I don’t want to step on the toes of fellow reviewer Ian Cole, who reviewed a fair few Edinburgh Fringe shows himself, but on Monday I made a flying visit to the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
When I Grow Up
We started with a show I was desperate to see, When I Grow Up from Juliette Burton (Gilded Balloon, 1.15pm, daily). This was Juliette’s first solo show, having previously performed a couple of shows with her regular partner as Mace & Burton.
Those of you with good memories will recall that Mace & Burton performed their Rom Com Con in York earlier this year at my stand-up night, Knock Knock Comedy Presents…
Juliette’s multimedia show is a very funny hour, yet also one touched with moments of raw honesty that had me veering wildly from belly laughs to wiping tears away. On the evidence of this show, she chose the right career when she grew up. Highly recommended. ★★★★★
Half Man, Half Amazing
Following a walk down the insanely packed Royal Mile, we bumped into the cast of Six Lips Theatre, York’s own theatre troupe promoting their own show, which sadly clashed with one I had already confirmed so I didn’t get to see it.
Our next show was one selected purely on title: Mark Stephenson: Half Man, Half Amazing (Banshee Labyrinth, 3.30pm daily).
In the bowels of “Edinburgh’s Most Haunted Pub” is a small cinema screen, designed to hold maybe 30 people – on this occasion I counted 46, with every spare inch of space taken, including the floor and stairs.
Stephenson is a great big bearded fellow from Bromley, I didn’t know anything about him, but on the evidence of this show I will be seeking him out more often. A wildly funny show punctuated by some very dry, but very wicked humour. See him before you have to start paying! ★★★★☆
Next up, James Christopher with What Are You Doing Here? Banshee Labyrinth, 5.30pm, daily).
For this reason it feels unfair for me to review him impartially, but I thought he dealt with a very difficult crowd very well and I enjoyed his new material immensely. ★★★★☆
We just had time to squeeze in another free show, a showcase at the best-named bar I have ever been in, Whistle Binkies: The People’s Federation of International Comedians (6.30pm, daily). A friend had been to this show last week and really enjoyed every performer except one, who she hated.
We opened the show with a very empty looking room, a compere with an arm full of festival wristbands (cut them off, it is rank!) and a feeling of dread.
The room filled up a little, so the tension eased, but the compere didn’t ingratiate himself to me by suggesting I might want to start sleeping with my sister. I didn’t catch the full names of every performer but our first act was awful, his name was Willy something. He told us he didn’t perform for 11 months of the year, and then came to the festival to do some gigs. And it showed. So very bad.
Things picked up a little with an Italian comedian, again, name mangled by compere, but most of his laughs came from his jaunty accent and sunny disposition. Very likeable but needs stronger material. An American whose only funny line was that he looked like Ned Flanders (he did) and an Australian lady, Kim Hope, who seemed to be having some kind of breakdown, but relied on some material that might have been topical a year ago, but was actually just weak (apparently Andy Murray is Scottish till he wins!).
The streak of mediocre was broken by an excellent Scottish comedian, Larry Dean, who had a good solid ten minutes of strong material, one to watch out for. Then, our headline act, who was truly terrible, a giant Dutchman, Wouter Meijs. ★★☆☆☆
Time for a quick fast food stop, then the last train home from what was a cracking day out.
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