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.

The Birthday Girls answer Punchline’s Burning Questions

15 Aug

wp-1471333881847.jpgWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

LOVE YOUR SHOW. You are the only person who has to do it every day. Only worry about the things you can control, which at the Edinburgh Fringe is next to nothing, so just try and have a nice time. Remember to pack vegetables and eat them every day or you will die half way through (wine is not a vegetable).

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

Layers are your friend, Edinburgh is freezing on the outside but boiling hot whenever you step inside any venue. Check out the free fringe, there are some brilliant (and also some terrible shows) but they’re all worth seeing ‘cos they’re free! And obviously check out Birthday Girls, we’ll be here every year until we die and when we die visit our graves, we’ll be buried in the Pleasance Courtyard.

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

Apart from vegetables our faves are: lemon and ginger too soothe our voices from all the hilarious shouting we do, Lucozade Sport because sketch comedy is technically a form of sport (and also it’s one of your five a day) and crisps. Cos we like our crisps ice cold.

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

A guy in the courtyard the other day told us that he HATES sketch comedy but he LOVED our show. We’re taking down the sketco haters one at a time.

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

Our Mums. We just want them to be proud of our life choices.

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

The Scottish breakfasts. So many great items you don’t get in an English breakfast. Tattie scones yes please.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

Walk up Arthurs seat and breathe that sweet Scottish air.

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

Our Fringe Flatmate, Emma Sidi. She did a great performance piece in the kitchen with a mackerel and some lentils called ‘What Am I Gonna Have for Lunch?’.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s called SH!T HOT PARTY LEGENDS! There’s sketches, dancing and shots. It’s raucous, it’s fun, it’s a party show!

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

Mae Martin is doing a work in progress, Daniel Cook on the Free Fringe, Emma Sidi, Beasts in Mr. Edinburgh, Suzi Ruffell, Lolly Adefope.

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

We usually need two weeks to recover the power of speech but when we do we will make very enthusiastic sounds.

Catch The Birthday Girls: Sh!t Hot Party Legends at 9.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August, and as part of Massive Lazy Girls at 11.30pm 24 – 26 August only

Lazy Susan answer Punchline’s Burning Questions

13 Aug
Photograph of Lazy Susan

Photo by Bobby Goulding

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

Flyer and talk to people – you are the best person to sell your show. Commit to every aspect of your show when you perform it – your show will have flaws but try not to point out where they are. People will start coming if you do these things, so don’t worry about hype and PR and posters and all that. The one thing you have control over is your show, so just do the best job you can of that. Know that it’s very hard to do all the above so it’s ok if you don’t. Try not to flyer with the kind of earnest sincerity expressed in this answer. 

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

Set off with an umbrella, snacks and a good knowledge of cash points. Set a timer to go off in February so you can still get tickets for James Acaster. 

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

 The big four: butter, milk, veg, jam.

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

We’ve never had anything that weird that I can recall. Of course we get the backhanded compliment, ‘I don’t normally find women funny but you guys were alright’ fairly often, but that’s more wearisome than weird. 

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

Dolly Parton. I love her in the simplest, truest way. 

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

The landscape.  

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

Going and exploring the above. Or getting a hair-cut. Very soothing. 

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

It’s always going to be Lou Sanders. A classier idiot there is not. 

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s very compact and stylish. Perfect with a cocktail! Less evasively, it’s character / sketch / less categorisable bits. It’s called ‘Crazy Sexy Fool’ and this title is pretty spot on. What luck!

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

Have not seen enough to be any authority here BUT we loved ‘My Name is Gideon’. Unique, unassuming and full of soul. You won’t see anything like it. 

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

September – ‘Relentless. Knackering. Up and down.’ 

October – ‘Pretty good’ 

December – ‘Time of my life, I’m going again.’ 

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

Punchline Recommends Felicity Ward: 50% More Likely to Die

12 Aug

Photograph of Felicity Ward

Words by Suzy Romer

Felicity Ward treats us to an hour of polished, friendly stand-up with steady laughs from beginning to end. The overall show is structured around an eventful day in London but she packs in all sorts of treats along the way.

She shares personal stories and wider truths, but crucially covers some topics that are rarely discussed in a kind, accessible way. Mental health and social relationships are explored with cheerful curiosity and there is no place for taboos or negativity. She provides laughs for everyone but she also creates a phenomenon where individual audience members go into special peels of giggles as they recognise ideas and feelings that Felicity has put into words for the first time.

I saw this show with a mixed-aged audience who had been utterly drenched in the queue beforehand. Right from the start, everyone was welcomed and brought into the comedy zone and this atmosphere of fun and funny was the perfect antidote.

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

Susan Calman answers Punchline’s Burning Questions

12 Aug

Susan Calman - Photo by Steve UllathorneWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

Concentrate on the show.  Agents, PR’s, industry will try to put pressure on you to win awards or get reviews but you have to have a show that you like and are comfortable with first.  If you don’t enjoy performing the show and you realise that you have to say it every night for 28 performances you will learn to hate it and yourself.  The show matters, every audience member matters.   if you don’t storm the fringe the first time you go there, don’t worry.  It’ll be there next year, and the year after.  One day you will storm it.  When the time is right.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

Bring a cagoule and a jumper.  Always carry a bottle of water with you.  Make sure you know the locations of the toilets in every venue, and have a back up toilet in mind just in case.   See a show from someone you know, take a chance on someone you don’t, then wander to the Free Fringe/Festival and take a punt on something there.  A hidden gem might be found in an unlikely place.

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

Water.  Bottles and bottles of water.  And cheese.  Sometimes I crave cheese when I’ve finished performing and I carve off a large chunk to munch on in bed.  Sexy I know.

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

An excitable audience member once asked me on a date after the show.  That’s a tricky dynamic.  She clearly enjoyed the show and I didn’t want to disappoint her but I am legally married and therefore unable to do such things.  I gave her a firm hand shake, thanked her for coming the show but politely declined her offer.

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

Any of Helen Mirren, Tig Nataro, Joan Collins or Adele.  I would like to be all of their friends.

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

I wandered up the Royal Mile the other night. It was late, there was a mist blowing across the road and it was quite simply gorgeous.  Sometimes it’s easy to run around seeing shows and not look up to see how beautiful the actual building are. Edinburgh is a gorgeous place with lovely people living in it.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

 

I go to the gym.  I have a personal trainer who makes me cry in the mornings.  I love going there because no one tries to flyer you or tell me about their show.  Everyone is too concerned about doing some press ups.  For an hour a day I work out until I feel like being sick, what could be more fun than that?

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

I saw the Birthday Girls two years ago and I loved their show.  It was a perfect late night sketch mash up thing that was so much fun.  They made me hoot a lot.  And they are lovely women as well which is terribly annoying.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s my tenth year at the fringe and the show is about what kinds of expectations an audience might have of me.  People know me from radio 4 but may not have seen me live on stage and it can be a bit of a surprise.  This is, without question, the most consistently funny show I’ve written with the most fun in it.  It’s also political (I can’t help myself) but fundamentally funny.

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

I haven’t seen a lot of shows yet but I’d always recommend Sarah Kendall, Sofie Hagen, Felicity Ward, Lucy Porter, Bridget Christie and Showstoppers.

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

Fabulous.  I got to perform at the the greatest arts festival in the world.  Who could want more?

 

Catch Susan Calman: The Calman Before the Storm at 6.20pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August.

 

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 Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter

12 Aug

Photograph of Sofie HaganWords by Suzy Romer

Sofie Hagan is a comedy superhero and her power is dissolving contradictions. The self-proclaimed extreme introvert greets every single member of the audience on the way in. Prior to that, she has come out to the queue carrying a bundle of brightly coloured umbrellas to give to audience members in case the rain comes on again. As she addresses a packed room, her calm, direct manner is somehow never at odds with her dislike of parties, crowds and Friday nights out. She describes her adolescent longing to escape from the general incompetence of her school environment and then reveals her ingenious course of action and its consequences. Throughout everything, she makes it feel normal to feel abnormal, because real “normal” doesn’t exist at all. Nor do dragons, come to think of it, but that’s a story you have to hear from Sofie.

Her soft tones reveal bold truths about her life and ours. Her words are so honest that you feel them in your gut and your tear ducts. Subject matter which would be depressing in lesser hands becomes a rich source of wisdom and experience which bring us uplifting laughs and real joy.  Sofie jokes that she is too serious when she gets a chance between the laughs. As in her wonderful “Guilty Feminist” podcasts with Deborah Frances-White, we are reminded that it’s OK to be an imperfect feminist, which is to say an imperfect person, which is to say a human being goddammit. Can you see a contradiction there? No, not any more, because thanks to Sofie, it seems like the false distinctions and mental barriers were never there in the first place.

But don’t let me force her show into neat contradictions. There are abundant, fascinating ideas here which have been washed, hung up in the sunshine and shaken out so that they smell fresh and different. She also has that rare talent, the ability to swear really well, for maximum dramatic and comic effect. This show glows with vibrancy and Sofie leads the way in the 2016 world of comedy with serene, sure-footed ease.

Catch Sofie Hagan at 7.50pm at the Liquid Rooms until 28 August. Free fringe – get there early! More information here

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: Rachel Parris – Best Laid Plans

11 Aug

Rachel ParrisWords by Iain McLaren

In “Best Laid Plans”, Rachel takes us for a walk through her adult life and discovers that it doesn’t quite add up to everything her six year old self thought it would be. She tells her story with a light touch, a few songs, and a lot of laughs.

Come for the laughs and leave a little wiser, lighter and with an understanding that help is never as far away as you think it is.

The show’s deeply personal story is one many people will recognise, and what’s more, it comes with the best message… No I’m not going to tell you what it is. You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself, and I thoroughly recommend you do!

Catch Rachel Parris at 6.50pm at Pleasance Dome throughout August. Click here for more information and tickets

Punchline Recommends: Steen Raskopoulos – You Know the Drill

11 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

Photograph of Steen RaskopoulosThis is it. This is the adrenaline-charged, big-laugh, blow-away show I have been waiting to see like a storm chaser after a perfect storm. Steen Raskopoulos has a magic onstage presence which overtakes the audience right from the beginning. In fact he has a couple of us literally standing to attention within moments of coming on stage. In a cramped venue with tightly packed seating, he brings us together in a wave of support and readiness to play the game which is just as well because the audience participation is substantial. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, no one is exempt, although Steen does seem to have an uncanny ability to choose people who are great performers. He lets his freshly chosen co-stars shine, as there is no threat of humiliation, only the promise of a great situation and great laughs. It would be unfair to give away any of his incredibly original ideas but they are surprising and daring enough to make you wonder if you should go back another night to see how it compares.

But this is not improvisation. The show is tightly scripted with complex, imaginative use of audio recordings and fantastic character comedy. Without using sentimentality or cuteness, he simply becomes a lost little boy who is immediately gathered into everyone’s hearts. He also does a splendid movie doctor having a crisis of confidence but he adds new twists which cause delight at every turn. Steen was here two years ago but he has upped his game so much, he is now one of the major comedy players. If ya ain’t seen Steen, get your donkey in gear because this guy is slip sliding towards great things and you should catch him while you can.

Steen Raskopoulos is on at 7.40pm at Underbelly, Cowgate until 28 August. You can also see him in an improvisation show called The Bear Pack with Carlo Ritchie at Underbelly Cowgate from 16 August.

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