chaos

27 Aug 20141 star

Repetitive Irish duo have little to say at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Picture the Chuckle Brothers working from a script by Cannon & Ball and choreographed by New Art Club, possibly under the threat of blackmail. But only if New Art Club had forgotten everything they’d ever learned about dance and comedy. Then you’re…

Henry Paker: Unpacked

26 Aug 20143 stars

Rakish wit from one half of Golden Lizard at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

For some reason, the ‘dressing-up box’ used by sketch groups has recently become a term imbued with negativity. Instead, Henry Paker comes on stage to show us the contents of his ‘memory box’, as he reflects on his inability to throw away the things…

Francesco De Carlo: Italians Do It Later

26 Aug 20143 stars

Pleasing, Eddie Izzard-inspired Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut from Italian comedian

There is an argument that you should apply the same critical faculties to all comedy equally across the board. It’s a dilemma some comedy award judges have to wrestle with each August. Yet surely there are different criteria for judging a sketch show…

Bears in Space

26 Aug 20143 stars

Talented puppeting cast navigate through muddled story at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

While much of the press attention for Bears in Space focussed on the fact that King Joffrey was in the show, admirably little ego has been displayed by Irish actor Jack Gleeson. At this hour’s finale, while a female fan hangs awkwardly back to chat with…

Stuart Goldsmith: Extra Life

22 Aug 20143 stars

'Blandly handsome' comedian delivers comedy to suit at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A man of seemingly modest ambitions, Stuart Goldsmith once hoped that he would have a nice car, get a decent job and not die before he’d had sex. The friends he grew up with in Leamington Spa may appear to have everything (and more) that the comic might…

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Rachel Stubbings: Doing It For Himself

22 Aug 20143 stars

Unusual talents and clumsiness abound in well thought-out show

A self-dubbed ‘functioning moron’, Rachel Stubbings hands out sweets to the gathering throng as we troop in. An introductory gag about Derek makes you wonder whether she knew that the programme’s female lead, Kerry Godliman, was in the crowd; this is…

Tim Key: Single White Slut

21 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian returns to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe to upturn comedy conventions

After winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2009 and producing one of the finest comedy-theatre-poetry-bath shows in Fringe history with Masterslut, Tim Key popped by last August to perform his latest work-in-progress. The result one year on is the…

Goose (An Odd New One-Man Comedy Whodunit)

21 Aug 20143 stars

Detective comedy delivered by human whirlwind at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

For one solid, breathless, sweating hour, Adam Drake doesn’t let it drop for a single second. If awards were given out for the comedic results of energy and memory alone, Goose would be snapping up every award in town. Maybe not the best poster one, but…

Brent Weinbach: Appealing to the Mainstream

21 Aug 20144 stars

Ingenious, inventive comedy from American funnyman at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With so many acts these days trying to amuse audiences with techniques other than jokes and punchlines and whatnot, the notion of anti-comedy appears to have been watered down to mild drizzle. Brent Weinbach stirs it right back up again with an…

Neil Hamburger

21 Aug 20143 stars

Gregg Turkington's monstrous creation is a true original at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Neil Hamburger could well be a once-in-a-lifetime comic. For sure, Gregg Turkington’s monstrous creation is a true original, a man who thinks he should be a showbiz legend but has been worn down by failure and his own self-loathing to the point where…