Free comedy

A Pandora's Box of PowerPoint and pointlessness

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This article is from 2008.

Free comedy

There is a rebellion at the Fringe this year. High venue costs have caused some artists to take matters into their own hands. Doug Stanhope is charging £7349 for a one-off show in someone's living room and the Free Fringe organisations have brought more acts than ever to Edinburgh at no extra charge. Be warned though: this Pandora's box of free comedy has murky depths and must be approached cautiously. An hour-long monologue about eczema delivered with the aid of PowerPoint feels like an uncomfortable school presentation and John Cooper's The 30 Year Itch bestows little on the audience other than irritated feet. As stand-up goes, Owen Niblock is more successful with his oddball one-liners and array of instruments. However, his left-field sentiments and musical interludes cast him as the poor man's David O'Doherty.

Sketch shows also took a hit. Despite some imaginative moments, Turonimo Numpty put the amateur into amateur theatre with their uncertain and frankly unfunny approach to the audience between skits and One Thing After Another garnered almost no laughs at all. Hollywould was better company, with rapid switches between Russian oligarch, confused carer and dog especially impressive, even if the material was shaky at points. But Fine Sketchup packs the stellar punch. The line-up changes daily but I saw Cats of the Week, Kiosk of Champions and Idiots of Ants, all of whom struck gold.

Special mention has been reserved for Freeloader: James Hazelden (pictured) who, in the bowels of Nicol Edward's, brought Antipodean magic to a wet and weary crowd. Allow the stand-up to wash over you and prepare for the songs: his ditties on his backward hometown and the alcoholic guide dog are genius. Proof at last that you don't always get what you pay for.

See edfringe.com for full details

This article is from 2008.

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