Keith Smith: Comedy cuts

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Our round-up of the best comedy acts

THEY’VE been a cult Fringe hit in recent years, but with 2011’s stunning In The Middle Of No One still touring globally, The Pajama Men (Assembly George Square, 9pm, until August 12, ****) return with a short run of improv shows to tide us over. Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez have a knack for turning the mundane into comedy gold, with the concept of love letters through time and space and an all-knowing two-headed monster particular highlights. Starting with a single audience suggestion, they segue from one smartly surreal, faintly disturbing scene to the next, remaining remarkably unfazed and coping adeptly with distractions including a power failure that leaves us in total darkness.

Another show starring a Fringe favourite – or rather, two of them – is Sammy J and Randy in The Inheritance (Underbelly Bristo Square, 6.05pm, until August 27, ****). The oddest of odd couples ably defend their title as the masters of meta-humour with a devastatingly hilarious show that sees skinny man Sammy and his purple puppet pal (with the talented Heath McIvor at the helm) head to the UK to claim Randy’s deceased uncle’s fortune. As ever there’s trouble in store for a duo capable of coaxing more laughs out of a single silence than most Fringe comedians manage with a show full of gags.

Which brings us neatly to Late Night Gimp Fight (Pleasance Courtyard, 10pm, until August 27, **). Juvenile humour might not be big or clever but, if used correctly, can be extremely effective. It shouldn’t be used as a go-to just because you can’t think of a funnier line, though. The premise might often be good, but the pay-off is usually sadly lacking, as if they conjured up a potentially winning set-up, got bored and left a gaggle of 16-year-old boys to fill in the blanks instead. The hour’s not without merit – a Scooby Doo send-up and parody panto are inspired, as is a dance scene with a cute twist. Those skits largely frustrate, however, because they prove that these guys are capable of more.