Tag Archives: Best comedy at Edinburgh Fringe

Punchline Recommends James Acaster – Reset

16 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Photograph of James AcasterIs it worth recommending a run of sell out

shows? Yes, definitely when it comes to James Acaster, because it would be an absolute crime not to. This multi-award nominee has never put on a bad show, and is consistently the highlight of the Fringe.  James Acaster is an absolute genius when it comes to writing a Fringe show, and proves again that he doesn’t need just one year to be ‘at the top of his game’, he has, and always will be, right there up at the top.

James Acaster always runs with a theme (this year being ‘reset’), and comes back to this theme throughout the show when you are least expecting it. It’s these reoccurring jokes, and the masterful timing that makes his performance so special. ‘Reset’ is a personal insight to James’s make-believe life, a whimsical fantasy that is just as surreal as it is cleverly written. There is absolutely no doubt with this year’s performance, that James Acaster is a very funny man, and a real festival treasure.

As I starting writing this recommendation, there were seats left for one date within the festival run, but I believe it now to be completely sold out.  If you find any tickets to see this comedy royalty throughout your time at the Fringe, I highly recommend it.

James Acaster performs ‘Reset‘ at 7.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August

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:  “Help Us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope”

11 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Punchline recommends joining Tom Toal as part of the Free Fringe, as he saves the whole of Edinburgh with his new show ‘Help us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope’.  Tom Toal captivates his audience with a unique brand of narrative comedy, that is as delightful to listen to as it is superbly funny.

It would usually be unprofessional to mention a venue as part of a comedian’s set, but Ciao Roma is one of the nicest places to spend an hour of your Fringe, and a lovely setting for an excellent comedy show. Tom Toal’s new show is well-written, and jam-packed with jokes and stories from his life. Tom is charming with the audience, not just saving them from the inevitable end of Edinburgh, but entertaining them completely with his words.

Tom Toal is no stranger to the Edinburgh Festival (this year is his 3rd full solo show), but 2016 proves to portray Tom at his absolute best. Tom’s set has been magnificenly weaved into a fantastic hour of comedy, and with it being part of the free fringe, I genuinely can’t see why you wouldn’t go and see this beauty of a performance. Tom Toal performs ‘Help Us Tom Toal, You’re Our Only Hope‘ at Ciao Roma every day during the fringe at 16.35.

Steen Raskopoulos: You Know the Drill – Edinburgh 2016 Interview

5 Aug Photograph of Steen Raskopoulos

Photograph of Steen RaskopoulosWe loved his Steen’s show in 2014 and BBC’s “Top Coppers”. Now we’re super excited he’s back in Edinburgh! These are Steen’s answers to Punchline’s burning questions…

 

What is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?
Lower your expectations and you’ll have the best time.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?
Take a punt on someone you’ve never heard of before or go to a show where the flyerer/performer respected your physical space and wasn’t too intense.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August?
Pickles, self esteem and a half bottle of my own tears.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member?
“My friend wants to have sex with you but I said no”

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

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh?
The lush grass and trees. Love dem trees.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?
Burn the cabin to the ground.

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe?
Lou Sanders. She is bat shit crazy and I think she’s one of the funniest performers going around.

Tell us about your 2016 show.
It’s a solo sketch show with an abundance of characters, improv and a bit of cheeky audience participation.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours?
Susie Youssef, Lou Sanders, Lolly Adefope, Joel Dommett, James Acaster, Sam Campbell, Tom Walker, Austentatious and Rhys Nicholson.

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say?
The best of times and the worst of Tims. I’ve already met a few bad Tims.

See Steen Raskolpoulos at the Underbelly Cowgate at 7.40pm throughout August. Click here for more information and tickets

Punchline recommends Tom Parry: Yellow T-shirt

26 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

Imagine a long hug from a best friend you haven’t seen for ages. Now put Beethoven’s Ode to Joy on in the background. That’s how joyous Tom Parry’s show is – for a whole hour! It’s stand-up, but not as you know it. In fact, there are so many interesting things happening that I leave with the distinct impression that there was more than one person on stage.

Photograph of Tom ParryYou know how you can usually tell whether the comedian wants to be there or not? Well, Tom Parry really wants to be there, like this show is especially for us. His unconditional love creates a party atmosphere before he’s uttered a word of his official set. There are two levels of genius at play here. Firstly, Parry is multi-talented as he knows how to stage a show; write positive, meaningful material; engage the audience’s hearts, minds and bodies and maintain an ever-varying menu of events. Secondly, he makes all these things look EASY with his cheery, bounding energy and down-to-earth sociability. There are very few people with the talent and sheer likeability to create such comedy alchemy.

As for audience participation, the very term sounds artificial when applied here. We are literally all together in the pub with Tom and some or all of us join in with the main events depending on his suggestions. He shares life stories, observations and curious ideas which are all linked in to the central theme of fancy dress but we don’t really notice because his vitality radiates through the whole room and we are in-the-moment with him. If you want an hour of brio in your life, be there and get the t-shirt.

You can see Tom Parry: Yellow T-shirt at 6.20pm at Just the Tonic at the Tron until 30 August

Punchline recommends Pappy’s Presents… The Secret Dudes Society

23 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

Who needs to visit Hollywood when you’ve got Pappy’s Secret Dudes Society right here in Edinburgh? It’s a late show for sure, running from midnight to 2am but my goodness it’s worth it. Cinderella would kick herself for missing it. This is the hottest spot in town and they’ve got everything: Pappy’s themselves as multi-talented hosts, a resident band with matching kitsch shirts (half of The Spook School), marvellous resident sketch group Lazy Susan and an all-star line-up.

The Masters of Sketch

The Masters of Sketch and Friends

The wild atmosphere kicks in even before the show begins as Pappy’s chat to the audience from off-stage. Once we get started, we are asked if we want to know who’s in the line-up or if we want a surprise. One poor chap in the audience loses out to the almighty vote for SURPRISE. And this is a fascinating option because the audience is so star-studded that there is a genuine air of mystery about who we will be privileged enough to see tonight. On Monday 17th, this included Joel Dommett, Nish Kumar, Max and Ivan and the royal Katherine Ryan.

Were we sitting behind Joel Dommett’s parents? Isn’t Nish Kumar delightful and spot-on even when he’s a little bit more boisterous than usual? How cool was Max and Ivan’s fight? (THAT’S the Wrestling I LONG to see by the way – a big silly fight with all the best comedians… anyone?) Could Katherine Ryan publish her set so I can keep a copy of it on me to deal with dreadful people? Have all thirty-something British men seen Frozen? These are some of the questions that I have.

If you haven’t seen this show yet, it’s where you need to be. This isn’t cool like the conventional rebels at school who got wasted at school discos (what is cool about THAT?). This is proper cool and it’s the holy grail of Fringe experiences.

You can see Pappy’s Presents… The Secret Dudes Society at 23.55 at the Pleasance Dome on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th August

Punchline recommends Tom Binns: The Club Sets

23 Aug

Words by Iain McLaren

If you are looking for a show with a bit of everything then look no further than Tom Binns : The Club Sets. Opening with his unique psychic, Ian D Montfort, he gives us a comical and up-close insight into the spiritual world. You may not believe in psychics but you will believe in the comedy of Ian.

Next Tom returns as himself with a whole cast of family puppets with his new ventriloquism act. This new found skill is explored and presented to you with all the dedication we have come to expect from Tom.

Tom Binns

Finally he brings out the crowd favourite in the awkward and somewhat naïve Ivan Brackenbury with his array of ironic songs. This character never gets old as the audience’s eye-watering laughter shows.

This brilliant comedian and entertainer is constantly expanding his skills and bringing them to the stage to thrill and delight his audiences and this show is no exception. Go and see this genius at work!

You can see Tom Binns: The Club Sets at Assembly George Square Gardens at 12.40pm until 31 August

Punchline recommends Mike Wozniak: One Man Dad Cat Band

23 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

I LOVE that Mike Wozniak is a husband who is grumpy in the morning, a dad who does his best with domestic animals and a son who glows when his mum calls him a good boy. The whole audience loves him too. The fact that he is happy to be normal makes him almost revolutionary in a comedy world where so many comedians are busting themselves to provoke us with tired, creepy jokes about porn, paedophiles and “ironic” racism (it’s just racism).

Mike Wozniak 2015

Wozniak wants us to know that he is an ethical man, if only so that we are terribly impressed. Why else do we act ethically if not to be seen? We are impressed, especially by his ingenious fly-away comments that make us tip forward with laughter. He is also a very factual man, although many of his facts are fictional. He steers a steady line between real life and impossible nonsense without burdening us with pedantic surrealism. His talents for story-telling are prodigious and he weaves in and out of themes with consummate ease. One minute he’s telling us about an infuriating experience; the next minute he’s calming us down with ticklishly funny facts. The effect is cumulative, like sauna sessions followed by cold splashes, and it is as invigorating as it is relaxing.

Wozniak warns us from the start that the room is going to get very hot, but it doesn’t matter because he shares his world with us so generously. And did I mention he’s very funny? He’s VERY funny.

You can see Mike Wozniak: One Man Dad Cat Band at 13.15 at Laughing Horse@The Free Sisters until 30 August

Punchline recommends In Cahoots: Two White Guys

20 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

In Cahoots are a sketch duo (Paul G Raymond and Luke Manning) who provide an easy hour of comedy and a few things to think about afterwards. Their energy is uplifting and takes us on a dazzling tour of worldwide locations including a TV studio in India, a palace in Nigeria and a desert in North Africa. Thematically speaking, some of the sketches are set in traditional funny-land but there are all sorts of sketches which take the audience just a little bit out of their comfort zone – we like that! Their lightness of touch manages to combine thrusting intelligence with endearing silliness.

Paul and Luke

Paul and Luke

The stand-out piece for me is the scene where a drunk young buck takes a taxi with a Muslim taxi driver. They strike up a delightful friendship while talking about their dramatically different lives. The high comedy of the scene provides classic belly laughs yet virtually no one else is doing material like this. Paul and Luke simply ignore 21st century social taboos and perform unfettered universal human comedy.

The overall writing is strong but with more experience, they will crack the tipping point between clever and funny to perfection. This makes for an act to watch now and in the future. We’ll be back.

You can see In Cahoots: Two White Guys at the Pleasance Courtyard at 19:15 until 31 August

Punchline recommends Adam Riches is Coach Coach

14 Aug

Adam Riches 2015

Words by Suzy Romer

Adam Riches is a magnetic, dangerous life force and this year he takes us up a league with a fresh kind of total comedy experience. Coach Coach has all the thrills of classic (or at least old and beloved) big budget American movies that flood us with teenage rushes of ambition, rage, arousal and pure adrenaline.

Even before the show starts, the audience is prepared for what they are in for with colourful flags and pumped up music. The cinematic experience is achieved with a surprisingly big cast who enact proper goodies and baddies, a couple of timeless love stories at different stages of life and, of course, a BIG GAME where everyone is rooting for the heroes. But here comes one of Adam Riches’ magic touches; the outcome will be decided by a member of the audience so we are all in a state of whooping, feverish suspense as the finale approaches.

For those who have experienced the joy and knife-edge fear of past shows, there is comparatively little audience participation and the format is more formal. I caught myself hoping that some things would go (slightly) wrong, just to see how he would react. They did, and his on-the-spot improvisations sparkled with the essence of Fringe fun. The character of Eric Coach is more complex than Riches’ previous incarnations as he sheds some of his alpha male dominance now that he has a wife and boss to contend with. Stevie Martin (from the sketch group Massive Dad), plays Mrs Coach with wry nonchalance and a delightfully mobile baby bump which she wields and yields, depending on the needs of the moment. Richard Gadd is chillingly silly as the big bad boss while David Elms champions the characters of the younger generation with winning charm, despite not winning any baskets on the night I saw him. Didn’t stop me shouting myself hoarse though.

There are a lot of things going on in this bold new format which is tamer on audience participation but more audacious in its engagement with wide-reaching themes. This is an expertly finished product, but there is also an underlying sense of artistic development in progress and the sequel (whatever form it may take) is going to be very interesting indeed…

 You can see Adam Riches is Coach Coach at the Pleasance Dome at 21.45 until 30 August.

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