Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

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John Hegley’s Christmas Show at Battersea Arts Centre

Tuesday, 15 November, 2011

John Hegley (right) and friend (left)

A typically eclectic and funny Christmas show from John Hegley comes to the Battersea Arts Centre from 10 – 31 December. Evening shows are at 7pm and there are matinees too. More at: www.bac.org.uk

Crammed into this festive celebration are tales of tails of dogs, dads and Daleks, verses about voles, and an attempt at some unicorn noises. There is a story about the man who thought his television was a pet, some challenging ideas, boisterous bits of joining in and much laughter.

Mixing poetry, songs and preposterous stories, John leads his audience on a surreal and fantastical Christmas journey with some deep stuff and a little bit of dancing.

Entertainment for everyone aged 7 and upwards.

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The Top Secret Comedy Club Presents Nick Revell

Tuesday, 1 November, 2011

November 17. £4 for Nick Revell, Bobby Mair, Prince Abdi

£4 entry to the Thursday night show at the Top Secret Comedy Club in Covent Garden on November 17, where the line up includes Emmy Award winner and Perrier award winner Nick Revell. The show also includes Prince Abdi as seen on Show me the Funny (ITV1) and Bobby Mair

The Top Secret is an all-seated comedy club and claims the cheapest bar in the West End.

The Top Secret Comedy Club Basement of the Africa Centre, 38 King Street, London, WC2E 8JT

Tickets from: http://www.thetopsecretcomedyclub.co.uk/tickets/

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Kompact Cabaret

Tuesday, 4 October, 2011

Candlelit Cabaret

Kompact Theatre boasts an experienced cast and production team whose training includes East 15, ALRA, The London College of Music, Arts Ed, Royal Academy of Music, Central School of Speech and Drama, London School of Musical Theatre and STAC.  This evening of entertainment was a refreshing look at Musical theatre. Kompact Theatre has been running since 2009 with the idea of producing current musical theatre and the main focus being material by contemporary composers who create work for smaller casts.   This is a great way to showcase voices without using traditional musical theatre ideals.

Battersea Barge is a small venue based on the river with a capacity of about 75 people. Getting onto this atmospheric vessel is a bit of a steep challenge but once on it feels very lively. As you come down the stairs of the barge there is a bar to you right and a spiral staircase (not for the faint hearted and probably best that the gents is up the staircase and not the ladies as no high heel would survive and you might get a view of the odd knickers here and there.). This barge has long wooden tables and chairs on either side and at the bow is the stage with red curtains and another spiral staircase coming down onto the stage.

The layout of the show was quite simple with each performer sat on a chair at the back of the stage with the pianist down stage right. The cabaret started off with the whole of the Kompact cast singing ‘The traffic island song’ from Island songs by Carner and Gregor. ‘Labels’ from Bunked by Kunin and Proctor was sung by the very charismatic Daniel James Turvey. He had just got to a line about the alluring muscularity of a jocks thigh when the whole barge went dark. This hour long show was delayed as a member of staff from the barge went home to get a generator to see if the show could go on. Tea lights were lit and the audience carried on in high spirits with an extra drink or two.  No diva tantrums were thrown or tears by the performers.  The cast simple came down from the stage and mingled with the audience.  Once the generator arrived the show ran with one microphone a keyboard and a torch put where the original spotlight was placed. The cast got back on stage and started where they had left off, thighs and all.

Highlights of the evening were Mark Daley, Amy Spicer and Daniel Turvey singing ‘The Ballard of Sarah Beany’ from 35mm by Ryan Scott Oliver. Each of the singers had a good range and depth to their voices they didn’t just sing there acting and musicality were incredibly strong.  Amy Spicer was the star turn she is an actress and singer with much presence it felt like she could fill a venue as large as Wembley with her talent.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if at least half of this company are performing on a West End stage in years to come.  Kompact Theatre are a bright talent lights on or off!

Cast: Helen Woolf, Daniel James Turvey, Mark Daley, Hannah Spicer, Amy Spicer, Sophie Mills, Will Morgan.

kompacttheatre@jstevents.co.uk

www.kompacttheatre.co.uk

Reviewed Sunday 25th September at Battersea Barge, Tideway Walk, Nine Elms Lane, London, SW8 5BP

(c) Rebecca Talbot 2011

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The Costa Light Comedy Challenge

Friday, 23 September, 2011

Calling up and coming stand-up artists

Costa is calling on up and coming comedians to encourage us all to see the lighter side of life with the Costa Light Comedy Challenge.

Launched by stand up star Paul Tonkinson on September 21st, budding stand up comics are invited to submit a one-minute film of their act to www.costalightcomedy.co.uk which will be voted on by members of the public.

The closing date for entries is October 24th 2011.  The top ten acts in each UK region go head to head in live regional finals which will be compered and judged by Paul Tonkinson.  The ten funniest acts around the UK will then compete at London’s Comedy Store in the final at the end of November to win the chance to kick start their career with a ten minute slot on a Friday night at The Comedy Store in both London and Manchester.

For more information about how to enter and to upload your clips, please go to www.costalightcomedy.co.uk

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Matt Forde: Dishonourable Member

Thursday, 8 September, 2011

Politics, football and comedy

14:55pm, 25th August, Udderbelly’s Pasture, 4th-28th August

Matt Forde

Having cut his comedic teeth on the radio with the likes of Russell Howard, Jon Richardson and Richard Bacon, as well as having his own  late night slot on talkSPORT, Matt Forde  has returned to the Edinburgh Fringe  Festival to serve a slice of his own mix of stand-up comedy, football and politics.  These are his self-assigned areas of expertise and as the show plays its course, it becomes apparent that not only does he know what he’s talking about, but his passion for these occasionally juxtaposing interests is a pleasure to observe.

Matt Forde’s humour is eloquent but unassuming as he delves into his own personal experience and beliefs with anecdotal wit. He describes his life growing up in Nottingham and his lifelong allegiance to Nottingham Forest and waxes lyrical about his role as a supporter with such enthusiasm that it is hard not to see on stage before the audience the eleven year old mascot walking onto the pitch at City Ground. He beams his way through his tale of Brian Clough, arguably the club’s most prolific and successful manager, as he described Matt Forde as he was gearing up to hit puberty headlong, looking as if he spent his time ‘headbutting a pizza.’ Whether or not  characters such as Brian Clough are familiar to anyone other than Matt Forde, even if they spark a vague memory somewhere in the mind, it seems irrelevant; to hear him tell the story and experience what he experienced through his articulate, brave descriptions is where his performances entertainment value lies.

He wades through his past as a member and associate of the Labour Party, joining when he was fifteen; he paints the image of his fourteen year old self sending off his application four weeks early so he might wake up on his fifteenth birthday a fully fledged member of the party he had idolised since the age of seven. He admits his political ideology wouldn’t reach much further at that young age than hoping Tony Blair might ensure Nottingham Forest win the FA Cup, but soon his audience is coaxed into his experiences working alongside some of Labour’s most recognised politicians. He was there the day Tony Blair resigned. This is useful ammo for any stand-up, and Matt Forde rambles through his experiences of the day, re-renacting Tony Blair’s wry observations and quick-witted responses to audience questions. This isn’t just solid material for a stand-up performance it is also a snippet of our own recent history that we rarely get to hear about candidly from someone who was actually there. It is hard to not be reeled into this narrative, as Matt Forde candidly flicks a beckoning finger into the inner workings of Westminster during his time there. His audience join him for a drink where Michael Portillo seems a little too impressed by Matt’s Tony Blair impression.

Matt Forde pulls the nuances of a spectator sport as he describes Blair’s final hours. Indeed, by his own admission he is probably the only person in the world that watches Prime Minister’s Question Time with a pack of lager. This is where the crux of his stand-up emerges, as he blends the avid and earnest advertising techniques of Sky Sports with the political tussles of the early noughties. He ends in a climactic cacophony of clichéd football noises and the Rocky Theme tune blasting out of the speakers. His hour is up in what seems like minutes, a performer with enough political knowledge and anecdotal to flair to hold his audience in amused rapture.

Performed by Matt Forde

(c) Alexandra Kavanagh 2011

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The 7 Detestable Sinz

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011

Ups and downs

London – GBS Theatre (RADA) – 17-20 August 2011

There is an empty stage with a wooden table in the middle.  Some music is playing.  It gives the feel of an American bar with the exposed brick walls behind, like an open mic night.  A man comes out wearing black.  He asks if the audience know about the seven deadly sins.  People do.  He asks if they are in the bible.  They are not.  Some know this too.  He explains that there are seven detestable sins in the bible and that the performance will be about these.

Each of the Detestable Sins is explored through comedy sketches.  Each sin is introduced by a member of the cast before the action takes place.  These are not always audible but it is easy to catch on to what they may have been trying to portray.

Number one: A Lying Tongue.  The sketch is about an underage girl who goes into a shop to buy cigarettes.  The shopkeeper refuses.  The girl proceeds with elaborate excuses as to why she is indeed able to make her purchase.

Number two: An Heart That Plots Evil.  A man is on a bus.  We can hear his thoughts.  The thoughts are rude and he judges those around him.  He thinks about puppies to stop him from thinking about killing a woman on the bus.  There is an inebriated man on the bus too.  Passengers disembark.  It transpires that the man is on a blind date with the woman he had evil intentions towards.  She thinks he smells bad.  The date is unsuccessful before it starts.

Number three: Hands That Kill the Innocent.  A man plays God.  He is on the internet posting positive comments about himself on atheist websites.  A person plays the angel Gabriel.  A man has died and is in heaven talking to them.  He keeps saying “bell-ting” as his catchphrase.  There is a ‘destroy the universe’ button in heaven that he cannot touch.  The man has been killed by his gang.  He calls them ‘loveable rogues’.  He gets resurrected and is alive on earth again and sees two of the gang members.  They are scared.

Number four: A Person Who Sews (inaudible, perhaps hostility) in a Family.  A family are at a reading of a Will.  The deceased has given instructions for the family to fight over various possessions.  Two wrestle for a car.  Two duel with a pistol for an eight-bedroom house.  The person recording the conversation is killed.  The final task is for the brother to admit that he is gay in order to receive £2 million.

Number five: (Inaudible, perhaps Haughty) Eyes.  There is a table and two chairs.  A man and woman are in a restaurant.  A waiter tends to them and proceeds to insult anything and everything about them.

Number six: A False Witness Who Calls Out Lies.  There are a group of soldiers.  They make jokes about a certain extremist group.  They moan about the war and then go to a ‘Starbucks in outer Kabul’.

Number seven: Feet That Race to do Wrong.  There is a young man sitting at a table looking at his laptop computer with his dad.  The young man is looking up porn.  He jokes about making promises to God not to look at porn and how he will attend a cleansing service.  A character playing the devil comes out and speaks lies and tells him to look at porn.  There is a game show.  Believers in Christ are insulted and church service is threatened as a punishment.  This is rounded up by a ‘Looking at Porn’ song.

Yazz Fetto may have intended to teach people about the seven detestable sins in a comical way and perhaps about Christianity too in this piece.  Unfortunately, it has not been realised here.  ‘Four Monks and A Nun’ have a unique opportunity, being a Christian comedy group, to reach many and inform in a positive way.  This piece was offensive however.  There is a callous remark in the fourth sketch saying ‘I’ve never shot a gun before. If I were from Hackney, I might have had some practice.’  Gun crime is seemingly an opportune thing to make a joke about, according to this company.  There is a racist comment in the fifth sketch assuming that the woman is Polish as she has ‘despicable Polish hair’ so must be a ‘Polish cleaner’ and the man must have just come out of prison and must be on JSA (Job Seeker’s Allowance).  There is an insult about Lindsay Lohan in the sixth sketch saying that the soldiers are ‘sweating like a coked-up Lindsay Lohan’.

It is a wonder why Yazz Fetto wrote this piece with all this content.  It is infuriating that it insulted God, was racist, sexist and insulted the poor and those who have been in the criminal justice system.  The performance is all judgement and condemnation.  There is no love, understanding, offers for help or hope.

It is a shame.  The actors are all very talented and get into their characters well.  The comedy would be great if it were funny.  The actions, mannerisms and facial expressions of the actors capture their characters well.  It is hard to decipher the reason for these sketches.  Nothing is taught, nothing is explained, nothing is considered.  The actual seven detestable sins are in the bible in Proverbs 6.  They are: “a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:17-19).

The company have a wonderful opportunity to teach people something true and good and be in a position to answer questions about life that so many have.  They could actually be a good Christian comedy sketch group. The anticipation was for something great yet it is somewhat contemptible.  It is still not too late ‘Four Monks and A Nun’.  You can put this behind you and produce works of wonder.

Cast Credits: Roxanne Ngozi Anyaorah – girl buying cigarettes (Cigarettes sketch), Jenny (Lawyer sketch), soldier 5 (Army sketch), Tim’s mum (Porn sketch).  Hannah Barel – girl on bus (Bus sketch), restaurant customer 2 (Restaurant sketch), shop customer 2 (Cigarette sketch), Betty (Lawyer sketch), Soldier 2 (Army sketch), Tim’s fiancé (Porn sketch).  Sanchez Brown – arrogant waiter (Restaurant sketch), Al (Lawyer sketch), Tim (Porn sketch), thug 1 (Heaven sketch), soldier 4 (Army sketch).  Francis Joni – devil (Porn sketch), Mr Gregory (Lawyer sketch).  Anthony Mensah – shop customer (Cigarette sketch), angel Gabriel (Heaven sketch), James (Lawyer sketch), restaurant boss (Restaurant sketch), soldier 3 (Army sketch), grandfather (Porn sketch).  Isaac Nartey – shop keeper (Cigarette sketch), man on bus (Bus sketch), God (Heaven sketch), Nick (Lawyer sketch), soldier 1 (Army sketch), Tim’s father (Porn sketch).  Serge Rashidi-Zakuani – Darren (Heaven sketch), Corporal Smith (Army sketch), game show host (Porn sketch), drunk man (bus sketch).  Emmanuel Sackey – bus driver (Bus sketch), thug 2 (Heaven sketch), Frank (Lawyer sketch), General (Army sketch), restaurant customer 1 (Restaurant sketch).

Company Credits:  Writer, Director and Guitar solo for song finale – Yazz Fetto (Four Monks and a Nun).  Company – Four Monks and A Nun.  Producers – Anthony Mensah, Isaac Nartey and Serge Rashidi-Zakuani.  Backstage Crew – Olivia Harran and Dorcus Olatunji.  Technical Crew – Yazz Fetto and RADA Theatre.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer 2011

Reviewed Friday 19th August 2011

 

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Do Not Take Advice from this Man: Jim Smallman and Friends

Tuesday, 30 August, 2011

A laugh out loud stand-up comedy experience

Edinburgh ’11,  Globe Pub  – Niddry St, Edinburgh  5th – 28th Aug at 14.15

Jim Smallman - the illustrated man

On a tiny stage in a dark corner of a pub in the middle of the afternoon, Jim Smallman created a nightclub atmosphere with relaxed ease. He introduced us to his two companions on the stage, who listened in attentively, while Mr. Smallman set the pace and tenor for the gig. He introduced one of them, Simon Feilder as the tiredest man in the world, explaining 2pm in Edinburgh during the Festival was the equivalent of 5am anywhere else on the planet. Comedians work late in Edinburgh and this free afternoon show was functioning as an early advertising slot for shows on elsewhere in town later in the evening, He was making his fellow comedians laugh and relax as well as entertaining the crowd. The other performer was Billy Kirkwood.

Jim Smallman had an unusually packed house. A teenage school group from a well known St. Andrew’s secondary school, studying Journalism, had landed unexpectedly. He declared himself to be terrified. He also declared himself to be an ex-teacher perfectly capable of stopping any errant nonsense in its tracks. He had everyone laughing from the outset and proceeded to terrify the mixed age audience by declaring he would find out what their problems were to give great advice to solve them from the stage. Much giggling ensued.

He then gave hilarious examples of problems already solved earlier in the week and began asking people to put up their hands if they had a problem seeking solution. After a few entertaining false starts a young man at the back of the room volunteered as his target and a non-threatening, gentle exchange began where he asked questions, heard the answers around which he improvised witty responses and irreverent comments before moving on to ask the teachers present who was their most challenging pupil in the room. This question was answered, “fingering” a young lad in the front row, who became the next anchor for the humour, which strode the edge between put down and ego boosting with great skill. Much good humour flowed in the room and the balance between the wit from the stage and the comments in the room never rocked out of Smallman’s deft control

He was sharing banter on the stage with the other two comedians, Simon who was half asleep and Billy who was wide awake, as tattoo covered as Jim Smallman. An alert, declaredly working class Scot, he was warm and helpfully entertaining, hinting that the St.Andrew’s University town school kids might be a little more posh middle class than the present English Comedians on stage with him understood, Simon made “ unhelpful remarks” about young girls in school uniforms, pedo-magnets and other such “ too early for this material “ remarks to pepper the inoffensive banter of his companions, creating the opportunity for the other two to put him down with gusto. Their exchanges on the stage were often fun, creating an interesting dynamic which allowed good-natured humour to emerge, while never patronising the young people, who were thoroughly entertained by the stories Jim Smallman tells of his mistakes and successes in life. It was a masterclass in stand-up comedy and in entertaining teenagers well enough to create smiles of recognition,  provoking the laughter of fears being transformed to relaxation in an “I share-You share” camaraderie.

Towards the end of the time shared there was a long exchange with a young woman in the audience who described the worst experience she had in her life of dumping a boyfriend in a cowardly manner, in response to a direct question from the stage. She could have been a plant, she was so confident in her responding to his egging on. Her story was funny and grew from the encouragement she received from this generous hearted comedian. He then asked her about her work. When she said she drove ships all three comedians exploded into impressed banter. She described having driven warships from the Arctic to the Equator and from the Equator to the Antarctic in a matter of fact manner which gave Jim Smallman ideal circumstances in which to create even more laughter. He improvised around chat up lines and managed to celebrate a heroine in the midst of chaos before returning to questioning the young people about their love lives. He had made allies of them early on describing being bullied because his name was Smallman, having heard every related joke and put down early in his school life. Two or three of the boys in the class were willing to bounce ideas back and forward with him and everyone left the Globe a little early because the school party were heading for the train, having happily dropped coins in the bucket to say Thank you for 50mins of smiles and laughter, friendly banter and wise crack remarks, laced through endearing stories and splendidly compassionate humane observations. He finished displaying his latest Tattoo asking us to go see  “Tattooligan” so that he could make the money to pay for it. This is a very talented, winning young man with a powerful comic gift.

http://www,edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/do-not-take-advice-from-this-man-jim-smallman-and-friends-free

(c)  Lilian Kennedy Brzoska 2011

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Carey Marx – Laziness and Stuff

Friday, 26 August, 2011

Humorous, intelligent observation of human foibles to lighten the heart

Edinburgh ’11, Gilded Balloon,Teviot Row House,13 Bristo Square , EH8 9AJ  – – 6rd – 28th  Aug at 22:15

Carey Marx is one of the many late night comedians in Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the moment. In the Gilded Balloon Student Union Turret venue., once the doors were closed on a packed audience, he began by behaving like a Stage Manager checking out how rowdy the crowd was prepared to be, before stepping onto the stage and introducing himself. The drunk front row were prepared to be as rowdy as possible, when encouraged by the young man.  He had a very voluble heckler whom he dealt with as effectively as he did with the crowd dynamic throughout the show. He did this with a mixture of gentle, barbed humour and direct requests for respect for his timed script, with which he then kept us entertained for an hour, in traditional stand-up manner.

He describes with much recognisable accuracy the foolishness he observes on his journeys as an entertainer in Europe. His observations are perceptive. His attitude of intelligent disbelief and wry criticism of his fellow human beings is effectively funny, though his running self-deprecating gag is about being “pointless”, having no noticeable teaching effect over the years, since his humorous observations seem to have changed nothing in the world.

He makes  light fun of other comedians making careers out of not being able to find a clitoris and gives lessons in how to do so. He makes a running gag of this boyish search and his story about being sat upon in a bus makes very funny use of his view that finding a clitoris is very simple.

He addresses all the current taboos and lightly touches on his political stance to orient the audience to his particular angle of observation. He also identifies himself as “ A Jewish Comedian”, allowing him to make jokes about his ethnic group with impunity. He describes being attacked by a feminist in a bar, allowing himself to be very rude about ugly people who take up political stances to explain the world’s unkind reaction to them in terms of sexuality. He makes humorous remarks about people who just stop, coming to a standstill for no apparent reason. This he developes to make fun of overweight people blocking lift doors by standing stock still once they leave the lift. He does this while never actually being offensive about people being overweight.

He manages this trick in most areas, addressing potential social and personal mine fields with enough wit and humour to walk the tightrope between crass and cool without falling into the banal or the cruel. He is a very likeable young man who makes a warm relationship with his audience, checking what makes them laugh and then playing to the interest area that arises, choosing from a kind of multiple choice sheet of zones of engagement, carried inside him, or so it would seem.

I smiled a lot throughout his performance. I laughed aloud more and more, as he tied loose ends together with masterful intelligence, towards the final fifteen minutes of his eclectic performance. Many people laughed aloud from the start of the set and belly-laughed long and loud as he touched their fear edges to release their laughter. His humour surmounts age barriers and gives expression to the modern young man’s confusion, experienced  when faced with bigotry, sexist nonsense and adult hypocrisy in the world. He is acid about the levels of ludicrous stupidity he meets and gently wry about human weaknesses experienced by all. I left uplifted by his banter and pleasantly surprised by how fluidly he had moved me from disengaged observer to friendly fan in a very short time.

Brought up with Billy Connelly as a measure of how funny a man can be, I am not necessarily an easy audience for a stand-up comedian. Carey Marx came out of this experience well, making a friend of an over-weight critic who “Just Stops” quite a lot, for no apparent reason, considering and integrating the work of talented people. He is a talented comedian with a splendid active mind and a warm heart which gets him through many a minefield to the explosive, unexpected laughs hidden beneath our cool exteriors.

Cast Credits: Carey Marx – comedian

Company Credits: Writer – Carey Marx,  Director – not credited,  Sound & Lighting  – The Gilded Balloon Stage Management and Crew

www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/carey-marx-laziness-and-stuff

© Lilian Kennedy Brzoska 2011

reviewed Friday 12 August ’11

 

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Gags, songs and bombs: Chuckle Sandwich

Thursday, 25 August, 2011

An hour of free, late night comedy

First up for this hour of free, late-night comedy is comedic songstress Kate Lucas with a few taboo-shattering songs about her sexual relationship with an elderly woman and how she brutally murdered a cashier at Santander. The Ballad of Janine which was pinnacle of her performance, encouraging the audience to join in a resounding chorus of “Give me back my money Santander”. Kate Lucas’ saccharine delivery is run up against her dark humour but provides her audience with nothing unfamiliar in contemporary comedy. Particularly the prickly, deliberately awkward delivery of some punch lines which was been growing ever frequent on the stand-up comedy set since the emergence of Slough’s infamous export David Brent. Indeed, all three performers seem to tackle a particularly difficult audience with such an approach to their delivery, Lucas seems most guilty of it; she seemed to lack her own comedic persona, even when performing her songs which  on the whole were well-written and funny.

Next was stand-up comic Tez Ilyas, who provided the most impressive performance of the hour with a set centred around his religious beliefs as a Muslim and braving the topic of the London riots. Presumably no mean feat at this year’s Festival as the news is so current, although most likely already well-trodden on the stand-up circuit. Tez Ilyas takes to it with gusto, assuming a similar haltingly awkward style as Kate Lucas but pulling it off with a more direct sense of humour, outwardly critical to hecklers and displaying moments of great wit when discussing his home in Brixton. The lack of enthusiasm from his audience seemed to throw him a little, as it did with all three performers, which made for occasionally uncomfortable viewing, as it seemed many of their punch lines and wise cracks needed a stronger reaction.

Gary Tro polishes off our evening with some more stand-up comedy. Warm and giggly, he goes through the motions of identifying the two Dutch men in the first row as the other two performers had done before. There was the feeling throughout each set that the audience were not playing their part, and it was a little uncomfortable to watch. Gary Tro seems taken aback by the tentative audience breaction but launched headlong into his cynical slightly absurd brand of comedy. He performs with enthusiasm, he enjoys every situation or idea he is describing which makes for an enjoyable set, with a handful of laugh out loud moments.

Performers: Tez Ilyas, Kate Lucas, Gary Tro

reviewed 18 August 2011

(c) Alexandra Kavanagh 2011

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Scott Agnew’s Scottish Breakfast Chat Show

Thursday, 25 August, 2011

Edinburgh 11 – Cabaret Voltaire – 01 – 28 August 21.30

Scott Agnew opens the show by addressing the eleven or so people who are watching.  Upon not getting the reaction he wants from a couple in the front he brands them; ‘a bundle of joy’.  At 13.00 (‘Fringe breakfast time’ as he describes it) such criticism runs the risk of being alienating but he is a fairly warm performer and broadly keeps people onside.  He then serves “Scottish breakfast”.  This is advertised as being Irn Bru and a sausage roll.  What is actually served is just Irn Bru (allegedly the council wouldn’t let him serve food).  To make matters worse he doesn’t have enough Irn Bru to go round a half empty house and what he does hand round is flat.  Its a poor start thats sloppy and unprofessional.

The first act is Rachel Juhasz – a singer performing in ‘My Judy Journals’ – a show that mixes the music of Judy Garland and excerpts from Juhasz’s diaries (it is at The Jazz Bar Venue 57 at 19.00), she has a rich and soulful voice and captivates the room for the short time she is performing.  Following this she has a interview with Scott Agnew.  The interview reveals little and Agnew clearly doesn’t know much about her act.

Following Rachel Juhasz is Tiffany Stephenson who is performing her standup show ‘Cavewoman’ at The Stand Comedy Club (Venue 12 14.25).  She is invited onto the stage and Agnew retreats to leave her alone with the microphone.  A painful moment then ensues when she asks Agnew if she’s ‘doing standup then?’.  Agnew indicates that she is not obliged to and so instead conducts a interview with her.  Without Stephenson’s having been bothered to do any of her act its hard to know why we should be interested in the interview and she keeps talking about how hungover she is which is a further irritation.

Following Stephenson is The Silky Pair, they have the decency to perform a song from their act.  Clad in fluffy leopardskin coats over silk slips they sing a song about their landlady that brings to mind Kate Bush.  Its well performed with Kathryn Bond singing and Lorna Shaw singing and playing guitar but the lyrics are not very amusing and the parody alone is not enough to carry the song.

Finally, Nazeem Hussain takes to the stage – he is a Australian comedian.  He starts his set by observing that ‘there are a lot of white folks in here today’ its not entirely clear what else he was expecting and like the rest of his short set it doesn’t get a laugh.  His material is without exception to do with both race and religion, very weak and in some places questionable – one section in particular where he is impersonates a Indian in a call centre is uncomfortably close to racism.  His set is a embarrassing failure but perversely his interview shows Scott Angew at his best, ‘welcome to my sofa’ he says ‘you just died on your arse’.  By being frank and chatting briefly with Hussein about what its like to fail onstage he goes someway towards bringing a good feeling back to the room. It is his best moment.

I feel obliged to disclose that early in Scott Agnew’s set I was singled out for some of Agnew’s material because I was reviewing the show.  I didn’t much appreciate it but I’ve tried not to let it affect my judgement of this lazy and amateurish show which should be avoided.

Cast Credits: (alpha order): Scott Agnew – Host. Rachel Juhasz – Performer. Tiffany Stephenson – Performer. Kathryn Bond – The Silky Pair.  Lorna Shaw – The Silky Pair.  Nazeem Hussain – Performer

(c) George Maddocks 2011