Tag Archives: Pleasance

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

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 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)

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 Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang

1 Aug

Phil WangWords by Suzy Romer

Every Fringe has a few golden tickets for sell-out shows so this recommendation is really to tell you to just buy Phil Wang tickets on sight if you get the chance. I thought I was too late myself but I got lucky at the public box office on the night so maybe you can too.

Phil has a comfortable star quality that makes the audience take to him instantly and we know we are in safe hands because he has every part of what makes a great show under control. His material is absolutely up to the minute (he laughs at himself for daring to make jokes about 2018) and he offers a perspective beyond his years, all the better because he is one of the youngest people in the room on this occasion. He covers everything from farts to philosophy, and takes on virtually every current controversial topic with a response that cuts through two-sided arguments with big surprises and brand new comedy angles. He even succeeds in dealing with moral outrage without engaging in it and the result is Philly Philly funny. You can feel bits of your brain tingle that haven’t been used for a while and it’s such a blessed relief that our laughter rocks the room.

There is only one heckle, and Phil’s response is a comedy world cup goal. He allows the guy a laugh then immediately dwarfs it by an infinitely superior ad lib of his own. He follows up with a soft power warning not to take up any more time and then tops off with a flipping call back. These are the magic moments that comedy lovers spend their lives chasing. Beautifully played, sir.

Buy tickets for Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang, if you can here

8pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug (not 12)

 

Punchline recommends Beetlemania: Kafka for Kids

31 Jul

Words by Iain McLaren

It’s the start of the festival and my second as a father. Last year didn’t really count all that much though as my son was too small to take anything in or sit still for long enough. However this year is different. With that in mind this year’s Fringe kicks off in style with Kafka for Kids. “Kafka?” I hear you say. “Is that not a bit of a dry subject for kids?” Normally… yes absolutely. But believe me you are in safe hands with the Kafkateers.

From start to finish the whole crowd buys into this wonderfully funny take on the normally depressing author and his philosophical tales. Take a trip to the bottom of the sea with Poseidon, discover what life is like for an insecure bridge, hear the tale of an old man and his balls (this honestly is kid safe, so get your head out of the gutter) and where has Kevin the beetle gone?

All this and more is explained in this brilliant hour long show for kids and adults alike. Get your tickets early and remember how to see the world through the eyes of a child.

Enjoy your Fringe!

Buy tickets for Beetlemania: Kafka for Kids here
11.45am | Pleasance Courtyard | until 25 Aug (not 14)

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.

Impertinent Questions for Nick Helm

14 Jul

Nick Helm

What is your favourite synonym for “bum”?

Arse.

Whose swearing makes you laugh the most?

My Mum’s.

Who should come to see your show and why?

There are a lot of shows up here. So many to see. So much to do. And that will all still be right there waiting for you once everyone has come to see both my shows first.

Who are you excited about seeing this year?

Paul F Taylor, Annie McGrath, Colin Hoult/Anna Mann, Jordan Brookes, Seann Walsh, Jen Brister, Rhys James. I don’t know, I don’t really like comedy.

Imagine you come off stage and find a wish come true. Which food/drink/present/person would be waiting for you?

All I want when I come off stage is for someone to just hold me in their arms, rock me back and forth and tell me everything will be alright and that it wasn’t all for nothing. That and a sausage roll and a Magner’s.

Describe your perfect day at the Fringe.

All shows cancelled due to electrical shortages. Then haggis.

How long does it take to come down after a show and how do you do it?

If the show goes very badly then surprisingly no time at all. I don’t really need to “come down” after a gig anymore, but if it goes well, I try to enjoy it for as long as possible. I think it’s important to mark a personal achievement in some way and celebrate the little things in life, before some cunt comes along and ruins it.

In the game “Would You Rather?” what’s the hardest choice you have had to make?

What I’ll watch on Netflix instead.

What’s your favourite Brexit metaphor?

I thought it was funny when Brexit was being initially floated that the politicians kept saying if we leave Europe then we’ll hold all the cards. It depends what game sure, but usually if you’re playing cards and you’re holding all of them, it means that you are shit at cards.

Who or what helped you believe you were going to make it in comedy?

My Mum, my Dad and Jimmy Carr.

Tell us something your agent doesn’t want us to know.

I’m a softly spoken, mild mannered, nerd from Hertfordshire.

Buy tickets for Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames here

5.40pm | Pleasance Dome | 31 July, 1-11, 13-24 Aug

Buy tickets for Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink! here

9.45pm | Assembly Roxy | 31 July, 1-11, 13-24 Aug

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