Tag Archives: assembly

Punchline loves Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

24 Aug

Photograph of Hannah Gadsby

Words by Suzy Romer

When Hannah Gadsby appears on stage, her manner is gentle and the first part of her show eases us into a comfort zone with perfectly poised jokes and wry observations about famous men, sexuality and barista culture in remote Australian villages. So deftly does she bring us into her world that we are hardly aware that we are being neatly introduced to the principal themes of her talk; reputation, human divisiveness (especially homophobia) and a pervasive culture which encompasses everything from ignorant insults to hatred and violence. With brilliant simplicity, she shows us how men like Donald Trump, Bill Cosby and Pablo Picasso are part of a system where powerful men are protected no matter what they choose to do with their private lives. We roar with laughter, clap and make strange animal sounds of haunted recognition as she demonstrates how art history converts heterosexual women into a couple of crazy stereotypes and wipes out lesbians altogether.

While there are well-turned anecdotes and cheeky punchlines aplenty, this comedy territory goes way beyond the usual frontiers. Each joke is targeted with clear intention and full awareness of its effects on listeners. Every word counts. But her greatest achievement is making her audience feel empathy. She does not do this by giving us warm fuzzy feelings but rather guides us through a complex range of emotions lurking beneath our laughter and then suddenly hits us in the gut with an absolute truth that leaves us literally looking for a corner to sob in as the lights go up. She makes us feel the world as other people feel it. This may not sound like a barrel of laughs but the amazing thing is that it is one of the funniest shows you will see this year. Hannah Gadsby says she is leaving the world of stand-up but I hope she realises the strength of the voice she has found and continues to use it whatever way she sees fit.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette is at 5.30pm Assembly until 27 August. It might be worth trying for returns shortly before the show…

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In the Hot Seat: Charlie Baker

25 Jul

Photograph of Charlie Baker

Punchline favourite Charlie Baker returns with another cracker of a show

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

I first performed at the festival as an 11 year old and it had a major effect on me. I did a show at The George Square Theatre and if I close my eyes I see wet cobbles in front with showbiz red and white lights reflecting off them. By coincidence this year my show is at The Omnitorium next to the GST. Life is both strange and wonderful.

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

My wife doing an impression of me when I’d just mistakenly fallen out with someone in a shop. The impression was of me backtracking realising I was wrong.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It’s a very funny one man stand up comedy show/ juke box musical of the last two years of my life. A love letter to my family and 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s pop music, a celebration of nostalgia. Also tap dancing and terrible trumpet.

Who do you want to see this year?

Camille O’Sullivan who I gigged with for ten minutes five years ago and she blew me away. John Robins is always very funny. Tom Allen has his best hour ever this year Suzi Ruffell has become a very different very funny comedy voice. Rosie Jones is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met so I’m looking forward to her show. Those Chinese drummers are always good for clearing a hangover. Spencer Jones is incredible. The act that’s made me laugh the most this year is Pat Cahill. He’s special.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

A big old walk around the venues the day before the first show. Drinking it all in.

What is your getting ready music?

As my shows  often have music in them I don’t listen to too much to get ready. I try and find a place of internal calm and stay there during during the festival so I find myself listening to lots of folk and singer songwriters. Joni Mitchell is never off the playlist for four weeks.

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

I had an idea of a joke this year where a dog comes on and bites me but having tried puppets lighting/sound effects/ my son dressed up I  haven’t been able to work out how to do it successfully. So a good guest would have been a talented celebrity dog off Britain’s Got Talent. Unfortunately the joke has been cut due to being unexpectedly unfunny. I’m pleased I didn’t hire the celebrity dog.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had? 

I often get called an ‘All rounder’ normally by people trying to dilute my stand up credentials from my hard graft in comedy clubs. The fact that I sing dance and play has no bearing on the fact that I am a stand up comedian. Cut me and I bleed a tight 20.

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

Vic and Bob. Harry Enfield, The Krankies, Cannon and Ball, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue taped off the radio, Tommy Cooper, Max Miller.

What should Donald Trump know?

When to admit you’re out of your depth.

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

I’m a grown ass man. I no longer look for or need my parents’ approval.

Catch Charlie Baker: The Hit Polisher at 8pm at the Assembly George Square Theatre throughout August

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

21 Aug

Words by Iain McLaren

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

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

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

See our oringial recommendation for the best 2016 Fringe shows here

Punchline Q&A – Andrew Ryan

11 Aug

Photo of Andrew RyanWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh? Expect nothing and it will be fun then.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer? Go and see people you don’t know,  take risks on flyers and just be impulsive.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August? Butter, milk and veg that’s gone out of date.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member? “Why are you pretending to be Irish?”

Which living person would you like to spot in your audience? My niece as she is my biggest fan.

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh? Nothing. Don’t go anywhere don’t see anything.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever? I’ve not had it yet. I like the Fringe.

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe? Seeing a woman turn up 25 minutes late for a show and then complain to staff that they should have held the show for her! I mean nobody is that important.

Tell us about your 2016 show. It’s my best show to date. I love performing it and it’s quite personal (but light).  I’ve been going through a process of change in my life from last year, starting when I had to change the way I eat so I wanted to change my behaviours in my life too.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours? Nick Cody is ace!

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say? I loved it. People came and I’ve sold out most nights so far and I want to do it again.

Andrew Ryan ‘Ruined’ is on at the Assembly George Square Studios at 7.50pm until 28 August.

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Holes by Tom Basden

20 Aug

Holes by Tom BasdenWords by Hannah Clapham-Clark

There comes a point in the Fringe when you can’t physically stand to digest another crêpe and the thought of being penned into yet another alcohol filled patch of land fills your with momentary dread. I would, then, very much recommend Holes as the perfect remedy to Fringe fatigue.

Sitting in a coach, having numerous school trip flashbacks, whilst watching the seaside roll by is, by any standard, a lovely way to spend an afternoon. And you get to see a bright, interesting play as well? Bargain!

A catastrophic plane crash has occurred with only four survivors in tact, with three of whom are work colleagues being left stranded with a sixteen year old who lost her parents in the tragedy. After a brief panic, it’s assumed that the whole world has been destroyed and things start getting very tetchy after the last chicken chasseur has been eaten.

Admittedly, it doesn’t sound like a great start to a comedy but within seconds we are laughing due to Tom Basden’s pithy and ruthlessly sharp dialogue. Both broad and subtle, the humour pulls the play along with a pace that is impressive for what could have been a fairly stationary performance.

Each character is accurate and intricate, perfectly depicting the people we all love to hate at work or the family members we get inexplicably annoyed at; From the vapid Marie (Katy Wix), constantly seeking male attention, to Gus (Matthew Baynton), a frustrated loose cannon on the brink of losing his faculties, with Bebe Cave’s portrayal of teenage fragility and misguided obedience finally dismantling the dynamics of this very volatile group.

The play is, however, very much a vehicle to display the sheer brilliance of Daniel Rigby, and rightly so. Seeing the crisis as an opportunity to prove his masculinity and worth, Ian begins to build dams and repopulate the world, one person at a time. He is the archetypal fool, using bravado instead of wits as a means of survival and Rigby excels in depicting this blind confidence and sad insignificance.

As a fascinating, inventive and beautifully performed production, Holes succeeds in epitomising the Fringe’s ability to surprise and push the normal expectation of theatre.

You can see Holes at Assembly at 3pm until 25 August. More information and tickets here, and read our interview with writer Tom Basden here.

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Hindsight

7 Aug

Words by Susan Fordhindsight

Hindsight is a new play written by Keir McAllister especially for this year’s Fringe, and stars three Scottish actors James Kirk, Ray Mearns and Paul Sneddon.  Keir McAllister, and the cast, are all great comedians in their own rights, and bring very unique comedic quirks to the play. At 13.15 in the gorgeous George Street Assembly Rooms, ‘Hindsight’ is a true afternoon Fringe delight.

The three actors, as mentioned, personally contribute something very original to the play, and are extremely well suited to their characters.  Kirk portrays a young man, confident and brash in his youth.  Mearns is a bitter middle-aged man, who plays his part with convincing anger, and lending his Glaswegian accent poetically to the role.  Sneddon plays an older, and wiser man, a character who’s wisdom ties the ending together.

And how do they meet, or know each other within the play? That I can’t tell you, I wouldn’t want to give away an excellent story line. At first, it’s very difficult to figure out what is going on, but then as Mearn’s removes his balaclava, it all starts to sink in to place. One theme that is very dominant throughout however, is that of love: how do we handle love at different ages, what will we do for love and where are the boundaries that we are willing to push to discover just how much we love someone?

‘Hindsight’ offers a few themes in fact that will make you think about yourself, persuading you to side with one of the characters that may well represent your own personality the most.  Because of McAllister’s background as a comedian, Hindsight has been written with wit and humour in mind, and the three actors bring their comedy skills in to the mix throughout as well.  So, whilst you are trying to place yourself as a character in Hindsight, you will also have a good laugh in doing it.

Hindsight is on at 13.15 at Assembly, George Street https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/hindsight

 

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