Edinburgh Fringe Review: So You Think You're Funny 2018, Gilded Balloon

Now in its 31st year, So You Think You're Funny has an excellent track record at producing comedy stars. Previous winners include Maisie Adam, Ivo Graham, Tom Allen, Miles Jupp, Rob Rouse, Peter Kay, Dylan Moran and Rhona Cameron. 2016’s winner Heidi Regan was awarded the BBC New Comedy Award 2017. From 400 entrants the final featured nine acts – plus compere Zoe Lyons who deserved a prize for filling in and keeping the audience amused for longer than expected while the judges deliberated.

It was a line-up with an internatinal feel this year. First up was Bulgarian Martin Durchov, who had a style that was dry and deadpan. Whether it was being on first I don't know but he started nervously. Gradually though he built up some confidence as he explained how he had come to the UK to study physics and steal our jobs. He had some nice, original lines about his hairy arms, but maybe not enough killer punchline to earn himself a place on the winners podium.

Natalie Loh also had enough gags to justify her place on the bill while not troubling the judges too much on the night. She seemed clever but sometimes her gags didn't live up to their promise, particularly a long-winded routine about turning her battery power down to make her phone last longer and then turning it back on just as she apporached home. There was something interesting going on, but maybe the writing needed a tweak here and there.

Irisman Shane Clifford had a more recognisable quirky style. He kept explaining that he was a celebrity impressionist before getting distracted and going off on tangents. In fact the tangents, as was porbably the intention, were way funnier than his celebrity impressions. The pay-off when it finally came had a certainly inevitability about it, but Clifford's wit and amiability suggsted that there was plenty of promise and maybe he should drop the post-modern Rory Bremner schtick.

Bec Melrose arrived onstage to a huge cheer. She has already won Australia's Raw Comedy competition which earnt here a place here. Maybe she was more relaxed back home but this was another case where the writing – on feminism and much more in her brief seven minutes – was more impressive than the performance. It's worth noting that SYTYF performers have less then a year's experience and have probably never appeared on such a big stage in front of such a big crowd, so well done to all of them for not freezing on the spot. Melrose was awarded joint runner-up spot.

Review continues here.

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