Reviews & features: Brian Donaldson

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Rapper turned stand-up Doc Brown set for 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

13 Aug 2013

The former rapper turned stand-up proves how not Unfamous he now is

Eagle-eyed followers of this page might be beginning to spot a pattern. Last issue, we featured clowning maestro Doctor Brown right here and this time around, it’s his very-near namesake, Mr Doc Brown. There are some who still want to view him as ‘the…

Nish Kumar - Nish Kumar is a Comedian

13 Aug 20134 stars

Weighty subjects, quality delivery

Last year, Nish Kumar reflected on how his ‘ethnically ambiguous face’ led to him being mistaken (usually by racists) for having his roots in everywhere from Brazil to China and many more in between. More recently, a meme did the internet rounds with…

Claudia O'Doherty: Pioneer

13 Aug 20132 stars

Minimalist humour, minimal joy

With her 2010 solo debut Monster of the Deep 3-D, Claudia O’Doherty’s lo-fi whimsy was a genuine delight. Her subsequent shows (including last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated The Telescope) have gradually increased in physical scope to the point…

Thünderbards

13 Aug 20134 stars

Giving the sketch show a really good name

There’s barely a dud moment in this fantastic debut hour from Matt Stevens and Glenn Moore as they whizz through a bunch of scenes held together by their undercurrent squabbling and subtle power games. With each claiming to be the cool one of the pair…

Mike Wozniak: Take The Hit

13 Aug 20134 stars

A wonderfully wry return to form

Mike Wozniak’s Take the Hit is a conceptual triumph all the way down to its finest details. The modesty of the venue and the unsociable time-slot run contrary to the glitzy backdrop and his tuxedo-based attire: Wozniak wants to give us a blast of…

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Bacon Face: It's all Bacon

13 Aug 20133 stars

The Fringe’s worst-kept secret is out there

This cult Canadian comedian with a mask adorned by bacon proclaims that his target audience is the forest dweller of the Pacific Northwest and, really, there’s little chance of anyone else understanding his references. Given that this is the biggest…

Bo Burnham: What

12 Aug 20134 stars

A blisteringly big show from Boston’s Bo

It’s three years since American prodigy Bo Burnham burst onto the Fringe stage with an incomparable show in an intimate Pleasance Dome room. He’s here for a shorter run in a much bigger venue and while you can’t blame him for reaping larger rewards in a…

New Art Club

11 Aug 20133 stars

Emotional rollercoaster about image and health

Tom Roden and Pete Shenton have been merging their ‘choreographic minimalism’ and light comedy for 12 years now, but it’s unlikely they will have delivered quite so personal a show as this one. As the crowd gathers, we are given a couple of separate…

The Pin

11 Aug 20134 stars

Sketch poster boys lead from the front

Straight off the bat, you can see exactly where The Pin pair are coming from. A thousand times now, we’ve witnessed a double act which features one half who thinks he/she knows it all but is actually just as much of a buffoon as the other (Bottom…

Thrice

11 Aug 20132 stars

Bleak, black and banal

When comedy sisters Sarah and Lizzie Daykin made their Fringe debut in 2010 as Toby, there was much critical acclaim for their innovative daring and unapologetic bleakness. Their almost too-realistic sketch narrative of sibling rivalry spilling over…

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Patrick Ness at the Edinburgh Book Festival

11 Aug 2013

More than just young adult fiction

In an interview last year, Patrick Ness spoke of the way his stories direct him rather than the other way round. Admitting that he never set out to write young adult fiction, Ness allows the ideas to suggest which direction his stories should go in.

Alfie Brown

11 Aug 20133 stars

Underpowered attack on hypocrisy

There’s every reason to believe that this particular night will turn out to be the worst show of Alfie Brown’s 2013 Fringe run, but a star rating can’t project beyond what a reviewer witnesses within the hour. And for this performance, Brown fought with…

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…

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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…

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…

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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…

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…