WITH so much comedy on at the Fringe, you’d think it should be called the Comedy Fringe. But how much is any good?
If you’re limited by time, budget or patience, what should you see? Most will know the big names from the telly or radio, so mostly, I’ll be looking at the relative unknowns.
Take Racing Minds, for example. They seem to have graduated from the Eddie Izzard school of comedy: an easy enough task if you can shoehorn enough bizarre concepts into single sentences, but their best trick is doing it off the cuff, at breakneck speed while staying on topic.
Propelled by audience suggestions, these four (nominally) grown men basically played dress-up for an hour and the almost full house lapped up every minute.
Recommended if you like your comedy wildly off the wall with more than a hint of abject panic and panache.
By sharp contrast, and perhaps not for everyone, Juliette Burton’s Look At Me is dark, uncomfortable humour. Burton lives with body dysmorphic disorder which has taken her through anorexia and bulimia, all of which she draws upon in her show.
Using film and magazine mock-ups she attacks self-image issues, finding humour in places few have dared to tread.
Burton is brutally open about herself, which disarms the audience and allows them to laugh with, rather than at her. This is a hard subject to be funny about, and I applaud her, not in spite of the discomfort, but because of it.
For unadorned stand-up, look no further than Romesh Ranganathan. Beating himself up for being a lousy husband and father, but desperately wanting to improve, Ranganathan has an effortless style and a dry, piercing wit.
Not even a fire alarm in the middle of the show could put him off. Trooping back into the room alongside the audience, Ranganathan carried on and finished the whole show, as though nothing had happened. Not just hilarious, but a consummate pro.
There’s a endless amount on offer in the Fringe, but if the rest is only half as good as these shows, I can’t wait.
Aaaand Now For Something Improvised
Look At Me
Gilded Balloon ***
Rom Wasn’t Built In A Day