For various reasons my trip to Edinburgh was much shorter than normal this year – just two days (Sat 11th and Sun 12th August) rather than my normal 5 or 6 day jaunt. Although I am sure this was much more sensible for both my bank balance and my liver I feel like I did not get my normal fix and am already looking at September comedy shows to fill the void.
The shows I did see I wanted to review to share my thoughts and recommendations. Many of these shows are likely to tour in London later this year so useful for anyone interested.
Fast Fringe – 3 stars
So this is a showcase of 12 different acts in just an hour. Its fast paced and somewhat manic. I normally like showcase shows as it gives you a little taster of people you might like to book but I think 3 minutes is not long enough to give you a real idea. The only act that really stood out for me as someone I might want to see was the compere Jared Christmas. However there were some very random things – a comedian where I had no idea what he was talking about, rappers singing about horny ghosts, and singing Moaris. I did however see someone within the showcase who I saw over a year ago preparing for Fringe in a tiny room over a pub in Stoke Newington, Mawaan Rizwan. He is a funny chap and had I had more time I would have definitely been willing to go and see his full show.
Baby Wants Candy – 5 stars
Never fails to disappoint. The third year I have been to see this and it was the highlight of this year’s Fringe. The premise is a number of professional theatrically trained performers and a band improvise a musical on stage before your very eyes, using a title provided by the audience. This includes the tune, the lyrics and any choreography. The title of the show the night I went….’Emma’s Giant Cervix’ – before it had even started one of the performers was corpsing at ‘the opening and closing of Emma’s Giant Cervix’. The female performers took the lead with this with many of the male performers admitting that they didn’t know what they were talking about. They managed to get ectopic pregnancy into a song, had one of the characters crawl through legs miming moving through the fallopian tubes and managed to end with a message about body positivity. I could go and see this every night, as it is always different.
Star Wars Vs Star Trek (with Rik Carranza) – 3 stars
This was a last minute decision when looking for something to fill a gap between pre-booked shows. Of the three of us that went I am a big fan of both franchises, D is a fan of Star Trek and M a fan of neither (he prefers shit TV like Gogglebox). The premise is that it is hosted by Rik Carranza and he has two guest comedians who come on and argue for their franchise on certain topics which vary each night. I found it enjoyable with lots of nerdy references and overall on the night based on the arguments Star Trek truly deserved to win. But its definitely not for everyone, M was bored out of his mind and some of the sections did go on a little long, I had Star Trekking by The Firm in my head for the whole weekend as that was played on the way out, and the guys made me feel super old as they have no memory of it.
Will Seaward’s Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories V – 4 stars
This is my fifth year in a row seeing Will Seaward’s Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories. It is always hilarious and throughly ridiculous and this year was no different. Although its moved from the smallest room in the Gilded Balloon to a larger room. And there were definitely some asshats in the show that kept talking, Will had to tell them to STFU and eventually they left via the back stairs, loudly. Its hard to describe the premise of this as its silly scary stories written by Will who’s exuberance, thesaurus like vocabulary and expressions make it so funny. Sometimes there are jokes so niche that only a couple of people are laughing (I was ashamed that so few people didn’t get the Octopus’ Garden joke, the heathens). However M who saw him last year and I felt the stories this year were not quite as good, particularly the last segment was so strange I felt like I perhaps needed more booze to fuel me through it. However as always I laughed myself silly and would highly recommend.
Jolly Boat : Why do Nerds Suddenly Appear (Free Fringe) – 3 1/2 stars
We got flyers for this show during a gap in our schedule, and I remembered having seen them during a Fast Fringe type show years ago. The opening is something called Pirate Pop Songs – basically a medley of famous songs with comic pirate themes such as ‘I kissed a gull and I liked it’, and various references to mateys, arrrgh, leprosy, gangrene and rum. Very clever and funny. The rest of the show is very varied from songs about shit monsters from D&D, to a love song with keyboard shortcuts, to violating Disney Princesses and Game of Thrones. Most of it is very clever and well executed, but other bits fall a bit flat if you don’t full reference to understand the joke.
James Veitch – Work in Progress – 4 stars
I was recently reintroduced to James Veitch by D showing me a lot of his videos online, and me realising I had seen him at Fringe years ago but not put two and two together. He has recently become a bit of a viral star due to the duck story. This was work in progress show so I was not expecting a polished show but lots of bits and bobs he was trying out, which is indeed what it was. I respect comedians that do this as it allows them to be vulnerable, but also how else do you find out what works and what doesn’t. That being said one of the funniest parts was James sharing an email his agent had received that week complaining about the work in progress and how he should be ashamed. I am sure he was grateful for the additional material from the grumpy self important moron that felt the need to send that email. Some very funny bits, and even when he was thinking about how to say what he wanted it was still strong stuff (admittedly he was very hungover which just added to the comic pauses and burping behind curtains). I really enjoy his natural presence with the audience and am very much looking forward to seeing what comes out of these shows into a tour or TED talk.
Shit-faced Shakespeare : Hamlet – 4 stars
I’ve now seen Romeo & Juliet and the Merchant of Venice as Shit-faced shows, and also the Wizard of Oz during Shit-faced showtime. (Hoping to see Oliver Twist in London in September). The premise is that its a shortened version of the play, with real Shakespearean actors but one of them gets well and truly hammered before the show. Two audience members get given noise makers which they can use to give the drunk another drink, and the compere can also give an additional drink. Its good fun figuring out who the drunk is (it was Hamlet’s father who fluffed his lines early on, started laughing and told Hamlet to fuck off). I did find this drunk a bit less ridiculous than other drunks I have seen in these types of show, and didn’t quite get into this version as much as I have previous events. Also the audience got very frustrated with one of the audience members who didn’t use their noise maker to give a drink until literally 5 minutes before the end (the compere actually used their additional drink first which I had never seen). The drunk did however down it after prompting by the audience and get a forth drink. It was good fun, and lots of laughs but not as good as previous versions I have seen hence 4 stars rather than 5.