Tag Archives: Edinburgh Fringe

In the Hot Seat: Tez Ilyas

22 Jul

Photograph of Tez IlyasClose your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

Ooh, I see the Pleasance Courtyard, I see the castle, I see Arthur’s Seat and clouds and flyerers and jugglers on the Royal Mile and the Mosque Kitchen and hordes of confused tourists. I love it.

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

My 7 yo nephew telling me jokes. My nieces and nephews give me life man. This was his joke: ‘Why did the beard fall on the hat? Because the baby dropped the beard.’ Loooooool.

Tell us about this year’s show.

My new show, Teztify, is about me ‘teztifying’ against the assumptions that people have about me. From the trivial to the more serious, all with a subtext of up-to-date political discourse obvs.

Who do you want to see this year?

Oh so many people: Dane Baptiste, Kae Kurd, Sophie Willan, Twayna Mayne, Aatif Nawaz, Sara Pascoe, Eshaan Akbar, Joe Sutherland, Aditi Mittal. So many!

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Yup: get up late, have a bagel, see a show, shower and get changed, go to the mosque and pray, do my show, meet friends for dinner, go to one of the bars til too late, grab a Palmyra’s on the way home, go home, sleep. Repeat.

What is your getting ready music?

Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think is my jam. Gets me right in the mood to take on the world.

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

Alive or dead? Muhammad Ali. Although he’d completely steal the show, but the absolute honour of it!

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

‘You know… you’re really funny for an Asian.’ Gee thanks.

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

My cousins. Growing up in Blackburn meant I was exposed to British Asian Northern humour and it’s so side-splittingly hilarious, it genuinely deserves its own sitcom or sketch show.

What should Donald Trump know?

That the world has changed and we will not go down without a fight. These freedoms ain’t going easy mate.

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

Er… Let’s keep it PG yeah? Sleeping in til the afternoon every day and eating out every night. Oh and running through the fields of wheat! Tut tut…

Catch Tez Ilyas: Teztify at 8.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout 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.

The Best Shows at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe

28 Jul

The magic is about to start again and it’s time for your annual menu of events from Punchline. It includes some discoveries since last year as well as some classics. No doubt this year’s discoveries will become classics by next year…


Larry Dean: Farcissist

Pleasance Courtyard, 7.15pm

Remember the ice challenge on Facebook? Larry Dean is like that on stage; refreshing, surprising and occasionally shriek-inducing. He’s also as soft as a teddy and hard as nails. Larry will be the next comedy superstar. @larrydeancomedy


Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do

Banshee Labyrinth, 9.45pm

This is a tricky one to recommend because it’s not your normal comedy show. We don’t often use the word edgy but we will for this boundary-smashing comic. We can’t tell you what it’s about as it will spoil the show but as the man himself said, there will be walk outs. @MrRichardGadd


Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter

Liquid Room Annexe, 7.50pm

Go and see the “Guilty Feminist” presenter whose podcasts might change your life. She keeps it real and gives you a new angle, reminding you that there’s another way to see the world. If you want to enjoy her wry intelligence ahead of the show, follow her on Twitter @SofieHagen.


Adam Hess

Heroes @ The Hive, 4.10pm

Adam Hess is the best supplier of free jokes on Twitter. With his bouncing energy, he is one of the main players in the much needed upcoming comedy yoof. His star is rising, so see him now if you want to show off about it in a few years’ time. @adamhess1


Jack Barry

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 6.40pm

Jack’s self-depreciating, friendly manner belies his clever, occasionally twisted mind. He gives the impression of being your mate as he shares his personal view of the world and you’ll be reminded of what he said for days after the show. If you like a bit of sneaky profundity, he’s your man. @JBazzler


Fern Brady: Male Comedienne

The Stand, 12:10pm

We wouldn’t like to get into a fight with Fern Brady but we would kind of enjoy being defended by her. Sharp as a knife, with a style that’s different from other comics, you can’t categorise her in any of the comedy ratpacks. Surf on a new comedy wave with Fern Brady. @FernBrady


Casting Call Woe

Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 4.30pm

A privileged glimpse into the crazy world of minor acting roles where lazy scriptwriters let loose all their prejudices at once. The show is based on twitter account and viral blog sensation @ProResting. You’ve got to see it to believe it, and even then you won’t believe it. Each day, a different guest attends to share their most outrageous audition stories, so if you think you’ve had a bad day at work …


Burnistoun Live at the Fringe

Gilded Balloon, 9pm (4 – 16 August only)

Get along to this sketch group which pokes fun at the dodgier side of Scottish life. Don’t worry about how to pronounce Bunistonoun – it doesnae exist. A fairly rare opportunity to see these TV guys in an intimate setting. @Burnistoun


Then there are Punchline’s ALL TIME favourites:


Katherine Ryan (work in progress)

The Stand, 6.05pm (4-13 Aug only)

If you like the thrill of a fairground death-swoop ride and your laughs ripped out of you, Katherine Ryan will give you comedy that is as sharp and as terrifying as her heels. Be among the first to see her brand new material here. @Kathbum


Nish Kumar: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud

Pleasance Courtyard, 8pm

Tolkein said that “The most improper job of any man… is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” Nish Kumar argues that comedians should not be politicians but with sparkling charm and wit, he gives you a better commentary on life in the UK than anything on BBC news. He’s also fucking funny. @MrNishKumar


Cardinal Burns

Pleasance Courtyard, midnight (23 – 26 August only)

Of course they’ve been on TV, but these guys have hysteria-inducing charisma onstage. Expect high energy comedy from performers who just morph into each new character and blow you away again and again. But remember, don’t try these jokes at home. @CardinalBurns


Bridget Christie: Mortal

The Stand, 11am

Beloved Bridget is back, a sort of brisk-mannered guru whose guide to life has audiences of all descriptions in thrall. She’s silly, she’s profound… she’s just what you need to make your morning scintillate. Don’t miss the best part of the day. Originally this was supposed to be work in progress about death ‘but then we voted to leave the EU, which is worse than death, and so I’ve re-written it.’ @BridgetChristie


Birthday Girls: Sh!t Hot Party Legends

Pleasance Courtyard, 9.45pm

If you don’t know these gals yet then GET A WIGGLE ON because they are a Fringe fun one stop shop. The title of the show could be a list of word associations to describe their comedy – hot comedy in a party atmosphere with a surprising quantity of jokes about poo. Three legends for the price of one! @BdayGirlsComedy


BEASTS Present Mr Edinburgh 2016

Pleasance Dome, 7pm

Oh the delicious anticipation of ruthless competition and monumental, messy arguments as the three lads we know and love tussle to become Mr Edinburgh. Scientific research and anecdotal evidence concur on this; Beasts prove that nice boys are the biggest beasts of all. @BEASTScomedy


Luisa Omielan

EICC, 9.30pm (26 & 27 August only)

This show is a rally to joy and a celebration of wanting what we’ve got as well as getting what we want. We want Luisa and we’ve got her right here in Edinburgh, for two nights only! Catch hit shows ‘What Would Beyoncé Do?!’ and ‘Am I Right Ladies?!’ at the EICC @luisaomielan


Tom Binns

Assembly George Square, 8pm

Tom Binns is like a bottle of Bollinger. Actually, he IS dry and bubbly, but what we mean is it doesn’t matter how often you go back because you know you’re getting the best. He makes it look effortless but this is world class character comedy. @tombinns


Lou Sanders

Pleasance Dome, 8.10pm

Another corker of a title from our favourite meandering meditator. Don’t be deceived by the dippy demeanor. She can and does do whatever she wants and doesn’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks. Happiness is an hour with Lou. @lousanders


Share & enjoy!

Punchline recommends Marriage

9 Aug

Marriage 2015

Words by Suzy Romer

Take a dream cast of sketch and comedy performers, a delightful play, a talented director (Russell Bolam) and what do you get? Marriage. Tom Parry’s fresh, energetic adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 play retains charmingly old-time language and references while maintaining the urgency and scepticism of questions which remain relevant today. We women would all like a man who is handsome, a man who is rich and a man who is noble, but what do we do if all three turn up on the same afternoon?

Such is the predicament of the lovely Agatha, played by Celeste Dring to perfection as a slightly silly but adorable young dreamer who neglects her accomplishments, perhaps sensing instinctively that a knowledge of French or the ability to paint is not the reason most men want to marry. Camille Ucan plays the cunning marriage broker with such joyous, ferrety efficiency that you can almost sniff her in the air when she wafts onstage. Agatha’s aunt (Freya Parker) promises us with a thrilling sparkle in her eye that the up-and-coming grocer downstairs is very good-looking but her older, female wisdom comes under threat from Agatha’s romantic ideals and other more sinister quarters.

Enter the likeable but confoundedly lazy Peter (Ben Clark) who is dragged – sometimes literally –into trying his luck as yet another suitor to Agatha by his duplicitous friend (Adam Riches). Ben Clark provides the cheerful, sleepy glamour that makes him so believably attractive as a suitor, even in his most cosseted, narcissistic moments. Meanwhile, Adam Riches embodies his Tartuffe-like friend with unsettling insouciance; the words “snake” and “charmer” both apply here but his unhappy secrets, which occasionally break through the deceit, make us wonder how often marriage was and is a disastrous eventuality in many cases.

The actors who play the brokered triplet of suitors embrace their vices and virtues with equal viciousness and virtuosity. Mr Rich-but-too-Round (John Henry Falle) counts chairs and custard tarts with more passion than he could ever summon up for a lover and his best shot at a romantic poem makes the audience sigh with a mixture of sentiment and exasperation. Mr Fit-but-Frisky (Ciaran Dowd) provides a simmering energy that forever threatens to boil over, though luckily he is too loveable to be frightening. The suitor I personally found most agonising was Mr Dashing-but-Dull enacted by Owen Roberts as a heart-melting gentleman with soul-withering stories, enough to make Sicily sound like a tax form. We must also pay tribute to the servant Stephen who looks after everyone, played by Richard Soames with understated brilliance. Would that we all had a Stephen to look after our domestic comforts as well as our egos, although perhaps if we did, then no one would ever get married at all.

So here’s my Marriage proposal. Go and see this show at 2pm, then go and see the shows of the individual performers throughout the rest of the day (Adam Riches, Beasts, Beta Males, Birthday Girls, Lazy Susan, Pappy’s and Richard Soames). It may well be the happiest day of your life.

You can see Marriage in Assembly George Square at 14:00 until August 30.

Punchline recommends Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

23 Aug
Photograph of Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

Words by Suzy Romer

Harvey, Garvey and Kane are a smart sketch group who allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. It’s always nice to see three chaps take to the stage in suits but these men can become anyone and anything with no costume changes and virtually no props.

We are taken through a range of sketches with seamless style. A little boy asks his mummy and daddy what sex is and the answer goes far beyond the comic possibilities explored by anyone I’ve seen before. A deliciously silly press launch with a grown-up boy band neatly exposes the less media-friendly aspects of reunion after twenty years. Amid the virtuosity of the performances we get a really generous dose of classic material, the stuff we quote at each other long after the show.

In an age where the boundaries between genres are constantly being poked and prodded, it’s immensely reassuring to be entertained by a group who can follow the great old traditions with freshness and vigour. There is a caper ability about these guys that will see them go far. That’s pure sketch, that is.

Catch the last performance of Harvey, Garvey and The Kane at 4.55pm at the Underbelly (Bristo Square) on Sunday 24th August. Buy tickets here

Photograph of Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

Punchline recommends Ian D Montfort’s Midday Séance

23 Aug
Photograph of Ian D Montfort

Ian D Montfort

Words by Suzy Romer

Here’s some unusual advice for a comedy show: when you go to see Ian D Montfort, try to sit near the front. This comic creation is a walking, talking spectacle in himself, to the extent that it’s difficult to believe he’s not real. Every smirk, grimace, raised eyebrow and self-conscious flick of the hair is crafted to perfection by the performer Tom Binns.

Ian presents himself to us as a middling to successful clairvoyant and mind reader but Tom provides us with a first-rate collection of conjuring tricks. Ian himself points out that Fringe budgets are simply not high enough for the technology required to cheat. How does he do it? In fact you stop asking yourself because you are too busy laughing at the secrets of audience members which are revealed periodically through the show. Ian reveals a tip-top selection of the sauciest secrets in tones of teasing concern with eyes that sparkle with mischief. He also nominates a sceptic who – entirely coincidentally – has a dark future ahead of him, predicted by our charming and calculating host.

This genuine charlatan is a delightful cure for anyone exasperated (or fascinated) by the “real” thing and he outperforms the competition at every level.

You can catch Ian D Montfort’s last séance of the Fringe at midday on Sunday 24th August at Bob’s Bookshop. More info here

Punchline Recommends: Lucy Beaumont ‘We Can Twerk it Out’

22 Aug
Photograph of Lucy Beaumont

Lucy Beaumont

Words by Suzy Romer

Lucy Beaumont opens her show by kindly introducing us to her Hull accent, but you know what? She had us at “hullo”. Right from the start, we find ourselves in a conversational relationship where we are literally expected to say yes and no, and we thoroughly enjoy doing so.

This is her first full-length show at the Fringe but you wouldn’t know it. She glows as she tells us about her experiences, observations and ideas. Her friend Jackie is having difficulty meeting the right man and the stories about her are a perfect balance of poignancy and twinkling cheekiness. Lucy’s mum worries about her safety when she is out alone and comes up with a highly original way to fend off potential attackers. Lucy Beaumont’s world is very real, yet every cloud has a comic lining.

For the duration of the show we are gently lifted out of our own existence and forget ourselves. Lucy Beaumont is warm and wry and enjoys springing an occasional surprise on her captivated audience. I leave the venue having already adopted her lilting “I know…” when I agree with something. She may still be taking off but she is going to be one high flier in comedy and she leaves diamonds in her wake.

Lucy Beaumont is at Pleasance Courtyard at 5.45pm until Sunday if you can get your hands on a ticket. But of course you will have if you took our Top 10 recommendations at the start of the fringe!

An Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Interview with Jason Cook

11 Aug

Words by Susan Ford

Jason Cook

Jason Cook

Jason Cook is a fantastic comedian, and his show ‘Broken’ was one of the first ones we recommended (read the recommendation here). With the festival now in full swing, I was delighted for the opportunity to catch up with Jason Cook to discuss his shows so far.

Hello Jason Cook how are you?
I’m a bit tired, bit hungover, just about to staple reviews to flyers, so overall, in a state of “unwilling admin”.

Are you enjoying the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
I really am! It’s been great so far, and the reviews and audiences have all been lovely so I’m having a lovely time.

What have been your highlights from this year’s festival so far?
My daughter, who is 3, likes to do my soundcheck for me every day, so watching her run around with a mic in her hand makes me smile. And makes me also think she will be my retirement plan.

Your show is called ‘Broken’, Jason, are you ok?
I am now, but I wasn’t before. No-one is 100% fixed but I’m getting there.

Without giving too much away, what is your show about?
It’s about all the things in my life really, and how all those things, while positive, take their toll.

What have the audience reactions been like so far?
Great, loads of lovely comments and people waiting until after the show to come up and say hi.

What other shows do you recommend this year?
Carl Hutchinson, it’s a great show he’s got this year! Check him out!

See Jason Cook’s act ‘Broken‘ at the Edinburgh Festival, 5.40pm in Pleasance Dome (Queen Dome) until 24th August.

Punchline Recommends Carl Donnelly: Now That’s What I Carl Donnelly Vol.6

11 Aug Photograph of Carl Donnelly
Photograph of Carl Donnelly

Carl Donnelly

Words by Suzy Romer

By the time Carl Donnelly formally introduces himself to the audience, he’s already made friends with us. His relaxed style and lack of pretension make him an instant hit.

This is no mean feat because Carl has had a difficult year. He talks candidly about separation from his wife and coming off anti-depressants but never burdens the audience with his angst. Instead, he takes us through the hilarious stories of how he’s recovered his appetite for life. Many of these stories have a “You had to NOT be there” condition and cause ripples of laughter that tip back and forth across the room. His up-for-anything attitude gets him into one scrape after another but here he is to tell the tale, with his sharp outfit and self-proclaimed expensive haircut. The overriding thrust of his stories is that boys just wanna have fun, especially naughty ones, but then it’s so much better when he tells it…

When he suddenly announces it’s time to wrap up the show, it comes a bit of a shock. We’ve got to know him a little, caught up on recent stuff, but our time’s up so it’s goodbye until next time. It’s like meeting up with an old friend after a long time apart. It’s rare to find a comedian so warm and easy-going – nice one, Carl.

Catch Carl Donnelly at 8.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard. Buy tickets here

Punchline recommends Birthday Girls: Party Vibes

10 Aug
Photograph of Birthday Girls

Rose Johnson and Camille Ucan & Beattie Edmondson are Birthday Girls

 Words by Suzy Romer

Every night is party night with the Birthday Girls. There is an illicit joy about attending their show, which takes place in a temporary venue with a bar and a fruit machine, but no toilets or backstage. The performers chat to the arriving audience as they set up. In a room like a disused warehouse, the three performers (Beattie Edmondson, Rose Johnson and Camille Ucan) prepare a sound system and a cool backdrop. Ready. Party Vibes is as exciting as a celebration in a speakeasy.

But these women don’t just speak easy; they say whatever they damn well please. They make you feel like you are taking part in a wild night out although they are supplying all the laughs, glamour and scandal. They drink, they brawl, they gamble and they dance. The choreographed numbers which run through the show make it impossible not to grin and whoop. The sketches are wide-ranging in their subject matter and occasionally go beyond your weirdest dreams. There is an outstanding parody of late night adverts for ladies’ bingo. The group list all the sugar and spice that good girls are supposed to be made of (high heels, chocolate, etc), whilst selling us a sticky old gambling habit. Reality TV-style diet shows and internet trolls also get the Birthday Girl treatment: slugged and nailed and smashed like snails, HA HAR!

What’s more, if rude, crude and fantastically good comedy isn’t enough, you’ll learn a thing or two as well. Ever wondered what to say at a wine tasting? Or how the logistics of a threesome work? Never fear. These lasses surf where angels fear to tread and the audience greets it all with shrieks and occasionally barks of delight.

The evening of Free Fringe prohibition-style pleasure ends appropriately with cash payment so it’s a case of no receipts and no regrets. You want to pay more at the end than you planned at the start! I leave on a high thinking it’s just as well we gals don’t behave like this all the time. Or is it?

You can catch Birthday Girls: Party Vibes at Cowgatehead every night at 10pm. They’re packing the place out so GET THERE EARLY. More information here

Birthday Girls

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