tue 05/12/2023

Best of 2022: Comedy | reviews, news & interviews

Best of 2022: Comedy

Best of 2022: Comedy

The Edinburgh Fringe was back - and so were some memorable shows

Leo Reich's onstage creation of a Gen-Z narcissist was a five-star show at the Edinburgh FringeRaphael Neal

In 2022 we were finally able to welcome back the first “proper” Edinburgh Fringe since 2019. While I was disappointed that a few established comics – they know who they are – hadn't used the enforced layoff from live comedy to, you know, write new material, I was delighted to see others who had very obviously done so – and produced really memorable work.

Chief among those were Leo Reich (with Literally Who Cares?!) and Colin Hoult (The Death of Anna Mann), who produced two ravishingly good five-star shows. If anything connected these two very different hours, it was rampant ego; Reich's delicious skewering of Gen-Z narcissism and Hoult's monstrous but affectionately drawn creation, the actress Anna Mann – but that goes to show what a wonderfully diverse and continually inventive artform comedy is.

Comedy roundupThe above two are clearly inventions, but elsewhere personal history continued to add up to cracking comedy in the right hands; Dara Ó Briain (So... Where Were We?) charted his adoption story, while Helen Bauer (Madam Good Tit) recounted her journey through modern womanhood, Kiri Prichard-McLean (Home Truths) delved into national identity, Seann Walsh (Seann Walsh: Is Dead. Happy Now?) talked about his father's heroin addiction, and Sara Barron (pictured above, Hard Feelings) managed to make her son's origin tale an affecting – but very funny – account of the pleasure and pain of undergoing fertility treatment.

For comics such as Dave Gorman (pictured below, PowerPoint to the People), Joe Lycett (More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett?) and Andy Zaltzman (Satirist For Hire), though, the personal stuff was merely a way into surreal invention or political parody. The cleverness of their material never disappoints, and their shows, like all the others mentioned here, stayed with me long after they ended.

Comedy roundupA few comics, including Ricky Gervais (in his Netflix special SuperNature), Dave Chapelle (in his Netflix special The Closer) and Jerry Sadowitz (Not For Anyone), did exactly what they have been doing their entire careers – provoking people – but still the perpetually offended didn't get the message. I may not agree with all they say, I may indeed find some of it borderline dodgy, but they certainly know how to write and deliver a gag. And, in challenging my view of the world, they make me think.

In 2023 we can look forward to Peter Kay's mammoth tour (now booking until 2025) settling in, while Alex Edelman brings his show Just For Us – based partly on a remarkable true story – for a London run in the new year.

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