Edinburgh Fringe 2013 Preview: An Interview with Paul Currie

Paul CurrieWords by Susan Ford

Paul Currie debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1991, and has been performing stand-up since 2004. He spent an 8-year stint as a Muppeteer for Jim Henson as well as 13 years as a street performer, and trained with some exceptional street clowns. He made his big break at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011, and has recently appeared on BBC3s ‘Live at the Electric’.

Paul Currie is a whirlwind on stage, an energetic mass of unpredictable fun. He is silly, but wonderful all at the same time: I was fortunate enough to catch up with Paul before he storms Edinburgh with his Fringe show this year for an interview:

SF: Hello Paul Currie, how are you?
PC: Feeling sharp and loose.

SF: Are you looking forward to this year’s Fringe Festival?
PC: Very very much so yes. I love the Edinburgh Festival, it’s the biggest arts festival in the world, anything could happen!

SF: Your show is called ‘The Sticky Bivouac’, where does this name come from and what does it mean?
PC: It’s Old Latin for “Salmon Legs”

SF: Can you tell me more about your show?
PC: It will feature a monkey, an ironing board, my voice, my legs and a 3 piece suit.

SF: Fringe Guru described you as “a Monty Python version of stand-up comedy” but how would you describe yourself?
PC: I’m a clown, a fool. Just like all other stand ups, but they have sadly forgotten, or are to cool to admit it. But we are all clowns.

SF: You are not just a stand-up comedian, but also a street performer, puppeteer and clown – how do you fit it all in to 60 minutes?
PC: I have no idea. But you are guaranteed every night I will be a puddle of sweat at the end of each show. It’s a pretty energetic show, you really do get your money’s worth.

SF: How much will you draw on these other skills to make your show funny?
PC: They are all a part of me, my life, what my passions are. Without them it’s a fake show, its lies. I don’t want to lie to people.

SF: I’ve recently seen you perform in Edinburgh and noticed you are a fan of audience participation – how much do you rely on your audience to contribute to the show?
PC: Without an audience a comedian is alone in a room. Stand up is like sex; it’s you as a performer trying to woo and then procreate with the other person, in this case the other person is an entire audience. We’re so closed off from reality by the trend of TV that audiences forget that what is happening in front of them is actually real… its literally a slap of reality and a wake-up call. Plus adults forget how to play around other adults. It’s a big part of my show to literally connect with a crowd, touch them, feel them, and make them remember they’re alive.

SF: What kind of person would enjoy your show?
PC: Someone who enjoys silly, absurd, oblique comedy. I have found over the last 9 years of performing my type of comedy, that my demographic is massive… any age. Don’t over analyse it.

SF: You first performed at the Fringe in 1991, how many times have you performed here since?
PC: Approximately 6 times, on the streets mainly, and a few theatre shows. I fell in love with Edinburgh in ’91 as a young student. However I only first performed comedy there on my own in 2009. Then in 2011, and now again in 2013.

SF: What other acts do you recommend this year at the Fringe?
PC: Jim Henson’s “Puppet Up” show must be seen. “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” with Muppets; Paul Vickers aka Twonkey’s Castle – the best kept Fringe secret. I have seen him the last 3 years. If you like silly and surreal, do not miss this genius; Tony Law… Stewart Lee… and the “Alternative Comedy Memorial Society” at the Stand Comedy Club

SF: Where can we find out more about Paul Currie?
PC: Facebook is your best bet https://www.facebook.com/PaulCurrieComedian

Paul Currie will be performing his show ‘Paul Currie – The Sticky Bivouac’ every night (not 12th) at Pleasance Below, Pleasance Courtyard: www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/paul-currie-the-sticky-bivouac


Speakeasy @ The Storytelling Centre, with Jo Caulfield 09.07.2013

Words by Susan Ford

Jo Caulfield
Jo Caulfield

The Speakeasy is a once-a-month event, which takes place in the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Hosted by comedian and lovely lady Jo Caulfield, the Speakeasy is a colourful affair with a little bit of everything to take your fancy. The night celebrates the old-fashioned variety show by inviting musicians, comedians, actors and story tellers to the stage. Although the Speakeasy is on every month, they will be taking a break throughout August and September and returning in October: as they prepare for their 2 month gap I was lucky enough to be a member of this month’s audience.

As already mentioned, Jo Caulfield is the host, and she does a remarkable job at making all of us feel welcome and a part of the show. Jo recognises regulars in the audience, asks for everyone’s participation and creates a genuinely lovely atmosphere. She is also a very funny comedian and twists each introduction into a joke as she welcomes a variety of great minds to the Speakeasy.

Performing in the first half is Colin McLeod, mind-reader and one third of Fringe act ‘The Colour Ham’ (www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/colour-ham). He is very quick and funny, and his mind-reading skills will leave even the biggest sceptic thinking out loud about the set. Up next is fiction novelist Eleanor Updale who strays from her norm to tell a quirky true tale about her husband, showing off a natural talent for storytelling. Local improv duo Stu and Garry then perform, taking ideas from the audience to create hilarious sketches. Tonight’s short set from the two Comedy legends is a taster to what we can expect during the Fringe (www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/stu-and-garry-in-the-catchily-titled-improv-show).

The second half sees variety pushed to the boundaries, as we are treated to a comedy band, an actress with a monologue, and a favourable Glaswegian comedian to headline. The Martians sing, tell tales and dance their way through an uproarious Scottish-themed song: whilst they did lose me slightly on their Star Wars material (or Star Trek, maybe?) they were unique, original and absolutely brilliant. Up next is a monologue written by a fan of the Speakeasy, Jane Walker, performed by actress Wendy Barrett who has a gripping intensity that pulls everyone in to the punchline at the end.

To conclude the Speakeasy’s whirlwind of entertainment is headline act, the adorable Susan Calman. Because we are in the Story Telling Centre, instead of a pre-written stand-up routine, Susan narrates one of her stories from her own life. Susan Calman is a great finish to the night, she is a quality comedian, an interesting personality and a real pleasure to be in the company of. The next Speakeasy will be on October 8th 2013 at The Netherbow Theatre, Storytelling Centre.

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 Preview: an interview with Katie Mulgrew

Katie Mulgrew: Your Dad's Not Funny
Katie Mulgrew: Your Dad’s Not Funny

Words by Susan Ford

Katie Mulgrew is currently previewing her new Edinburgh Fringe show up and down the country in the lead up to this year’s festival. The performance showcases this lovely lady as an extremely funny comedian, a clever joke writer at heart and a twister of the imagination. Last year at the Fringe Katie Mulgrew performed a 30 minute set alongside Tony Jamieson, but this year sees her stand up to her first full hour set at The Stand. When she previewed her show in the Beehive Edinburgh last week, I got the opportunity to catch up with her to discuss the Fringe 2013:

SF: Hello Katie Mulgrew, how are you?
KM: I am splendid, although the hot weather has reduced me to a puddle of a woman.

SF: Are you excited to be playing this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
KM: I am more excited than I was when I first discovered you could get microwave camembert. WHICH IS VERY.

SF: How many times have you played the Fringe now?
KM: This is my first year doing a solo show but last year I did a split show with another stand up and then before that I’ve compared a couple of late shows and done various bits and bobs. I also worked in the Box office of one of the Fringe venues one year. I’ve been coming seven years but performed for about four of them.

SF: Your solo show is called ‘Your Dad’s Not Funny’, where does this name come from and what does it mean?
KM: It was what kids at school used to say to me because my Dad’s job was a comedian.

SF: Tell me a bit of what the audience can expect from your show this year?
KM: Jokes, pictures of cats and a probably poorly judged rap.

SF: What other acts do you recommend during this year’s festival?
KM: Michael J Dolan, Gary Delaney, Peacock and Gamble, Jayne Edwards, Cariad Lloyd, Gein’s Family giftshop, John Robins.

SF: What are your plans for the lead up to the festival?
KM: To try and not drive myself insane and to sleep loads.

SF: Where can we find out more about Katie Mulgrew?
KM: Well I am glad you asked me that, my website is http://www.katiemulgrew.co.uk or you can like my Facebook page thingy https://www.facebook.com/katiemulgrewcomedian
OR follow me on twitter @katiemulg. Phew, think that is all social media covered.

Edinburgh Fringe Preview 2013: an interview with Bob and Jim

bobandjimWords by Susan Ford

Bob and Jim first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1994; nearly 20 years down the line they are still on top form and returning with their 2013 show ‘Bob and Jim: Two Stars’. Bob and Jim took a break from comedy for a few years, but made one of many glorious comebacks in 2008 with their radio series ‘From Land’s End to John O’Groats: In the Footsteps of My Grandfather’s Motorcycle’. They then debuted their first Fringe full hour in 2011 with ‘Modern Urges’, and performed in 2012’s epic Underbelly show ‘Go!’ when they were also finalists in the Musical Comedy Awards.

When asked about my “top ten” shows from last year’s Fringe, Bob and Jim are always at the top of my list. They tell jokes that are cheeky for children, but on another level shockingly hilarious for adults. They juxtapose silly with clever and throw in many musical numbers to the mix, making them a not-to-be-missed comedy duo. I was lucky enough to catch up with the pair before they embark on another Edinburgh adventure.

SF: Hello Bob and Jim how are you?
BAJ: Not bad, except that Bob lost his gnome and we’re upset about Syria too. Here’s how we’ve coped with the gnome situation:

SF: Tell me a bit about your act?
BAJ: We’re an old school musical double act. Traditional, yet modern. Popular with some people’s mums.

SF: How long have you been doing comedy for?
BAJ: 6,247 hours.

SF: Where is your favourite place to perform?
BAJ: Generally in a comedy venue, but you can’t be picky. Last year, we performed 26 shows in a converted classroom in Scotland. We’ve done churches, hotels, schools and hospitals. We also like Hamburg.

SF: This is not your first time at the Edinburgh Fringe, is it?
BAJ: Our first time was way back in 1994. We did a feminist physical theatre new writing piece about violence against women. It was very moving. Jim was on the organ. Bob was on Katie Everard.

SF: Your Fringe show 2013 is called ‘Bob and Jim – Two Stars’, where does this title come from and what does it mean?
BAJ: There are lots of stars up at the Fringe, but we’re lucky enough to have two stars in the same show – that’s us. Bob and Jim. Most sketch groups and musical duos are lucky if they’ve got one.

SF: On the advert for your show you claim to feature pop music, groupies, anarchy, showbiz anecdotes, jokes, heavy metal, acting, medieval folk songs, the odd bit of mime, prizes, a 40 minute lull and a ukulele – how do you squeeze it all in?
BAJ: We didn’t write the advert. But, we do go at it hell for leather. And we have a drink to keep us energized. Also, there may not be prizes.

SF: What other acts do you recommend from this year’s Fringe?
BAJ: Ask us again in September when we find out who’s recommended us. And of course, Dave, Mike, Susie, both Brians and Barbara (but she’s not really an act).

SF: What are your plans for Bob and Jim on the lead up to the Fringe Festival?
BAJ: Try and get a few early nights in. We have embarked upon a health regime, which has meant cutting back on tiring rehearsals and walking to the pub.

SF: Where can we find out more information about Bob and Jim?
BAJ: If you hang around the Wetherspoons, you’ll usually hear an opinion about Bob and Jim. Alternatively, the Post Office have a form. Then there’s always, www.bobandjim.co.uk, www.youtube.com/user/BobandJimUK, www.facebook.com/bob.andjim.1, and www.twitter.com/bobandjimuk.

Edinburgh Fringe Preview 2013: an interview with Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan high res by steve ullathorneWords by Susan Ford

Patrick Monahan is renowned for his superb anecdotes, his unique charm and his unmistakeable brand of humour. He will be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe for his 11th year this year, to perform a brand new hour of comedy ‘The Cake Charmer’ at The Gilded Balloon.

Patrick Monahan was most recently seen on TV as host of ‘Jongleurs Live!’ (Sky) on ‘Fake Reaction’ (ITV2) and ‘12 Again’ (CBBC/BBC2). Patrick’s many other TV appearances include ‘The Comedy Annual’ (ITV1) ‘Daybreak’ (ITV1) ‘Loose Women’ (ITV1) and ‘The Wright Stuff’ (C5). In 2011 , as well as winning the ITV1 series ‘Show Me The Funny’ which led to the release of his debut DVD ‘Patrick Monahan Live’, he won the 2011 Forth Radio Best Stand-Up People’s Choice Award and was in ‘The Wrestling’ which won an Edinburgh 2011 Fringe First.

As Pat gets ready for a festival full of hugs, I caught up with him to discuss the charms of cake, 2013 side-projects, and Pat’s guide to the Edinburgh Festival.

SF: Hello Pat Monahan, how are you?
PM: I’m brilliant thanks, I’m loving the sunshine and loving the fact that I can go out of the house with just 2 layers on instead of 7 which I have been wearing for spring. I’m not sure if it’s me old age stopping me blood circulation or if global warming is going in reverse!

SF: Are you excited to be playing this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
PM: Yep I always love going up to Edinburgh, it’s become a permanent fixture in me diary in between Xmas, Easter, Ramadan and Eid. All the big celebrations deserve a festival and there’s none bigger than the Edinburgh Fringe and it has the biggest collections of comics with flu type symptoms too.

SF: How many times have you played the Fringe now?
PM: It always feels like my first year going up because I get excited and taken away by the venues and the posters everywhere and the madness of the festival, even though I’ve been performing at the festival since 2002 and done a solo show every year since 2004. If I keep going up for the next 20 years in a row they said they will name a pavement slab after me on Teviot square, so I’m going to keep going up, even if it’s not true about the pavement slab naming promise!

SF:Your solo show is called ‘Cake Charmer’, where does this name come from and what does it mean?
PM: I love cake, I think it’s fair to say so do quite a few people and there’s nothing nicer than looking at a picture of a cake, although its nicer to actually eat a cake than look at it! This year I wanted to do a show about things that make people happy and for me its cake!

SF: Tell me a bit of what the audience can expect from your show this year?
PM: This year’s show will involve a bit of hugging, a demonstration about the joys of a cake, a bit of dancing if there’s time, a story about me making my Bollywood debut and a reflection on how flake adverts changed our life’s in the 80’s and 90’s. Also, some more hugging at the end of the show.

SF: You are also doing a ‘show’ with Bob Slayer, tell me more about setting a world record with Bob?
PM: I love hugging (as much as I love cake). And Bob loves hugging. And Bob loves not sleeping at night, so we’ve decided to beat the world record of a 25 hour hug – but our 25 hour hug will involve us going to as many shows as possible at the fringe and performing in as many as we can while hugging and letting other people join our continuous hug.

SF: Will you be involved in any other shows during the festival?
PM: Yep I’ll also be hosting Late and Live on the weekends at the Gilded Balloon and will be doing a dating show early on in the run for a week or so, which I will be road testing before bringing back up to the fringe for 2014!

SF: It’s not just about the festival though right, what else will you get up to during your month in Edinburgh?
PM: I’ll also be making my yearly visits to the Edinburgh fudge shop on the Royal Mile, the story telling centre, and the mosque kitchen for food, as well as doing my yearly walk and jog around Arthur’s seat. Edinburgh is an amazing place, so much to do, so little time.

SF: You have won quite a few awards (Best Newcomer, Loaded LAFTA’s Stand Up 2012. Best Stand-Up, ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards 2012. Forth Radio Best Stand-Up People’s Choice Award), what do these mean to you as a comedian?
PM: It’s always lovely to get an award because it means that you’re doing something right and that someone is watching. Being a stand-up though isn’t really about the awards so much as the audiences who come to your shows every year and who come and give you a hug afterwards – that’s probably one of the best awards or achievements any comic can get.

SF: What other acts do you recommend during this year’s festival?
PM: There’s so much going on I’d go and watch as much as you can, go to all the different venues, and check out a range of acts you’ve never heard of as well as ones you have. There’s a double act called ‘Passeum and Headluv’ on at the Gilded Balloon who are absolutely brilliant and a pair of Cornish rappers who have great energy, who I did the Inverness comedy festival with in May and they were brilliant and great guys to hang out and work with.

SF: What are your plans for the lead up to the festival?
PM: Plenty of previews, I have about 2 hours of material because I’ve been touring all spring and putting in new stories and routines so now I need to edit this down to the new 55/60minute tight show for the fringe. Also up at Edinburgh you tend to get a lack of sleep and vegetables so I’m stocking up on as much as I can before August hits us!

SF: Where can we find out more about Patrick Monahan?
PM: You can follow me on twitter or like my Facebook page or even checkout me website or come and see me at the Gilded Balloon Wine Bar every night in August at 8.45pm!

Big Monahan hugs

Punchline 2013 Line Up Revealed: a look at Punchline’s past

Seann WalshBy Susan Ford

As the festival announcements come in thick and fast, Punchline are getting in on the action to reveal some very exciting news: October’s line-up has now been revealed. Before I jump straight in to that, let’s take a look back at the hilarious comedians and acts that have made the Punchline name so strong. Don’t worry though comedy lovers, I’ll wrap it up at the end with our big announcement…

Punchline launched in March 2012, with its first show housed in the Usher Hall. The Usher Hall sums up everything Punchline represents – it’s grand, it’s beautiful and it’s absolutely massive! Punchline promoter Rosalind Romer twisted the preconceptions of comedy and big venues, by booking acts that may not be as big as Michael McIntyre, but certainly are on the cusp of it. Playing the first show were Seann Walsh, Andrew Lawrence, Idiots of Ants, Mark Olver and the extremely surprising mystery guest Frankie Boyle: don’t just take my word for how much fun it was, here’s what the press said:

‘A brand new comedy night of the rather ace variety… a very welcome addition to the Edinburgh comedy scene’ THE SKINNY
‘A chance to get a feel for the furore of the Fringe in the middle of March’ THE STUDENT
‘An impressive launch roster’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Tip-top triple bill’ THE LIST
‘A festival in a day’ CASTLE FM

The second Punchline show in October 2012 took three of the biggest shows from the Edinburgh Festival and squeezed them in to one night. Performing were Josh Widdicombe, Roisin Conaty and Nick Helm, with host Greg Burns. Roisin Conaty has made a name for herself on BBC3s ‘Impractical Jokers’, Josh Widdicombe has been on pretty much every TV show this year, including ‘The Last Leg’ alongside Adam Hills and Alex Brooker, and Nick Helm is topped to be one of the hottest acts this festival. Catch Nick Helm and Josh Widdicombe proving how good Punchline’s taste in comedy is at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

Promo - Josh Josh Widdicombe, October 2012 Punchline performer

The most recent show in March there showed off Punchline’s pick of the Fringe 2012, with John Hastings, David Trent, Pappy’s and Charlie Baker all performing. Charlie Baker had the audience in stitches with his Devonshire charm, while Pappy’s played downright silly with hilarious and clever sketches that were completely unpredictable.

And now for our big announcement…

Whilst Punchline will not be returning to the Usher Hall on October 26th, they will be bringing back a very special comedian from the first ever show: Seann Walsh. Since his first appearance at Punchline, Seann Walsh has performed on numerous panel shows, was a team captain on Argumental, and recently filmed his own series ‘Seann Walsh World’. He will be showcasing his new show ‘The Lie-In King’ at this year’s festival and is a very welcome return to the Punchline line-up.

Alongside Seann Walsh, in the new venue The Picture House in Edinburgh, will be Ian D Montfort, Ivan Brackenbury & Des Clarke. The new line-up has incorporated Punchline’s predictions for who will be successful during the Fringe, alongside Rosalind’s unique and inside knowledge from within the comedy circuit. Don’t miss this one; tickets are available now from http://mamacolive.com/thepicturehouse/listings/upcoming-events/8328/punchline-comedy-gala

Edinburgh Festival 2013 Preview: an interview with The Pin


By Hannah Clapham-Clark

The Pin are a sketch double act tipped for great things in the future. Smart and funny in equal measure, their shows are sophisticated, witty and impressively complex. Make sure to catch their next Edinburgh Fringe show this August. Here they are being funny –

How did the two of you first meet and what were your first impressions of each other?

Alex: We met at University.

Ben: I first spotted Alex in an alley, and I wasn’t much impressed.

How did your comedy first develop and how has it changed since then?

Alex: We got stuck into student comedy with a big six man sketch show a few years ago and just kept going. Since then our style hasn’t changed drastically. We’ve got to know each other better so perhaps it’s a bit more loose on stage, with room for changing things on stage as we go. A bit more in unison I suppose.

Ben: I don’t really agree with that.

If you could describe The Pin in three words what would they be?

Alex: Silly Fun Friends.

Ben: Spot on mate.

Are there any specific sketch groups which have influenced your work? If so, who and why?

Alex: Big Train on TV was great. ‘Cowards’ is a group that really set the bar and I think they had a big influence on our writing style, particularly when we started out and were trying things out.

Ben: Later on ‘The Pajama Men’ with their fast-paced propless act definitely made us experiment along those lines.

Alex: We love ‘Sheeps’ too.

Ben: Oh yeah.

Last year’s Fringe was a big success for you, what were the high/low points? 

Alex: High points include going, on day one, to Red Box, a noodle bar near the Dome. Low point is realising in week two that you need the MSG to stay sane.

Ben: I think I spotted Matt Lucas in the audience once. (High) It wasn’t him. (Low)

Can you tell us a little but about the new show this year?

Alex: Most notably we’ve gone from three to two.

Ben: So now it’s more about us as a double act, rather than a trio. Less narrative and more about our relationship.

There’s a lot of nice things being said about The Pin at the moment, do you ever feel any pressure to get it right because of this?

Alex: Are there? Well that’s lovely. I suppose we never want to disappoint.

Ben: Can I just clarify, I said ‘an alley’: it was a backstreet, and there were other people there.

Where do you see The Pin in five years’ time?

Alex: We’d love to film some of our sketches and see if people like it. But performing live is the real deal so we’re hoping that sketch comedy keeps growing in the way stand-up has.

Ben: So long as I’m with this guy, I’ll be alright. Also, I realise that ‘backstreet’ doesn’t sound any better.

What would your advice be for young sketch comics wanting to get established?

Alex: We find the practice of discarding material as ruthlessly and often as possible helps in the long run. If you keep trying to write better stuff to replace what you’ve currently got in place you tend to end up doing alright on the night.

Ben: Go with you gut. For god’s sake don’t get that ripped out by some ‘ambitious’ surgeon.

Finally, if you could be any other comic dead or alive, who would you be and why?

Ben: I’d definitely go for an alive one. Probably Alex; I already know his lines. Or Freddy Frother- the man’s a genius.

Alex: Freddy Frother isn’t real Ben.

Ben: I know, the guy’s talent is unreal.

Alex: Forget it then.

The Pin will be performing at The Pleasance Courtyard at 6.15pm, 31st July – 26th August. Find out more at http://www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh/events/the-pin–3 and Twitter at @thepincomedy

Edinburgh Festival 2013 Preview: an interview with Robin Grainger

By Susan Ford

537807_10152773658965037_394415775_nThe Edinburgh Festival will see some of the hottest names in comedy come to our city throughout August, but wouldn’t it be more fun for us to unearth some of the smaller names that will be making a bigger impact? Returning to the Fringe for his second year is the excellent Scottish comedian Robin Grainger, who will be performing part two as a follow up to his 2012 show.

SF: Hello Robin Grainger, how are you?
RG: I am very well thank you. I am drinking coffee and have just eaten one of the 8000 scones my girlfriend has taken home from work. It’s getting a bit daft.

SF: Tell me a bit about yourself and your comedy…
RG: I’m a 24 year old comedian, currently based in Edinburgh, originally from Aberdeenshire. I started gigging in late 2010. In terms of style, I guess I’m an anecdotal and observational comedian. I tell embarrassing and daft stories about my life, and comment on topics that annoy me or make me laugh.

SF: You are playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, tell me about your show?
RG: I am indeed! Last year I did a show called ‘Applause’ with my mate Gregor, an act based in Aberdeen. It was a two-hander with a guest host from the comedy circuit each night. Gregor tells one liners, I tell stories, so hopefully everyone is catered for. We really liked the format and we are lazy so we are doing a sequel to that. It’s called ‘Applause 2: Applaud Harder’. Clever isn’t it?

SF: What differences/similarities can we expect between last year and this year’s shows?
RG: The format will be the same; an hour split between myself and Gregor with a guest host every night. It’s great for the audience, as every night is different and they see someone they perhaps wouldn’t have seen before (including us!). The hosts will be different every night and there may well be some special guests! If you guys at Punchline bump into any brilliant acts before August, give our show a mention? Cheers!

SF: You are performing as part of the Scottish Comedy Festival, how important do you feel the Scottish Comedy Festival is in amongst the Festival as a whole?
RG: The Scottish Comedy Festival started last year at the Beehive, as a way to see brilliant acts from the circuit for free. It was a huge success so I went with them for this year’s show. It is an amazing thing and very important because there are very funny people out there, who deserve to be seen, and areas of the festival like the SCF/Free Fringe/Free Fringe Fest facilitate this. The idea of free shows are wonderful, because the costs of putting on a show in the huge venues are astronomical and a lot of acts lose money. I’m skint most of the time, so the fact that I can put on a show and afford a drink at the end of it is great! The Grassmarket is always bustling with people and I think the Beehive is the only venue on the Grassmarket so it just made sense to do this year’s show there.

SF: What other free shows do you recommend this year?
RG: People think that because a show is free, it’ll be rubbish. There are so many good shows on, most of which for free: Raymond Mearns, Vlad Mctavish, Jojo Sutherland, Ben Verth, Bob Graham, Wayne Mazadza, Gareth Waugh, Gus Lymburn and Liam Withnail. Also, my lovely and talented girlfriend is in a play called Shattered and it’s at Café Camino. I’d best plug that or I won’t get any more scones.

SF: What 5 comedians would you suggest we pay to see at this year’s Fringe?
RG: Only 5? Can I do 10? Debut shows from Tony Jameson and Katie Mulgrew at the Stand; John Gordillo, Tom Stade, Set List- huge acts making up sets on the spot,Hindsight- A play by Keir McCallister that I can’t wait to see, Neil Delamere – I was lucky enough to gig with him a few weeks ago, Britains Got Fuck All Talent – this is my mate’s show, who is one of the best character comedians I have seen, Paul Currie – just go, you’ll thank me later, Iain Stirling – I’ve seen bits of his second show and look forward to the full show. I also recommend Daniel Simonsen, who is one of the most unique and funny acts I’ve seen recently, and of course Nick Helm, whose show will be an experience and a half!

SF: What else will you be doing comedy-wise in the lead up to the Festival?
RG: In the lead up to the Festival I will be gigging on the circuit as much as I possibly can and hopefully preview material as well. I’ve also been offered gigs in Berlin. Also, I’m working with some other comedians in setting up a new comedy night in Edinburgh, which will hopefully be a weekly thing. Apart from that, I’ll just be trying to get through all these fucking scones!

Robin Grainger’s show will be on at The Beehive Inn, on the Grassmarket, as part of the Scottish Comedy Festival, at 6.30pm 16th-25th of August. Find out more at http://www.robingrainger.wordpress.com and Twitter at @RobinGrainger

Edinburgh Festival 2013 preview: an interview with Tom Toal

tomtoalEdinburgh Festival is fast approaching, and as the line ups, headliners and most anticipated new acts are announced, I thought I’d get in on the action. After last year’s Fringe, I only managed to squeeze in 67 shows, but I did see some cracking comedians that are bound to make an even bigger and better mark this year. Over the next couple of months, in the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I will be talking to some of our favourite people from last year’s Festival, and to a heap of new upcoming stars we reckon you should keep your eyes on.

This week I caught up with Tom Toal, one of comedy’s rising stars who has spent last year performing in all the major clubs up and down the country to rapt audiences and rave reviews. I gave him five stars for his show in 2012 (double headliner with Ian Smith) and this year he is back again as part of a new show ‘The Comedy Reserve’.

“The T-Dog is certainly one of the most promising of today’s emerging comics.” – Steve Bennett, Chortle

SF: So Tom, tell us a bit about your Edinburgh Festival Show…
TT: The show is called The Comedy Reserve, and it is on at the Pleasance Dome at 9.30pm every night. It is an extremely lovely show to be a part of because it’s a showcase of up and coming stand ups. The alumni reads like a who’s who in comedy; Jack Whitehall, Joe Lycett, and Jared Hardy have all done it before.

SF: How many times have you played the festival now?
TT: This is my fourth time at the festival.

SF: What is your favourite thing about the Edinburgh festival?
TT: The sheer number of incredible shows that are a stone’s throw away from you at any time or place within the month, and the wealth of talent at your disposal to go and watch are really amazing.

SF: Have you gigged in Edinburgh before outside of the festival? If so, what’s your favourite venue?
TT: I have been to the Edinburgh Stand a couple of times outside the festival, and quite simply it’s an incredible venue to do stand-up comedy in, one of the best in Britain.

SF: If you could recommend five other comedians at the Fringe, who would they be?
TT: Ian Smith (I live with him) – he has put his all into this show, and I know it will be incredible; Matt Richardson – in the past I’ve shared a bed with him, but that in no way led to this recommendation, he will rock it; Bo Burnham – I’ve already booked my ticket; Matt Ewins – If you want something different and a bit out there, then go see this man; Nick Helm – In my experience of Edinburgh, every year involves a Nick Helm show, its one hell of an experience, sheer adulterated joy.

SF: Apart from your show, are you doing anything else for the Fringe?
TT: I might go swimming, and probably check out the new Partridge film…..oh and I reckon I’ll gig as much as I can.

SF: Obviously the Edinburgh Fringe is your favourite comedy festival, but what other festivals do you enjoy?
TT: Leicester is very cool, I like the city a lot and the venues are great.

Catch Tom Toal every night of the Edinburgh Festival at the Comedy Reserve alongside previous Punchline performer John Hastings. http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/comedy-reserve

By Susan Ford

Jimmy Carr @ Edinburgh Playhouse, 5 May 2013

Jimmy Carr
Jimmy Carr @ Edinburgh Playhouse, 5 May 2013

Jimmy Carr is a famous TV host, actor, writer and tax dodger.  Tonight however, Jimmy Carr trumps these monikers and puts his best attribute to the forefront: Comedian.  He self-describes his set as “2 hours of me and approximately 3 jokes every minute”, well; he’s done a better job already than any critic of summarising his stand up show ‘Gagging Order’.  Jimmy Carr is very good at taking the piss out of his own, and very public, misfortunes, but is even better at ripping it from the hecklers.  Ladies and gentlemen, take your place on the edge of your seat and welcome to the stage, the hardest working man in comedy: Jimmy Carr.

The Edinburgh Playhouse seats about 3000 people, which is an awful lot of purchased tickets, yet so many of the crowd appear to be sceptical of Jimmy’s talent tonight.  Hecklers, abusive Scots and Bank Holiday Drunks make themselves very vocally known, evidently under the impression that taking on a professional comedian in a battle of wits is a fight they can win.  How silly of them: if you choose to participate this evening, Jimmy Carr will hilariously take you down.

Obviously, Jimmy Carr is very clever, and lends his intellect to every witticism and anecdote delivered this evening.  It takes Jimmy’s art of looking at any given situation in a completely different way to the average man, to produce the best puns like he does.  He is very fast, intelligent and extremely dapper; only Jimmy Carr can add sophistication to a cock joke! It’s this elegant delivery of crude material that makes it so fall-off-your-seat funny, and the only style of comedy expected of him.

If Jimmy’s below-the-belt gags weren’t descriptive enough, he’s got some animations lined up to really imprint the punchline on to your brain.  Not for the light-hearted or easily offended, the animations portray Jimmy’s mind at work, and finish the jokes off immaculately. Straying from his standard stand up doesn’t stop there either, as he invites audience members on to the stage to take part in his dirty sitcom: it’s a good job he’s picked some good sports for the sketch as hilarity pursues yet again.

Jimmy Carr has his haters in it is clear, however, they are over-ridden by all the other people who are in support of his work here this evening.  Love him or hate him however, his jokes are undeniably fast, innovative and very, very good: try and find another comedian that can fill two hours with original material, and still have the jocularity to slam down a heckler if needed.

By Susan Ford

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