Reviews & features: Comedy

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John Robertson: A Nifty History of Evil

18 Aug 20143 stars

A hour of manic, horror-themed comedy storytelling at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

John Robertson begins his routine with its own prequel, a whacked-out retelling of the universe’s creation. The Aussie stand-up then launches into several manic stories involving the Marquis de Sade, Rasputin and Filipino vampires during A Nifty History…

Seann Walsh: Seann 28

18 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian returns all grown up to deliver well-crafted show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Seann Walsh is a changed man. Having previously regaled audiences at last year’s Fringe with tales of his bachelor lifestyle and Jägerbomb antics, Walsh has since settled down with his girlfriend. Fans needn't worry though, far from peddling smug…

Standby for Tape Back-up

18 Aug 20143 stars

Arresting performance/video installation mash-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Like his fellow Aisle 16 poetry boyband-ers – Luke Wright, John Osborne and Joe Dunthorne, to name a few – Ross Sutherland's a talented guy. That's certainly evident in his Fringe show this year, Standby for Tape Backup, a mash-up of drama, comedy…

The Hibrow Hour

17 Aug 2014

Multi-media arts for smart audiences including Alison Jackson and Jonny and the Baptists

The Hi-Brow Hour, which takes over an afternoon slot at Summerhall for the third week of the Fringe, is more inclusive than the average show. Not only are the individual events be recorded, they are being streamed on BBC Arts Online and shown at Odeon…

Iain Stirling: Everything

17 Aug 20142 stars

Tighter writing needed to elevate likeable comedian

Former CBBC presenter and Chortle Student Comedian of the Year, Iain Stirling is so keen to take the stage that he springs about in the wings impatiently waiting for his crowd to take their seats. He’s a relative youngster at 26 and is disarmingly eager…

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Reduced Shakespeare Company in The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

17 Aug 20143 stars

A playful and clever retelling of the history of comedy from the Reduced Shakespeare Company

The Reduced Shakespeare Company are famous for their irreverent wit and quick-fire comedic stagecraft. To see them turn their efforts to a history of their own profession presents a treat in unexpected ways. Alongside countdown lists of history’s least…

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

17 Aug 20144 stars

A flawless hour, unequivocally delightful

Josie Long’s handcrafted blend of upbeat whimsy, curiosities and earnestness has attracted a lot of ardent fans and netted her the Best Newcomer award in 2006. Detractors dismissed her as too fluffy and then, when she started to take on more political…

Miranda Sings

17 Aug 20143 stars

Colleen Ballinger performs deft, tone-deaf character comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘Haters back off!’ screams the back-drop before Colleen Ballinger aka YouTube superstar Miranda Sings takes to the stage. Later, the scatty Miranda will read out some of the nastier comments that have accompanied her online videos, which have to date…

Nathan Caton: Teenage Mutant Nathan Caton

17 Aug 20144 stars

Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show exploring what it means to be a man and a role model

At the top of the show Nathan Caton chats to the crowd making amiable jokes about a few topical subjects such as Scottish independence, the Commonwealth Games and UKIP. It looks like we're in for an hour of solid and accomplished club-style stand-up.

Twins

17 Aug 20144 stars

Laidback, freewheeling comedy from Annie McGrath and Jack Barry at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Annie McGrath and Jack Barry patently aren't twins. This misguided assumption that people can't tell them apart is a running joke throughout their show. It's simple and silly but they just about manage to keep the notion weird and quirky rather than…

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Alfie Brown: Divorced from Reality (And My Wife)

15 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian is back on top form with intoxicating, meaningful comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It would be rude to say that Alfie Brown had a gap year last Fringe, but after a blinding 2012 hour, something didn’t quite seem right about his follow-up. For those of us who trumpeted him loudly as one of the natural torch-bearers for stand-up’s…

All at Sea

15 Aug 20142 stars

Weak script lets down fearless acting by trio at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Intuitive Creatures' All at Sea employs a huge amount of audience interaction, and nowhere in the room is safe. During one skit they even come in from the back and mingle with the people hanging around casually at the bar who were mistaken in thinking…

Ellie White: Humans

15 Aug 20142 stars

Good moments and stand-out characters but not enough original material at this Edinburgh Fringe show

Character comedian Ellie White’s venue is a curse and a blessing. In the basement of a Mexican restaurant, the taco-stand aesthetic is super-cute, and recurrent references to her surroundings manage to ground her roster of characters and give the show…

Jim Davidson: No Further Action

15 Aug 20143 stars

Solid old-school comedian draws on recent scandal for precisely formed jokes

Few comedians arrive at the Fringe facing the sort of scrutiny aimed at Jim Davidson. It’s easy to forget he was once the mainstay of Saturday night television, a family entertainer who fronted BBC One’s primetime family game shows. These days his…

Kerry Godliman: Face Time

15 Aug 20143 stars

Warm character, well-executed and unoriginal observations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Judgement (or ‘being judgey’, as she irritatingly puts it), is the banner topic for this show in which Kerry Godliman sets her sights on a panoply of modern-day inconveniences. BT call centres, washing machines, reality television and the tyranny of…

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Margaret Thatcher: Queen Of Soho

15 Aug 20143 stars

Uproarious, campy fun taking in key moments of political career

Revisionist history has seen ex-PM Margaret Thatcher absurdly transformed after her passing into a feminist icon. But Matt Tedford – who has the Iron Lady’s braying condescension down to a T – has now provided the ultimate makeover for Thatcher, turning…

My Comedy Hero by Loretta Maine

15 Aug 2014

Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedian on why Sandra Bernhard's intelligent comedy inspires her

I first saw Sandra Bernhard when I was a kid watching Roseanne. I liked Roseanne because it made my family life look like The Waltons (only with less dungarees). I particularly admired the way Sandra spoke loud and was not a sexy character. I mean she…

Nev: Gold

15 Aug 20142 stars

Surreal hour shows promise despite shortcomings with venue

The vast majority of free venues are great but occasionally things go wrong and it has to be mentioned here because it was so detrimental to the show. In The Wee Pub it's the massive amount of noise bleed from next door, people wandering in and talking…

Pierre Novellie is Mighty Peter

15 Aug 20143 stars

Consistent but safe Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy debut from former Cambridge Footlights funnyman

The overriding sense that Pierre Novellie resembles the lovable BFG is hard to dismiss as the 6ft 4 comedian breaks into infectious giggles throughout this comedy debut. Intelligent lines abound throughout the hour, as he succeeds in avoiding the…

Rayguns Look Real Enough: Hall of Fame

15 Aug 20144 stars

Fast and funny mashed up rock classics at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With Ray Gunn’s tiger outfit and Luke Reel’s electric shock goth hairdo, this rock duo look like Calvin and Hobbes hit middle age and formed a band. Pulling melodies, tunes, rhythms and lyrics from across the decades, the pair have put together a…

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Rubberbandits: Continental Fistfight

15 Aug 20144 stars

Irish hip-hop trio nail winning formula of outrageous songs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

If you’ve never come across the Rubberbandits before, then do not be put off by their awkwardly succinct website bio: ‘We are hardcore gangster rappers from Limerick city in Ireland’. Yes, they do come from ‘stab city’, talk with an Irish accent so…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: Beardyman

15 Aug 2014

The beatboxer extraordinaire discusses his new creation, Beardytron 5000, and first ever TED talk

Beatboxer Beardyman has spent the last few years working on a bespoke system (‘two laptops, loads of buttons, knobs and touchscreens’) to translate sounds from his brain to his listeners’ ears. He reasons it’ll forever be a work-in-progress but he…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: BJ Novak of the US Office on debut short story collection One More Thing

15 Aug 2014

'There’s a story in my book called “Regret is Just Perfectionism Plus Time". That’s how I feel'

If you’ve ever watched the US series of The Office, BJ Novak’s face will be instantly recognisable as obnoxious temp Ryan Howard. A producer, writer and actor on the show (he landed the gig aged just 25, after producer Greg Daniels saw him at a comedy…

Mark Thomas: 'According to the police, I’m a domestic extremist – that’s my category'

15 Aug 2014

The comedian and actor, performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, discusses being spied upon

It seems to me that one of the key issues of the moment is privacy and data protection. For instance, I won’t have a loyalty card – I don’t want some supermarket knowing whether I bought porridge on a Friday or not. Also, I’m not loyal to them – I shop…

Abi Roberts' Musical CID invites comedians to talk about their favourite music

14 Aug 2014

Guests at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show include Luisa Omielan, Nathan Caton and Al Murray

'There’s a definite link between stand-up comedy and music. Perhaps it’s a rhythm thing,’ explains Abi Roberts, comedian and star of her own Fringe comedy show, *3Twerk in Progress*2. She’s recounting a car journey with a group of her fellow comedians…