sat 25/05/2024

Edinburgh Fringe: Glenn Wool/ Jerry Sadowitz/ Ford and Akram | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe: Glenn Wool/ Jerry Sadowitz/ Ford and Akram

Edinburgh Fringe: Glenn Wool/ Jerry Sadowitz/ Ford and Akram

An Indonesian adventure, a vitriolic magician and a date with Colin Farrell

Glenn Wool: the Canadian comic attracts the attention of border guards

The Canadian is making a welcome return to the Fringe after a few years away and the break has served him well, as he's been doing a bit of travelling, and it was an incident when he flew to Indonesia that provides the starting point - and beautifully conceived climax - to No Lands Man

Wool clearly has one of those faces that border guards are attracted to. Not in that way, but they often figure he's concealing drugs, and on this occasion he was given a strip search. A horrible experience for most of us, but comedy gold to a comic, or at least a comic with a vivid imagination.

So he spins his yarn about how he came to find himself being given a thorough going-over by a chap in uniform at the airport, and along the way tells a bunch of other stories about why it wasn't the worst day of his life (that involves heavy metal, a European music festival and industrial-strength lager), what really happened when the US Navy Seals captured Osama Bin Laden, the various euphemisms for vagina, and what it's like being a Canadian visiting America - "America likes a stereotype. Which is a stereotype."

Wool paints pictures with words, and some images he evokes are not only very funny but will remain with you for some while after; I, for instance, will never be able to think of a dopehead without hearing his phrase “like a stoned hippie trying to get out of a beanbag chair”. There are times when Wool's delivery gets a little too shouty, but this is an unmissable show from a master of the craft, and the hour was over way too quickly. Until 29 August Veronica Lee

Jerry Sadowitz, Assembly Hall ***

Alongside death and taxes, the appearance at the Fringe of the vitriolic Scottish magician/comic has become one of life’s certainties. This is Jerry Sadowitz's 27th year here – “like being held back in class for a quarter of a century” – and it feels like it.

As ever, Sadowitz casts himself as a fearless, somewhat Beckettian exploder of limp liberal sensibilities. At its best this splenetic candour can be wonderfully liberating, but this is far from his finest hour. The most deliberately outrageous material – bald racism about the London riots, or a graphic narrative about fancying Milly Dowler – loses him a fair portion of the audience, not because it's offensive but because it fails to be funny. Without a comic pay-off shoring up his shock tactics, Sadowitz simply resembles a man shouting obscenities at a bus stop.

He’s much better skewering those such as Michael McIntyre and the cosy cabal of Mock the Week comics, or when he’s being genuinely inventive: a gag linking Anders Breivik’s atrocities to a recent polar bear attack in Norway is brilliant. These days Sadowitz’s well-worn taboo-rattling could use more flashes of such genuine wit. Run ends tonight Graeme Thomson

Ford and Akram, Pleasance Courtyard ***

Louise Ford and Yasmine Akram follow an old rule of double acts - one is this, so the other must be that. Think Morecambe and Wise (one tall, the other short), Cannon and Ball (one fat, the other thin), the Two Ronnies (one with glasses, the other er...). OK, so the rule isn't a strict one, but in many ways the duo fit the bill; Ford is geeky and nervous, while Akram is a superconfident looker.

And on that dynamic their sketch show, Humdinger, mostly turns, telling a fantastical story of how they became friends, despite Ford growing up in a Jewish family in south London and Akram being Irish-Pakistani - "My daddy's brown" - and just about pulling it off, although the plain/pretty shtick gets tiring after a while.

Like most sketch shows, it's hit and miss, but there are some nuggets among the so-so material, including Ford's crazy bar mitzvah, her date with the endlessly self-absorbed Colin Farrell (played with relish by Akram), and their time at a poncy mime school. Ford is a versatile actress and Akram a good mimic, and together they create some cartoonish fun. Until 29 August Veronica Lee

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters