Your round up of the Fringe funnies.
Omid is still a crowd pleaser after 20 years
ONE of the most interesting things about the Fringe is that it brings everyone – from old hand to next big thing – together on one big bill, making it easy for even the most casual comedy fan to compare and contrast styles, abilities and laughs.
Almost 20 years since his first Fringe appearance, Omid Djalili (Assembly Rooms, 8.40pm, until August 25, * * *) certainly qualifies an experienced campaigner. Accordingly, he’s got a huge back catalogue to call upon, whether it’s an anecdote from appearing on ill-fated ITV show Splash! or an ancient (but funny) joke featuring Mandela. Although keen to address weighty issues, he’s got a tendency to turn from serious to silly to get a laugh, without really developing the point, while material about Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Saville and the Olympics isn’t exactly original or topical. Nonetheless, routines like the Egyptian football commentator and the difference between UK and US cops – coupled with his irrepressible charisma – ensure a crowd-pleasing hour.
Che adds a comedic revolutionary touch
At the other end of the Fringe familiarity scale is one of America’s most hotly-tipped up-and-comers, Michael Che (Assembly Rooms, 10pm, until 25 Aug, * * * *), making his Edinburgh debut
an adjoining room. Regardless of how they’re tackled, topics such as homophobia, racism and pornography usually create an element
of discomfort, but
you sense he enjoys
making things a little tense, dragging out his silences as some audience members squirm, unsure if he’s being ironic or not. It’s something he plays on when he intentionally runs over his allotted slot, confident we’ll remain as ‘hostages to politeness’.
It’s his droll, laconic delivery and ability to fashion deftly-timed pay-offs to set-ups about US debt to China, why it’s better to like than love, and wars for ink instead of oil that really marks him out as an exciting talent.
It wouldn’t be the same without Zoe
With around a decade’s worth of visits – and awards for best newcomer and best joke - under her belt Zoe Lyons (Assembly Rooms, 5pm, until 25 Aug, * * *) is a well-known Fringe face, without ever having reached the levels of celebrity that might have been expected. She’s quick to acknowledge that, and her willingness to explore it leads to a series of entertaining anecdotes about less-than-glamorous TV appearances.
Observational material about one-legged pigeons and a whale-based Hollywood conspiracy is lightweight, but her easy-going stage manner ultimately wins out.