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Reviews

Ria Lina: dear Daughter

When / Where: Edinburgh Fringe: Gilded Ballon Teviot; 3rd-29th August; 21:15

 Ria Lina has always had a way of getting the audience onside from the first and her new show is no exception. Her mix of effortless wit, impossibly quick quips and intelligence make for yet another impressive show and her musings on what is not an obvious choice for a comedy show - death - are both entertaining and thought provoking. Sharing personal anecdotes, incorporating clever comedy songs and imagined letters to her daughter, this is a delightful hour in the presence of a comic talent that is going from strength to strength.

Revan and Fennell: Fan Club

When / Where: Edinburgh Fringe: 4th - 28th August; 12:05; Just the Tonic at the Caves

 

This double act are back with a new selection of comedy sketches at the Caves, this time showcasing more than just their comedy timing, including dancing and singing skills to great effect. In a sketch that stood out from the others, a strong-voiced backing singer slowly but surely overtakes the performance of a Whitney Houston song to hilarious effect. The clowning and originality of that particular piece making them strong contenders on the comedy scene. Other amusing characters included Eastenders actors contending with an over-eager percussionist and a pretentious dinner party host attempting to impress her hipster guests with increasingly ridiculous trends and vocations. A delightful serving from this great comedy duo.

ZazU: Raisins To Stay Alive

When / Where: Edinburgh Fringe: 3rd - 29th August; 18:15; Gilded Balloon

This talented comedy foursome present a show about the end of world in the strange parallel universe of zazU. What follows is an increasingly surreal collection of scenes and characters performed brilliantly by all four performers - including a talking monkey, a Liverpudlian mermaid and a strange oracle that also sells bric a brac. The story is a little weak at times and the surreal genre is taken to the extreme, but the sheer talent, energy and charisma of the actors makes this unique hour a pleasure to experience.

Lazy Susan: Crazy Sexy Fool

Where / When: Ed Fringe: Pleasance Courtyard; 19:15

This charismatic female duo are back with another offering of character comedy and sketch. Starting the show wearing giant bear heads, they re-enact a typical heist movie through mime to hilarious effect. What follows is a delightful series of oddball characters beautifully observed with many hilarious asides and one-liners that make these two stand out from the sea of comedy duos up at the fringe. Both women are endearing and talented individually, but the real magic comes from their great connection. From the well-observed Youtube stars giving vacuous advice to young women, to the wannabe pop star and her best friend rapper, the jaded northern DCI and the brilliantly executed American, womanising anchor man and his long-suffering female reporter the Susans were a pleasure to watch.

Anna Morris: It's Got To Be Perfect

When / Where: Ed Fringe: Voodoo Rooms; 6-28th August; 15:55

 Anna Morris is back as hilarious Tory bridezilla, Georgina and she did not disappoint. Capitalizing on a successful year that has seen the character have a sellout run at the Fringe and become a Youtube sensation, Morris starts the show with an X-Factor style video before arriving onstage herself to charm, manipulate, boss and threaten the audience into making her wedding day perfect. The turns of phrase, superficial values and priorities are accurately observed and the updated political references make the piece even more relevant and topical. Her quick-witted, sharp improvised repartees with the audience were a delight, but the clincher was the ending, a great twist that revealed the deeper message belying Morris' piece and gave this joyful journey a meaningful element. I highly recommend you catch this popular show.

IT'S THEA SKOT IN HERE

When / Where: Ed Fringe: Cowgatehead; 6th-27th August 20:45

 

Alison Thea Skot is back with a plethora of eccentric new characters for our bemusement and delight. She starts the show as Cher who has morphed into a bat and has the vocal chords of a young Transylvanian. And it only get wierder. From the gospel preacher who is also a doner kebab, to a Scandinavian DCI with leaking nipples and a two-headed 50's film star, the audience watches as Skot munches her way through a pepperami, hurls biscuits at the audience and pours water over herself, all the time giggling along at the mayhem. And such is Skot's charm and talent that the audience was alongside the whole way. She truly comes into her own in the moments of increasingly bizarre audience participation and improvisation, but mention must also be made for the clever skits that included Where's Wally's long-suffering girlfriend and an internet dating-themed horror story complete with torchlight. Another messy, crazy, thrilling ride with this remarkable talent, not to be missed.

COLIN HOULT / ANNA MANN: A SKETCH SHOW FOR DEPRESS

When / Where: Ed Fringe: Pleasance Courtyard, 3rd-28th August; 19:00

Colin Hoult plays depressed, narcistic, over 25 Actress Anna Mann who guides us through a series of characters inspired (or rather stolen) from her group therapy sessions. Accompanied by her dishy male dancers dressed in skin-tight body suits, Anna depicts each character with a tenuous change of costume, an amateur set and questionable scene changes. And it is brilliant. Beneath the faux-amateurishness, are some well-observed and nuanced characters, performed with effortlessly witty and often surreal asides to the audience. Anna messes up the big finale by cueing it in at the beginning instead so that the end is a rather muddled mess with no clear conclusion about depression or how to over come it. And of course under all the silliness and mess is a more serious message that peeps through in moments like when Anna describes how every doctor and health professional seems to prescribe the same thing for depression: Running. Complete with disastrous forum theatre, terrible make up and bad rapping, Anna's show is a messy delight.

Isle Of Edna: G Street

When / Where: Ed Fringe, The Mash House, Just The Tonic 4th-28th August; 19:00

New comedy duo Isle Of Edna bring their show G Street to Just The Tonic's Caves. It is a clever, witty, multi-sensorial character comedy show that explores the effects of gentrification on a community through recurring, all-too-familiar archetypal characters, such as the Working Mum versus the Stay At Home Mum, the Spoken Word Poet spouting his fury at the changing neighbourhood through questionable rhyme, and, of course, the Hipsters with their increasingly absurd beards searching for the trendiest new spot to hang out in only to ridicule it immediately in order to maintain their street cred. Mention must also be made of the middle class woman who converts a public toilet into an artisan bakery and the pensioner, depicted in puppet form, who is on a heartbreaking quest to buy a rivet only to find that every local shop has been transformed into a DIY-themed club with no actual rivets to be bought. The puppetry, music, colour and audience participation give the piece a Sesame Street feel which cleverly invokes a sense of nostalgia and makes the message underlying this comedy piece all the more poignant - how many local communities, familiar faces and safe spaces have been priced out by gentrification and how long before Sesame Street itself really does become G Street? A beautifully envisioned, energetically performed piece by a fresh comedy act.

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Tracy - Sophie Morgan-Price

When/Where: Ed Fringe. Med Quad Underbelly 10th - 29th August (except 20th) 1:45pm

Sophie Morgan-Price returns her acclaimed supermarket comedy to the Fringe and it does not disappoint. The Welsh actor/writer gives a hilarious performance as Tracy, a frustrated, aggressive middle-manager who has been consistently overlooked for promotion. As she in turn bullies, patronises and seduces her team members, the audience are treated to an ingenious script interspersed with physical comedy and tightly contained moments of improvisation that delights.

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Rachel Parris - Best Laid Plans

When/Where: Pleasance Dome 3rd – 28th August; 18.50

Edinburgh fave Rachel Parris is back with her new one-woman show that includes not only the very best of her comedy songs, performed with aplomb on her electric piano, but also an intimate journey through the last year of her life, which has been marked by considerable upheaval. Part musical comedy, part moving personal account, the star of Austentatious and Murder In Successville made the audience simultaneously laugh and cry with catchy songs such as “Freeze Your Eggs” and, my personal favourite, “Hen Do On A Train”, as well as reading aloud her increasingly inappropriate correspondence with Jo from the Samaritans. A raw, honest account of a less than perfect life that so many can identify with. Parris won the audience over without falling into sentimentality.

 

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Alice Marshall: Vicious

@TheWarren Theatre Box, St Peter's Church North, BRIGHTON FRINGE. 30th May.

Alice Marshall’s Vicious celebrates the bitch in all of us in this one woman character show. Our hostess is one Greta Medina, queen of the acid tongue and life coach/relationship counsellor from the dark side. Dressed in black like sixties assassin, she reels off a ‘Chronicle of the Vicious’. She is here to nix any lingering romantic notions we might still be entertaining, backed up by video vox pops from love casualties. Relationships end in carnage: only the super-cynic, the self-regarding and the empty-headed survive. There are some neatly toxic lines here (“You can’t hear yourself think because your ovaries are screaming!”) and a lot of material for anyone on the dating scene to sink their teeth into.

Greta hands the floor to Tim, a pretty but vacant actor whose convinced he’s the bees knees. When Tim decides to launch himself onto the comedy circuit, he becomes a parody of acts where bare-faced arrogance and slick delivery become a substitute for decent material. One gets the feeling Marshall is venting some personal stuff. She's at her best when she gets her satirical claws into a narcissistic celebrity stereotype like Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Floating effortlessly on a cushion of super-heated ego, she flirts ruthlessly with the audience, getting gorgeous Geordie physical with them. Does ‘our Cheryl’ deserve this treatment? Who cares. The result is hilarious.

As if to demonstrate her flexibility as a comedy actress, the next character is a dating disaster called Louise, who is coached through a series of humiliating challenges by Greta. Here Marshall presents a  gawky clown face, a crippled puppy who nobody wants.

The finale is Unity de la Touche, a grand old lush who put it about in her youth but is now scathing about the young. It’s an interesting choice because Unity is the softest of the characters: more cabaret humour with a lemony G&T than biting satire. It felt like she had stumbled into the wrong show and should be hosting Madame JoJos.

Marshall has been described as a young Catherine Tate and you can see why. She is a natural character comic but can slip in and out of character to deal with the challenges of a live audience. As a showcase of Marshall’s abilities as a comedy actress, Vicious is a triumph and we are sure she has a coruscating career ahead of her.

Monkey Business Comedy Club

When/Where: Sat 7th May at the Holiday Inn, Camden Town.

Funny women were out in force on Saturday at Monkey Business, North London’s best comedy club run by Martin Besserman,. He kicked off with relative newcomers Roisin and Chiara, a surreal sketch act who have been described as “The Mighty Boosh on acid.” They began by reading out crap reviews posted for the Holiday Inn’s accommodation upstairs: a canny demonstration of their ability to turn the mundane into the sublimely ridiculous. They segued into an increasingly maniacal dialogue between stereotypical girly types and performed their final skit while shovelling marshmallows in their mouths. It was a trip but less like acid and more like hash cake with your mates. Can’t wait to see how their Edinburgh Fringe show will develop.

Next up was ‘Svetlana - the Oligarch’s Wife’: the Gucci-packing, Chihuahua-toting, feathered creation of Laura Bodell. Apparently bored by working out in her Kensington mega-basement, Svetlana has launched herself onto the stand-up scene where she gets her kicks by interacting with “dirty poor persons” in the audience. We were warned that anyone who didn’t clap heartily would end up in the canal, so it was lucky for us that laughter flowed freely.

Whether Deborah Francis-White was intended as the headliner or not, she certainly dominated. In recent years her act has shifted from personal material to headlong sparring with the audience and boy, is she good at it. One heckler, a club regular called Howard who self-described as a “nutcase on benefits” and had a case of verbal diarrhoea, presented both an opportunity and a moral dilemma but Frances-White managed to keep the ribbing just above the belt. Like Jo Brand in her early days, Francis-White doesn’t suffer fools gladly; so if you’re sitting in the front rows, you’d better have your wits about you.

Then came Richard Gadd with a routine which mixes straight gags with embarrassing romantic stories, punctuated by sound effects. It felt fresh and edgy in a post-post-modern kind of way (“She said, ‘If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d eat you and fuck the sausage roll’” - Class!) He didn’t take well to Howard interrupting him at the beginning of his spiel but then it all fed into his twitchy, man-on-the-edge persona.

The evening was topped off with a set from the No Frills Twins, a post-internet, arthouse cover band who looked like they’d stepped out of a David Lynch movie. Extraordinary, beautiful and weird voices... sirens from a parallel universe where everything comes in twos.

INFO and BOOKING: Monkey Business comedy Club

reviewed by imo@mimotv

 

Comedy in the Yurt

By Fionnuala O'Driscoll

In the wilds of St Albans you can find Comedy in the Yurt in the Blacksmith's Arms on the last Wednesday of every month. It features up and coming comedians, a lovely local audience and an unusual performance space bedecked with fairy lights and a pot plant. It beats most of the dingy cellars comedians tend to frequent, but bear in mind it is an unheated yurt; bring a blanket and you're likely to have a good night out. 

On the night of 27th April the yurt was impressively full, despite the apocalyptic weather raging just the other side of a thin sheet of canvas. The crowd seemed cold but happy and MC Lee Wilson managed to build a good atmosphere making jokes with the locals and greeting newcomers by name. It really is a very friendly night. 

The evening kicked off with Nigel Lovell who gave us an affable set with plenty of word play and his local knowledge endearing him to the crowd. Fiona Ridgewell got lots of laughs with her take on other people's kids and her personal grooming routine (or lack thereof). Jack Brooks had some lovely material early on in his set but his nerves seemed to get in the way of him building a rapport with the audience which left things quite flat. I doubt this was his finest performance. 

The second half started strong with a pleasingly filthy take on the ageing process from Sandra Hale.This was followed by a fine performance from Yuriko Kotani with her wry observations on the idiosyncrasies of British life. She has a delightfully skewed view on the world and knows just when to drop the F bomb for maximum effect. Rounding out the night was Dave Green who managed a lull in enthusiasm (possibly due to frostbite) and won the crowd back on side with some well crafted jokes and breezy self confidence. The set itself was quite mixed, with surreal stuff sitting alongside observations on everyday life and even a bit of 'poetry' but it was a lot of fun throughout. 

Comedy in the Yurt is a great night out with a friendly, loyal audience. Just remember to wear your thermal underwear.

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Variety of Kings

Katie Pritchard gives the lowdown on her monthly comedy cabaret show "Variety of Kings" on Wednesday 20th April at the Star of Kings, Kings Cross.

I don't know why I'm always surprised at how much fun I have running and MC'ing my little club, since I book all of the acts, but I have such an awesome time every month!!! First of all, let's kick things off with a massive thank you to our wonderful audience!! They were, once again, the loveliest crowd we could ever wish for!! I don't know how we manage it, but every month, a lovely bunch of people pile into our little basement, and we all feel like we're best friends for the night. Huge thank you to David and Neil, who became a part of the show, your performances were amazing. David's baby, was just, well...beautiful!! And Neil got to be inside a pillowcase for 15 minutes, so, Neil...you're welcome!!

We kicked off the night with the amazing Louise Reay, who performs her set completely in Chinese. She is fluent in the language, and proves to us that we don't need to know the language to understand each other, have fun, and have a laugh! This is where David really came into his own, performing as Louise's baby. The whole set was brilliant to watch, very entertaining, and we also got free bread...so...we were happy!! This truly is comedy without language barriers!! It's not surprising why Louise has so many awards to her name! Next up we had the brilliant Alexander Bennett, who carried on the theme of having the audience fully involved, by putting Neil's head in a pillowcase, and getting the rest of us to act out various impersonations. The Travelling Sisters burst onto the scene with the first of their characters - Steve. We think we're a bit in love with Steve...he's so magic!! A brilliant character with some amazing magic tricks, and excellent lines! Their next character - Suze - was awesome!! Performing her own brand of comedy, we learnt a whole host of new moves, that I can't wait to try out in my next Bikram class!! To close the first half in full on showbiz glamour, we had the amazing Heidi Von Swan, as her character Lady HooHar!! Fusing together comedy and Burlesque, there is non-stop entertainment during her act...who plays a Bodhrun. 'Singing', 'dancing', 'drumming', and all this while she attempts to strip tease. This has to be my favourite character on the Burlesque scene that I've ever seen, and is one of the funniest character acts I've ever had the pleasure to watch!! We absolutely love her!! And we could watch Lady HooHar all day long!!

We then had a mighty fine interval...yeah we did!!

Kicking off part deux, we had the wonderful Ben Keenan performing his characterisations of things you would never know could be characterised!! We love his impersonations and voices. This cheeky chappy has so much charisma, it's hard not to love watching him. And armed with his great material, he really got part two off to a great start!! The Thunderbards then took to the stage! With sketches and jokes aplomb, you couldn't fail to be entertained!! Every time I see the Thunderbards, I enjoy them so much; their fast-paced material moves at the speed of light, they switch between different characters with masterful grace. What a splendid way to end our April show!!

The next show is on Wednesday 18th May, and features Holly Burn as our amazing Headliner, with an astoundingly snazzy line-up: Pat Cahill, Stephen Bailey, Red Richardson, and Matt Ewins!! PHWOAR!!

The next Variety of Kings is Weds 18th May Click for Tickets