Review: Edinburgh Round-Up

Bruce Dessau review

So many comedians, so little time. I nippped away on a small break after the Fringe and took my notebook with me. I did some adding up the other night. I saw nearly 100 shows in three weeks and reviewed 12 shows for the Evening Standard and 21 shows for Beyond The Joke. And no, I'm not a lazy arse, don't forget I also had to see all of those shows and eat. And write news stories and contentious opinion pieces.  It was an odd festival though. I had complimentary press access withdrawn for one show, I received a ban from future gigs from a disgruntled comedian and received a nice tweet from Jim Davidson thanking me for trying to like his show. It was truly a topsy turvy kind of Fringe.

But back to the reviews. Despite having an infinite amount of space on the internet I didn’t have an infinite amount of time to write up every show I saw. I promise to do better next year and am already looking into ways of improving coverage on BTJ by either ripping a hole in the space time continuum or taking on more writers. 

In the meantime I’ve had a few emails from comedians and their representatives on earth asking if I was going to review their shows. I’ve got my notebook in front of me and maybe it would be useful if I did a capsule round-up of some of the shows I did not manage to review during the Fringe, drawing directly from my scribbles in the dark. This is by no means comprehensive and my notes are not always perfectly legible as you can see here, so apologies in advance for any errors, but they are probably still more reliable than my memory after a week away. So here are ten more reviews. I’m not going to give stars, I’m afraid you’ll have to read what I’ve written to find out what I think.

James Veitch – Gilded Balloon. Slightly Watchdog-meets-Dave Gorman exploration of spam emails from people trying to make money out of greedy mugs. Veitch is a determined geek who leads online con artists a merry dance, he’s a storyteller rather than a stand-up, but does have plenty of good stories and one great one showing the lengths con artists will go to to empty your bank account. Older comedy fans might spot similarities with The Timewaster Letters, even older comedy fans may recall Henry Root’s similarly playful correspondence.

Catriona Knox (pictured) – Pleasance Courtyard. High velocity character comedy from probably posh woman previously sighted as part of the Boom Jennies. Loved her Wartime Kitchen cook with racist tendencies and “sticky toffee turbot” recipe. Hippy Ted Talk and Prince George as chatty baby also impressive. Not so sure about her Nick Clegg speech full of malapropisms – “Liberating Dipsticks” – but others seem to like it. High level of audience participation for one poor sap in particular – shades of Adam Riches – but Knox picked a good sport the day I was in and the show went with a flour-caked bang. 

Bobby Mair – City Cafe. Was really looking forward to this show from the Canadian comedian related to Justin Bieber after last year’s impressive debut. Unfortunately on the day I saw him Mair didn’t seem to have done enough preparation. The show felt as if it was only about 40 minutes long and while it was funny felt like little more than some club material strung together, on living in Streatham, the movies Gravity and Antichrist. I still think Mair is definitely one to watch though. He’s certainly not afraid of busting taboos. Looks better fed than last year (stick that on your poster).

This Is Your Trial – Assembly George Square. I’ve seen this ambitious attempt at improvised courtroom comedy in London and I think it worked better then when comedians were in the dock. For this Edinburgh run members of the audience are plucked out for possible sentencing. I’m sure there were better nights, but the chemistry didn’t really work the night I was in. Guest lawyer Al Murray had to fight hard to avoid succumbing to Pub Landlord-isms, while his opposite number Thom Tuck’s high point was knocking over a pint of lager. Tim Fitzhigham as judge and Jessica Foteskew as court clerk kept things rattling along, but I’d rather see one comedian on a charge rather than three or four members of the public. God knows there are enough comedians breaking the law up in Edinburgh.

To read new reviews of Sam Simmons, Gein's Family Gift Shop, Jeremy Paxman, Pierre Novelli, Beasts, Romesh Ranganathan click here.

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