Showing posts with label 7/10 3stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 7/10 3stars. Show all posts

16 August 2011

Henry Paker - Cabin Fever

Henry Paker: Cabin Fever - As Henry Paker finds his comic voice there is an elephant in the room that needs addressing. Watching him, you may notice his stance of occasionally leaning backwards with one leg well in front of him, or the way he glides across the small stage, how he draws us into his surreal imagination and even delivers a few gags in French. Fortunately there is a seriousness to Paker that separates his style from that of the iconic Eddie Izzard. But that doesn't mean Paker isn't slightly mad.

In a small tin hut, Paker has aptly themed his show around Cabin Fever, stuck up Kilimanjaro for three months waiting to be rescued. Before we venture up the mountain, Paker opens strongly by sharing his bizarre issues with certain keys on the keyboard. A strange choice to start with, but smartly put-together and physically well acted.

Paker is an appealing and instantly likeable performer, such that his crowd may have felt overly comfortable with him and happily joined in (not really heckling). He managed to deal with these situations very well, in his own words ‘he created an effortless ease with the audience by telling them what to do’. Later he cut someone off in an endearing way by describing how he is going to cannibalise them, yet it manages to come across kindly as it gives him back control. Once or twice Paker seems to get lost in a conversation with himself, but these are the occupational hazards of his chosen style.

On his main theme, Paker creates an engaging and interesting show, with an intensity that meshes well with his slight surrealism. Some of the other ideas he uses have been covered before, such as The Game's trick of paying compliments that are slightly insulting (‘I love one of your eyes’). Paker brings a suave and creative twist to the material, much like his big finale which is well crafted and enjoyable, however fans of Red Dwarf will quickly see where the idea is going and it may lose some of its punch.

Despite familiarities with parts of his set, Paker comes across as creative act. In addition to his unusual imagination he's able to have fun with linguistics, which works well with the audience he has attracted. There is a sensibleness to his madness and coupled with a very enjoyable delivery it's clear that Paker has qualities that can take him far.

7/10 for an entertaining hour but with slightly familiar material - although the Eddie Izzard-esque style is not a negative!

13 August 2011

Alistair Green - Outpatient

Alistair Green: Outpatient - Alistair Green is infectious, but thankfully just in a comedic way.
Making his full Edinburgh debut, Green goes with an old school stand-up stage - a large spotlight circling around his slim figure as he steps forwards and backwards centre stage, not needing to run around or spend time chatting with his audience. There is almost a voyeuristic atmosphere created in this dark cave-like room as the clinically bright spotlight engulfs him and we listen to his medical history.

Last year Green discovered, out of nowhere, that he was suffering from a potentially life threatening auto-immune disease. The problem with his kidneys naturally caused serious concern for Green, with doctors talking about dialysis or even transplant. It's not the typical comedy gold-mine normally chosen to try and entertain an early afternoon crowd in your first hour show, but Green makes it work well.

He takes us on a journey from his surprise diagnosis, various tests and specialists, through to waiting for results and ultimately his celebration of getting the all-clear. There are some less original subjects touched on, including hospital food and traveller's diarrhoea, but these are the sub-plots to support his main routine which operates on a higher level. Throughout his set he gently steps between enlightening medical stories and smart gags, with the audience never knowing on which side of that line we are currently on.

Green is a quiet man, favouring softly spoken set-ups that deliver inversely-proportional laughs. His well-paced material is engaging and keeps the audience listening with intrigue. Green deftly crafts some well-disguised gags, sometimes just needing an intentionally half-finished line to get the audience to realise the big punchline. There are some creative callbacks too as he builds to a very funny finale.

In short Green clearly has all the skills to go far. With intelligent and subtle gags, and a gentle delivery that sets him apart from many other comics, the prognosis for Alistair Green is very bright.

7/10 for  Alistair's debut show, in some ways reminiscent of a young Skinner (I'm thinking 1991 Perrier) both physically and in some delivery.

11 August 2011

Aidan Bishop - Misspelled

Aidan Bishop: Misspelled - Fifteen per cent of the world's population have dyslexia which, as of 2008, now includes Aidan Bishop.
Bishop's fourth Edinburgh show is an educational piece exploring the issues, myths and his personal struggles with the condition. His opening video, shot in Dublin, quickly gets out of the way the old gag about dyslexia being hard to spell and establishes that most people don't know, or seem unwilling to state, much about the condition. Bishop wants to change that.
This show is a deeply personal journey about his linguistical failings before he understood he had dyslexia, a common one being the use of similar sounding words, such as saying volcano when he meant tornado. By his own admission, his New York Queens accent never sounds the smartest, which coupled with the dyslexia means he was inevitable perceived as dumb and lazy. Despite not initially getting into university he persevered and finally made it, graduating with a history degree.
Bishop's delivery comes across as nervous and forced, seemingly due to the level of concentration he is exerting to not make a verbal mistake. There is a vibe coming from him of a student delivering his final oral report to his teachers. He is far more relaxed when off-script and clearly has abilities as a comic that are more suited to less personally uncomfortable material.
During a brief interaction with people in the audience who also have dyslexia, he quips to a woman who reveals she is from Greece to ‘give me back my money’. An interesting tell on Bishop's goal for this show was how easily he gave up on exploring the interesting dynamic between another woman and her male ‘friend’ – education rather than banter was the priority.
Bishop tries to wrap the show up on a positive note with the very successful people who have dyslexia and some self-deprecating examples of mistakes in his original edits and tweets. This grand finale doesn't come close to the likes of Adam Hills's uplifting endings but I don't think Bishop will lose sleep over it, he aimed to shed some light on the issues and myths about dyslexia and he certainly achieved that.

9 August 2011

Colin Hoult - Inferno

Colin Hoult: Inferno - Still as dark as ever, Colin Hoult has this year moved from focussing on more macabre characters to ‘heroes’, mostly human ones but all inevitably flawed and retaining his signature strangeness.

We walk in meeting Eddie Cartesian and learn of his exclusive love of just one song, meet Thwor and his mighty hammer, understand Glin Caution is frustrated with his ‘pervert’ neighbour Preston Pearce, get introduced to Little J Parker from Nottingham's Crime Fighting Union and several more strange folk. There is a peculiar symmetry as the show almost rewinds through the characters towards a confounding sing-and-dance-along with the audience.

Hoult's work is funny and entertaining, yet manages to be more theatre than comedy at times. If you are looking for conventional humour, then you need to know punchlines don't live in the world Hoult inhabits. There are moments sprinkled throughout the show where you wonder where the humour is going to coming from, only to find an empty void of despair There are also perplexing prop choices including a huge tree taking up a large amount of centre stage, which seems to serve the minimal purpose of a microphone stand, yet maintains a constant visual dominance.

Hoult employs a noticeable motif of muted music coming from another building, reinforcing the idea of his characters living off-stage from the rest of the world. Music plays a key role in many scenes; within the space of a couple of minutes we have gone from chilled-out electro music, to a whispered repetitive chant and to a club anthem without the transitions feeling out of place. The most memorable moments include an adorable dog playing fetch the banana with the several audience members and a visit for buttered tea with a senile old man ‘Billy’ - including a scene-stealing performance by Dan Snelgrove as he battles against the restrictions of Pleasance Two.

Hoult has an impressive range of discrete characters and performs them all extremely well, perfectly complimented by Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner, making Inferno a well crafted and delightfully delivered hybrid of comedy, theatre and darkness.

7 August 2011

Holly Walsh - The Hollycopter

Holly Walsh: The Hollycopter - Who would have thought that jumping off Worthing Pier in a fake helicopter could go so wrong, yet end up so right?

Holly Walsh makes her Edinburgh debut almost a year to day of the fateful incident which shattered her arm and dislocated her shoulder while taking part in the annual ‘birdman’ event, in which various contraptions are employed in an attempt to fly off the pier. In Walsh's case, she was dressed as a damsel in distress being rescued by Rambo and escaping from a Nazi.

Everyone was cheering for failure and the inevitable drop into the ocean, yet when Walsh sandwiched her arm between the water and the frame of the helicopter, those cheers turned to shock.

Walsh then takes us through her journey of four days in hospital and then six weeks of recovery, at times unable to move and fend for herself. Thanks to her brother, she makes it through the toughest parts and to raise her spirits he shares with her the coverage from the national press. The unintentional media coverage and public comments provide some delightful moments of hilarity before we learn of the positives that have come out of the accident. Here we have the beauty of Walsh's message - simultaneously wishing that this never happened, but glad that it did.

Walsh's previous TV experience shines through as less than a week into her debut run she is confident and composed, expertly timing her set filled with photos, videos and PowerPoint gags. Her astute observational skills, including of the subtleties of the English language, provide a second wave of gags to support her story. Walsh has a bubbly and infectious persona that is complimented by abilities as a writer and performer. She has crafted a well-honed piece with a plenty of laughs, a satisfying story and even a joyous conclusion.

From this strong debut it's clear that while Holly Walsh may not be able to fly, she will go a long way.

ADDITIONAL:  I wouldn't be surprised to see Holly's name on the Best Newcomer List in a fortnight...!

6 August 2011

Neil Delamere - Divilment

Neil Delamere: Divilment - Divilment, as the internet told me, is an Irish term for general mischievousness or shenanigans, and Neil Delamere sets his show loosely around this arguing that in the end, all we have left to enjoy is having cheeky fun.

Delamere manages to capture the essence of his Irishness without feeling cliched or that he was re-treading over exhausted subjects – even on the topic of Ryanair he had something different to say, while the show also covered laziness, practical jokes, cheeky drunks and getting himself out of trouble. His gags aren't revolutionary but they still often invoke belly laughs thanks to his adept storytelling skills.

These sets were interspersed with strong audience interaction, tonight exclusively British and Irish  – but as Neil points out, we are all friends now after the Queen's visit to Ireland, which subtly leads to a smart gag about the black balloons released in protest.

An endearing and friendly performer, Delamere 's charm helps him get away with some seemingly rude – or if you will, cheeky – interactions with the audience but his manner never comes across as offensive. His reasserting a question four times in increasingly exasperated and profanity-laden ways just generated giggles from the audience rather than hostility. A personal favourite was a brief slip into auto-pilot and asking a 16-year-old ‘And what do you do?’ before proceeding to ridicule himself for such a bad question.

It's a combination of his likeable nature, engaging storytelling and relaxing accent that could easily have him described as an Irish John Bishop. You find yourself quite taken by him, exemplified by a woman helpfully heckling other reasons why four people left at a peculiar point near the end, so as to prevent Neil getting bothered by it. So in the end maybe all we do have left is divilment, and Neil Delamere is certainly a personification of that.

5 August 2011

Tim Key - Masterslut

Tim returns to Edinburgh two years after winning the top award (boo, everyone should be forced to return the following year with a new show!) and has upgraded his set to include a lot of visual trickery (well, a projector) and an actual bath.  Despite a huge technical problem for the opening 10 minutes, Tim finally gets on stage with his deck of cards containing his "poems" and a variety of props and a presentation / video.  Tim's set is very well crafted with some subtle call-backs and clearly knows what he is doing, however throughout the entire show there were only about 6 laugh out loud moments / gags.  Trying to do something different or add a bit of stage theatre is all very well, but it has to be consistently funny, rather than just having some people laugh because you said a strange word or a pointless poem.  Compare and contrast this the the flurry of energy, intelligence and wit that was in the very same room last year, Bo Burnham, and you can see why I felt aggreived for Bo that he didn't walk away with the top award the year after Tim Key having put on a show considerably better and funnier than a guy a decade older than him.  Three stars mainly due to his effort and construction but I would be surprised if I return to see him again.

3 August 2011

Imran Yusuf - Bring The Thunder

Following last year's show as part of the Free Fringe which was nominated for Best Newcomer (and I missed thanks to a printing error about the final date :-/ ), Imran has found a big 100 seat venue under the Pleasance.  A bright, lively and (mainstream) intense comic, Imran weaves a good set of stories that stem from his unusual background (Arabic name, Muslim religion, brought up in East London, born in East Africa, of Indian Ancestory).  Some of his gags are from safe material (immigrants) but he brings a different slant and seemingly fresh energy to it.  His bits on religion and his personal pilgrimage are little moments that separate him out without being too cliched or relying too heavily on his ethic minority status.  Imran is a very likeable "cheeky-chappie" that has a bright future ahead.  An audience takes to him quickly and his material is entertaining enough without offending anyone.  Three stars and expect to see more of him on watered down TV.

9 August 2010

Ivan Brackenbury - Hospital Radio Remix

Tom Binns burst on the Edinburgh scene as Ivan Brackenbury three years ago with a nomination for the then Eddy Award and the following year put in a great show with a Christmas theme.  Last year he moved to the larger cabaret bar and seemed to coast, although he clearly tried to put more effort in his show with more elaborate props but it back-fired.  This year he returns with his original show, less his moustache which helped him appear "special" and has 'remixed' it to include the best gags from the subsequent two years (NB:  there was only one gag from last year he used!).  Aside from four good stand-alone gags and three 'quiz show' segments (which really killed the mood), Ivan re-works the one gag of setting up a scene verbally and then delivering the punchline through recognisable song lyrics.  This actually works really well and delivered properly it can be a riot.  in truth he is a pale version of the character who won our hearts two/three years ago, and if you haven't already caught Ivan then you'll probably chuckle throughout this show.  He performed almost transfixed behind his keyboard / laptop and frequently mis-judged the audience's reaction and tempo.   As he plugged his other show in the festival (Ian D. Montfort) he mentioned that this might be the last time he does Ivan.  Hopefully it is as without true commitment to the character and the passion he previously had, I don't really want Ivan to die and long painful death just to rake in money.  7 out of 10, aka 3 stars, but probably worth an 8 out of 10 if you've never seen him, but he is a shadow of what he once was.

7 August 2010

Sarah Pascoe - Vs Her Ego

Apparently this is Sarah's first Edinburgh show however her posters are raving out her almost being the next big thing.  Can she do what Sarah Millican did and go from newcomer to headliner in 18 months?  On the basis of this show she has a fair degree of talent although her stage presence is a little bit strange.  Dressed almost as a sixth form schoolgirl she frequently tugs at her shirt or flicks her leg to the side like a much younger child reciting lines or just telling you her bold opinion.  She is not brash or arrogant and that is to the benefit of her material which is sometimes 'overly confident' but still with some good ideas.   Her punchlines often have a quite second or two after as people appreciate the material but without the cover of loud laughter it results in gaps in her delivery which in turn seems to slow the act a bit.  One joke in particular about a health scare will remain a favourite of mine for many years to come.  Alongside her good comic mind she tries a few drama scenes with some under-performed lines and intentionally unsatisfying punchlines which did bring wry smiles to my face, but sadly not laughter.  Sarah clear has talent and when she hones her delivery / character I think she could have a very good show, especially with some more of her intelligently-silly gags.  A lot of promise but still an enjoyable hour so 7 out of 10 aka 3 stars.  I will be interested to see her again in the future...