sat 17/08/2019

Comedy Reviews

Edinburgh Fringe: The Boy With Tape on His Face/ Barbershopera/ Tom Allen

Veronica Lee The Boy With Tape on His Face: Sam Wills's original and inventive sight gags

This is a show of such originality and inventiveness that I will struggle to convey just how much fun it is to watch a man perform sight gags and physical comedy for an hour - and who does indeed appear throughout with a strip of black gaffer tape over his mouth.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Stuart Goldsmith/ Steve Mason/ Peter Straker

theartsdesk Stuart Goldsmith: he looks clean-cut, but likes to live a bit on the wild side

You may think the very well-presented comic Stuart Goldsmith - clean-shaven and wearing sensible Merrells (“which says I’m not wearing a fleece but I own one”) - is the sort of  bloke your mum always hoped you would end up marrying or having as your best friend. His show is titled The Reasonable Man, and Goldsmith is indeed utterly dependable, he tells us, plus he comes from that most nondescript of towns, Leamington Spa. But he would like to break out a bit.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Marcel Lucont/ Primadoona/ Phil Nichol

theartsdesk Marcel Lucont: looks like the love child of Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge Gainsbourg

Marcel Lucont, “France’s greatest misanthropic lover”, comes on stage looking like the love child of Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge Gainsbourg - in head-to-toe black, sporting manly stubble and clutching a bottle of vin rouge. Is he an ethnic stereotype, or is he the alter ego of Alexis Dubus from Buckinghamshire, who happens to speak perfect French?

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Edinburgh Fringe: Celia Pacquola/ Could It Be Forever?/ Sammy J

Veronica Lee Celia Pacquola: she has that most Australian of virtues, acute self-awareness of bullshit

Celia Pacquola made her Fringe debut last year after storming various comedy festivals in her native Australia with a show about her boyfriend’s infidelity and, while it was entertaining enough, it lacked a bit of oomph. But her new show packs a real emotional and comedic punch and displays a noticeable development of her writing and performing talents.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Daniel Kitson/ Leisa Rea/ Misconception

theartsdesk

Daniel Kitson only occasionally performs at comedy venues at the Fringe these days - perhaps a late-night spot here and there, though not a full set - but it has become almost a tradition that he writes a new piece for the Traverse each year. On the cusp of comedy and theatre is, surely, storytelling and Kitson, winner of the Perrier comedy award 2002, has become a storyteller of excellence.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Doc Brown/ Imran Yusuf

Veronica Lee

Doc Brown comes on stage in the hip-hop uniform of all-black clothing, lots of bling and black-out shades, and starts rapping “It’s all about me” in suitably bombastic tones. But Brown isn’t all he seems, as the rap peters out, the gear comes off and he is no longer a rapper, but a stand-up making his debut at this year’s Fringe. It's a terrific and captivating opening to an hour that speeds by.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Tiffany Stevenson/ Fair Trade/ Gutted: A Revenger's Musical

theartsdesk Tiffany Stevenson: her new show is about mums, celebs and bastards - what a combo

After making her Edinburgh debut last year, Tiffany Stevenson returns with another cracking show, Dictators. Ostensibly it’s about Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, et al, but in reality she cleverly  manages to do a show about the mother-daughter relationship and our obsession with celebrity in the guise of a political theme. Mums, celebs and bastards on the same bill - it's a stroke of genius.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Late Night Gimp Fight!/ While You Lie

Veronica Lee 'Late Night Gimp Fight!': fast-paced sketches on the sexually deviant side

Going to a late-night comedy show at the Fringe is always taking a risk, not least because every drunken fool in the place, with their oh-so-funny heckles, thinks they’re funnier than the performers. And so it proved at the performance I saw of this deliriously funny sketch comedy, performed by five fit young chaps, in which the payoff to one skit involves one of them going buck naked.

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Edinburgh Fringe: Jason Cook/ Lee Kern/ Barrow Street Theatre

Veronica Lee Jason Cook: The Geordie comic's show is about his suspected heart attack last year

He may describe himself as “a Geordie chancer”, but in reality Jason Cook is a warm comic whose material is utterly devoid of cynicism. Yet he’s far from being pious - he spices up his act with caustic barbs for deserving targets (quite often himself) and has a raft of sharp putdowns for hecklers who think they’re wittier than he is.

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The Unforgettable Bob Monkhouse, ITV1

Adam Sweeting Bob Monkhouse: 'What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Anyone can roast beef...'

He wasn't a jack of all trades, said his friend June Whitfield, "he was a master of all trades". The charge of "smarminess" dogged Bob Monkhouse throughout his career, but as this quietly penetrating documentary made clear, he was highly intelligent, multi-talented and had a lot of layers he kept to himself. Actor, scriptwriter, singer, novelist (though they didn't really mention that part), stand-up comic, cartoonist, radio star, gameshow host and posthumous campaigner against the prostate...

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