Reviews & features: Comedy, Brian Donaldson

593 reviews

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Wayne Thallon: Procreation

22 Aug 20131 star

Wholly artless and unenjoyable display from 'A Spanking in Paradise' writer/director

Straight from the kick-off, Wayne Thallon confesses that he’s not a stand-up comic, he’s never even done an open mic slot and he won’t be stepping up on a comedy stage again beyond August. The reason he’s doing this at all is to raise funds for the…

Lead Pencil

22 Aug 20133 stars

A bubbly sketch show

Lead Pencil are the Portlandia of the Fringe. Like the US cult TV comedy, the trio of Louise Beresford, Maddie Rice and Dave Bibby have chosen to pitch their hour as being rooted in the 1990s. But, like the Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein show…

Matt Okine: Being Black & Chicken & S#%t

22 Aug 20133 stars

Grasping towards a bigger narrative

With this solid Fringe debut hour, affable Aussie Matt Okine races through a torrent of material with an eye for the intermittently strange. Gentlemen, how many of you have attempted, even just the once, to orally pleasure yourself? The ensuing…

Richard Herring: We're All Going To Die

22 Aug 20134 stars

A delirious exploration of death

‘22 fucking years’. That’s how long Richard Herring has been heading up to Edinburgh with plays and stand-up shows, and while he might come across as sounding a little begrudging that he makes this annual trek north, he clearly still loves it. And after…

Tim Key: Work-in-Slutgress

22 Aug 2013

Comedy Award winner brings us an excellent work-in-progress

If Tim Key’s 2011 Masterslut could have been dubbed his ‘bath show’, it looks like his next venture will be viewed as the ‘bed show’. This Work-in-Slutgress (man, he has really painted himself in a corner with the old Slut branding) that he is parading…

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Alexei Sayle

20 Aug 20135 stars

A masterclass from the alternative comedy pioneer

Without naming any names, a number of British comics who were big in the 80s and 90s have returned to the stand-up stage. Their comeback appearances merely proved that they made a wise move stopping in the first place. With this breath-taking hour…

Lloyd Langford

20 Aug 20133 stars

The comic attends the Fringe to talk about the numerous eejits and muppets of the world

He’s not much of a Jessie J fan is Lloyd Langford. It’s not the music he’s less than enamoured with but her ongoing statements in the press that she would shave her head for charity, only for her life to continue for many months with her barnet intact.

Helen O'Brien: Bronagh's Big Weekend

20 Aug 20132 stars

80's nostalgia act is more of a storytelling piece than an out-and-out comedy show

Was there a clerical error committed when Helen O’Brien’s show was popped into the comedy section of the Fringe programme? As a piece of nostalgic fare about the mid-1980s, it hits one or two spots, but it’s more of a one-woman storytelling piece with…

Roll it in Sequins

20 Aug 20132 stars

Largely painful character sketch from the Heffernan/Fletcher duo

While the jokey revelation of the show’s title provides a mild hint of satisfaction, it really is much too little and far too late for this largely painful character sketch affair from Megan Heffernan and Sophie Fletcher. They introduce us to the…

Russell Kane: Smallness

20 Aug 20134 stars

Physical fun and mind-tickling delights

Russell Kane wanted to see the ‘whites of their eyes’ for this Fringe run of Smallness in the titchiest venue he could find at the Pleasance. Lucky people in nightly clumps of 55 gained access to an act who is more used to playing in front of…

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Alex Horne: Lies

16 Aug 20132 stars

A blip in a largely flawless Fringe career

For many years, Alex Horne has been one of those reliable Fringe comedy acts. With his natural stage presence allied to a fierce intelligence, he always produced shows that would make you think before the inevitable laugh came out; at its peak, the…

AntiGraham

16 Aug 20133 stars

The sketch crew Graham on the right tracks to produce a jaw dropping Fringe set

Not sure what sketch crew Graham did to have a negative applied to this year’s almost-eponymous show title, but the positive outweighs any genuine downsides to this sprightly hour. You may recognise the quartet from their School of Comedy days and with…

BEASTS

16 Aug 20133 stars

Quickfire visual gags hit the mark despite bridled material

In a year in which some young bucks have ripped up the sketch show format to blistering effect (The Pin, Thünderbards), there lingers a slight feeling that the likes of BEASTS might be getting slowly left behind. After a solid enough debut last year…

Gráinne Maguire's One Hour All Night Election Special

16 Aug 20133 stars

Retrospection of past failures and general election obsession

It’s difficult not to allow yourself to be dragged along on the wave of Gráinne Maguire’s infectious enthusiasm for her subject. But given the slight dearth of laughs in this hour, it could well be that she hasn’t quite trawled deep enough into the…

Neil Hickey: Escape Artist

16 Aug 20132 stars

Irish newcomer's nerves undermine his bags of obvious potential

Clearly running on an abundance of nerves, Irish debutante Neil Hickey initially looks like he’d love to play the title role of his show (Escape Artist) and bolt from this small venue. A pre-entrance visual gag hasn’t gone down as well as he thought it…

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Fraser Millward's Masquerade!

14 Aug 20133 stars

A ballsy character affair makes for a memorable Fringe experience

This is the kind of memorable, if occasionally questionable experience that the Fringe was once renowned for before heavy marketing and slick professionalism got right in the way. Though given that the audience comprised one reviewer, one paying punter…

Geoff Norcott Occasionally Sells Out

14 Aug 20133 stars

Friendly verve and wit for the openly Tory comic

Now this isn’t something you see on a comedy stage every day. As a Christian and a Tory (albeit one with vague doubts about his twin faiths), Norcott is quite an anomaly within the British stand-up circuit. When he admits to being on David Cameron’s…

Joe Lycett - If Joe Lycett Then You Should've Put a Ring On It

14 Aug 20133 stars

Naughty but nice show from former Best Newcomer nominee

He might have the finest punning title on the Fringe (If Joe Lycett Then You Should Have Put a Ring on It) but some could have a case in arguing that this is the most creative thing about his new Fringe hour. But Lycett (a Best Newcomer nominee last…

Maydays: Confessions

14 Aug 20132 stars

Improv makes its way into musical comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe

The once-derided musical comedy has been given a credible spin over the last few years thanks to the likes of Hans Teeuwen, Tim Minchin, Bo Burnham. This has resulted in improv finally reaching the bottom of the pile when it comes to the comedy genre…

Sean Hughes - Penguins

14 Aug 20133 stars

A new look and a pleasing youthful effervescence from the London-Irish comic

It’s over 20 years since Sean Hughes became the then-youngest winner of the Perrier Award, and it would probably be fair to say that for a while he may have fallen out of love with stand-up. But these days, the London-Irish comic bounds around with a…

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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…

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…

Bridget Christie: A Bic for Her

13 Aug 20134 stars

A very funny and wholly committed hour about feminism

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Bridget Christie was mucking about to little acclaim in dank Fringe caves in the guise of Charles II. The world didn’t seem quite ready for her patience-testing, semi-surrealist fare back then, but only the most…

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…

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…