mon 20/05/2019

Comedy Reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Tom Allen/ Sarah Callaghan/ BEASTS

Veronica Lee

Tom Allen, The Stand ★★★★

Tom Allen tells us Both Worlds is about being gay, watching daytime TV, doing the gardening and his  "crushing sense of wasting his life". But this is no misery comedy, far from it, as Allen gives us an hour of sparkling wit, much of it aimed at himself, while slinging a few piercing arrows at deserving targets.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Katherine Ryan/ Adrienne Truscott/ Gein's Family Giftshop

Veronica Lee

Katherine Ryan, The Stand ★★★★

"TV's Katherine Ryan," she introduces herself with heavy irony; the Canadian has gone from Fringe performer to never off the telly in just a few years and knows that the sobriquet can be both a compliment and a drawback. Yet when her waspish humour is such good value it's easy to see why producers love her.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Bridget Christie/ Mark Steel/ Beth Vyse

Veronica Lee

Bridget Christie, The Stand ★★★★

Bridget Christie, the comic credited with bringing feminism to the fore with her 2013 Edinburgh Comedy Awards-winning show, broadens her target for withering political analysis and to great effect.

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Rob Delaney, QEH

Veronica Lee

Most people in the UK will know US comic Rob Delaney from his wonderfully sardonic Twitter feed (1.17 million followers) or his autobiography Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage - a painfully honest (and often snortingly funny) account of his alcoholism as a younger man.

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Tommy Tiernan, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Tommy Tiernan tells us not to take him seriously at the start of his latest show, Out of the Whirlwind. “I’m like a cow mooing for the sake of mooing,” he says – which neatly explains the surreal riffs in a mesmerising 80 minutes, but also lets him off the hook for some of his edgier material. He has often courted controversy in his native Ireland, and there is the occasional line tonight that draws a shocked response from the audience.

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Nina Conti, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Thomas H Green

“Two-and-a-half hours? That’s one hell of a long puppet show,” said a friend. We had, however, read the Brighton Festival programme wrong. The pre-interval section of last night’s show was a screening of the BBC documentary Nina Conti – A Ventriloquist’s Story: Her Master’s Voice, which was on television a couple of years back and nominated for a BAFTA.

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Alex Horne: Monsieur Butterfly, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

There are many forms of comedy – stand-up, sketch and improv among them – and now Alex Horne has introduced a new genre as he constructs his set during the hour he spends on stage. It's a kind of Heath Robinson or Rube Goldberg device (that is, a machine that performs a simple task in an unnecessarily complicated way), and the anticipation builds as we see it coming together, and finally learn its purpose.

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Panti: High Heels in Low Places, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

Panti Bliss is not a name on many people's lips outside Ireland, but over the past year she has gone from little-known club performer to self-described “accidental activist”, and this utterly charming, funny and touching show tells her story.

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James Freedman: Man of Steal, Menier Chocolate Factory

Veronica Lee

Normally comedy critics tell people not to sit in the front row, lest they're picked on by a particularly boorish comic. No such problem for audiences at James Freedman's interesting and unusual show about the art of pickpocketing and more modern crimes; nobody is safe from being volunteered and, in the evening's memorable finale, the subject wasn't actually in the audience when one of Freedman's tricks made him the star of the show.

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The Pub Landlord, Touring

Veronica Lee

Al Murray is celebrating 20 years as his brilliant invention the Pub Landlord, an autodidact, xenophobic sexist with misogynistic undertones. Who better then, you may think, to run for a certain political party in the forthcoming election? You'd be wrong, because the Pub Landlord has founded the FUKP (the Free United Kingdom Party) and he, its sole candidate, is standing for the Thanet South constituency, where Nigel Farage of Ukip just happens to be running. 

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