Punchline recommends John Robins: The Darkness of Robins

10 Aug

Photograph of John Robins

Words by Suzy Romer

John Robins has turned his soul-wrenching pain after a relationship breakup into a triumph of a show. He brings real energy to the stage right from the start and gaily carries the audience along with him as he plunges straight into the depths of post-relationship misery. And we laugh a lot. He has an eye for his own weaknesses which he converts into gales of laughter and while he may self-consciously complain about his ex’s annoying habits, ultimately he is always the butt of his own jokes.

The picture of a relationship slowly unfolds which shows two interesting people with similar dreams but such different personalities that they make each other suffer over the smallest issues. How much salt do we need in the recipe? Where should we keep the recharger? He reveals his own character traits and points of conflict with his ex through a staggering collection of tiny details from daily life that would push any relationship over the line. This major personal event is placed expertly into a much broader context of modern life. He presents a fantastic analysis of his own feelings about sex, alcohol, friends, shame, maturity and masculinity which provides a refreshing antidote to the relentless fake images in adverts, films and TV. And let us not forget the internet’s vapid valuation of 2016 as “the worst year ever”, which he neatly puts to rest with a few pithy observations and delivers with deadpan simplicity.

For all his suffering, John Robins has clearly come away from his last relationship with a great deal of wisdom. We can hope that his next relationship benefits from it but in the meantime, his comedy certainly has. His meticulous writing and seamless presentation combine to make a deeply satisfying show.

See John Robins: The Darkness of Robins at the Pleasance Courtyard at 18.40 throughout August

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In the Hot Seat: Edd Hedges

7 Aug

Photograph of Edd HedgesClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

The Gilded Balloon. It’s the best place in Edinburgh I think. It’s like sexy Hogwarts. For me it’s like the home of comedy during the Fringe and the team who work there are the coolest people in the world. I normally just run around it until an adult tells me off.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

I’ve just moved into my flat for this year’s Edinburgh with my friends and fellow comics Adam Rowe and Dimitri Bakanov. There was a skate board. I’ve never seen three grown adults have more fun with a bit of wood on wheels.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It’s a true story about the scariest night of my life. It happened last year and I kind of kept it to myself and didn’t tell anyone until this year. The first person I told was my best friend and comedy sister Sofie Hagen. When I told her she asked if she could direct it and it’s just snowballed from there. I’m really proud of it and I’ve had so much fun traveling up and down the country with Hagen trying it out and working in cafes late at night. I’m just super excited to start showing it to people!

Who do you want to see this year?

This year I’m really excited to see Sarah Kendall, Dane Baptiste and Sean McLoughlin. They are all amazing!

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Every year I get a baked potato from the Tempting Tatti. Chicken tikka, cheese, and half a tub of butter. Followed by my second fringe tradition – chest pains.

What is your getting ready music?

I don’t really listen to music pre-show. I like to be talking to someone, it calms me down a bit more. It’s a real problem with me. I get too excited and then I spend the first 30 seconds onstage smiling and hyperventilating. It’s good to just be chatting about the weather then go on and calm and happy.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

Harambe

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

I did gigs in Germany a year ago. In the show I said ‘this is the first time I’ve performed in Germany’ after the show someone said ‘it was actually ok considering this is the first time you’ve ever performed stand up’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Billy Connolly and Father Ted.

What should Donald Trump know?

LOADS. Like. Ok. Have you seen House of Cards? I’ve been watching it and thinking there’s no way Donny-T knows all that stuff. There’s so much stuff to know!

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

You mean besides the stranglings?

Catch Edd Hedges: Wonderland at 4pm at the Gilded Balloon throughout August

In the Hot Seat: Abigoliah Schamaun

7 Aug

Photograph of Abigoliah SchamaunClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

I picture dusk, crepes, and sunrise. My first solo show starts at 7:40pm and the late night show I host, Spank!, keeps me out till about 5am every night. I spend the entire month on third shift.

The Fringe is a festival done completely in the dark for me.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

This tweet I’m trying to read in this video

I sent it around to all my friends and family at the time. No one thought it was nearly as funny as I did.

Tell us about this year’s show.

My show is called Namaste, Bitches and it’s about being a yoga instructor who loves musicals and drugs. So basically it’s about the things I love and my unhealthy relationship with all three.

Who do you want to see this year?

Tomás Ford, 5pm at the Gilded Balloon. He’s an Australian cabaret act that’s weird, high energy and sweaty. He’s my hero. I want to be like him…except…not Australian.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Steaks at The Abattoir Restaurant with my buddy and fellow comedian, James Loveridge. Also dancing ’til the wee hours of the morning on Thursdays at the Doddy & Rave in Underbelly.

It’s a big dance party and a great way to blow off steam. Sometimes they even have face painting!!!

What is your getting ready music?

Slow Ride by Foghat is my go-to. It has a driving beat but the lyrics remind you to pace your self, “take it easy”. It’s the best song to play before a show, as the gun goes off at the start of a marathon, or even for morning sun salutations. It. Is. The. TITS!

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

Barbra Streisand. I used to have the VHS of Hello Dolly! the musical and she is amazing in that film. I watched it at least once a week as a kid and I want to thank her for making such a great film and being such a fierce woman.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

 Person: I really liked your show.

Me: Thank you!

Person: No, I mean I really, REALLY liked it. You’re, like, funny.

Me: Yeah, that’s what I aim for.

Person: I just can’t believe I laughed so much. You’re good!

Me:…you know this is my job, right?

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

My dad. He used to tell me a story about having a pet catfish and would pretend to be the catfish.

Another time we made up our own Olympic diving team, just the two of us, and invented our own tricks. The big closer was when you bent over, touched your toes, and fell sideways in the water. It was called “Pocket Knife”.

What should Donald Trump know?

 Given that it looks like he doesn’t have a clue, I just wish he knew something. ANYTHING!!!

We could start with the little fact that he’s in way over his head, doesn’t have the best interests of the American people at all, and should resign. I wish he knew that.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

My mom’s going to be up for the first half of the Fringe this year so not much. I’m lucky to have parents that have always been supportive of my creative endeavors, tolerant of my weirdness, and understand I’m an adult who can make her own decisions. I’m happy I have that.

Catch Abigoliah Schamaun: Namaste, Bitches at 9.40pm at Underbelly throughout August

In the Hot Seat: Kwame Asante

3 Aug

Photograph of Kwame AsanteClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

A guy on a unicycle juggling fire in the rain!

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

A conversation me and some mates had in a pub, where we were trying to decide on which animal would make the best spirit animal. We eventually decided on a parrot, because of its ability to repeat things that have just been said. This means that it would say no to your no’s and yes to your yes’s.

Friend – ‘Hey Kwame, would you like another drink?’

Me – ‘No’

Parrot – ‘NO!’

Me – ‘…yes?’

Parrot- ‘YES!’

The idea of a party parrot had me in stitches (maybe you had to be there…)

Tell us about this year’s show.

This year’s show covers what has been a very eventful few years in my life. Finishing medical school in London, moving away from my family home, and living and working full time as an NHS doctor up in Birmingham. It’s been exciting and challenging, with many funny stories and observations along the way. I’ve used these to create a smart, laid-back and uplifting stand-up comedy hour, which I’m hoping will turn a lot of heads this festival!

Who do you want to see this year?

I’m really keen to see Daphne (Pleasance Courtyard) this year! They’ve got a good buzz around them, and I’ve seen one of their shorter sets down in Birmingham, but I keep missing their full length Edinburgh Fringe shows due to schedule clashes and sold out tickets. But I’ve bought my ticket for this year nice and early, and am now counting down the days!

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

I’ve been coming up to the Fringe pretty much every year since 2011, and the one place I visit every year is Mosque Kitchen. When money is low and self-neglect is high, I always turn to Mosque Kitchen for a reasonably priced, hot meal with lots of greens!

What is your getting ready music?

Amazing by Kanye West and Young Jeezy. The opening lyrics perfectly captures the pre-show vibe backstage; the combination of nerves and excitement. And the beat gets me into a performance frame of mind. It’s a track from a better time. I miss the old Kanye…

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

THE NEW KANYE!!

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

‘You’re quite sexy until you open your mouth.’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

When I was a child, my mum worked as a midwife. She did a lot of night shifts and so had to sleep a lot during the daytime. This meant that me and my brother had free reign to watch pretty much whatever we wanted on TV while she was asleep! One of my FAVOURITE inappropriate TV shows was The Simpsons. Inappropriate in the sense that a lot of the jokes weren’t aimed at 8 year olds (something I appreciate more now, watching back through old clips). One of my favourite Homer Simpson quotes is ‘OWWW. I have three kids and no money! Why can’t I have no kids and three money?!’

What should Donald Trump know?

6.45pm, Bunker 2, Pleasance Courtyard. He gets a special mention in my show that I know he’d love to be there for. AMAZING.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn’t approve of?

Everything! The money spent. The food and drink consumed. The hours not slept. The miles stumbled late night. But the Fringe really is one of my favourite places in the world, and my parents are slowly coming round to how much it means to me! I’ll give it a bit before I invite them up though. I have enough to worry about during my debut year, without my mum constantly complaining about the hills…

Catch Kwame Asante: Open Arms at 6.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August

In the Hot Seat: Richard Gadd

3 Aug

Photograph of Richard Gadd

If you missed last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Richard Gadd, here is your chance to see it.

Close your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

The meadows. Green, wet grass. Giant billboards everywhere. Oh, and it’s raining. Always fucking raining.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

I am dead inside.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It is a comedy/theatre show which takes place entirely in my head while I run on a treadmill. It won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year and is returning for ten days only.

Who do you want to see this year?

Hannah Gadsby. She arrives having won the Barry Award in a show I have only heard incredible things about.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

A kebab and a cry in the Elfalafel Kebab House in Bristo Place.

What is your getting ready music?

Travelling Wilburys – Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

Peter Hitchens. Just to see the look on his face.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

‘I can really see your comedy working in a completely different setting.’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

Laurel & Hardy.

What should Donald Trump know?

That he is making art tedious.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

My comedy.

Catch Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do at 11pm at Summerhall 18-27 August only.

In the Hot Seat: Sofie Hagen

1 Aug

Photo of Sofie HaganClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

My raincoat drying on a chair.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

A joke Mark Watson did on stage about a wall.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It is a show about how I was raised by my psychopathic step-grandfather in a town called Shametown. It’s a true story about emotional abuse. It’s quite dark but hopefully also funny. I sure love telling it.

Who do you want to see this year?

I need to see Bilal Zafar, Jayde Adams, Evelyn Mok, Lauren Patterson, Kwame Asante, Hannah Gadsby, Sara Pascoe, Athena Kugblenu, Sean McLoughlin, Edd Hedges, Desiree Burch, Angela Barnes, Larry Dean… If I just watch 5-6 shows a day, I think I’ll make it.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

I usually have one batch of Danish food (I’m from Denmark) delivered to my flat to the great disgust of my flatmates. I then just eat leverpostej, rødbeder and rugbrød for days. It tastes like home, my flatmates don’t steal it and I’m happy again.

What is your getting ready music?

Something happy and cheerful like Walk The Moon or The Ark.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

My dad, so I’d know where he was. LOL, just kidding, probably whoever books Just For Laughs in Montreal.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

I had someone tweet after a preview this year, ‘Great show tonight! With three months to go, you’ll be fine!’ which would have been great, was it not July.

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

There is a Danish comedian who used to do these impressions of a children’s cartoon. It was hilarious. He sounded just like the actual cartoon. I watched him all the time, crying with laughter. Later, everyone realised that he was actually the voice actor behind the cartoon. That’s when I learned not to trust anyone.

What should Donald Trump know?

I mean, at this point, just anything. Anything would be good.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn’t approve of?

Not a single thing. If that’s because my parents are hardcore or if I am just a good catholic school girl, I’ll let that be up to you to decide.

Catch Sofie Hagen: Dead Baby Frog at 2pm at the Bedlam Theatre throughout August.

Sofie is in our top recommendations for this year

In the Hot Seat: Steen Raskopoulos

31 Jul

Photo of Steen Raskopoulos

Last year Steen got Punchline’s Rosalind up on stage for a rap battle. Ever terrified of audience participation, surprisingly she left victorious and elated… and now we can’t wait to go back for more!

Close your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

I see a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream with Maltesers crumbled on top. Sorry, it’s hard to concentrate I haven’t eaten today.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

A man started shouting at a Tesco employee because there were no large condoms left. ‘How am I supposed to have sex? With a regular sized one? No, get me your manager’.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It’s a solo character sketch show with a hint of audience participation (the fun kind. The kind that isn’t scary and people give you a standing ovation and whilst chanting your name that can be heard at any venue).

Who do you want to see this year?

Tom Allen, Louisa Coates, Jess Fostekew, Luke Kempner, Anne Edmonds and Rob Broderick.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

I think a lot of performers have this tradition but crying.

What is your getting ready music?

Finish Line by Chance The Rapper.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

Probably Christopher.

 What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

(After an improv show) ‘That was a nice show for an improviser’.

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

My Yia Yia (Greek grandmother). She couldn’t pronounce Kentucky Fried Chicken – she used to call it Kentucky Fucky Chicken. To a four year old? That’s a 5 star review all day.

What should Donald Trump know?

How to tell the truth.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

Speak ill of them in interviews. But fuck them they’re not here.

Catch Steen Raskopoulos: The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess at 8pm at the Underbelly throughout August

Steen is in our top recommendations for this year

In the Hot Seat: Suzi Ruffell

28 Jul

Photograph of Suzi RuffellClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

Hurrying down the Royal Mile in the rain in between two late night gigs.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

My housemate Jenny Bede (show daily in the Pleasance Dome at 8:10pm) just accidentally threw my phone across the room and cracked my screen, her face was an absolute picture, bit of a piss take though.

Tell us about this year’s show.

This show explores what it means to be a white, gay, working class woman who straddles both the small minded views of the town I grew up in and the artsy, liberal London life that I chose for myself. Now more than ever before post Brexit and one hundred arguments my family I hope to provide a refreshingly different and important take on it on whether you can ever escape the class you were born into. I also have some cracking stuff on having my heart broken and as a teenager being a member of Portsmouth’s biggest reptile club.

Who do you want to see this year?

This question is always so hard, there’s heaps and heaps, a few that come to mind are Jenny’s (mainly to throw a phone at her while she is on stage), Tom Allen, Ivo Graham, Hannah Gadsby and I will be on the hunt for some good theatre and some mad contemporary dance.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Just absolutely smashing gigs and crying. Jokes. No it’s not really.

Also Mums for sausage and mash.

What is your getting ready music?

I love listening to The Streets, Jay Z, Beyoncé and musicals pre-gig. I am eclectic if nothing else.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

My cat, just because I will miss her at the Fringe or The 2 Dope Queens.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

‘You’re the funniest girl I have seen.’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

My Dad. He would do bits with full act outs of people he had met.

What should Donald Trump know?

That he is massive prick.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

My parents are very chill so it would probably be telling me to eat healthy and exercise and to stop worrying.

Catch Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy at 9.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August

In the Hot Seat: Spencer Jones

28 Jul

Photo of Spencer JonesThis is one of the funniest and most original acts on the Fringe. No he really is. Everyone should see this show.

Close your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

I see cobbled streets and pizza. Tartan and seagulls. Matt Ewins sat on a wall at 2 in the morning smoking cigarettes. Bob Slayer drunk climbing up the side of a bus with an angle grinder at 4 in the morning. Me in my overpriced flat trying to make something funny involving tennis balls. Boxes of unused fliers. And hopefully a full audience laughing when I wanted them to.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

I have taught my 2 year old daughter to say ‘Independent Woman’ when I am changing her nappy. That’s always funny. And last night on the phone Charlie Baker told me a story about a piano. Proper funny.

Tell us about this year’s show?

It’s a day in the life of me in my house. Some work stuff, some family stuff, and me pottering about. I’ve called it The Audition because I am pretty shit at them most of the time. They say “write what you know”.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Every year I fail to see as many shows as I could. This year I am going to try really hard.

What is your getting ready music?

Sleaford Mods. Black Grape. Stormzy. Rage against the Machine.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

My Mum. She’s never seen me do live comedy and if she was a guest then she might catch a bit of the show from the side while she was waiting to come on. I have no idea what she would do once she was on. Make everyone very sugary tea probably.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have ever had?

‘I don’t know what the hell that was, I didn’t get it, but the audience were laughing hard so, you must be good at what you do.’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

My Grandad pinching my Nan’s arse was always funny.

What should Donald Trump know?

He should know I’m coming for him, at an angle he won’t understand and will never be able to predict.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn’t approve of?

My Mum might read this so I am keeping quiet. But let’s just say Crack and Bondage and Armed Robbery.

Catch Spencer Jones: The Audition at 6.20pm at Heroes @ Monkey Barrel throughout August

In the Hot Seat: Mae Martin

28 Jul

Photograph of Mae MartinClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

My own reflection, looking pretty rough and haunted.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

My friend and I came up with characters who are obsessed with talking about healthcare but compulsively apologise every time they bring it up. I don’t think it translates on paper but it made me snort for sure.

Tell us about this year’s show.

The show’s called Dope and it’s about addiction! My personal experiences with it, and in a broader sense the way we all participate in obsessive and addictive behaviour unconsciously. There’s also a lot about Bette Midler, shrimps, and love. I am very pumped for people to see it.

Who do you want to see this year?

A real ghost. Every year I spend literally hundreds of pounds on ghost tours and so far, no dice. This year I’ll just sleep in a crypt or something. I’m desperate. (Also Nick Coyle, Phil Dunning, Al Green, and many many others.)

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Every year I plan a big hike up Arthur’s Seat at 5 a.m. on the final night. I organise it and harass people about it, start group text threads etc. Then, around 3 a.m., I decide I’m too tired and disappear, and my friends do it without me.

What is your getting ready music?

Jay Z – Hard Knock Life.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

BETTE MIDLER. She’s vivacious. She’s outrageous. She’s a triple threat. OR Adele. Imagine Adele emerging from behind a curtain and singing Someone Like You. You’d win every award.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

‘I don’t usually like female comedy, but you’re pretty good.’

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

I remember watching the French and Saunders parodies of Silence of the Lambs and Misery and pissing myself even though I’d never seen the original films and understood

nothing.

What should Donald Trump know?

What the inside of a prison cell looks like.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

Comedy.

Catch Mae Martin: Dope at 8pm at the Laughing Horse @ City Cafe throughout August

Mae Martin and Nick Coyle: Show Party at 10.30pm at the Laughing Horse @ City Cafe throughout August

And for a taste of Mae’s style, have a look at our recommendation from last year

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