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Edinburgh 2013: Carey Marx/ Sam Lloyd: Fully Committed/ Baconface | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh 2013: Carey Marx/ Sam Lloyd: Fully Committed/ Baconface

Edinburgh 2013: Carey Marx/ Sam Lloyd: Fully Committed/ Baconface

Making a heart attack funny, a masterclass in comic acting and Stewart Lee having fun

All heart: Carey Marx makes great comedy out of his heart attack

Carey Marx, Gilded Balloon ****


Carey Marx couldn't come to the Fringe last year, because of the small matter of having a heart attack. But, looking on the bright side, the experience has given him his new show, Intensive Carey, in which the comic tells his story without a trace of self-pity and with a keen sense of the absurd.

He's wonderfully honest about the lifestyle that led to the illness – during which we learn another use for a pair of socks when staying in hotel rooms – and the effects the procedures and medications may have had on his sex life (although he managed to masturbate while in the middle of the attack). It's well paced and the information, much of it graphic, comes drip-feed, while Marx also slips in some of his trademark subtle one-liners; when he says “There won't be a dry eye in the house”, he isn't talking about us tearing up.

Perhaps inevitably, the show dips each time Marx veers away from the medical into the philosophical, but he tells his story with a lot of humour, much of it pleasingly dark.

  • Until 25 August


Sam Lloyd: Fully Committed, Gilded Balloon ***


Sam Lloyd is best known as Ted in Scrubs, a role that mostly required him to look and sound gormless but not much else, funny though he was. In Becky Mode's one-man play, by contrast, he plays 37 characters, male and female, old and young.

He's Sam, a reservations clerk at a toney New York restaurant, who has to man the buzzing phones alone in a dingy basement room when his colleague Bob goes missing. In a frantic day, with phones and intercoms constantly ringing, he deals with a monstrous regiment of co-workers, the restaurant owner, demanding chefs, celebrity PRs and difficult customers, as well as his agent and an actor friend who rings only to check that Sam is not getting the parts they are both up for. In addition, Sam has to field calls from his lonely, newly widowed dad, who wants him home for Christmas.

Each person is clearly differentiated by just the slightest change in inflection, position of the head or a hand gesture, and this is a masterclass in the subtleties of an actor's craft. But Lloyd's performance, during which we see his character turn from downtrodden sap to master of his own destiny, is by some distance better than the play, which is overlong and repetitive.

  • Until 25 August


Baconface, The Stand ***


It was fun while it lasted. "Who's Baconface?" was the question going the rounds at the Fringe last week, but now there can't be many in Edinburgh who don't know that it's Stewart Lee trying a mask on for size for his new character, “the cult 1980s Canadian stand-up”. The Mexican wrestling mask is covered in rashers of bacon and the show's title (and his catchphrase) is It's all Bacon.

Baconface, who speaks in a Rich Hall-esque gravelly drawl, is a grumpy middle-aged guy who has been “doing these jokes five nights a week for 32 years”. Actually he has no jokes, and his attempts at them trail off into nothingness, but the comedy is in the guying of North American comics who do the same shtick for years and pad out live shows with “footage of their HBO special and a Q&A”. As we passed 35 minutes, Baconface said: “We've broken the Sarah Silverman mark.”

Baconface, too, has made no attempt to make his material appeal to a British audience, peppering his show with references to Canadian celebrities unknown outside the country, or even Chilliwack, British Columbia, where he hails from. They may start with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, but soon he's name-checking local musicians and ice-hockey players. It's good fun.

  • Until 25 August

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