Reviews & features: Comedy

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Joseph Morpurgo: Odessa

21 Aug 20144 stars

Exquistite one-person multi-character act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There are surely few one-person multi-character acts at the Fringe with as much talent to burn as Joseph Morpurgo. His Odessa hour has ambition by the bucketload and he possesses both the dramatic and comedic tools to carry it off with ease. Starting…

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…

Rat: Induction

21 Aug 20144 stars

Shrewd and funny sketch show hits the mark at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Rat are already standing on stage, bored and dejected, as the audience file in, hellishly inane muzak playing on a loop over the soundsystem. The trio (Alistair Donegan, David Newman and Camilla Whitehill) are trapped, waiting for an unspecified…

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…

Alun Cochrane: (Me Neither)

20 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with yet more brilliant no-frills stand-up comedy

There are many things that you can rely on during an Edinburgh August: aggressive flyering and passive-aggressive rainfall being two. A third is that Alun Cochrane will deliver a warm and witty hour of comedy (probably at his second home of The Stand).

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Chris Turner: Pretty Fly

20 Aug 20143 stars

Gags and impressive ad-libbing abound in archaeologist's comedy show

Chris Turner has a little warning sign ready to let us know that a pun is on the way. Holding the microphone at a higher, slightly awkward angle is the cue for his crowd to brace itself ahead of a spot of wordplay that will either make us laugh out loud…

Ivo Graham: Bow Ties and Johnnies

20 Aug 20144 stars

Talented young comedian delivers fine hour of comedy at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As a successful young Etonian, Ivo Graham has probably not had much experience of re-sits. Yet, here he is asking a group of lads in his front row to re-arrange themselves to avoid any further disruption. Being a child of privilege this should almost…

James Acaster: Recognise

20 Aug 20143 stars

2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show fails to live up to majesty of previous form

Last Fringe, a chance encounter with James Acaster’s father led him to berating me for only awarding his little boy four stars. Let’s hope our paths don’t cross again this August once papa Acaster gets wind of this three-star slating. The fact remains…

Jim Holland: Shoegazing

20 Aug 20142 stars

Entertainingly awkward shuffle around comedian's quirks at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘Anything an extrovert can do, an introvert can do more awkwardly.’ That’s the mantra of Jim Holland, Portsmouth-born shy guy. He also believes that real integrity is persevering with a thing you love, even if no one else will like it. He drops in this…

Josh Howie: AIDS: A Survivor's Story

20 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian on top of his game and unafraid to test crowd's limits at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Calling your show AIDS: A Survivor’s Story is one thing. Riffing for an hour on and around the disease which had a generation permanently on edge is a tough sell. At one point, Josh Howie even claims that his agent baulked when he first proposed this…

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Kevin Day: Standy Uppy

20 Aug 20144 stars

Delicious line of black comedy runs through show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s been seen many times before that a comic returning to the Fringe after a decade or more’s absence proves to be less than match-fit for a gruelling August. A steward’s enquiry won’t be necessary after Kevin Day’s run of Standy Uppy is over; he’s…

Natasia Demetriou: You'll Never Have All of Me

20 Aug 20143 stars

Fun hour of comedy with help from comic Mae Martin at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It's hard to imagine that Natasia Demetriou has much of a clue as to where this show is going, and she has the air of someone flying by the seat of her one-piece tuxedo. It's pretty joyous knockabout stuff though, despite, or perhaps because of its…

Rachel Parris: Live in Vegas

20 Aug 20143 stars

Charismatic musical comedy show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe lacks hilarity

It can be hard to strike the right note in musical comedy, but Rachel Parris is definitely in key as she returns to the Fringe with Live in Vegas. The premise of the show is a night of entertainment in a seedy hotel, with Parris playing an array of…

WitTank: Old School Secrets

20 Aug 20143 stars

Smart, psychotic and very funny twisted world presented by comedy trio

The moments of insanity scattered throughout WitTank’s new show make Old School Secrets a must-see. There is no reason why a boisterous Shania Twain should be visiting a boarding school to perform at their New Year’s Eve party but Naz Osmanoglu pulls it…

Alistair Green: Nobody's Twisting Your Arm

19 Aug 20142 stars

Thin material from self-confessed loser at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s ironic that comedians often become rich, overpraised successes by playing the hapless, dateless, penniless non-starter. Alistair Green peddles the line of self-confessed loser and outsider who ‘used to have hope’, and he certainly lays out a varied…

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Conor O’Toole's Manhood

19 Aug 20143 stars

Clever and witty writing let down by clumsiness at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘It’s quite difficult to fill a show at noon,’ says Conor O’Toole, ‘when apparently a lie-in is the best free show on the Fringe'. Luckily for him, the pillow troupe and duvet ensemble appeared to have been let out early, with the fundamentally likeable…

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

19 Aug 20143 stars

Catchy, political songs from musical comedy double act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Musical comedy double act Jonny & The Baptists (aka Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) got an unlikely publicity boost earlier this year. After setting out on their 'Stop UKIP' tour and releasing a video on YouTube, the party sat up and took notice…

Mark Watson: Flaws

19 Aug 20144 stars

Superb show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe ensures a decade on comedian remains at the top of his game

The Thomas the Tank Engine theme song is playing on repeat, the audience are blowing whistles and popping balloons at random and Mark Watson is stumbling around the room followed by a man demanding that he tweet about this experience. It’s both an…

The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

19 Aug 20144 stars

A series of grisly black comedy vignettes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ivy and Morris are The Twins Macabre, two psychic siblings that come across like creepy Victorian children trapped in the modern world. Equally influenced by Hammer Horror and the Addams Family, they brilliantly inhabit their characters: Ivy is the…

Clown Slut

18 Aug 20144 stars

Feminism redefined through clowning, dancing and kebabs at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Joanna Griffin's semi-autobiographical one woman show Clown Slut initially seems like a jolly romp through the indignities of university life, but slowly reveals itself as something much sharper. She plays a gauche protagonist, desperate to dance and…

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Lloyd Langford: Old Fashioned

18 Aug 20143 stars

Solid, dependable and reliably funny stand-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Welsh comic Lloyd Langford has been bubbling under for a while now as Rhod Gilbert's regular sparring partner (and former flatmate) on radio and TV alongside guests appearances on QI and Russell Howard’s Good News. His show, Old Fashioned, fits the…

Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution

18 Aug 20143 stars

Comedy veteran puts on engaging show but lacks spark at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkins comes in for a kicking in this show by veteran comedian Robert Newman – and it's a pretty funny one too. In 1993, alongside his erstwhile comedy partner David Baddiel, Newman was once the first comedian to sell out Wembley Stadium. This…

Sam Brady: Kindness

18 Aug 20143 stars

Departure from typical cynicism in hour of endearing comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s not always easy to stand out as a stand-up in an overflowing Fringe, and in this respect, Sam Brady was dealt an unfortunate hand. The well-seasoned comedian plays just a few exposed bricks away from another act, whose habitually loud audience…

Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls

18 Aug 20143 stars

Intrinsically odd and captivating one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With such an esoteric title, it's hard to know what to expect from Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls. Yet, even after seeing Katie Bridget O'Brien's one-woman show, it's still hard to know exactly what to make of its intrinsic oddness. She comes…

Cal Wilson: It Could Have Been Me

18 Aug 20144 stars

Loveably mad performance from New Zealand comedian with fantastic use of props

Cal Wilson is a thoroughly loveable performer and is also a bit mad. She takes us on a journey through her many and disparate alternative selves, pondering what she might have been had she not ended up a married mother-of-one performing a one-woman show…