2011 Edinburgh Fringe

Hi folks

Last weekend, I had a couple of days at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe where I managed to catch 6 shows – 3 each day. I thought you might be interested in my thoughts on them. I am going to try not to quote gags or tell you which tricks are performed during these “reviews”. I have also given a “star” rating which is out of 5.

If you’ve seen the “Police Academy” movies, you’ve seen Michael Winslow. If you’ve seen “Spaceballs”, you’ve seen Michael Winslow. If you’ve seen “Gremlins” and some episodes of “Family Guy”, you’ve heard Michael Winslow. This is the guy that can make all sorts of vocal noises, from a machine gun to, with the help of some reverb in his microphone, Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. He provided us with those and a whole lot more in his hour on stage. I’ll be honest, I was wondering what he would do to fill an hour but from the moment he walked on stage, those thoughts were out of my head as he owned The Underbelly stage from the moment he walked on stage until he walked off after his wonderful Louis Armstrong finale. Normal, mundane, everyday tasks took on a whole new life with Winslow acting them out on stage while providing his own self-produced sound effects. If you can get a ticket, get one. It is a great hour.
Rating – *****
It looks like Ali has been busy in the last year learning a host of new magic for this year’s show with everything from intricate sleight of hand with coins to some big stage illusions being displayed. He also displays his ever-growing skill as a stand up comic with some funny, and sometimes dark, pieces. As a magician, it was the magic that I was there to see and he made excellent use of a large screen at the back of the stage, not only to allow the whole audience to enjoy some of the smaller pieces that he performed but to illustrate things that he was talking about in the build up to a routine. He also fooled me with a number of his magical in the show – I am almost embarrassed to admit that his card routine caught me completely – and it all made for a very enjoyable hour. If you like magic, you’ll like Ali.
Rating – ****
For me, listening to comedy in a darkened room is not a new thing. My best mate introduced me to the concept many years ago when he was introducing me to the work of a certain Bill Hicks. What was new to me was listening to comedy being performed live, right in front of me, in an auditorium in the company of over 100 other people. It makes for an interesting experience. Of the 3 performers that were on the night I went, Mark Olver and Patrick Monahan were both enjoyable but it was Terry Alderton who made full use of the darkness by performing a number of excellent impressions of other comedians and then sneaking Tim Vine and Milton Jones onto and off of the stage during his set. An enjoyable late night show.
Rating – ***
I went to this show for 2 reasons. First, on the memory of seeing James Kirk performing the night after he won last year’s So You Think You’re Funny competition. Second, because it was part of PBH’s Free Fringe. The show was compered by Gus Lymburn who did an excellent job of getting the crowd warmed up before introducing the first performer, Matt Winning, who performed an OK set. There were a few bits that missed the mark, but it wasn’t too bad. James Kirk was introduced next and was excellent with a good amount of new material complimenting the one piece that he performed that I could remember from his set last year. The last act was Richard Gadd who, I have to admit, I did not find terribly funny. His style of comedy had me, and a number of others in the audience, sitting in silence. There were a few good gags in his set but I found his material too weird too much of the time. The trio returned afterwards with a very funny musical piece which had everyone leaving with a smile on their face and a catchy song in their heads.
Rating – ***
Young And Strange recently appeared on ITV’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us performing a fairly large scale illusion. This show sees them performing a number of smaller pieces in a nightclub that is being used as a venue on the PBH Free Fringe. The performance I saw was their first of the Fringe and, as is usual at such events, there were some teething problems (had I seen a later performance I may have awarded an extra star but I can only go on what I saw). However, most of these were not apparent until Rich and Sam told me afterwards. I think that alone tells you how hard they have worked to put this show together. It is an enjoyable hour with some excellent magic in it – as was apparent by the reactions from the full house that had turned up to see the show. I think you will enjoy it too.
Edit – Rich and Sam have added extra shows for next week. You can catch their illusion show from 21st to 26th August at Princes Mall (space L8) at 14:15. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Rating – ***
I have been to see Jarlath over the last few years at the Fringe and have found his laid back, friendly style to be a bit of a welcome break from the in-your-face style of comedy that seems to be so prevalent these days. Sure, there are a number of f-bombs and a c-bomb in the show but he does them with such style that you don’t really mind. Your mum might, but you don’t. This year’s show concentrates upon his time in Irish children’s television. Not only what he was doing and stories about what went on, but the reasons why he was doing it. He also has a wonderful piece about watching the Eurovision Song Contest which I will not spoil. This is, by far, Regan’s most personal show but do not allow that to put you off. Personal? Yes. Moving? Very! Funny? Extremely! Do yourself a favour – go get a ticket and enjoy a brilliant stand up comedian in this intimate setting before he starts having to perform in huge arenas which, if there was any justice in this world, he will be in the not too distant future!
Rating – *****
So there you go. Six shows in a couple of days. The only down side to my visit through to Edinburgh was the weather. It rained constantly from Saturday afternoon until I left on Sunday afternoon. Still, I enjoyed what I saw. If you get a chance, I hope you find shows that you enjoy.
Speak soon.
The Cardman 🙂

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