Keith Smith: Comic Cuts

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A round-up of comedy show reviews.

FOR the melange of performers, producers and peacocks who flock to the Fringe, Edinburgh feels, for three weeks at least, like the centre of the world.

Little wonder then that Grainne Maguire (Underbelly Bristo Square, 4.20pm, until August 26, ***) is here. Emotionally scarred by a traumatic childhood day-trip, she’s driven by a pathological fear of missing out, something that’s resulted in inappropriate crushes, unfortunate liaisons and an ability to spot the difference between try-hards and try-too-hards. Maguire’s quick to acknowledge that she falls into the latter category, an assertion borne out by an occasional clumsiness which means punchlines don’t always pay-off.

She possesses a real flair for satire though, neatly skewering The Only Way Is Essex and challenging Kate Middleton’s status as an acceptable role model for young girls in this thoroughly enjoyable hour.

Embracing middle age, Brendon Burns (Pleasance Dome, until August 26, ***) has decamped to the country and developed a paunch. It’s the loss of his father that’s given most cause for thought, however, although this certainly isn’t a “my dad is dead” show – Russell Kane’s already done one, apparently. It’s catharsis Jim, but not as we know it; rather than gaining closure by addressing his relationship with his old man, he uses the freedom from paternal restraint to savage one particularly odious individual in his life. Material on the vagaries of Dutch audiences and Masterchef lightens the mood, but the invective reserved for the author of an (admittedly pompous) review of one of his shows is misguided.

Another comedian whose dad features heavily in his routine is Chris Martin (Gilded Balloon Teviot, 8.45pm, until August 27, ****). Dipping in and out of his fathers’ joyously irreverent food diary, the 26-year-old questions the seemingly aimless nature of his own existence, his malaise perfectly illustrated by a hilarious tale of playing a practical joke on a squirrel. A star in the making.