Edinburgh Fringe Review: Amused Moose National New Comic Award Final, The Space @ Symposium Hall: Page 2 of 2

First up after the break was the real curveball of the final. Michael Clarke entered, got some booze out, placed it on a table and then Chumbuwaumba's Tubthumping started and he had to drink along to the "he drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink" lyrics. It's not sophisticated humour and if it was real vodka he probably wouldn't have completed the act but it was nicely messy, manic knockabout fun. In fact it was too manic and he couldn't really sustain the energy with some quick Adam Riches-style immersive audience participation. I've seen Clarke before and I think he has something, he just needs to harness it better.

Helen Duff also has something but this was not to be her final. I'd previously seen the blue jump-suited performer in a clowning show and enjoyed her physicality. Here she combined it with stories that straddled confessional and stand-up, about her inability to have an orgasm, her separated parents, a visit to a tantric therapist called Elaine, you know, the usual thing...Maybe it would fit together better in a longer set but it didn't really work on this occasion.

Huge Davies was a new name to me. He is a deadpan music comedian who wears his keyboard round his neck - and it's a big one, not a tiny David O'Doherty-sized Casio. Davies had some unusual dark ditties that steered well clear of the traditional comic song parody trope. There was a creepy story about being kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van and hint of Bill Bailey in the way he re-imagined ice cream van chimes as something far moodier and depressing. Elsewhere he wondered why house music has such pretentious lyrics. Davies was unplaced but is clearly an act that will be going places. And not in the back of a van.

Final spot went to Olga Koch who maybe suffered from being the last act and not having a delivery with much zip to pep up the audience. But that's clearly how she rolls and on another day her gags about the pronounciation of her name (some say "cock" which is always going to be funny), serial killers and growing up in Russia might have landed better. The writing certainly hinted at a naturally comic mind even if the audience was starting to wilt. It didn't really help that she didn't have a watch on and had to pause to find out how much longer she had left onstage. But the overall standard of the final was very high and getting here shows that Koch has some skill. It was just not her day. 










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