Sleep’s always at a premium during the Fringe, so spare a thought for whoever has to spend the next three weeks in the hotel room beside Michael Winslow (Underbelly Bristo Square, 9.40pm, until August 27, ***).
He loves making noises, and the louder the better. Having learned as a kid that he could drive his mother mad by imitating planes, he’s since made a career out of aping everything and anything with just his voice and an effects pedal. Led Zeppelin, Star Wars and Jimi Hendrix all get the Winslow treatment as the ex-Police Academy star uses a series of set-pieces to showcase his incredible vocal dexterity. The lack of a structured narrative – and the rehashed material – means that novelty starts to wear a little thin by the end, however.
If it hadn’t been for an unsympathetic careers adviser – and an utter lack of ability – Rhys Darby (Pleasance Courtyard, 8pm until August 27, ****) could have made a living as the antipodean version of Winslow. Finding himself on a rocket escaping Armageddon, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, the Kiwi, better known as Murray from The Flight of the Concords, takes us on a hilarious journey charting his life, including that ill-fated dalliance with vocal sound effects as a teenager. Featuring a cameo from Concords co-star Jemaine Clement, it’s an inventive concept with offbeat jokes and terrific physicality. His ability to weave seemingly random asides into one coherent thread ensures you’ll be happy to blast off into space with him.
In comparison, Rob Beckett (Pleasance Courtyard, 6pm, until August 27, ***) is more down-to-earth. Telling true tales of growing up in a working-class family, the Londoner’s story of a nativity play starring all his relatives is well observed. He’s got Peter Kay’s knack for finding humour in everyday life and while he doesn’t deliver many belly laughs, he keeps the chuckles coming. His chummy, easy-going style marks him out as potential TV hot property.