It’s that time of year again, and although I promised myself I would take it a bit easier this year before I knew it I’d accidentally booked 19 shows…mainly helped by some fantastic deals. Here are some thoughts on some of the shows I’ve seen so far (not in date order). These are just my opinions and should in no way be used to decide whether to see a show or not… more just a way of me keeping track for future years. I’ve seen a lot of shows over the years (including repeats of many of these acts) so I am maybe a bit more damning than if seeing with fresh eyes. I’ve not reviewed all the shows I’ve seen, such as ones featuring a changing line-up/one offs etc and have also tried to keep the ‘reviews’ (opinions?) relatively short.
Nonsensical, absurd comedy (although somewhere inside I feel like all his ramblings are actually making some kind of profound statement about society…I just can’t quite figure it out). Not everyone’s cup of tea but definitely mine. Perhaps not as enthralling as previous shows I’ve seen from Paul Foot, but if you like silly stories and a bit of escapism then he is worth checking out. Plus I always like his dress sense. 3.75 out of 5
They’ve had quite a venue upgrade from when I saw them in a pokey room at the Pleasance, but Abandoman never fail to entertain. I liked the twist for this year’s show. The quick thinking and speedy vocalising from Rob Broderick is always outstanding – only downside is that sometimes he raps so fast I can’t actually work out what he’s said. Still – very loveable, very dynamic, very energetic and a great show to go to for a lively evening. If you haven’t seen them before then I would absolutely recommend them. If you have seen them before, there isn’t anything too new or surprising in their show but at least you know you are in for a good one. Just make sure you have a talking point stuffed in your pocket. 4 out of 5
I’ve been meaning to check these guys out for years after several recommendations – thanks to the afore mentioned deals I finally got round to it. Picture the scene – we were made to queue in a gloomy alley at the back of the Gilded Balloon, shoved into a very hot (and, worryingly, sticky) room with a severe shortage of chairs but no shortage of drinks at the bar. I get the feeling that this is a deliberate setting of the scene by the Rubberbandits – tense, over-heated, hordes of people experiencing controversial songs, stories and shouting. I didn’t enjoy all of it, however there were some absolute musical gems in there. I am not sure I will put them on my list for future years. if you do go and see them this Fringe make sure you wear very little clothing. Alternatively, wear what you like and check out their channel on youtube – as to be honest a lot of their best material came from the expertly produced videos they sang over. 3.3 out of 5
I am in a quandary about this one. Jonny is quite possibly one of the most endearing, loveliest comedians I have watched on stage – even when he’s being slightly ‘mean’ with the audience, you can’t help but love him. And his songs are very catchy – still rolling around in my head one week later. However, the show didn’t quite hit all the right buttons for me as I felt some of the songs were a bit weak, but that’s probably because I overdose on music based comedy every Fringe so tend to be overly critical. However, I am still going to absolutely recommend his show. It’s the kind of uplifting show that will give you a warm fuzzy feeling, and set you on the right path for the rest of the night – plus you will definitely want to buy Jonny a pint for being so..um..awesomely lovely. 3.75 out of 5
Honestly, I have now forgotten the names of 3 of the comedians that supported Rob Deering the evening I went to this music quiz. Still, it was a fun night – Rob Deering is impressive as a host, with a very extensive knowledge of songs. James Acaster was a great supply of laughs for the evening (as were the two drunks in the crowd). It’s a good show to check out if you like music, just make sure you check out who will be the panelists for the evening as I am sure it could have a bearing on how enjoyable the show is. 3.65 out of 5
I really loved the first part of Gamarjobat’s set (I believe it’s their very established ‘old’ act as I also saw it at their show last year). I do love this duo and find them very entertaining, but the second part of the show was just too slow and self-indulgent for me – it could have been cut down significantly, being replaced with some of the more fast-paced action sketches that they do so well. I know the show is (also) aimed at children and I would love to know if that second half keeps their attention better than it did mine! It hasn’t put me off seeing them in future years though as they are very quirky, and the show transcends language barriers so is a great choice for some visitors. It’s also worth noting that they are pitched under physical theatre/performance art so perhaps I should forgive them for doing what they set out to! 3.55 out of 5
Not for me. I don’t have anything against excessive use of foul language but when it appears to be used as a replacement for actually comedy, then there’s trouble. The potential of the show’s title “Dumb things I’ve done” just wasn’t realised. There were a few funny bits but not many. I’ve since checked him out on youtube and some of his clips are great, so I am not sure if his material is better suited to shorter stints or if nerves got the better of him that night. Who knows. But I certainly won’t be going to see him next Tuesday. 2.45 out of 5
Yet another show that has been recommended in previous years, that I finally made time to see. Good, wholesome fun – improvisation always requires a massive amount of general knowledge and is always impressive. There were two stand out performers in this group but it was just a little too flat for me and I won’t be rushing back to see them. But for some family friendly fun, they are a safe bet. 3.25 out of 5
I was going to leave my review at that, but I should leave the jokes to others. I absolutely love this guy. We wanted to break the monotony of comedy so decided to check out some magic. Alan has a dastardly, dishevelled persona. I like the way he performs his tricks ‘badly’ when in actually fact they are very good – some outstanding. Laughs, surprises and all round entertaining. I definitely recommend going to see him. 4.75 out of 5
I’ve seen these guys before and I know they absolutely sell out their shows, so I also know that my opinion is safely not going to have any effect on their popularity (but may shock some of my friends). I find their show a little boring. I love the rock stage setting but I feel the show is beginning to ride on the – undoubtedly deserved – success of their 4 chord song. The rest of the songs don’t strike a chord with me! I definitely applaud them for their 4 chord song as it’s absolute genius but I wasn’t particularly entertained for the rest of the show. 3.6 out of 5
We were very lucky to get half price tickets for this, but it’s worth the hefty price it usually commands. Difficult to describe (and I wouldn’t want to ruin the magic), but this show flits from sensual to slapstick to surreal to just downright bonkers. Highly recommended. Any troupe that can make dancing with a piece of paper look that stunning is well worth checking out. Go. 4.75 out of 5
Those who know me realise my obsession with these guys. I just love the format – improvised comedy musical (before you ask, I have seen other groups with the same format but BWC keep earning their number 1 spot in my heart). After years of going I FINALLY got my title for a musical picked (“Don’t Forget The Mushroom Nipples” – catchy, huh? It’s a long story) as my somewhat louder friend called it out for me. Their…um…story interpretation of the title, coupled with the on the spot musical numbers and ‘dancing’ just blew me away. As ever. I keep waiting for the day that I see a bad show by them, as god knows I’ve been to enough but once again they made me a very, very happy festival goer. Very recommended – although perhaps leave the kids as home, as I’ve also never seen a clean show from them! 4.5 out of 5 (I knocked 0.5 off as they don’t seem to be doing t-shirts for the title suggester this year, I’m in a huff. I’ve waited many, many years for that t-shirt).
BBC Presents…Musical Comedy (Greg James)
I’m not going to write much about this show , nor list all the acts, as it was a one off. However there were 3 acts that really stood out. Abandoman (still super speedy), Vikki Stone and Voca People. We are hoping to go see Voca people so I will do a wee write up if we manage to.
Some stuff at the BBC pink tent…
Worth a mention – we caught a 20 minute set from Frisky and Mannish at the BBC pink tent. Another one of those Edinburgh stalwarts that I’ve been meaning to catch for ages, and they certainly lived up to their legend. I’ll probably give them a miss this year (the rest of my schedule is pretty full with musical comedy) but would advise anyone to check them out if they like the following things… disco, glitter, Robin Thicke bashing, fun, divas, big hair, glitter, glitter, glitter.
Saving the best for last. These guys were stupendous – a fast paced sketch group, sometimes controversial. Dynamic, explosive, twisted, memorable. I had tears running down my face (from laughter, obviously). Go see them, they deserve sell outs. FIVE OUT OF FIVE.