Preview: The Week Ahead Jan 13 - 19

Liam Williams

Normally I plan my Edinburgh Fringe gig-going with tedious military precision, but one late night last August I was at a bit of a loss and wandered into The Tron pub to check out a comedian I didn't know much about. Liam Williams, who is also in the highly-regarded-by-Tim-Key sketch group Sheeps, was doing his solo show and it was one of those lucky finds, an enticing mix of northern flights of fancy and gritty Leeds-based autobiography. You can read my review here.

Williams definitely has something. A few days later I recommended him to a friend just before he started and she texted her boyfriend to tell him to get to Williams too. He texted back that he would be along in a minute but he was just watching a free gig in an Italian restaurant by a brilliant  comedian called... Liam Williams. The Foster's Award panel thought he had something too, handing him a Best Newcomer Nomination. He is at the Soho Theatre from Monday until January 18 at 7.30pm.

The Foster's Award Panel, however, must have thought that John Kearns was even better, as they awarded him the top Best Newcomer prize. Kearns' show, Sight Gags For Perverts, seems to take its cue from the Goonish surrealism of Vic and Bob. There are cheap props, dodgy teeth, bad songs and awful corny jokes. There is also - beware - audience participation. You can read a review of his Edinburgh show here.

Kearns' award marked a coming of age for the Free Fringe - it was the first time a show that cost nothing to get into won a Best Newcomer Award. Is the show complete nonsense or is there something deeper running through it about a crisis in modern masculinity? Kearns portrays a hapless onstage figure who has difficulties relating to women and proceedings conclude with most of the men in the room standing in line and having a sing-song to Mr Macho himself, Bruce Springsteen. Maybe I'm taking this all too seriously. Maybe Kearns is just having a laugh. One thing is certain - you should see him for yourself. Head to the Soho Theatre from Monday to January 31 at 8.45pm and make your own mind up. 

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