Tag Archives: edfringe

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

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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

There’s No Festival Like Edinburgh

13 Aug

Royal MileWords by Rosalind Romer

There has been a lot of animosity towards the Festival this year. The curmudgeons complain every year and the bubble has supposedly been about to burst for decades, but this year seems to have gone up a gear. There is enough vitriol at the moment. Like many others, I am stressed out and fearful because of Trump, Johnson, Brexit, climate deadlines getting closer… the list goes on. The Festival has let me breathe. I see that other people feel the same way, performers are processing and reflecting those fears through art and starting conversations which could change the world. Views are being challenged and minds are being opened.

Enter Bonnie Prince Bob and his rant that’s gone viral. I have tried to ignore him like a troll, hoping it would go away but people are still repeating his opinions. It has got to me, tipped over the edge by an Edinburgh taxi driver who after various lazy comments about how awful the Festival is (despite being his busiest month for making a living) proudly announced that he has never seen a show during the Festival. He also said that I had a “well-trained” partner because he took some time off work to spend time with our one-year-old and enable me to work during the Festival. A snarl came out of my mouth and he started talking about the weather.

So. Bonnie Prince Bob. I have risen to your clickbait so here goes.

One point I totally agree with is the spike in rent in August. The only people who benefit are greedy property owners. This is an unfortunate by-product of the success of the Festival, but it’s supply and demand. As long as human beings can get away with it, they will. So legislate. Cap the rent. Maybe some of the figureheads of the Festival can help with this, so appeal to them, don’t write them off.

Harry Potter and shops selling tat on the Royal Mile? Yup, it’s tacky. It’s got nothing to do with the Festival. It’s tacky all year round. Speak to the Council.

The Festival does not help every single person in Edinburgh, but does anything? Many people in poorer areas do find it prohibitively expensive to come into town. But that’s not the Festival’s fault and again, it happens all year round. Appeal to Edinburgh Council and Lothian buses to make journeys more affordable. Speak to the Scottish Government and Westminster to stop poverty in our ridiculously wealthy country. Stopping the Festival will not eradicate poverty. Should we shut down the museums in the centre of town while we’re at it? No, that would be crazy. Many all-year-round attractions and Festival events are free, and the provision for free children’s entertainment has grown in recent years.

And what about the mini-Wimbledon accusation? Many of the food stalls are from Edinburgh, and many of the consumers are not. So bringing money into local businesses is a good thing, isn’t it? As for the locals or those staying in a flat for a month, you can bring a sandwich and a lot of bars put a jug of tap water on the bar for you to help yourself. As for the “Etonian Oligarchy”, I can only assume you mean Ed and Charlie from Underbelly. The percentage of Etonians at the Edinburgh Festival is miniscule compared to the Conservative Government. Is it not better to overcharge people for drinks in a gorgeous beer garden (and yes, take some of the profits back to London, but they do have an office in Edinburgh all year round) than to systematically fuck up the country like their schoolmates? Plus they have some excellent shows to open your mind or even escape from reality for a little while. And if you really can’t stomach it, there are hundreds of other venues. Loads of venues have events and bars in Edinburgh all year so go and support them if you prefer. It’s your choice. As far as I am concerned, people from the rest of the UK and people from abroad are all welcome.

Another criticism over the last few years has been the exploitation of workers, which makes a bit of sense from the outside. However, many venue workers get accommodation and a venue pass, as well as their pay in a lot of cases. For the people who would spend every last penny on shows, this is worth thousands of pounds (see accommodation above). The festivals support over 2500 jobs in Edinburgh, which can only be a good thing. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It’s the chicken and egg situation all over again. Yes, the Living Wage is an admirable aim, and supermarket giants can afford it, even if they don’t pay it. Yes, 6-month unpaid internships with no accommodation are exploitation, and can only be taken up by the wealthy. Flyering for one month and seeing a ton of free shows you wanted to see anyway is hardly the same thing.

The festivals can’t afford to pay more, and already rely heavily on rapidly reducing arts funding and corporate sponsorship (which also comes under fire in Bonny Prince Bob’s rant). Living wage would break them. The big venues come under fire for the huge percentage of ticket sales they take (usually 40%) but it’s not like they are spending it on cigars and lobster (well, maybe at the lobster van on Bristo Square). The costs of running a venue, including marketing, staff, often building theatres from scratch, sound and lighting equipment and health and safety are colossal. The Free Fringe operates on a bucket system so it’s possible to make a bit of money (or lose less once accommodation is taken into account), but you may or may not be in a rowdy pub with bright lights and pub furniture spoiling sightlines. There are pros and cons for each but that’s for another time.

Yes, town is busy and it takes ages to get to work. It’s annoying, I know. But it’s one month of the year and it shouldn’t be a surprise by now. And hey, maybe you’ll even have some fun or learn or feel something watching a show. For me the highs far outweigh the irritations.

If you don’t like the Festival, fine, but don’t ruin everyone else’s fun. I am one of the two thirds of locals who have seen Festival shows in the last two years, so don’t you dare speak for us when you say there’s no Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Festival.

And breathe. Let me describe some of my Festival experiences in the last two weeks.

I have roared with laughter at Jessica Fostekew’s Hench until my whole body ached, along with everyone else in the audience. That group of people will never be together again but we shared a sense of camaraderie that day. Jessica made me realise that the pain of childbirth wasn’t my fault, that somehow if I’d breathed “better” it wouldn’t have ripped me apart, physically and emotionally. Thank you, Jessica Fostekew, for letting me see how ridiculous that idea was.

I have sobbed my eyes out in the Pleasance Courtyard after seeing the incredibly powerful show by Bryony Kimmings, I’m a Phoenix, Bitch. Her show is about a trauma and subsequent recovery. As I mentioned, I have a one-year-old, who happened to be getting a routine check-up at the hospital that night. If you’ve seen the show you’ll get the significance. He’s fine and was always going to be fine that evening, which is why I went to see a show, but I sat with an excruciating amount of guilt, which by the end of the show was released forever from somewhere deep inside. Thank you, Bryony Kimmings.

Before the Fringe, I did a series of questions for my favourite comedians. One question asked who or what each act would like to have waiting for them after the show. Amy Matthews had answered with a very specific beer and it was too tempting to resist. I put a big red shiny bow on the can of beer and presented it to her after the show. The look of excitement, confusion and joy on Amy’s face was wonderful. I know I technically gave you the present, but thank you, Amy Matthews. Your reaction made me so happy.

Yesterday I ended up seeing an amazing sold-out show because I bumped into a friend whose brother (who I had never met) had a spare ticket. We watched the show like we were old friends.

I realise these mean far more to me than you, but they are examples of the interaction you can enjoy if you embrace the spirit of the Fringe. It’s the deeply personal nature of the shows and human interaction that make the Festival so magical for me. Edinburgh hosts the greatest arts festival in the world and it is something we should all be immensely proud of.

To the taxi driver, thank you for making me realise that your opinion doesn’t change my experience. This Festival matters to me and to thousands of others. And to everyone who says they don’t like the Festival, maybe it’s time you gave it a try rather than churning out old clichés. And if it’s really not your thing, let the rest of us have some fun.

Punchline recommends Tom Parry: Parryoke!

12 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

If Tom Parry’s name is attached to any show as a writer, director or performer, you can guarantee it will be a great laugh. Parryoke! is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an hour in the vibrant, effervescent company of the Renaissance man of comedy.

This is his most strictly stand-up show so far, even more so than his last solo show. He tells some memorable anecdotes, shows us some unforgettable photos and connects with us through ever-so-gentle audience participation which even the most entrenched introvert will love. There are plenty of ‘nineties references which, far from being simply nostalgic, are tied into an exploration of wider themes, and he provides new laughs on the subject of Christmas presents, weddings and football. Then there’s the actual singing (never too much and always funny) and the richest comedy material about karaoke I have ever heard.

This is smart, sparkling feel-good comedy which is deliberately presented with no dark side; perfect for anyone who wants the comedy equivalent of a good pub with no TV news screens. Our multi-talented host knows exactly how to use his arts to bring us together for an hour of non-stop fun, and there are smiles and laughs all round.

Buy tickets for Tom Parry: Parryoke here

6pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 26 Aug (not 13)

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.

Felicity Ward answers Punchline’s Burning Questions

19 Aug

Photograph of Felicity WardWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

You will cry. It’s just a matter of when.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

You will cry. It’s a matter of when.

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

The illusion that I will eat salad.

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

That was the first boob my son has ever seen.

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

A dying, philanthropist billionaire.

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

Everything. This city is in my bones.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?

Swim in the pool. The rage of people using the lanes incorrectly really transports me from my fringe self-obsession.

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

I saw Rose Matafaeo and Joel Dommett’s shows and I laugh so so hard. Honestly.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s about a lady with control issues who loses her bag… mixed in with some jokes about mental health statistics, suicidal construction workers, women’s pockets and swimming.

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

Shows I saw in Australia that are here that I loved were: Zoe Coombs Marr, Susie Yousseff, Nick Cody, Rhys Nicholson, Tom Ballard, Naht Valvo, The Blind Date Project. There are so many. I don’t know how anyone chooses.

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

A lot less crying than usual. Which is all anyone can truly hope for. #blessed

 

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

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.

Final Fun at the Fringe

31 Aug

Photograph of Edinburgh Fireworks

It’s the last day of the Fringe. Boooo.

But it’s a lovely sunny day! Yeah!

Some venues finished their programmes yesterday, plus a ton of shows have been cancelled so here is our pick of the best comedy shows for the last day. Please check with the relevant box office or Fringe Office before finalising your plans.

  • For a spot of lunchtime comedy, go to see Tom Binns (12.40 at the Bosco Tent, George Square)
  • OR Austentatious (1.15pm at the Underbelly)
  • If you haven’t seen BEASTS yet, what are you thinking?! Get down there! (4.45pm at Pleasance Courtyard)
  • OR if you have seen them, an excellent alternative is Adam Hess, who was shortlisted for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award Newcomer this year (5.20pm at the Hive)
  • Our next recommendation is The Pin (7pm at Pleasance Dome) followed by a mad dash to Lazy Susan (8.10pm at Pleasance Dome)
  • OR how about Joseph Murpurgo, shortlisted for this year’s Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award? (8.15pm at Pleasance Courtyard)
  • OR if you prefer a leisurely walk after The Pin, you have a choice of shows at 9pm: Felicity Ward (Pleasance Courtyard)
  • OR the marvellous Spencer Jones would be a wonderfully surreal way to end the Fringe (9pm at The Hive)
  • Don’t forget the Edinburgh International Festival has their fireworks tonight, so find a hill and celebrate the end of a brilliant month.
  • And if you’re really going to go for it, why not finish at Late ‘n’ Live to take you through to tomorrow? (1am at Gilded Balloon)

Have fun! For those heading back home, have a safe journey and we’ll see you next year. For the locals, see you very soon, after a long sleep! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Your weekend schedule from Punchline x

28 Aug

It’s the final weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe! Maybe you’ve had a long week at work, maybe you’re through for the weekend. A lot of our top 10 shows sold out long ago, and some (not all!) of the Foster’s Award nominees’ shows have been snapped up… so what to see? We’ve put together a cracker of a schedule of shows that you may still get tickets for if you’re quick! (Tickets still available when this article was published)

FRIDAY 28th AUGUST

photo of BEASTS

BEASTS

Photograph of Tom Parry

Tom Parry

Photograph of Angela Barnes

Angela Barnes

photograph of John Hastings

John Hastings

16:45 (1h) BEASTS: Live DVD at Pleasance Courtyard, £10

Read our recommendation here

18:20 (1h) Tom Parry: Yellow T-shirt at The Tron, donation at end (or buy a T-shirt!)

Read our recommendation here

20:15 (1h) Angela Barnes: Come As You Are at Pleasance Courtyard, £11

Comedy Nirvana (sorry, it had to be done) from someone who makes sharp, unpretentious comedy seem like the most natural thing in the world. Think of a cold beer just when you need it; that’s this show.

21:40 (1h) John Hastings: Marked from the Start at Pleasance Courtyard, £10

Read our recommendation here

SATURDAY 29th AUGUST

13:15 (1h) Mike Wozniak: One Man Dad Cat Band at The Three Sisters, donation at end

Read our recommendation here

16:05 (1h) Laura Lexx: Lovely at Underbelly Med Quad, £10.50

Read our recommendation here

17:30 (1h) Larry Dean: Out Now! at Pleasance Courtyard, £12

19:15 (1h) David O’Doherty: We Are All in the Gutter, But Some of Us Are Looking at David O’Doherty at Assembly, George Square

21:00 (50min) Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job at The Hive, donation at end (and you can buy a CD at the end!)

This man will make you laugh like you did when you were a child. It’s so funny you might be sick.

00:10 (1h) Birthday Girls: Party Vibes  at Pleasance Courtyard, donation at end

Another chance to see the show that makes any night feel like a Saturday night. Very funny. Very rude. High energy. Everything you want from a party. Lovely.

SUNDAY 30th AUGUST

12:40 (1h) Tom Binns: The Club Sets at The Bosco Tent, Assembly Gardens, £11

Read our recommendation here

14:30 (1h) Tiernan Douieb: The World’s Full of Idiots, Let’s Live in Space at The Liquid Rooms Annexe

He’ll make you laugh and think, a LOT.

17:30 (50min)  Lou Sanders: Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on my Penis, Again at The City Café (donation at end)

For an hour of silliness, borderline hysteria and stealth thought provocation, see Lou.

19:10 (50min) Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap at The Liquid Rooms, donation at end

You can even download the Punchline Weekend Schedule as a pdf. Let us know how you get on!

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