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

The first thing the judges agreed on when discussing this year’s So You Think You’re Funny? final was that comedians are getting more efficient. There was no drying up, no fluffing of lines, even the comedians who didn’t get a placing were able to deliver their seven-minute sets with impressive confidence. If they don’t make it in stand-up – and I’m sure most of them will – they can always go into public speaking.

 

First on – after compere Aisling Bea warmed up the crowd with a mix of funky dancing and funny lines – was Jamie D’Souza in the traditional tough opening spot. D’Souza showed considerable promise. Despite looking like an off-the-peg twentysomething bloke in t-shirt and jeans he had some very original material, particularly his spin on Movember and other months dedicated to unlikely things for charity. It might have been good to hear more about his intriguing parents, who met at the college Scrabble Society. Maybe he is saving that for his full-length debut.

 

Esther Manito has a lot of hair and a lot of talent. She also has an interesting back story. As she explained at the outset,  she has a Lebanese background, so she is not one of those rich Arabs. Nor is she sinister, like the Arabs portrayed in Hollywood movies. Her family is violent and poor she said, “the Glaswegians of the Middle East”, which inevitably got a very big laugh from the full house. This was a full-on performance that could have earned Manito a placing if the quality of the final hadn’t been so high.

 

Morgan Rees was in the BBC New Comedy Award Final a couple of weeks ago and he did a similar set here. Very skilled if he felt a little generic in his rhythms and style. Some lines such as his “friends with benefits” joke felt a little hack, but very now and again a distinctive thought stood out, such as his running gag about the nicknames he had growing up. He didn’t rely too much on his Welshness – I only counted one sheep gag – and finished strongly. He picked up the “second runner-up” spot - ie he came third, and will clearly be going places.

 

Sarah Mann was a sharp contrast after the energy of Rees. Mann – I don’t know if this is her real name – explained that although people sometimes think she is gay because she wears neutral clothes she has no interest in members of either sex. In a way she was not telling jokes, just talking about what might be a genuine condition – she can’t tell if clothes look nice, can’t tell if make-up is any good – but somehow she made it funny without making it sound freakish. There was one particular stand-out routine about going camping on her own which could be the centrepiece of a much longer set. Mann picked up the runner-up prize and there was a lot of love for her among the judging panel.

 

Last act of the first half was tall and a bit-posh Kirsten Brown (don't mention Miranda Hart) who was a low energy act with a high rate of comical lines, which she fired out even when she didn’t get much back. There was something neatly off-kilter about her humour – she is a history buff and would like to be known as “The Fog Duchess” in tribute to “The Sun King”. The audience didn’t always get on board but Brown can certainly craft a joke and may have a career writing for others if she doesn’t stay onstage herself. 

Review continues here.

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