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Punchline recommends Laura Davis: Better Dead than a Coward

20 Aug

Laura DavisWords by Suzy Romer

Laura Davis is a big talent in a tiny venue, with more than a touch of magic. As you enter Bob’s Blundabus passed the bright cosy bar on the lower deck to go up the dark stairs, something flips in your brain and you are ready for anything.

Laura Davis owns the room (top deck) from the start and seamlessly takes a couple of unhelpful audience members in hand while treating the rest of us like we are already friends. She tells us she has been performing at the Fringe for twelve years and everything about her unique material and laid-back competence shows us how well she has used that experience. There are touches of Daniel Kitson in her ability to create visual images and take the audience with her but she has an absolutely original world view and does some ingenious material on moths and Facebook that should win some kind of literary comedy award.

Laura Davis can give extraordinary meaning to ordinary events with a warm, wry perspective that generates disproportionately big laughs in such a tiny space. She succeeds in talking about current world concerns without losing sight of the baffling peculiarity of human nature and manages to make us feel all the better for it. That’s no small feat these days, and if Laura Davis can bring together a disparate bunch of punters on a lightly swaying bus, maybe there is hope for some other stuff too.

Get tickets for Laura Davis: Better Dead than a Coward here

9.10pm | Heroes@Bob’s Blundabus | Until 25 Aug

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Punchline recommends Sophie Duker: Venus

19 Aug

Sophie DukerWords by Suzy Romer

Sophie Duker is one of the hits of the Fringe this year with her star-bright, energetic, idea-packed new show. The moment she comes on stage, her alert, observant manner and scintillating delivery captures the full attention of the audience and creates a fascinating atmosphere of attentive connection which she maintains all the way through our wonderful hour with her.

She tells us that she is tired of being expected to represent everyone who is not white, male or heterosexual and takes us through some of the stereotypes about women of colour that she discovered and tried to avoid as she was growing up. Most of the audience are on unfamiliar ground here but she takes us with her on a finely mapped journey which delves into history, popular culture and her own life with an abundance of varied jokes and surprises that keep on coming with vital energy and consummate skill.

Her material displays an impressive balance of precise writing and playful delivery and I get the impression that she would be perfectly capable of developing each strand of her show into a fully developed hour of solid funny material if she decided to do so. I very much look forward to future developments but meantime, this show was fully satisfying with takeaway laughs and ideas to go over at home. Excellent.

Buy any remaining tickets to see Sophie Duker: Venus here (though hopefully you paid attention to our recommendation before the Fringe!)

7pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25th Aug

Punchline recommends Sara Barron: Enemies Closer

18 Aug

Sara BarronWords by Iain McLaren

I first saw Sara Barron at the Fringe last year with her Newcomer nominated show, For Worse. It was a great first year and one she has followed up with another impressive show, Enemies Closer. I love Sara’s energy and American style mixed with her now ingrained British self-loathing. Her ability to engage her audience with tantalising tales and straight-talking observations of modern-day life and relationships is something some comedians struggle to master but which she excels at naturally.

Sara lunges about the stage with electrifying enthusiasm as she shares with us her life after 8 years of marriage, before recounting, in explicit detail, the tales from her friends, who she now lives vicariously through in an effort to survive her “8 year rash”. She also delves into the heart of society and embraces her openly judgemental side as she guides us through just who is a good person and who is a (insert colour language here). No one in the world is safe, and no one should be.

Grab your tickets now and enjoy the show as much as I did!

Buy tickets for Sara Barron: Enemies Closer here  

8.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends 30 minute wonder shows: Krystal Evans and Amy Matthews

15 Aug

The most common format for shows at the Fringe is the hour-long spectacular. While this is great, not everyone has time to spare, especially during the week. This year however there seem to be a range of 30 minute shows showcasing some great talent which you could take in over a lunchtime.

Krystal Evans: Fishnets

First up we are recommending Krystal Evans with her show Fishnets. Krystal has a great conversational style which instantly puts you at ease as she tells you about her home, family and masturbatory habits. OK so maybe not for all ages but for the adults this one will leave you wanting more with a big smile on your face. We hope she brings a full hour back next year.

Buy tickets for Krystal Evans: Fishnets here

12.30pm | Monkey Barrel Comedy | Until 25 Aug

 

The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews

I was really looking forward to this show after seeing Amy on BBC’s Comedy Underground. I like a performer who gets on stage and owns it. Amy is a comedian who is going places and her 30 minute set shows it. I loved the whimsy, the tales, the cleverness and the younger look at modern life all delivered with the wisdom and humour of someone much older.

Buy tickets for Amy Matthews: The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews here

13.10pm | Monkey Barrel Comedy | Until 25 Aug

 

Both these shows are pay-what-you-want but we recommend buying tickets to guarantee your seat. See them separately or as a double bill as they are in the same venue (you’ll need to come out in between shows!)

Punchline recommends Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders

14 Aug

Adam RichesWords by Suzy Romer

Audience participation has always been a thrilling, essential feature of Adam Riches’ shows. Over time he has created innumerable styles of interaction and honed his skills when treading that waffer-thin line between audience trust and unpredictability. The atmosphere of this year’s show is particularly delightful and makes me smile just thinking about it.

On this occasion, the audience are all members of a town council where a misjudged tombola prank has resulted in the untimely deaths of ten tortoises and one of us is the murderer. Our interrogator is none other than Victor Legit, a starring character of previous shows, and once he appears (after a glorious intro) we really get down to business.

From beginning to end, the show feels like going to one of the best parties ever. The perfect cross-over between brilliant character comedy and a great big daft game is so utterly absorbing that an hour slips by in carefree joy. I say this as one of the people ordered onto the stage but our host is so expert at judging who’s up for playing along that pretty much everyone involved gets exactly the right amount of lime light. Do I remember what he said half the time while onstage? No. Is it a bit hypnotic? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Thanks to Adam’s spectacular comic dexterity, the type and scale of participation, special effects and splendid surprises build up with unstoppable momentum. We giggle, dance, sing, snort and cavort our way towards a comedy climax which is made all the more intense by the knowledge that not a soul in the room knows exactly how it will turn out. Every day is different. This particular performance ends in glorious triumph as the murderer is caught and punished in fitting Adam Riches’ style. He is one of the performers who makes the Fringe so heady and so wild. Comedy heaven.

P.S. Look out for a slinky cameo from Ben Target who is also performing at the Fringe

Buy tickets for Adam Riches, The Beakington Town Hall Murders here

7.50pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 26 Aug

 

 

Punchline recommends Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern

13 Aug

Sam TauntonWords by Suzy Romer

For a lovely, friendly hour of feel-good comedy from a new name at the Fringe, look no further than Sam Taunton. He is warm, charming and self-depreciating, perhaps a little too self-depreciating but he is young and will one day stop using his ex’s words to describe himself. There’s a reason why she’s an ex!

Sam fills the show with smart observations and great stories which include all the extra flyaway comments that turn giggles into belly laughs. He covers a good mix of subjects including family, drugs and gigging in Australia. From the sound of it, he is more used to playing to boisterous crowds in Australian bars than to quiet, attentive Edinburgh audiences in converted university spaces but he adapts beautifully and ad-libs with poise and style.

Sam Taunton has good, solid material and the standard is consistently high. Look out for his name in the future.

Buy tickets for Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern here

7.40pm | Assembly George Square | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends Tom Parry: Parryoke!

12 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

If Tom Parry’s name is attached to any show as a writer, director or performer, you can guarantee it will be a great laugh. Parryoke! is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an hour in the vibrant, effervescent company of the Renaissance man of comedy.

This is his most strictly stand-up show so far, even more so than his last solo show. He tells some memorable anecdotes, shows us some unforgettable photos and connects with us through ever-so-gentle audience participation which even the most entrenched introvert will love. There are plenty of ‘nineties references which, far from being simply nostalgic, are tied into an exploration of wider themes, and he provides new laughs on the subject of Christmas presents, weddings and football. Then there’s the actual singing (never too much and always funny) and the richest comedy material about karaoke I have ever heard.

This is smart, sparkling feel-good comedy which is deliberately presented with no dark side; perfect for anyone who wants the comedy equivalent of a good pub with no TV news screens. Our multi-talented host knows exactly how to use his arts to bring us together for an hour of non-stop fun, and there are smiles and laughs all round.

Buy tickets for Tom Parry: Parryoke here

6pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 26 Aug (not 13)

Punchline recommends Josie Long: Tender

11 Aug

Josie LongWords by Suzy Romer

Josie Long has been pretty busy with a baby for the last 13 months but this Fringe she is back in comedy and has a great show at the ready. She has that marvellous standing in comedy now which creates a warm atmosphere even before she comes on stage because everyone is anticipating her arrival and knows she will be brilliant. We’ve missed her!

She greets us with a delightful song (which she claims is not a skill but it really is) before sharing some ideas about baby-related sleep deprivation which make us roar with laughter and fix any lingering bother in those of us who remember that phase with discomfort. Josie has an amazing conversational style where you almost forget you aren’t taking part in the monologue. She treats big and small subjects with the analysis and humour they deserve and boldly faces fears about politics and climate change with admirable power and perception.

Josie doesn’t simplify topics for the sake of a quick joke because her comedy comes from a deeper, more complex outlook. Life isn’t always easy and neither is her material but her dynamic ability to find the best bits and revel in them with us is a welcome pick-me-up to us all.

Buy any remaining tickets for Josie Long: Tender here

8.20pm | The Stand | Until 25 Aug

Punchline Recommends Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face

7 Aug

JaydeAdams2019

Words by Iain McLaren

I first saw Jayde Adams 2 years ago. First as part of the Pleasance Opening Gala with her iconic Pavarotti on the bus routine then her full show from the same year. I was struck by her power and her stage presence. She was brilliant. Adams is best known for her bright flamboyant shows with lots of dancing and singing. This year she has taken the potentially risky tactic of stepping out of her comfort zone and delivers more of a stand up based show.

After reflecting on her career to date, Adams has brought to the Fringe a show which looks at modern day feminism from her own viewpoint where her family household was run as matriarchy. Is Adams the new hero for this generation’s young women? Maybe not but she explains how her own journey led her to many discoveries and how it has shaped her own opinion of 4th wave feminism.

While this might be a more serious show from Adams, it lacks none of her humour or forceful nature which she is known and loved for. She might have stepped out of her comfort zone, but she walked right into another brilliant show and amazing performance.

This show is selling fast, if you want to see one of the best performers at the Fringe get your tickets now!

 

Buy tickets for Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face here

9.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames

6 Aug

Nick HelmWords by Suzy Romer

When I picked up my ticket for Phoenix from the Flames I was promised (OK… warned about) audience participation, swearing and nudity but the actual show is so much better than the sum of the parts. The glorious gruff superstar is back for his full Edinburgh run for the first time since 2013 and God it is good to see him again.

Many of his classic show highlights are present in their best versions. We enjoy some great songs that simultaneously transport and tantalise us because they are not available to listen again. We feast our eyes on a uniquely inventive stage costume that only Nick Helm could have designed with his own particular combination of mirth and majesty. His props are delightful and the big screen makes everything larger, funnier and more glamorous. As always, Nick’s material deftly balances light and dark, but this time in his bravest and most vulnerable moments, he has replaced his traditional poems with arresting truths about his most recent experiences with depression. Here we really see the skill and experience of a true comedy expert because he can take difficult material and give us the benefit his rich comic observations with some carefully chosen, lightly scattered gems of wisdom.

Nick Helm is one of a few wonderful men in comedy who dare to incorporate genuinely taboo subjects into their material and “find the funny” in a way that works brilliantly. It puts me in mind of Rob Delaney’s autobiography Mother Wife Sister.. (which deals with alcoholism) and Rhod Gilbert’s show The Book of John (which deals with IVF). In the age of debate about whether you can genuinely make jokes about any subject however hard, Nick Helm has started in the right place, with himself. If any of the jokes sound easy, it is because he has chosen to present them that way and there isn’t a lazy quip in sight. His comedy comes from a place of courage, not cowardice and that makes all the difference.

Buy tickets for Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames here

5.40pm | Pleasance Dome | Until 24 Aug (not 12)

See our original recommendation for Nick Helm here

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