Give me the funnies

Wednesday, 17 August, 2011

Edinburgh 2011 – Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters Venue 272

Give me the funnies

Give me the Funnies! Is a collection of three comedians, Sarah Callaghan, Mark Davison and Ben Jay.

Ben Jay opens his set by telling us that this is ‘the biggest room I’ve ever played’ as the room is approximately three metres by four metres it’s a reasonable joke that also helps convey that he is in the early stages of his career.  He hides this well and is not afraid to touch upon rape, paedophilia and HIV in his set.  His material is well observed and sometimes clever.  Often, though, sharp build ups fail to lead to satisfactory punchlines.  Despite this, he holds his own and shows some promise.

Following him is Sarah Callaghan.  Her material is character-based with Callaghan adopting the persona of a tough London ladette.  Cleverly her persona’s crassness is deliberately at odds with some of her material which is sharp and intelligent – a highlight being a joke about rhetorical questions.  It’s a well constructed set that references itself in its later stages and she holds the room well despite her occasional (and mild) abuse of the audience.   Sadly the persona lets the act down – is not taken far enough nor acted well enough to truly convince – this is a great shame as if it were this would be a very strong set indeed

Mark Davison also performs with a persona.  His being Mr Susan, a alien who came to Earth twenty years ago “to get a job at your Dixons”, Mr Susan has just given birth to a little monkey which he carries around his back pocket, wears a dress and speaks with a delicate Italian accent.  With a persona and material as surreal and disjointed as this Mark Davison needs to be a very talented performer and thankfully he is.  Fliting almost seamlessly between scripted and unscripted material he keeps the room laughing consistently throughout his thirty minutes.

This success is entirely due to the strength of Mr Susan the persona, even when the material is not strong or clever (and it is almost never the latter) Davison gets laughs from strength of his performance.  After telling an anecdote about a audience member who thought they were coming to see a Chekhov play (a confusion engendered by the name of the venue) he suggests that his act is comparable to Chekhov and that; ‘if you think its just me being a twat in cupboard you’ve missed the subtlety’.  Whilst his claim about Chekhov is patently false, there is subtle work here; good timing, a strong sense of what makes people laugh and great commitment to a character.  The enduring impression being that we are watching a accomplished professional.

Of the three shows that I’ve attended at this years free fringe, Give me the Funnies was the only one in which I saw people consistently give donations afterwards.  Talented performers working hard in difficult circumstances (the room is far too small) they deserve their money and all three should be congratulated for their contributions to a show that punches well above its weight.

Credits: Sarah Callaghan – Performer   Mark Davison  – Performer  Ben Jay – Performer



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