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Punchline recommends Mr Swallow – Houdini

22 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

Image of Mr Swallow PosterFrom the moment you enter the room to the beautiful, haunting sound of Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and set eyes on the sumptuous backdrop of rich red curtains, you enter a different world. Nick Mohammed, in the guise of Mr Swallow and Harry Houdini, is present right from the start, with a mischievous grin which never fails unless he is protesting about the death defying nature of his performance requirements. He does this with a comic expertise which has the audience in fits of laughter.

He is joined by not one but two lovely assistants, David Elms and Kieran Hodgson who are not only essential to the magic tricks and comic songs, but also provide other characters and drama. David Elms impressed Punchline last year with his performance in Adam Riches’ Coach Coach, not to mention his stand-up, but this year he has demonstrated a versatility which is stunning. Kieran Hodgson’s facial expressions and comic flare remind me of a very young David Tennant which has to be a great sign.

The sheer variety of skills displayed by the tightly knit team is awe-inspiring, but I didn’t have time to really appreciate it during the performance because I was too busy smiling and laughing with the total delight of a child. The show manages to take the audience back to a time of comedy and variety more familiar to our grandparents or great-grandparents and it is utterly thrilling. There is nothing vintage or nostalgic in this performance however; there are asides which are bang up to date and there is a guarantee of quality in the total commitment to the contents which blend together various fascinating elements of Houdini’s – and Mr Swallow’s – character.

In the last few years, Tom Binns has performed alchemy with the combination of clairvoyancy and comedy. Now Nick Mohammed has done it with escapology. Magic and comedy seem like a natural combination, devoid of the pretension and posturing that so many people find off-putting in other magicians. There is nothing to fault here, just let yourself enjoy the spectacle, and wonder whether Nick Mohammed will be still here to perform another magnificent show tomorrow…

Catch Mr Swallow – Houdini at 7pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29 August

Punchline Recommends: John Hastings – Integrity

21 Aug

Words by Iain McLaren

Photograph of John HastingsWhat do you get when you cross David Cameron, a pig, a working visa, a pussy, a family crisis and some strange friends? An epic tale delivered with the flair and comedic panache that could only be John Hastings and his new show, Integrity.

In this insightful hour John shares his views on his adopted British home while describing, in quite some personal detail, his friends, family, and exploits while back home in Canada. This former Punchliner continues to grow in stage presence while his all-inclusive style and jokes will appeal to all walks of life.

Catch John Hastings: Integrity at 9.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29 August

Punchline Recommends Tom Binns is Ian D Montfort: How to Touch Dead People

21 Aug

Words by Iain McLaren

Photograph of Tom Binns as Ian D MontfortIn a world ruled by science let go of your inner sceptic and give yourself over to the brilliant and ethereally tuned Ian D Montfort. In his new show he attempts to explain his gift from his own unique perspective with “real” life laugh a minute examples. Whether it’s speaking with the spirits, angels and your dead pets or divining the future and reading your mind, Ian will convince you that the best way to deal with the supernatural is with belly laughs and a realisation that not everything can be or is worth really trying to explain. Catch a glimpse of the other side before the end of the Fringe and while Ian’s mystical energies are at their peak.

See Tom Binns is Ian D Montfort: How to Touch Dead People at 8pm at Assembly George Square Studios until 28 August

plus Tom Binns: Summertime Special with Ivan Brackenbury and Ian D Montfort at the same venue at 1pm until 28 August

See our oringial recommendation for the best 2016 Fringe shows here

Punchline recommends Larry Dean: Farcissist

21 Aug

Words by Iain McLaren

Most of us have had a bad date or two in our search for that special someone, but few can share those stories in the same hilarious and engaging manner as Larry Dean. Join him for an hour of honesty delivered by a someone with a keen eye for the funny side of life and an amazing ability to share it with everyone. This comedian is just coming in to the height of his powers, expect big things!

See our recommendation as part of the best 2016 Fringe shows here and see the man himself at the Pleasance Courtyard at 7.15pm every night until 28 August. Tickets and info here

Punchline Recommends Adam Hess: Feathers

20 Aug

Word by Ross Stark

Photograph of Adam HessAdam Hess gives his all in this fast paced, frantic but wonderfully funny hour.

Like a toddler high on Haribo, he runs down the aisle and leaps to the stage. The first 30 minutes are frantic, in fact the whole show is; so many stories, so little time. Without pause he rattles through his routine at lightening speed.

This is Hess’s style and he works it so well, knowing exactly what he’s doing as he blitzes through the first few jokes, barely leaving any time for laughter. When he does eventually pause there is an almighty roar as uncontrollable laughter sweeps throughout the room. Young to old, every single person seems to be in fits.

Hess is full of wonderful material, from interviews to dates, parents to school. All topics doing the the same thing; painting this wonderful picture of a socially awkward but hysterically funny guy. Hess is renowned for his great one liners and though he delivers plenty within this set they suddenly seem second best to these excellent anecdotes.

Genuinely one of the funniest shows I have seen this fringe. Adam Hess is highly recommended.

Catch Adam Hess: Feathers at 4.10pm at Heroes @ The Hive until 28 August

Felicity Ward answers Punchline’s Burning Questions

19 Aug

Photograph of Felicity WardWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

You will cry. It’s just a matter of when.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

You will cry. It’s a matter of when.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August?

The illusion that I will eat salad.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member?

That was the first boob my son has ever seen.

Which living person would you like to spot in your audience?

A dying, philanthropist billionaire.

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh?

Everything. This city is in my bones.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

Swim in the pool. The rage of people using the lanes incorrectly really transports me from my fringe self-obsession.

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe?

I saw Rose Matafaeo and Joel Dommett’s shows and I laugh so so hard. Honestly.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s about a lady with control issues who loses her bag… mixed in with some jokes about mental health statistics, suicidal construction workers, women’s pockets and swimming.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours?

Shows I saw in Australia that are here that I loved were: Zoe Coombs Marr, Susie Yousseff, Nick Cody, Rhys Nicholson, Tom Ballard, Naht Valvo, The Blind Date Project. There are so many. I don’t know how anyone chooses.

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say?

A lot less crying than usual. Which is all anyone can truly hope for. #blessed

 

Catch Felicity Ward: 50% More Likely to Die at 9pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29 August

Sofie Hagan Answers Punchline’s Burning Questions

19 Aug Photograph of Sofie Hagan

What is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

Watch shows. Especially those by your friends. Take pleasure in the fact that we are all up here, actually doing comedy – our favourite thing in the whole world – every single night. Oh, and don’t drink. You need all your brain cells.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

Smile at flyerers and be nice to them. They are doing the toughest job in Edinburgh. When going to see shows, be open-minded, don’t just aim for the acts you’ve seen on Live At The Apollo. This is the place where geniuses like Spencer Jones, John Kearns and Richard Gadd get to do what they do.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August?

Oh, I am a Class A twat when it comes to this. I wake up with good intentions and go to bed with a stomach ache. I wake up and drink a kale-blueberry-banana-almond-milk-smoothie. Then it slowly progress to pizzas and curries.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member?

As I do the Free Fringe, I am standing with a bucket at the end of my show, in the hopes of collecting some money from the audience. I go home and count the small change afterwards. A few days ago, someone had left a note that said, “I will be your babysitter. No cash payment. Davey.” and then his phone number. I was so freaked out. He must have brought that note with him to the show and just waited for the end, so he could put it in the bucket. So unbelievably weird and disgusting.

Which living person would you like to spot in your audience?

This is a tough one – because there are some of my heroes that I would like to have see my show, but I would not want to actually spot them in my audience. I would probably panic. Mike Birbiglia is one of my favourite comedians and if he liked my stuff, I don’t know, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. One of my actual comedy heroes has told me that he is coming to see my show tonight. I already feel faint.

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh?

The taxi drivers who hate the fringe. It is so lovely. Every time I get in a cab, I act as a psychologist for poor taxi drivers who LOVE their city to bits but during August, they just want to disappear. In a time where you see your face on hundreds of flyers and posters, it’s nice to be grounded a bit every once in a while.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

Talk about it. We are all in this together. I am so lucky to be living with two of my best friends and favourite comedians, so I get to come home after a long day or wake up after a night’s sleep and go sit in the living room and share my thoughts with them.

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe?

Mat Ewins. Holy f, he is a genius. I have never seen a whole show of his and it just blew me away. I screamed with laughter alongside all the other comedians who had rushed to see it.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

I get increasingly scared the more people are around me. I am bad at crowds, I hate parties, I am always screwing up smalltalk. This year I have been forced to face that fact and I have had to deal with it. That became the show. Trying to be okay with being the person that I am.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours?

RICHARD GADD – Monkey See Monkey Do. I cannot stress this enough. If he doesn’t win everything, I don’t know what to do. Then there is no hope. It is by far the best show I have ever seen. I mean that. It left me broken and amazed and speechless. For days after I saw it, I could feel it in my whole body. Richard Gadd. By far.

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say?

“Can someone please cook me some vegetables, asap?” and knowing myself, probably, “That was the worst thing ever, I can’t believe I am putting myself through this every year. I can’t wait to go back.”

 

Catch Sofie Hagan: Shimmer Shatter at the Liquid Rooms at 7.50pm until 28 August. This is a free show so get there early (and you’ll want to pay after).

You can also see her as part of The Guilty Feminist at 4pm at Gilded Balloon, 22 to 24 August only.

Punchline Recommends: Lazy Susan – Crazy Sexy Fool

19 Aug

Photograph of Lazy Susan There are heaps of self-help videos out there on YouTube, but if Dinky and Baby ever decide to put up their sex advice videos, I will subscribe. The double act (real names Freya Parker and Celeste Dring) catch so perfectly the ditzy, wide-eyed eagerness to help, with soft American accents and squeezable cuteness. As you wait for their sexual adventures to unfold, they have you on the edge of your seat and the brink of hysterical giggles. But then the devious undercutting and one-upwomanship begins and they are SO good at this. Underhand power-grabbing tactics infuse the comic relationship between their onstage alter egos too. Celeste has just broken up with her boyfriend and Freya tries to comfort her. Cue the most delicious compliment fishing and narcissism from Celeste while Freya dreams of escaping from her downtrodden existence to a place where creatures are wild and free. With this backdrop, we are taken into a rich variety of other scenarios where each of the paired characters has outwardly positive relationships masking lots of grubby little secrets which are revealed with consummate skill and laughs aplenty.

All in all these gals take a wonderful comic slant on all those things lauded for being “relevant”: egotism, glib life advice that fits neatly into pithy little maxims for social media, self-appointed experts whose only qualification is the possession of a webcam, not to mention the glamour and danger of talking to strangers. It is a perfect hour of hilarious double-dealing and salacious thrills from two of the most talented performers in town.

Catch Lazy Susan: Crazy Sexy Fool at 7.15pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29 August and as part of Massive Lazy Girls at 11.30pm on 24-28 August

BEASTS answer Punchline’s Burning Questions

18 Aug

Photograph of BEASTSWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

 

See as much as you can.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

See as much as you can. Or alternatively, just come and see BEASTS every single day.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August?

Honestly, just milk. We cook next to nothing. It’s a steady diet of paninis and crisps. September is basically just sleeping and detox.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member?

The other day an audience member came up and pressed a fiver into James’ hand, which was weird because they’d already bought a ticket.

Which living person would you like to spot in your audience?

Elvis (we still believe).

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh?

It’s just so ruddy bloody beautiful. Also, the queues in Primark are shorter here.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

A day out at the beach can make the world of difference.

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe?

Phil Dunning. He’s brilliant and mad and very very funny.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s kind of a pageant meets game-show meets sketch-show. The three of us compete for the title of Mr. Edinburgh 2016, and depending on who wins on any given night there are three alternative endings. It certainly keeps us on our toes.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours?

Birthday Girls’ new show is an absolute blast. Also we’re very annoyed we clash with Mr Swallow’s Houdini – we’d love to see that.

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say?

“It was amazing. Now can we have a year off?”

 

 Catch BEASTS Present Mr Edinburgh 2016 at 7pm at Pleasance Dome until 29 August

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

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