The Fickle Finger of Fringe

I know I said I wouldn’t do any Fringe reviews here this year, but that’s because I was hoping to be doing them elsewhere... which hasn’t panned out. So let’s say instead that I won’t do many here. For the benefit of my loyal hordes of Edinburgh or Edinburgh-bound readers, here are a few highlights from the dozen shows I saw in the first week. Stars are out of five, no halves.

Richard Herring, Someone Likes Yoghurt ****

Fringe stalwart does straight stand-up for his twentiethish Edinburgh appearance, rather than the themed shows he’s done for the past few years... but ends up joining everything together so that the whole thing feels themed anyway. Herring stretches himself (and the patience of some audience members—there were half a dozen walkouts on our night) by discussing popes, monkeyphilia, and unnatural practices involving fermented curd. Pretends to get angry at various points throughout, but we know he’s a big softie.

Jason Byrne, The Lovely Goat Show ****

Big-name Irish comedian who filled one of the larger venues at the Assembly Rooms, and for good reason. After a great dance routine, Byrne starts the kind of effortless interaction with audience members that makes you think the whole thing is being invented on the spot, though some parts are clearly pre-scripted “insert random audience member here” moments. Who cares, though, when they’re this hilarious. Who would have guessed that a cricket jumper could be such an effective prop?

Andrew Maxwell, Grand Royale ****

What is it with these effortlessly funny Irish comedians, anyway? I don’t think I’ve seen one who wasn’t worth the time and money. Maxwell is no exception: his very funny routine will forever change my perception of baboons. Like Byrne, he has no compunction about taking the piss out of Edinburghers, either.

Miles Jupp, Young Man in a Huff ***

Sharply observed snootery from Edinburgh’s stand-up gentry. Jupp has developed a great character, although the jokes occasionally hover below the uppermost class. Sound problems and the dank atmosphere and minuscule seats of the Underbelly don’t help.

Robin Ince, Robin Ince is as Dumb as You ***

Saw him last year as support for Ricky Gervais (you can spot him on the Politics DVD extras). Ince has a slick and rapid-fire stage presence, rifling through and riffing off the dozens of ridiculous news clippings he’s scattered about the stage. Doesn’t add up to a whole lot, but it’s fun while it lasts.

Tom Hodge, Confessions of a Jingle Writer ***

Fascinating show—Hodge is an actual jingle writer, sharing the tricks of his trade—but because he isn’t an actual performer, his act was still a bit shaky around the edges the afternoon we saw it (his third). He’ll undoubtedly gain confidence as the run progresses, though, and the material is strong.

Alice Lowe, MoonJourney ****

One third of the Perrier-winning Garth Marenghi crew plus two new additions perform this loving spoof of Kate Bush and late ’70s prog. Beautifully observed, with some fine parodies of Kate’s wackier moments, even if she was never quite as space-obsessed as the show suggests. Holger, the shaven-headed Kraftwerk refugee, is a particular highlight, and the closing number with Maggie Moss as Mother Earth is perfect.

Adam Buxton, I, Pavel *****

Easily my favourite of the shows I’ve seen so far, and one of the best I’ve seen in five Fringes. Buxton was half of ’90s cult hit The Adam and Joe Show (which was before my time in the UK); here he plays Pavel, a pretentious and irritable avant-garde Eastern European animator. The random order of the show (with audience members choosing the next section from a board), filmed inserts (short animations about darkness and crazy dream sequences about blue-footed boobies and Pope Benedict), and Buxton’s fantastic suede jacket and specially-grown beard all made this a memorable end to our best day of shows. I ordered the Adam and Joe DVD as soon as I got home.

14 August 2005 · Comedy

Glad you liked Adam's and Alice's shows. I did the poster for Alice's. Isn't that exciting? And yes, Holger Qwertz is excellent in MoonJourney - almost steals the show from Alice if she's not careful.

Added by James on 15 August 2005.

She steals it back as the space-slug, though. (Top flyer too, James.)

Added by Rory on 15 August 2005.