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Edinburgh 2013: John Lloyd/ WitTank/ Romesh Ranganathan | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh 2013: John Lloyd/ WitTank/ Romesh Ranganathan

Edinburgh 2013: John Lloyd/ WitTank/ Romesh Ranganathan

Superb anecdotes, a surreal sketch about public school, and cynical observational comedy

John Lloyd, giving a quasi-lecture, is a naturally gifted raconteur

John Lloyd, Underbelly Bristo Square ****


John Lloyd is a comedy god to any aficionado of the art form. He has written or produced some of the best radio and television comedy of the past 40 years, including (and these are just brief highlights) Just a Minute, The News Quiz, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI. He was with the Cambridge Footlights but hasn't performed live for more than 30 years, yet in Liff of QI you wouldn't know it – he's a naturally gifted raconteur.

Standing behind a lectern, he delivers a sort-of lecture, which is a very funny collection of anecdotes about his career, behind-the-scenes stories and fond memories of colleagues past and present, including Nicholas Parsons, Clement Freud (of whom he does a very good impression) and two recently deceased friends - Mel Smith and his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy colleague and former college roommate Douglas Adams.The hour flies by and – befittingly for the creator of QI – one also learns some quite interesting facts along the way. It's such fun that one can even forgive the shameless plug for his latest book, Afterliff, which he signs after the show.

  • Until 24 August


WitTank, Pleasance Courtyard ***


WitTank - Mark Cooper-Jones, Naz Osmanoglu and Kieran Boyd – have built a loyal following on the Fringe with their mix of boyish comedy and surreal humour. This year's show, The School, is set in a godawful public school, where boys are sent to dehumanise them yet “give them a sense of entitlement”.

The threesome play a range of characters – pupils, teachers, parents – in a rather mad story that I must admit left me confused a few times in the hour as complicated strands overlap; the headmaster is an ex-con, the parents send their sons to the school to be out of sight and out of mind, and we learn that Chaucer wrote Friends, while there's a lovelorn overhead projector involved too. The audience participation didn't work in the show I saw, but the trio's performances are committed, they play with posh and ethnic stereotypes with verve, and much of the humour is nicely dark and twisted.

  • Until 25 August


Romesh Ranganathan, Underbelly Bristo Square **


Romesh Ranganathan won the 2013 Leicester Comedy Festival Comedian of the Year award and Rom Com is his Fringe debut, an hour of observational comedy about being a "chubby vegan sociopath".

The former teacher starts strongly by addressing his ethnicity: “Only 10 per cent of my show is based on me being Asian... The other 90 per cent is about my issues with white people, “ he deadpans, with perfect timing. He goes on to tell us he's a misanthrope who, unlike his wife, would rather stay at home than go out and interact with people. When he does go out, he thinks he and his friends look like “shit tribute acts to ourselves in our twenties”.

Ranganathan's delivery is annoyingly smug and I found his misanthropy tiresome, while he also lacks killer punchlines - his material on the English Defence League should be more biting, and calling his two-year-old son “a dickhead” in a routine about being a poor parent is just lazy.

  • Until 25 August
Ranganathan's delivery is annoyingly smug and I found his misanthropy tiresome

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