Kirbie McShiz's latest review on what's funny and what's not across the Festival's comedy scene.
My first full evening of the Fringe was a bizarre experience which I did wonder at a few different points: is this real-life or is this a messed up dream?
**** Edward Reid – Living the Dream One Song at a Time – Assembly George Square – 18.15 (50 mins)
It started off well as I made my way to see Edward Reid at Assembly. Edward is well-known for singing nursery rhymes in the style of pop songs on Britain’s Got Talent. Now, far from the lavish production of television, he stands on a small stage with a drummer and keyboard player very much exposed to the small but adoring audience before him.
The audience truly did adore him. There was love radiating around the room as Edward sung his heart out and told his life story through his west coast banter and west end belting. The lady next to me repeatedly choked on her drink as Edward surprised her with his witty commentary. As Edward sang the alphabet, yes - the alphabet - the woman was doubled over gasping for breath – it’s the simple things.
Edward took us on a reminiscent journey of music which included The Littlest Hobo, Prisoner Cell Block H, Fame and Wonder Woman to name but a few and not many people can pull off a ballad while wearing a headband and luminous pink wristbands – but Edward did.
I had goose bumps at the complete openness and honesty of this show. I felt that Edward was confiding in us as an audience but at the same time keeping us completely entertained.
Edward took us through a selection of musical theatre including songs from Billy Elliot and Song & Dance. It is clear that Edward is an accomplished singer and by no means a one trick pony.
As Edward told his audience about his first professional singing job, he launched into an electric performance of ‘Proud Mary’ which saw his energy levels hit the roof and he worked the room and took the performance to a higher level.
Edward was an open diary – he spoke candidly about coming out and sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Stranger in this World’ from the Boy George Musical, Taboo.
Of course Edward didn’t disappoint and belted out his nursery rhyme medley with as much passion and conviction as he did on national TV.
I did wonder if this show was what his audience would be expecting. He is known from making his audience weep with laughter on Britain’s Got Talent – would people be coming here to laugh? What would their reaction be to a rollercoaster of emotions and having their heart strings tugged with Joni Mitchell tracks and tales of bullying at school? I think the audience loved it. I did. Grown men were swaying, women were sitting with permanent smiles on their faces and Edward finished to a satisfied and affectionate standing ovation.
*** Upstaging – A Modern Guide to Acting for Gentlemen and Gentleladies – The Counting House – 19.15 (60 mins)
I then received a text from some friends to meet them in The Counting House for a free show that was just about to start. I ran round the corner and was ushered into a corner in the hottest room ever which stunk of body odour and I wondered how on earth I would survive for the next 60 minutes.
The show was Upstaging: A Modern Guide to Acting for Gentlemen and Gentleladies by Ged and Jamie. It was one of those Fringe moments where you get thrown into a show, and the sheer shock, change of surroundings and plain weirdness of what you are witnessing does make you question if you are experiencing a dream or reality.
So I am in a small room breathing in thick sweat and in front of me are two middle aged men clad in black tights, tight black polo necks, flat caps and their boxers pulled over their tights with their polo necks tucked in.
This was a parody of an acting master class. Not the most original idea but very well executed. I feel like I learned so much about acting and how I can use my voice and body to create different characters. No, really.
The comedy timing these guys had was exquisite. There was not a millisecond of time wasted and the two performers bounced continuously off each other like a never ending Olympic table tennis match.
I left that performance with my hair stuck to my neck – if you are going I advise you to take plenty of water, a fan, a bikini and possibly an umbrella to avoid the actors’ spittle landing on your face.
*** The Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection – City Café – 21.30 (60 mins)
Next up was some free comedy at City Café. It was very quiet but we got to see Mark Cram, Laura Levites, Paul F Taylor and Sameena Zehra. It was a pretty good line up and the quick sets kept it fresh.
*** Kunt & the Gang – City Café – 22.30 (60 mins)
We decided to stay on at City Café as another free show was coming up and it seemed to be getting pretty busy. We didn’t know what to expect before the performer came on. We still didn’t know what to expect when he came on stage wearing what looked like a tinfoil baby grow and a flattened down Jedward wig. We were now at Kunt & the Gang. Now the two guys with their boxers over their tights seemed far from surreal. Kunt was just verging on the utter ridiculous.
Kunt side-stepped around the stage like an over-enthusiastic aerobics instructor to Casio keyboard backing tracks while singing his “internet hits” such as ‘Shaven Haven’ and ‘Bangers and Mash’ which is referring to what has been left down a public toilet.
At the end he whipped out a soft toy penis from his baco-foil suit and was merrily pleasuring it as he continued to sing with a moronic smile on his face and side step along to the classic keyboard backing tracks.
The audience were laughing, I was laughing too – you had to really. The front row of early twenties boys were doubled over and thigh slapping. That was making the whole experience even funnier. This show is for you if your mind is completely in the gutter and you are not offended – at all.
We rounded up the night at a little open mic night at Espionage with a live band which saw comedian Bob Slayer taking to the stage and looking like he was going to blow everyone away as he sat confidently holding the guitar in front of the mic. He couldn’t play the guitar and ended up making up songs about the audience before clambering on the stool as everyone gasped and ran to grab him before he fell off. Only at the Fringe.