Reviews & features: Brian Donaldson

616 reviews

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Phil Wang

11 Aug 20133 stars

Exposing bigotry and the naivety of youth

Despite Phil Wang’s insistence that his hour will get ‘progressively weirder’, this debut set instead keeps things nice and safe albeit maintaining a decent level of amusement throughout. He’s not even so sure that he should be up on stage passing down…

Ivo Graham

11 Aug 20134 stars

An ingenious and keen debut hour

Ivo Graham is a smart young chap. Blessed with a set of vocal chords that are posher than a Corgi working the tills at Waitrose, he still succeeds in painting himself as the underdog. While his university mates are quaffing ale, he’s sitting in a corner…

Fringe comedy debut: Suzy Bennett

8 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Take vitamins, eat well, sleep and try not to fuck everything up! What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? Being advised not…

Bobby Mair: Obviously Adopted

6 Aug 20133 stars

A talent that gets ragged around the edges for his Fringe debut

If anyone thinks that the comedy of Bobby Mair is going to bring people together in arm-locking community harmony, they don’t have a grip on their own mind. The Canadian-born, UK-based comic divides rooms and opinions with his brand of dark humour. He…

Romesh Ranganathan

6 Aug 20133 stars

Talented newcomer springs a leak

Word is clearly spreading about Romesh Ranganathan. Among the crowd at this particular performance is Josh Widdicombe who is sat beside an e-fag puffing Seann Walsh. In the row down from them is a very impressed-sounding Hardeep Singh Kohli, while that…

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James Acaster

6 Aug 20134 stars

A unique comedy voice worth shouting about

James Acaster is swiftly becoming one of the Fringe’s safe bets, which is quite a feat given the potentially ‘difficult’ style he has chosen to adopt. Not for this Kettering-born comic the jogging from side to side or the shouty approach or the overly…

David Baddiel

6 Aug 20134 stars

A perceptive and funny take on fame

Given that it’s been 15 years since his last stand-up shows proper, David Baddiel cuts a very natural and confident figure on the wide open George Square Theatre stage. He hasn’t made this comeback to boost his pension fund (the books, radio and film…

Pajama Men

6 Aug 20134 stars

A physical romp through an ocean of characters

For some acts, the breakdown of their technology is a disaster akin to temporarily losing a limb. When microphones malfunction on three separate occasions, Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen simply wait for their techies to sort the problem, making comedy…

Doctor Brown returns to the Edinburgh Fringe to conduct Bexperiments

6 Aug 2013

The award-winning physical comedian is also performing his Because, Becaves and Befrdfgth shows

Comedy industry types have been rubbing their hands with glee ever since Doctor Brown was awarded last year’s Foster’s Comedy Award. Not simply because they were delighted for the absurdist American clown who has spread his palette to entertain the kids…

Rod Woodward

6 Aug 20132 stars

Debut Fringe show from comic is great in short bursts, but struggles to fill an hour

The two biggest cliches that are worth avoiding in comedy reviewing are that sketch shows can be something of a mixed bag and some comedians are just like your funny mate down the pub. Unfortunately, the second trope can’t be ignored when discussing…

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Catriona Knox

6 Aug 20134 stars

A Boom Jennie becomes a genuine player

This was very close to being a peerless character show from someone who has clearly been working hard on her craft, but it’s only let down by a rather weak finale. Catriona Knox is one third of the Boom Jennies and is revelling in her solo status with a…

Tamar Broadbent

6 Aug 20132 stars

Musical comedy falls a bit flat

This pocket dynamo of a performer, Tamar Broadbent remains something of a mystery once her debut hour is over. Apologising for the slight delay in the show starting as her family has got itself stuck in traffic on the way in (plausible), we soon meet…

Wil Hodgson

6 Aug 20133 stars

So-so trip down memory lane from Chippenham’s finest

There was a time when Wil Hodgson seemed destined to be the future of British comedy. An hour in his company is still a pleasing experience, but he appears to have dropped his mojo somewhere down the line. Certainly, he couldn’t have kept going on…

That Pair

6 Aug 20133 stars

Putting the fun back into funeral

You can’t buy the kind of natural chemistry and comic timing that Kathryn Bond and Lorna Shaw have got going on. These Essex girls make it all look very easy, which is usually a sign that a massive amount of work has gone on to make their new hour as…

Will Franken

6 Aug 20132 stars

Lukewarm satire and little laughs

Will Franken has been compared to a one-man Monty Python. On the evidence of this lukewarm follow-up to his acclaimed Things We Did Before Reality, he is in danger of becoming an ex-character comic. The scenarios are either not funny enough (or at all…

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Tom Rosenthal: благодаря!

6 Aug 20134 stars

A memorable, self-mocking return

Two years ago, Tom Rosenthal made an impressive Fringe debut with Child of Privilege. About halfway through that hour, he deliberately broke the show’s natural flow with a sequence which could best be described as ‘interior darts monologue’. For his…

Does My Face Look Big in This?

6 Aug 20133 stars

Boundless energy keeps character show addessing the daily grind afloat

Caroline Hardie’s show is about the daily grind and what you can try to do in order to fend off its creeping drudgery. Given the vast amount of clothes she flings around during the hour in a desperate attempt to try and find something to wear (a frantic…

Benny Boot: As Seen On TV

5 Aug 20132 stars

Attempted subversion of the artform underpinned by semi-surrealist gags fails to take off

Benny Boot’s schtick is an attempted mix of subverting the comedy form underpinned by a stream of semi-surrealist gags which Mitch Hedberg would have ditched the moment they arrived in his head. The key word here is ‘attempted’, as Boot simply fails to…

Paul Currie: The Sticky Bivouac

5 Aug 20133 stars

Prepare for unhinged nonsense and childish things

From the Tony Law school of unhinged nonsense comes Paul Currie, dressed in a natty three-piece suit and tottering about in sweltering late-night conditions before a bamboozled but amused crowd. The first few minutes of the show are taken up with Currie…

David Quirk - Shaking Hands With Danger

5 Aug 20132 stars

Reflective but gag-free tale on the consequences of cheating on the love

This Australian comic made a strong impression when he first arrived at the Fringe in 2010, with his quiet manner which pushed open the door for his dark material to have a greater impact. There felt like a real daring about the way he refused to be…

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Shane Mauss: Mating Season

5 Aug 20133 stars

An American comedian we'll want to see back at Fringe...with a bit more edge?

Wisconsin comic Shane Mauss tells us he has flattened out his accent down the years and that his mum would be appalled to hear him talking the way he does to this Edinburgh crowd. Perhaps his comedy, too, has lost its edge, because the reputation he…

KelFi & FiKel

5 Aug 20132 stars

Excessive battering away at taboo a shame for duo with good chemistry

It all starts rather promisingly with the bawdy Australian duo of KelFi and FiKel sitting by the stage discussing their script as we take our seats. It’s all pleasingly postmodern as they decide (in conjunction with their tech) to switch a couple of…

Joey Page: Reality Is Outside, Paradise Is In Your Brain

5 Aug 20131 star

One-offness at the Fringe...not in a good way

Joey Page is a rare beast on the comedy circuit, a unique presence in a world packed with observational comics who are failing to keep it real, what with all those jokes they keep telling. How do we know Joey is so unique? We know this because he keep…

God, Greed and Football

5 Aug 20131 star

A show so flimsy that the comedian himself has little faith in it

From the moment Simon Lilley walks on stage and falteringly attempts a satirical assault on the estate agents of the world, it’s clear that we’re all in trouble. Lilley has little or nothing to say about the three core elements of his very long hour and…

Davey Connor Live! But Not in Your Living Room

5 Aug 20133 stars

Debut solo Fringe show for Scottish comedian

Davey Connor’s story about being a terrible ‘James Bond’ alongside a former Miss Scotland for a charity campaign is becoming his ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. He’s done it as the Glasgow Comedy Festival and here it pops up in Edinburgh (and who knows, maybe…