Edinburgh Free Fringe round-up

This article is from 2009

Edinburgh Free Fringe round-up

Robin Ince

In a festival where Ricky Gervais can charge whatever he wants for a show in the Playhouse and sell out comfortably, as well as expecting to pay £10 for a half-decent comedian nobody's heard of, it's nice to see the free alternatives still going strong.

A main part of that strength would be the brilliant Beta Males' Picnic (●●●●) whose silly but smart sketch show manages to be just as clever and quipful as Idiots of Ants or Pappy's Fun Club. Looking the part in waistcoats too, and with a matching air of grinning eccentricity, few free acts are so charming and so prepared.

Jay Foreman preforming as part of the The Complete Guide to All Human Knowledge in 59½ Minutes (●●●) is similarly impressive compared to both his free peers and more established acts, singing simple songs with wonderful lines of thought that Flight of the Conchords wouldn't turn their noses up at. And the more songs about Dick Van Dyke, the better.

Moore and Metcalfe (●●●) manages to be a mixed bag that still brought out more laughs than several bigger names. Nathaniel Metcalfe is particularly engrossing with a surreal, meandering line of dry observations, delivered in an perfectly unsettling manner. His Sugar Puffs/Honey Monster comment is the stuff of dreams. Jake Moore, though, is less worthy of such praise, even if he is graphic novel writer Alan's nephew.

The biggest name on the Free Fringe is of course Robin Ince though. One of the hardest working men in comedy brings four shows to the festival, including two free ones. Carl Sagan Is My God (●●●), on in the afternoon brings science to lunchtime, educating and entertaining in his usual bitter, insistent way. There's help from a few friends too, including Baba Brinkman and his Rap Guide to Evolution.

For variety too, the Voodoo Room Cabaret (●●●) is hard to beat in value for money terms. A menagerie of burlesque striptease, comedy and improv material is ever-changing each evening, but always welcomed.