Archive by Author

Punchline Recommends James Acaster – Reset

16 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Photograph of James AcasterIs it worth recommending a run of sell out

shows? Yes, definitely when it comes to James Acaster, because it would be an absolute crime not to. This multi-award nominee has never put on a bad show, and is consistently the highlight of the Fringe.  James Acaster is an absolute genius when it comes to writing a Fringe show, and proves again that he doesn’t need just one year to be ‘at the top of his game’, he has, and always will be, right there up at the top.

James Acaster always runs with a theme (this year being ‘reset’), and comes back to this theme throughout the show when you are least expecting it. It’s these reoccurring jokes, and the masterful timing that makes his performance so special. ‘Reset’ is a personal insight to James’s make-believe life, a whimsical fantasy that is just as surreal as it is cleverly written. There is absolutely no doubt with this year’s performance, that James Acaster is a very funny man, and a real festival treasure.

As I starting writing this recommendation, there were seats left for one date within the festival run, but I believe it now to be completely sold out.  If you find any tickets to see this comedy royalty throughout your time at the Fringe, I highly recommend it.

James Acaster performs ‘Reset‘ at 7.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August

Punchline Recommends: Suzi Ruffell ‘Common’

16 Aug

Words by Christopher Stewart

Suzi Ruffell makes a welcome return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with her new show ‘Common’, and what better way is there than to spend your time in the company of a comedian at the very top of her game?

Suzi has created an excellent hour of comedy around what it is to be working class, with stories ranging from the hilarious to the movingly personal. She delights her audience with a hilarious set, outlining how her background has affected her life, her family and her career. Suzi’s show is delivered with a confidence and zeal that will make you laugh, cringe and, on occasion, perhaps even cry. 

In lesser hands this subject might have descended into cliches of class politics, but instead Suzi Ruffell brings so much more, performing a feel-good show around the importance of accepting and embracing the past. No matter who you are, and whatever your background, Suzi’s comedic skill and assured storytelling will mean you leave this show with a spring in your step having seen one of the very best at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Suzi Ruffell’s show ‘Common‘ is on at The Mash House, PWYW, throughout the Fringe at 20.20.

Punchline Recommends: Kiri Pritchard-McLean ‘Hysterical Woman’

12 Aug

Words by Susan Ford


Kiri Pritchard-McLean has performed as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many times, under the guise of sketch groups and podcast duos, however, new show ‘Hysterical Woman’ is her first solo effort.  Punchline recommends this unmissable show as it is a fantastic hour of comedy and is a set that is beautifully sculpted with jokes. But, we also love it because Kiri brilliantly puts across a plethora of reasons why the stigma of ‘comedienne’ is one that can be abolished at this year’s Festival.

Kiri may not be the first comedian to argue that woman are indeed funny,  but she does put her points across very well through personal anecdotes. As a working comedian, Kiri regularly battles hecklers and bias just for being female, and not just from the crowd, but from other comedians, promoters and media. ‘Hysterical Woman’ shows that Kiri Pritchard-McLean is much more than a “beautiful comedienne”, she is riotously funny, very clever, and a downright magnificent comedian.

Don’t think that by going to Kiri’s new show, you will be getting purely a lecture on ‘female comedian stereotypes’. Think instead, that you will be getting to see one of the funniest people at the Fringe, who knows how to put good points across well. Kiri Pritchard-McLean performs ‘Hysterical Woman‘ at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout the Festival at 18.00. 

Punchline Recommends: Paul McCaffrey ‘Fresh Hell’

11 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Punchline always recommends the Free Fringe; a show does not need to be ticketed for it to include big names in comedy, or have a jam-packed audience everyday. Paul McCaffrey proves this point, with his 2016 show, as part of the Free Fringe, ‘Fresh Hell’. Paul McCaffrey is a very well known and well liked comedian, so I strongly recommend getting down early to the show in City Cafe to avoid disappointment. Even half an hour early before doors open, there is a huge queue, and people turned away from this gig as it reached its capacity.  But, my goodness is it worth the wait…

Paul McCaffrey is a very funny man, the kind of person who could talk about boiled eggs and have the crowds crying with laughter. Paul is a very rare breed of Edinburgh comedian, the kind of performer who wouldn’t need a hidden theme or strong political message to make himself stand out, instead, purely his laugh-a-minute personality and great anecdotes do the trick. It’s always a pleasure to see Paul perform, and he lets nobody down with his new 2016 show.

Paul McCaffrey is just one of many great performers on the Free Fringe, and is a brilliantly funny comedian, not to be missed this year. Catch Paul McCaffrey’s ‘Fresh Hell‘ at 18.45 throughout the festival at City Cafe.

Punchline Recommends:  “Help Us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope”

11 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Punchline recommends joining Tom Toal as part of the Free Fringe, as he saves the whole of Edinburgh with his new show ‘Help us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope’.  Tom Toal captivates his audience with a unique brand of narrative comedy, that is as delightful to listen to as it is superbly funny.

It would usually be unprofessional to mention a venue as part of a comedian’s set, but Ciao Roma is one of the nicest places to spend an hour of your Fringe, and a lovely setting for an excellent comedy show. Tom Toal’s new show is well-written, and jam-packed with jokes and stories from his life. Tom is charming with the audience, not just saving them from the inevitable end of Edinburgh, but entertaining them completely with his words.

Tom Toal is no stranger to the Edinburgh Festival (this year is his 3rd full solo show), but 2016 proves to portray Tom at his absolute best. Tom’s set has been magnificenly weaved into a fantastic hour of comedy, and with it being part of the free fringe, I genuinely can’t see why you wouldn’t go and see this beauty of a performance. Tom Toal performs ‘Help Us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope‘ at Ciao Roma every day during the fringe at 16.35.

Punchline Recommends Tez Ilyas ‘Made in Britain’

10 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Tez Ilyas more than entertained audiences at last year’s Fringe with the highly acclaimed ‘Tez Talks’; but 2016 sees Tez take comedy shows to a whole new level as he presents ‘Made in Britain’. Tez’s style of comedy is completely unique, and enjoyable in so many ways, but this year the highlight and most endearing quality of his writing, has to be the intimacy and honesty that he weaves into the new show.

‘Made in Britain’ is a much more personal insight into the life and mind of a total legend, Tez Ilyas.  Tez grew up in the UK, and uses his hour in the spotlight to highlight the pros, the cons, and the funny side of life in Britain. None of Tez’s anecdotes are to be expected, and not all of them are upbeat, but you can be rest-assured that Tez will make the most heart-wrenching stories a hilarious routine fit for the comedy stage.

There is a real warmth in spending an hour as part of Tez Ilyas’s audience, even when the usually dreaded crowd participation kicks in, you will find yourself itching to be a part of it. Please take the opportunity now to see Tez Ilyas at Peasance Bunker during the Fesival. ‘Made in Britain‘ is on at 17.30 throughout the Edinburgh Fringe.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean – A 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Interview

2 Aug

Interviewed by Susan Ford

You may have seen Kiri recently on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, heard her on eery podcast ‘All Killa No Filla’, or seen her perform as part of Gein’s Family Giftshop? However you already know Kiri Pritchard-McLean, you are about to know her again as one of the best new stand ups at the Edinburgh Festival, in her solo show “Hysterical Woman”. I was lucky to get a chat with the busiest lady in comedy, Kiri, as the Fringe begins to heat up this week.

kiri

Hello Kiri, how are you?
I’m cracking. As I type I’ve just woken up which means I get to get excited about the food I might eat today. The world is my oyster, although I’m almost definitely not going to have oysters. But I could, that’s the point.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
So excited but also terrified! It’s the Nemesis at Alton Towers all over again.

Although this is not your first time performing at the Edinburgh Festival, I believe this is your first solo show? Tell us more about “Hysterical Woman“…
I decided I wanted to talk about something I really cared about and that I wasn’t just going to do my normal stand up. So, I’m talking about stereotypes in race and gender. I really hope it doesn’t end up being sexist or racist, or worse, unfunny.

How does performing as part of a comedy group compare to performing solo?
Oh it’s so different! In Gein’s Family Giftshop we’re a team and we support each other when the writing and performing gets tough. Also, if they have a bad preview I’m the eyes in the room that can go “ok, you were great, you just weren’t for them”, or “you guys were lazy and that’s why it didn’t work”. When I preview my show on my own there’;s no one to tell me why it’s going wrong!

What are your expectations and dreams for this year’s Fringe?
The dream is to not go mad.  I see so many comedians let the stress and scrutiny tip them over the edge so I’;m hoping to just focus on doing a good show I’m proud of everyday. Expectations wise, I expect that for at least one week I will go mad.

What is your favourite thing about the Festival?
I adore comedy and the people that work in it, so it’s great to have most those people in one place for the month. Good eggs everywhere.

How do you plan on remaining unique with so many performers at the Fringe and what will make you stand out?
I think just staying true to what I believe in as an individual and choosing to talk about that on stage head on. If that doesn’t work I might go on a killing spree and hope it makes the front page of Chortle.

What preparations do you have in place for the lead up to the Festival?
A fair few previews plus some time put aside to find a new raincoat.

Will you be involved in any other shows other than your solo one this year?
Yes! Gein’s and sketch supremos Goose run a night in London called “Suspiciously Cheap Comedy”. We’;re doing a one off Edinburgh show on the 15th which I’m compering. It’s for charity and the line-up is amazing although we’re not announcing it yet! I’m also compering “Funny for a Grrl”, a brilliant daily showcase of all the hilarious chicks in comedy. Mary Bourke curates it so well, the shows are great. Plus she is one of the best comics I’ve worked with so come for her if nothing else!

Although you and Rachel Fairburn freak me out a lot with the content of podcast “All Killa No Filla”, I absolutely love it. Will you be bringing this back to the Festival in 2016?
Oh! We so wanted to! At present we’re still trying to find a venue but it’s looking less and less hopeful. We’re definitely going to record a load up there, if we can’t do it with an audience we’ll just do it in a darkened room at my flat. Probably more fitting that way anyway.

What’s the best and worst audience reaction that you have experienced whilst performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and how do you deal with hecklers?
I think best and worst was the same gig. In 2013 I did a split half hour with Pete Otway and one day we only had three people in. A reviewer, her friend and our friend to make up the numbers. Tough gig, particularly as our friend didn’t laugh at anything. I shouted at him afterwards and he said “I’ve heard it all before”. She actually gave us a lovely review though so although the gig was an ordeal, I got a quote out of it.

Still not forgiven my friend though.

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
So many, it is an embarrassment of riches this year. Jayde Adams is hilarious so go and see her. Goose are exceptional and about three years ahead of what everyone else is doing. Rachel Fairburn is up with her show which from what I’ve seen so far will be brilliant. Also, my best comedy friends are all taking their first hours up so go and see Brennan Reece, Pete Otway and Will Duggan (the friend that didn’t laugh). Also, my other half James Meehan is up. If you go and see him tell him I said I’;ve written all the funniest jokes in his show.

Twitter- @kiripritchardmc
Fb- https://m.facebook.com/kipritchardmcleancomedian/
Website- kiripritchardmclean.co.uk

Stuart Mitchell – a 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Interview

1 Aug

Interview by Susan Ford

stuart mitchellStuart Mitchell has been ‘Dealt a Bad Hand‘, and is coming to Edinburgh to share his experiences through an hour of stand up comedy.  Scottish comedian Stuart is no stranger to the Edinburgh Festival, and is performing a full hour of solo material this year with his new show.  As the Edinburgh Fringe kicks in this week, I caught up with Stuart to see how he is getting ready for the shows.

Hello Stuart, how are you?
I am feeling great and very much looking forward to my debut in Edinburgh. I am actually currently sitting on the Megabus to London while the person beside me is reading every word I am typing! Hopefully they come to the show!

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
YES! It is my debut show in my home country. I did my first gig in Edinburgh so it’s fitting to be returning to where it all began. Scotland is known for its sense of humour and great comedy. I have worked hard on my show and I look forward to presenting my work to a mass audience.   Most importantly I am happy with the show.

Although this is not your first time performing at the Edinburgh Festival, I believe this is your first solo show? Tell us more about the new show…
The show is called “Dealt a Bad Hand”.  From medication complications to losing both parents I share will the audience my life story.  Normally comedians do a show about their dead dad or dead mum but with me for get 2 for 1.

How does performing with other comedians as part of a show compare to performing an hour solo?
You obviously get more time on stage so you can move away from a normal 20minute club set and invite the audience into your world for a full hour.

What are your expectations and dreams for this year’s Fringe?
To enjoy it. The fringe starts 10 days after I get married. Edinburgh is my honeymoon. I am starting as I mean to go on. Disappearing for weeks and blowing all our money.

What is your favourite thing about the Festival?
The freedom to create a show from scratch that resonates with an international audience. Pulling everything together to showcase your very best hour of material. It is also great to touch base with comics you have bumped into across the world at various gigs and festivals.

What preparations do you have in place for the lead up to the Festival?
I have been to Australia, Los Angeles and even Vegas to work on the show. I have also been previewing the show across the UK & Ireland to make sure it’s the very best it can be.

How do you plan on remaining unique with so many performers at the Fringe and what will make you stand out?
Everything in the s
how is true and real. Many comedians during previews have said my show will be like nothing else in Edinburgh which is nice to hear.

Will you be involved in any other shows other than your solo one this year?
I am taking part in various spots to promote my show however my main focus is my own debut and I don’t want to exhaust myself.

What’s the best and worst audience reaction that you have experienced whilst performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and how do you deal with hecklers?
2 years ago the microphone failed and I carried on with the show. It turned out to be one of my all-time best gigs. During Edinburgh I have also been heckled by a dog and a crying baby. At the same show!

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
I saw Randy Writes A Novel in Australia and it blew me away. A must see. For something mental and totally out there (18+ only) I would say Richard Gadd. A true comedy friend and extremely talented comedian, writer and actor.

Tez Ilyas – a 2016 Edinburgh Festival Interview

31 Jul

Interview with Susan Ford

Last year, Tez Ilyas’s show Tez Talks was a huge hit, and we are very excited to see his new show ‘Made In Britain’ back in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe brochure.  Tez has had numerous TV and radio appearances (including new BBC3 short with Nish Kumar ‘Go Home Office’, and I fully expect that his 2016 Edinburgh Fringe show will make “Tez Ilyas” one of the hottest names in comedy. As the Fringe quickly approaches, I caught up with Tez to see how he is getting ready for the Festival.

Hello Tez, how are you?

Well, it’s the middle of Ramadan and we left the EU yesterday, so hungry, tired and
annoyed.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
Oh yes. Lurve the Fringe and love Edinburgh.

Tell us what you have been doing since last year’s festival?
OMA so much. I’ve made my first mainstream TV appearances including some stand-up, created my own series for Radio 4 which I think is going out in August, filmed a couple of comedy shorts with fun people, gigged up and down the country, fought off a few bigots online, got a bloody blue tick on Twitter, wrote a brand new show… oh and I went on the Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca. Phew.

Last year’s show Tez Talks was AMAZING, how do you plan on topping it this year?
That is extremely kind of you. This year’s show is a lot more personal so will give a chance for my Tezbians to get to know who I am, my background, what makes me tick and there’s also one or two pretty big revelations.

How much time and preparation goes in to writing an Edinburgh show?
Man, it’s months and months of relentless writing, performing, re-writing, doubts, abandoning ideas, moaning, and re-writes until something that was only an idea 10 months ago becomes a cohesive funny narrative that you’re proud to perform in front of people.

Previously, as part of the Comedy Reserve you took on the festival with three other comedians. How does performing as part of a comedy group compare to performing solo?
It’s definitely easier when you’re in a compilation show. The pressure’s not solely on you and the success of the show doesn’t necessarily rely on you. When you’re on your own, everything is up to you, but then the rewards are so much greater too!

Will you be involved in any other shows other than your solo one this year?
Not this year. If anyone’s reading this I’d love to play Winston Smith in an adaptation of 1984 next year. Let’s make it happen.

What are your expectations and dreams for this year’s Fringe Festival?
I would love this show to be as well received as last year’s show, I’d love to sell every single seat in my room and I’d love some awesome opportunities to come my way as a result of this show. Most importantly I want to come back from Edinburgh with no regrets, which means working as hard as I can now to ensure this show is as good as I am
capable of making it.

How do you plan on remaining unique at the Fringe and what will make you stand out?
I read somewhere that only 7% of comedy shows this year are from people of colour, so my life and my perspectives are pretty unique in the context of the Fringe festival and so I hope the same type of awesome open-minded people that came to last year’s show also come to this one too. Smileyface.

What preparations do you have in place for the lead up to the Festival?
Lots and lots of previews and gigs to make sure that every aspect of the show is nailed down.

Last year saw some great photos at the end of your show – What’s the best audience reaction that you experienced, and how do you deal with hecklers?
When people laugh at things that you’ve written and thought of it’s a great experience and I get that thing now where people ask to take selfies with me sometimes after a show or a gig and that’s quite surreal, because in mind I’m like: ‘why?’ But if that is the way society validates people then I happy to do that in exchange for their laughter. With hecklers I usually just turn the crowd against them, quite often they have this false sense that others welcome the disruption but nothing could be further from the truth. The rest of the audience soon let them know they want them to be quiet. It’s effective.

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
SO many good people are up there this year, but the five acts I’m definitely going to catch
are: Sophie Willan, Kate Lucas, Johnny Cochrane, Nish Kumar and Jamali Maddix

Laura Lexx – A 2016 Edinburgh Festival Interview

21 Jul

Written by Susan Ford

Laura Lexx is a wonderful comedian; she is feisty, funny and sharp. Lasy year’s show ‘Lovely‘ was a big hit with Punchline, and it gives me great pleasure knowing she is back again at the Edinburgh Festival with her show ‘Tyrannosaurus Lexx’. It is also very exciting that I got to speak with Laura about her new show, kicking off Punchline’s pre-festival coverage to get all us all in the good spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016.

photo by David Shell

Hello Laura, how are you

I’m very well thank you – I’ve just been out to my balcony and my tomato plant is now taller than me. It was about 4cms when I bought it so I’m feeling extremely smug.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?

Yes, the performances are always brilliant fun in Edinburgh. That buzz of people having sought you ought specifically (or accidentally) and trusting an hour of their holiday over to you is incomparable for me.

What do you enjoy most about the Edinburgh Festival?

City Restaurant Maxi Breakfast. There is no finer breakfast.

Tell us more about your new show Tyrannosaurus Lexx for 2016?

You know when you behave in a certain way, in the moment, and then look back on it and think “That wasn’t me, I wouldn’t normally be like that but I reacted quickly!” because you’ve been a bit of an eejit? Well, what if that was you? What if, every time you react quickly that’s who you actually are, but when you have time to stop and decide to act reasonably, that’s you squashing up your self?

It’s been a bit of a year of big, life changing stuff for me that’s made me catch myself behaving differently so I wanted to stop and have a look at it.

Your show last year was brilliant. How do you plan on topping it?

Oh, thanks! The show and I have grown up a bit this year, I think. Last year’s show really looked at my anxiety over falling in love, this year I’m looking at the aftermath of marriage! It’s meant to be about all these big topics like social media’s effect on your mind and racism in this country, but I only really know how to write stuff using animal montages to get my points across.

How much time and preparation goes in to writing an Edinburgh show?

Years. I started writing Tyrannosaurus Lexx during August 2015 and I’ve not finished tweaking it yet. Hours and hours and months and months. It’s like a word puzzle finding the best slot for each idea and joke. It’s cool.

What are your expectations and dreams for this year’s Fringe Festival?

Survive?!

No, in all seriousness, I think it’s utterly ludicrous to have a dream bigger than “Give the people who buy tickets the best hour of their day.” Because everything other than that is out of your hands.

You owe something to the people who come and see you and that’s what Edinburgh should be about.

“Female comedian slams heckler” is just one of many recent headlines about you, tell us more about this story?

Jeepers, yeah, that really went nuts… So, I was MCing a really lovely club down in Brighton and a man right off the bat at the start of the show said he was “miserable” and then told me he was “expecting a man” and I dealt with him! I tried so hard to be upbeat but then he just wouldn’t stop heckling and chipping in so I ended up having to seriously put him in his box. It’s a pretty common story to be honest, it just happened to get filmed this time.

How much of the above Laura Lexx will you be bringing to your 2016 Edinburgh Festival performance?

I should really hope anyone having seen my poster would know they were getting a woman and not give it a second thought! There’s really nothing about my gender that affects my microphone technique.

The sass is always there, but Edinburgh is hopefully a time where you don’t have to have your heckler guard held so high!

Will you be involved in any other shows this year?

I’ll be running around being a guest on several shows like The Noise Next Door’s Lock In, Set List and Fast Fringe.

I’m heavily involved in Comedians’ Cinema Club which I’ll be appearing in most dates from 16-26.

That hour is such a blast; a bunch of comedians recreate a film, in an hour, with no budget, a lot of alcohol and a hell of a lot of enthusiasm!

What other acts do you recommend we see at this year’s Fringe?

Oh loads, I’ll keep it to a few or we’ll be here all day:

Garrett Millerick

Diane Spencer

Paul F Taylor

The Noise Next Door

Laura Lexx: Tyrannosaurus Lexx is on at 2.20pm throughout August at Just the Tonic @ The Mash House. Pay what you want. More info here

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