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(A) 11 out of 91
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Absolutely Presents  John Sparkes and Pete Baikie (Page 16).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot(Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

British heritage comedy is in vogue, and John Sparkes (Mr Wales) and Pete Baikie (Mr Scotland) certainly have the required C.V, with careers stretching back to the 80's boasting illustrous connections with the likes of Morwenna Banks. The pair have a pedigree, that is in no doubt

The slight worry withVariety Sandwich is that little fresh material seems to have been writen, for as many years. It's to a large extent an historical 'best of' show, less straight stand-up - more a multimedia document of their talent. A fast-paced 45 minute nostalgia trip of Pearl & Dean style black and white archive clips, indispersed with sketch, character, music and madcap physical comedy. 

The show is disarmingly silly and the delivery assured, yet despite the polish, Sparkes and Baikie exhibit a discernable air of emotional detachment . One is struck by a marked lack of real interaction and connection between the two performers. They deliver devillishly tongue-in-cheek, impeccably crafted material, yet it is as if they inhabit strangely separate and parallel universes - the traditional double act synergies seemingly absent in parts.

That having been said, the show is terrific fun, a great homage, and a whirlwind introduction to the delights of Russian musical illusionists, kisch performance poetry, bizarre spesh acts, and yes, even Welsh horse buggery. Some golden moments.
© Leanna Rance 5 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 20.30 every day, excepting August 15,22. 
Company – Absolutely.

   

Adam Buxton: I, Pavel.. (Page 17).
Drams full glass full glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lyndsey Turner.

Adam Buxton
Adam Buxton.
© Geraint Lewis
Adam Buxton is undoubtedly a very talented man. His soft toy versions of soft porn films won him notoriety in the early days of the Adam and Joe show, and he has clearly not lost his touch as far as animation and film making are concerned. But I, Pavel is a strange (and not always successful) piece. Buxton creates a new comic character - the foul and misanthropic avant garde animator Pavel - as a mouthpiece for some entertaining and engaging displays of black bile.

The set takes the form of a 'retrospective', a trawl through Pavel's miserable upbringing and even more miserable career to date. Pavel treats the audience to some of his bleak animations, an alternative take on why he cannot get his work on television and a radical hallucination set on board the Starship Enterprise. Buxton is at his best when he is simply displaying his talent for subversive film-making.

But there is something a little too 'here's one I made earlier' about the whole affair. Pavel is an endearing character, full of rage and pathos, but he is little more than the glue which binds a series of filmed set pieces together. As is the nature of a 'compilation' show, the material itself is somewhat hit and miss. I, Pavel is a shop window for Buxton's talents as a writer and actor - but solid gold stand-up it's not.
© Lyndsey Turner 06 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 21.20, not 15 or 22.
Company - Adam Buxton.
   

Albert Einstein Experience. (Page 17).

Drams full glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Ruth Clowes.

Fresh from a series of sell-out shows at the Science Museum's Dana Centre in London, these four young performers have had plenty of practice explaining complicated scientific theories with the help of comedy sketches, silly songs and audience participation. Even so, their bid to make Einstein's theories on Brownian Motion and the Photoelectric Effect not only understandable but funny and entertaining too, must be Punk Science's greatest challenge yet, and one they rise to admirably.

There is no time to be bored in this lecture as the audience is bombarded with songs, formulas, sketches, theories and daft experiments. Then there are regular mini-quiz's, in which we are encouraged to vote on everything from where Einstein lived during his stay in the UK, to which part of his body he experienced uncomfortable levels of perspiration from. Punk Science are keen that we learn about Einstein the man, as well as the scientist - shy types should steer clear of the front row if they want to avoid the possibility of ending up on stage in a daft wig and a false moustache holding a pipe.

Jon, Ben, Dan and Bradford are from a medley of nations and performance backgrounds and they infuse this jolly show with energy from the start, displaying a genuine passion for their subject. While this is not the place for anyone wanting an in-depth analysis of Einstein's theories it's an extremely enjoyable and informative hour's entertainment for pretty much everyone else (so that's most of us then). Perhaps not suitable for younger children, due to some strong language, but older kids and adults alike will leave this show with a smile on their face and feeling slightly smug that they've learned something about physics in the process.
© Ruth Clowes 9 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August (not 15, 22) at 16:15.
Company - Punk Science.

   

All About You. (Page 17).

Drams  full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass saved from five only by Austin Low. 
Venue  Laughing Horse at Lindsay’s. (Venue 56).
Address 15 Brunswick St.
Reviewer Anna Kay.

My main problem, out of many with this show, was the false advertising.  It claims to "strip humanity bare" and promises a "psychological gameshow".  It is actually comedians doing material not remotely linked to the show’s apparent theme, with an incredibly short "gameshow" section at the end.

The show is introduced by compere Jack Burns, who very effectively cools the audience down.  Why is it the only comedians who laugh at their own jokes are the ones who can’t get anyone else to? Then redeeming the otherwise mediocre Austin Low provided a welcome breath of fresh air, with some actual funny material.

Finishing up the gig is Jade Cunningham.  After ten minutes of bafflingly unfunny material, the gameshow section.  This consists of 3 audience members being asked entirely uninteresting questions and then forced to drink vodka from a plastic gun.  This is unfunny and most importantly, highly irresponsible.  A fitting end to the show, then.
©Anna Kay 17 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to August 27 at 20:15 every day.
Company Laughing Horse Comedy.
Company Website . www.freefringe.com

   

Alun Cochrane - Comedy With Sad Bits. (Page 18).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue  Edinburgh Comedy Room(Venue 9).
Address 60, The Tron, Hunter Square.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

Alun Cochrane has more than a touch of Peter Kay about him.This down-to-earth, no-nonsense Yorkshireman, in the finest tradition of Northern comics, delivers exactly what it says on the tin - solid entertainment with one or two introspective moments thrown in for good measure. It's a straightforward, unguarded, no-frills hour of homespun, blokey whimsy - performed in a 'real' punters comedy club.

The Tron is an interesting and telling choice of venue for Cochrane, the subtext perhaps being, that his particular brand of comedy (one man and his mic) can easily and defiantly withstand the rigours of a random, non-partisan audience (though tonight they are in the palm of his hand). However one also suspects this setting may help deflect from an altogether thornier issue - Comedy With Sad Bits does not yet appear to be a fully-formed show.In truth it feels like an extended Jongleurs set, with a title. This  is not intended as a criticism as such - Cochrane is of course a jobbing comedian, and an extremely agile one, his compering and crowd control skills confidently to the fore during this hour.

However there is a  single-note quality to the proceedings, the delivery  bordering on smug rather than assured and the material seemingly slick but a trifle souless. Despite the show's title, the 'sad bits' feel bolted on and a bit contrived - and I must admit to beginning to disengage during these segments.

Cochrane functions within clearly defined parameters, but has a talent for taking bog-standard observations on to unpredictable, hilarious or dark conclusion on occasion. There is a lot of pedantry at work here, as with his food-obsesssed material (of which there is lots) he veers toward breaking down and examining the minutae of situations rather than expanding outward and embracing larger concepts. That said, from Thai police on Vespas to flat-pack IKEA coffins, there is something to tickle everyone's funny bone here. 

One feels Cochrane is at a pivotal point. He has developed a slick corporate-comedy personna, but one senses there is a brighter light burning under this particular bushel. He needs to now decide whether he will allow his career to shape him, or whether he will begin to impose his own creative terms and conditions.It's all to play for. Cochrane, in the full passage of time, may become an increasingly interesting force to be reckoned with. We'll just have to see.
© Leanna Rance 12 August - published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 27 August at 19.30 every day, excepting August 14. 
Company – Goldman King and CKP.

   

Anarchy in the Ukulele. (Page 19).

Drams None.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lyndsey Turner.

There is no better tonic I can think of for the mid-Festival blues than a visit to Anarchy in the Ukulele. For readers unacquainted with the work of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a treat is in store. Seven super talented musicians, each armed with a ukulele (an instrument which, we are informed, pre-dated the 'genetically modified monster which is the modern guitar) guide the audience through a repertoire of the most unlikely songs.

That the orchestra are listed under the Comedy section of the Fringe programme should give another clue about the intention of the show - songs are chosen to delight and amuse, whilst the on stage banter between the musicians is witty and understated. A 'ukulele wig out' version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit is worth the ticket price alone, whilst a pub singer style rendition of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights had me chuckling long after the final chords were played.

Each of the performers takes it in turn to sing a ditty to the accompaniment of his colleagues. Each creates a beautifully defined on stage character and exploits it to great comic effect. But it is the musicality of Anarchy in the Ukulele which provides the real thrills. Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest pop songs of the modern age sound pretty much the same? The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have, and they proceed to prove a point by singing most of them at exactly the same time. All in all, a witty, musical delight awaits.
©Lyndsey Turner 19 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 18.00.
Company - The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

   

Andrew McClelland & Lawrence Leung's Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show. (Page 19).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Lyndsey Turner.

Andrew McClelland & Lawrence Leung's Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show is an act with a very big name and a rather ambitious goal - to take the audience on a comic journey through the history of the secret society. Taking the form of a conspiracy theory-heavy lecture, the show is at its best when the double act rely on imaginative power point presentations (including a spectacularly daft version of an Australian political debate). The highlight of the show is without doubt the formation of a new secret society every evening, live on stage - complete with a unique name, mission and website address.

However, the obscurity of the show's subject matter - which includes reference to 19th century cult leaders and a fair bit of Mason-bothering - often works against the duo. It's hard to do observational comedy about things which nobody has really observed. McClelland and Leung are clearly a couple of sharp thinkers, but they risk sounding rather too pleased with themselves when they could be building a rapport with their audience.

It's a complex relationship between McClelland and Leung and, whilst they constantly shift and refine their onstage personas, their reliance on some of the stock manoeuvres of the double act (pretending to break up the partnership being a prime example) did the dapper gents no favours. This pair undoubtedly rely on their charm to power their act onwards, but somehow - this time - it isn't quite enough.
© Lyndsey Turner 4 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 20.15, not 16.
Company - Australian Comedy Management.
Company Website www.somewhatsecretsociety.com

   

As Seen On TV. (Page 20).
Drams full glass.
Venue Pleasance Dome. (Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Garry Platt.

It's all about TV programmes we've watched, programmes we've grown up with and just daft observations about TV in general. Chris McCausland has picked the theme of his hour long slot well. The audience shares many of the experiences he talks about and recognise the absurdity of some of the situations he focuses his strong, dry comedic wit on.

There is nothing cutting edge in the content, nor is there anything absurd about the delivery which lifts this observational material above that of the howling pack of comedians which inhabits Edinburgh at this time of year. But there is one factor which lifts this show above the rest and undoubtedly in my opinion makes Chris a prime contender for the Perrier Newcomers Award, in fact it not just one factor it's a combination of three; he has a wit so dry he'd make Death Valley look positively verdant. He has an engaging personality which never threatens us and makes the humour a delight to listen to and finally he has the greatest gift any comedian can have; timing. He delivers his punch lines with all the precision of a Stealth Bomber, but without the stealth and obviously he's not a bomber delivering a payload of death - I'm putting down this metaphor and walking away from it now.

Chris McCausland is the genuine article a comedian with a true talent who should stay in the business to give the rest of us an honest laugh.
©Garry Platt 5 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to the 28 August at 19:45 every day.
Company A.M Entertainments.
Company Website www.chrismccausland.com

   

Ashton Brothers. (Page 20).

Drams full glass.
Venue Assembly at St George’s West. (Venue 157).
Address 58 Shandwick Place.
ReviewerAlex Eades.

Sometimes it is nice just to sit back and watch some lighthearted family fun. I admit that I sometimes switch on Neighbours on a rainy afternoon to make me feel better about myself……..as sad as that might seem. However, when it comes to the Ashton Brothers I would gladly give up my lazy sunny afternoon.

Ridiculously talented, the antics of the Ashton Brothers is great entertainment for all ages. Parents should be warned that there is one routine in which fake blood is viewed in a hilarious act where one of the brothers ‘climbs’ up a ladder with his bare teeth, but all of the fairly kids in the audience loved it. Tremendously physical, there are few words spoken during their hour of magic, music and mayhem and none are needed. The show displays the best of good old-fashioned entertainment.

My only complaint about the show is that it is maybe a tad short. Now, I’m not saying that I could carry on with all that running around for another ten minutes or so, but it just felt like it should have gone on for a little bit longer, especially since it is a £10 entry. However, I strongly urge you to go. You’re all probably very sad that the festival is slowly drawing to a close and I can think of no better remedy than a wee visit to those cheeky Ashton chappies.
©Alex Eades 20 August 2005 – Published on edinburghguide.com
Runs until 29 August.
Company - Impresariaat Jacques Senf.

   

An Audience with Josie Long and Dan Nightingale. (Page 20).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Cafe Royal Fringe Theatre . (Venue 47).
Address 17 West Register Street.
Reviewer Juliet Morrish .

As the title suggests, this is a show of two halves and two comedians, bridged by a short refreshment break for which, we are cheerily informed from the outset, ginger beer and sweets are provided. Your hosts are two young stand-ups, at the Fringe with their own show after performing at the venue's Big Value Comedy Show last year.

Dan Nightingale and Josie Long are likeable fresh-faced comedians, whose enthusiasm gives them both a natural rapport with their audience. However, in terms of originality and volume of material, both acts are somewhat stretched. Nightingale's rather traditional topics of ebay, drugs and racism are held together by recurring banter with cardboard cutouts of celebrities strategically placed around the room. Via pre-recorded impressions the 'celebrities' ask Nightingale questions which supposedly lead nicely into his next joke. The words tenuous and flimsy spring to mind. The act is saved only by Nightingale's infectious cheer and likeable character. The high points of his set unfortunately come from the improvised banter between jokes rather than the material itself.

Josie Long's set is a similar story. Preferring to have no overall structure at all, she flits between familial anecdotes and bizarre but funny stories about the exploits of 80's rock stars. She manages to use the 'celebrity' cutouts to make a genuinely funny joke, but by this point their cardboard presence is no longer interesting or entertaining. Whilst having many humourous moments, Long's material is also rather laboured and overworked and unfortunately repeated many of the topics flagged up by Nightingale. Like her stand-up partner, Long is at her funniest when simply talking to the audience, rather than trying to impress with snazzy props and onstage reenactments of previous conversations.

Both Long and Nightingale possess the potential to be great stand-ups, displayed in their natural love of facing a crowd. And their show is overall entertaining and amusing, but there is a serious lack of variety in their material. They would be better off ditching the "here's a prop I made earlier" approach and having the conviction to let their funny selves singlehandedly shine onstage.
©Juliet Morrish 9 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 18.00, not 16 or 23
Company Big Value Comedy.

   

Ava Vidal - Misfit. (Page 21).

Drams full glass.
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate (entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street).
Reviewer Ruth Clowes.

A casual glance at the image of Ava Vidal on the front of the flyer for her show Misfit, may well leave the casual glancer anticipating a show of confrontation and audience humiliation at the hands of a hostile and menacing host. Happily, any such preconceptions are cast aside the moment this immensely warm and likeable comedian takes her seat on the stage.

Vidal is used to defying expectations, she draws her comic inspiration from a life as diverse as it is extraordinary. In the last 29 years she has been a pupil at a series of posh boarding schools, a prison guard and a teenage mum. She relates her experiences in a laid-back, intimate style, as if she has just popped round to your place for a chat and is sitting at your kitchen table nattering away while you wait for the kettle to boil. Not that her subject matter is all undemanding, but she talks about her experiences of vicious racism and domestic violence with the same air of relaxed banter as she does her more light-hearted material. She is also keen to defuse any likely areas of audience dissent before they arise, with potentially inflammatory words such as "rape" having their provocative power speedily neutralised with the accompaniment of comedy "jazz hands" and a beaming smile.

There are plenty of witty one-liners and sharp observations in this hour-long show, but it is the laid-back style and unique persona of this fascinating new talent that ensure she stands out from the rest of the stand-up crowd, without ever leaving her chair.
© Ruth Clowes 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 20:10
Company - Ava Vidal.


(A) 11 out of 91
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