Tag Archives: comedy

Punchline recommends Max & Ivan: Commitment

22 Aug

MaxAndIvan2019

Words by Suzy Romer

Max and Ivan have an energetic, funny playfulness that reminds me of Alvin and the Chipmunks. They are quite as adorable and actually much funnier with silly jokes that belie their dazzling professionalism. They always do their homework and they are the kind of act you can absolutely depend on to put on a great show to the extent that you don’t even have to read what the show’s about before you go.

In case you DO want to know, this year it is about Ivan’s stag night, organised in characteristically grandiose style by Max with an almost Marx Brothers Night at the Opera level of orchestrated outrageous fun. They give us a few background details to the story of course, starting with their births… And as we romp through their childhood stories with plenty of sounds and images, I can’t resist looking repeatedly into the audience to see rows of enchanted smiling faces, laughing with fondness and surprise at the madcap projects the lads have brought to life over the years.

The careful, detailed writing of the show is wonderful, precisely because I didn’t think about it until after the show. They know exactly how to set up situations, in-jokes and inside information so that they can bring them back with a party bang of dramatic and comic effect at the moment of their choosing. This show made me wipe away tears of joy and I think I might love them. Too much? Go and see for yourself.

Buy tickets for Max & Ivan: Commitment here

8.20pm | Pleasance Dome | Until 25 Aug

Advertisements

Punchline recommends Sara Barron: Enemies Closer

18 Aug

Sara BarronWords by Iain McLaren

I first saw Sara Barron at the Fringe last year with her Newcomer nominated show, For Worse. It was a great first year and one she has followed up with another impressive show, Enemies Closer. I love Sara’s energy and American style mixed with her now ingrained British self-loathing. Her ability to engage her audience with tantalising tales and straight-talking observations of modern-day life and relationships is something some comedians struggle to master but which she excels at naturally.

Sara lunges about the stage with electrifying enthusiasm as she shares with us her life after 8 years of marriage, before recounting, in explicit detail, the tales from her friends, who she now lives vicariously through in an effort to survive her “8 year rash”. She also delves into the heart of society and embraces her openly judgemental side as she guides us through just who is a good person and who is a (insert colour language here). No one in the world is safe, and no one should be.

Grab your tickets now and enjoy the show as much as I did!

Buy tickets for Sara Barron: Enemies Closer here  

8.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

Punchline Recommends Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face

7 Aug

JaydeAdams2019

Words by Iain McLaren

I first saw Jayde Adams 2 years ago. First as part of the Pleasance Opening Gala with her iconic Pavarotti on the bus routine then her full show from the same year. I was struck by her power and her stage presence. She was brilliant. Adams is best known for her bright flamboyant shows with lots of dancing and singing. This year she has taken the potentially risky tactic of stepping out of her comfort zone and delivers more of a stand up based show.

After reflecting on her career to date, Adams has brought to the Fringe a show which looks at modern day feminism from her own viewpoint where her family household was run as matriarchy. Is Adams the new hero for this generation’s young women? Maybe not but she explains how her own journey led her to many discoveries and how it has shaped her own opinion of 4th wave feminism.

While this might be a more serious show from Adams, it lacks none of her humour or forceful nature which she is known and loved for. She might have stepped out of her comfort zone, but she walked right into another brilliant show and amazing performance.

This show is selling fast, if you want to see one of the best performers at the Fringe get your tickets now!

 

Buy tickets for Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face here

9.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames

6 Aug

Nick HelmWords by Suzy Romer

When I picked up my ticket for Phoenix from the Flames I was promised (OK… warned about) audience participation, swearing and nudity but the actual show is so much better than the sum of the parts. The glorious gruff superstar is back for his full Edinburgh run for the first time since 2013 and God it is good to see him again.

Many of his classic show highlights are present in their best versions. We enjoy some great songs that simultaneously transport and tantalise us because they are not available to listen again. We feast our eyes on a uniquely inventive stage costume that only Nick Helm could have designed with his own particular combination of mirth and majesty. His props are delightful and the big screen makes everything larger, funnier and more glamorous. As always, Nick’s material deftly balances light and dark, but this time in his bravest and most vulnerable moments, he has replaced his traditional poems with arresting truths about his most recent experiences with depression. Here we really see the skill and experience of a true comedy expert because he can take difficult material and give us the benefit his rich comic observations with some carefully chosen, lightly scattered gems of wisdom.

Nick Helm is one of a few wonderful men in comedy who dare to incorporate genuinely taboo subjects into their material and “find the funny” in a way that works brilliantly. It puts me in mind of Rob Delaney’s autobiography Mother Wife Sister.. (which deals with alcoholism) and Rhod Gilbert’s show The Book of John (which deals with IVF). In the age of debate about whether you can genuinely make jokes about any subject however hard, Nick Helm has started in the right place, with himself. If any of the jokes sound easy, it is because he has chosen to present them that way and there isn’t a lazy quip in sight. His comedy comes from a place of courage, not cowardice and that makes all the difference.

Buy tickets for Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames here

5.40pm | Pleasance Dome | Until 24 Aug (not 12)

See our original recommendation for Nick Helm here

Punchline recommends Ciarán Dowd: Padre Rodolfo

5 Aug

Ciaran DowdWords by Suzy Romer

If you met Don Rodolfo last year, great. If you didn’t then now’s your chance. Last year Ciarán’s show was so complete and satisfying that it got him the Best Newcomer Award but the 2019 show is somehow even better. It shoots way beyond any particular parody and takes on a life of its own to align with its own unique glory.

As soon as the lights go up we are swept up into Padre Rodolfo’s delicious, dramatic, delirious world of superstar priesting, sword fights and outrageous filth that shouldn’t be sexy but definitely is. His ridiculous stories are packed with extravagant nonsense and they are utterly compelling. We long to hear what happens next and our host knows it because he quietly suspended our disbelief while we were watching the massive opening number. We are teased and rewarded, shocked and wooed with irresistible unpredictability that combines master storytelling and an ingenious collage of joyous live experiences. Music, lighting, and technical stage brilliance of all kinds go right through the production and the number and variety of jokes per minute is truly astounding. The invincible energy creates a momentum that carries us through from beginning to end.

This is a show that wraps up all the best Fringe experiences together and then lets you tear off the paper and revel in it all at once. Forget all your other stuff for an hour and just enjoy this. It’s a rollicking, riotous, romp of a show, just Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

Buy tickets for Ciaran Dowd: Padre Rodolfo here

9.45 | Pleasance Courtyard|Until 25 Aug (not 14)

Punchline Recommends Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy

3 Aug

Lou SandersWords by Iain McLaren

Lou Sanders just keeps getting better and better. Her all round comedy performance and amazing material hits new highs this year with Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy. Hot off the back of her brilliant Taskmaster triumph, Lou shares a self-reflective look at her past relationships, sex life and conversations with her “healer” who is trying to help clean Lou’s “chakras” and of course it also wouldn’t be Lou if we didn’t have bit of a chat about her labia!

Her open and inclusive style brings everyone together in a way that makes her stories come alive. Starting in her childhood and running us through to current day, she explains just why she feels maybe ready to be a mother, or possibly step-mum, to some lucky little munchkin all while making some choice “your Dad” jokes.

Lou is all set for a great Fringe so grab your tickets now and join in the fun, while she enjoys your Dad! (that one isn’t in the show). The show is pay-what-you-want however it is better to buy tickets in advance to reserve your seat as she is selling out fast.

Buy tickets for Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy, here

3.15pm | Monkey Barrel 3 | Until 25 Aug (not 14)

See our original recommendation for Lou Sanders, here

Benefit Gigs: an easy way to organise a big night out at the Fringe

30 Jul
Photograph of Nish Kumar

Nish Kumar

Words by Suzy Romer

The beginning of the Fringe brings a sweep of emotions for anyone planning to venture into this magical annual pop-up world. Whether you are a beginner or a regular Fringe goer with years of experience, the initial encounter with the myriad shows on offer via the Fringe Guide, media and street posters can be very daunting. How the hell do you start to narrow down your options? Over the years, most people eventually develop their own methods but if you don’t want to put in quite so much time and money, one effective way to get a head start is to go to a benefit show.

A benefit gig comprises a variety of comedians who are raising awareness and funds on behalf of specific causes and organizations. There is usually a famous compère and a few well-known headliners along with a range of comedians who are famous to a greater or lesser degree. The great advantage of these shows is that you know you will definitely enjoy seeing the performers you already know and like, while you take a low-risk chance on a whole range of other comedians. The relative brevity of each performance means you pack lots of new comics into one evening. If they are brilliant, you can look into booking their solo show; if they are really not your to your taste, you can look at your watch and know that your suffering will end shortly. And there is always the possibility that you see one of the massive stars of tomorrow while they are still unknown.

For some of the bigger shows, you may be lucky enough to see some TV names who are not appearing in any other Fringe shows. Comedy celebrities often have many other commitments that keep them away from the wonderful month of August in Edinburgh but take some time out of busy schedules to visit the place where they enjoyed their rise to fame and give something back. Perhaps it is just an impression but most comedians seem to feel it is unnatural to be in Edinburgh in August unless they are actively participating in the midst of all the fun.

Benefit shows with their low risk, variety, famous names and the thrill of potential discoveries make them a safe bet for a group of friends with varied tastes. It’s also a great idea for an office night out because it encourages people see something beyond their regular list of favourites and maybe discover something new together. For people who have never been to the Fringe it’s like a microcosm of good, bad and everything in between without the time and money invested. And let’s not forget that it is a great way to ensure that corporate funding reaches the places where it can help most.

There are a couple of provisos to remember to avoid disappointment. Comedians have so many work commitments to juggle that sometimes they have to cancel an appearance at a charity event. When you read the words “line-up may be subject to change”, accept that it is more likely here than with other events. The upside is that some of the best performers make a late notice change in order to appear and the surprises on the night can make for lifetime memories.

Another thing to bear in mind is that more experienced comedians sometimes use a ten minute set piece from a previous year’s show because it fits better or because they want to save the full hour of their current show for the viewer’s surprise and delight. Other comedians will present a selection of material from their current show and give you a good indicator of the rest of their set.

Either way, once you know the deal, you can really get a lot out of a benefit performance. It gives you a real flavour of what is going on across the board and makes some of the street posters look more familiar and navigable afterwards because you can see names and faces you know. There is nothing like the joy of beginning to get a hold on what makes this year’s Fringe unique as the goodies and baddies of this year’s adventure begin to reveal themselves.

So what’s on in the way of benefit shows at this year’s Fringe?

Here are six benefit shows to give you an idea of the range available at this year’s Fringe.

1. Let’s start with one of the biggest events. You may have heard of famous long-running benefit shows such as The Secret Policeman’s Ball which was originally organised to raise funds for Amnesty International but has since donated to a variety of great causes. The shows include a host of famous names and have become so prestigious that the show title lends as much prestige to the performers as they originally lent to it. This year The Secret Policeman’s Tour is coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse on Saturday 24 August. It’s hosted by Deborah Frances-White and famous names such as Nish Kumar and Rachel Parris will be appearing. You can also check out Desiree Burch who appears on Punchline’s list of recommendations for 2019.

2. Another big night will be Comedy Gala 2019: in aid of Waverley Care hosted by Josh Widdicombe and Joel Dommett which will take place in the EICC on Tuesday 20 August. Now in its thirteenth year, this production has Jon Richardson and Suzi Ruffell topping the bill as well as Punchline-recommended Rosie Jones and Christopher Macarthur-Boyd as part of an impressive list of performers.

3. Another event with profits destined for the amazing Waverley Care is Crosstentatious at Underbelly at 9.30pm on Monday 19 August. Here, the phenomenal cast of comic performers who usually perform as Austentatious enact a spoof Jane Austen novel suggested by a member of the audience (their regular format) and cross-dress into the bargain.

4. For a fantastic late-night performance (quarter past midnight at Assembly George Square on Sunday 11 August) we recommend For Robin Williams: A Benefit in Aid of Mind and SAMH. Punchline favourite Nish Kumar is hosting this one and guests include Laura Lexx and Sophie Hagan.

5. Dame Esther Rantzen will be making an appearance in Edinburgh as the presenter of the Benefit in Aid of Silver Line (a confidential helpline for older people) in the Stand’s New Town Theatre at 9.10pm on Monday 5 August. The line up is still to be confirmed so anything could happen!

6. For lots of TV names, check out Barnardo’s Big Comedy Benefit at the EICC at 8.30pm on Wednesday 7 August. Ed Byrne, London Hughes and David O’Doherty are some but not all of the people you will recognise on the role of participants.

Remember, there are plenty more benefit shows out there so you can choose your favourite performers, good cause or, ideally both and have a great night out in the process. If you only put one finger into a comedy pie this year, a comedy benefit might just be your perfect pie.

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.

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:  “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.

%d bloggers like this: