mon 26/08/2019

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Phil Wang/ London Hughes/ Jack Gleadow/ Mr Thing | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Phil Wang/ London Hughes/ Jack Gleadow/ Mr. Thing

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Phil Wang/ London Hughes/ Jack Gleadow/ Mr. Thing

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Phil Wang says he is searching for role models for modern men

Phil Wang Pleasance Courtyard 

Phil Wang used to perform as part of sketch group Daphne, and his new solo show's title, Philly Philly Wang Wang, hints at their sometime schoolboy humour. He starts the standup on the Edinburgh Fringe by dropping various puns on his name, and each manages to top the previous one. It's a strong start.

But Wang is 29 and wants to talk about more serious things (although there's an extended fart gag in the set), such as how modern men think and act. He has some good material about why, still, women are the ones in straight relationships who have to deal with contraception, and why he is fascinated by world cups in sport – or race wars, as he prefers to see them.

Wang neatly upends liberal tropes about race. He's a British-Malaysian of Chinese ethnicity, but rejects his minority status; he's white and Chinese, the two largest groups of humanity, so he's sorted, thanks. Wang is also trying to be a good person but he doesn't feel he has the necessary role models, and he wonders who they might be. The people he knows best, comics, are certainly not people to follow.

Overall, though, Wang's ideas are jumbled and appear to lack any emotional investment, and his arch delivery and ultra-dry wit give this show an air of comedy delivered at arm's length.

Until 25 August

 

London Hughes Pleasance Courtyard 

London Hughes's egotistical, look-at-me glamour-puss stage persona certainly grabs our attention. As does her material in To Catch a D*ck, which is filthy and funny.

She's single but can't understand why, because she knows how to please a guy; as she says about her men husbandry: “I'm a farmer!” But it's cunnilingus she's here to preach about to the men, and she does, long, loud and lewd. This section has a Brexit punchline that is so wonderfully unexpected and out of place in a show like this that I'm still laughing about it days later.

In a fast-paced show where Hughes never stops for breath, she also recounts tales about her teenage years, desperate to lose her virginity, being sacked from a porn channel for being too raunchy, and how her very own 50 Shades of Grey date didn't end well.

Generally I'm not a fan of comics commandeering a member of the audience to get a cheap laugh, but in fairness to Hughes, on the night I saw it she pulled back from further humiliating the man she had called up on stage to demonstrate a gag about oral sex (there are lots of gags about oral sex in the hour).

Much of To Catch a D*ck is a hymn to female sexuality, if not feminism, as Hughes likes her dates to be “generous”. The jokes occasionally veer towards crude, but Hughes's sass and sheer force of personality win the day.

Until 25 August

 

Jack Gleadow Pleasance Courtyard 

Jack Gleadow is only 25 but his stage demeanour suggests he has lived a few lifetimes. That's fitting because Mr Saturday Night, his Fringe debut show, is a sort of tribute to the all-round entertainers of some decades ago that he loves (Bruce Forsyth in particular), seen through a modern, more knowing eye.

But it's not cynical, as Gleadow always wanted to be a shiny-floor entertainer, and we see some footage of him as a youngster when he was learning to be a magician. He gets good value from these clips

Gleadow subtly guys his northern background – he's from Hull – by wearing a flat cap and braces. He leads various audience members in playing some silly games and has a fine line in visual gags set to music.

There are too many shifts in tone and pace for the show's disparate parts to fit together as a seamless whole. But much of it is funny and inventive, and Gleadow's is a name to remember.

Until 25 August

 

Mr. Thing Pleasance Dome 

The presenters, plus house band, wear suits in primary colours and the set is busily dressed with a sound desk, a cocktail bar, a sofa and silly objects – while parodying a late-night television chat show, this is essentially children's TV for a late-night Fringe audience who just want to have uncomplicated fun.

And fun is what likeable and energetic host Tom Clarkson brings us, with daft audience participation games and silly sound effects produced by Owen Visser at his desk, and some groaning puns (the night I saw it, every time the word “rally”, in any context, was uttered, a ping-pong ball was issued from a dispenser, which band leader Andy Chisholm had to bat to a member of the audience).

Mr. Thing have two or three guests from the Fringe each night who come on to sell their wares and be funny, but the funniest thing on stage is Puppet Steve (voiced by Dan Clarkson), a purple creation which looks like it may be related to Animal from The Muppets. There's an anarchic feel to this multimedia show which has enough scripted bits to keep it from tumbling under the weight of so many elements apparently thrown together. Mr. Thing started life in London, but it feels like it was made for the Fringe.

Until 25 August

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