Fringe, Part Three

Tonight was the last night of the Edinburgh Fringe, so here’s one last round of comedy reviews. I don’t enjoy naming and shaming one or two star shows, so I’ve omitted my least favourite (polished performers who’d previously been nominated for awards, but the jokes just weren’t there). Fortunately, most of the shows we saw this year were good, and two of them—Josie Long and Mark Watson—won well-deserved awards at the Perrier successors, the appallingly named if.comeddies. (I’d been telling friends that they were two of my favourite performers this year—both of them lively, warm and engaging—even though I rated each of their shows a four here. I reserve my fives for shows that have me laughing uncontrollably, which can be tough on those that are only consistently very good.)

Demetri Martin, Dr. Earnest Parrot Presents ****

Four years of Martin’s Fringe shows, and the patterns are clear: the self-therapeutic reminiscences, the obsession with wordplay, the one-liners, the quirky guitar. They’re all here, along with shadow puppetry, back-projected maps of his “brain nook”, and a $300 Michael Jackson jacket. I’m torn between taking a break before over-familiarity ruins the experience, and wanting to know what happens next in his continuing saga. 20.8.06

Laurence and Gus, Next in Line ****

English duo return to Edinburgh with a relay of sketches in each of which a different character forms the link to the next. A few reappear in later sketches, such as the nanny who speaks too high and then too low, and the chain joins up with itself at the end, giving the show a satisfying shape. Best of all, the structure moves everything along at breakneck pace, showing off Lawrence and Gus’s writing and performances to their best effect. When I last saw them a couple of years ago I found some of it a little slow, but that certainly wasn’t a problem here. Tonight’s performance even survived the noisy fan accidentally left running throughout. 26.8.06

Anna Crilly and Katy Wix, Penny Spubb’s Prawn Free ***

The last night of the Fringe wasn’t the right one to see Penny Spubb’s, given that there were barely a dozen people in the audience. Wix and Crilly seemed thrown by the low numbers, but carried on gamely with a show that really needed a full house to work properly; milking awkward silences for laughs only works if there are enough people to provide the laughs. That said, there was some good material here—musical shoes, singing prawns, balloon safaris—and you could see what this could have been with the right audience, which is more than you can say for a lot of shows struggling for a reaction. On the face of it I’d have given tonight’s performance a two, but I kept sensing the four underneath it, so splitting the difference makes it a three. 28.8.06

Tony Law, The Dog of Time *****

No reservations about our last show of the Fringe, though—a recommendation from a friend, and a very welcome one. Canadian stand-up Tony Law was tireless in his efforts to make us laugh, and I did, a lot. Just the name of the eponymous dog, Cartridge Davison, got me every time he said it—as did the time-travelling conceit, the bit about turning Cartridge into a seal using vaseline to make him shiny, the dinner party, the interruptions from the South African sponsor, the fresh snow covering the bodies of clubbed baby harp seals (even when he pointed out what we were laughing at, it was still funny)... I could go on and on. Law’s taunting letters from our resource-hogging present to future residents of the “boiling hot planet” were worth the price of admission alone. A great show to end on, and a name I’ll be looking out for next year. 28.8.06

28 August 2006 · Comedy

Yep - Tony Law's was an excellent show. Not that all of the audience seemed to get into it when I was there, mind.
But wadda they know, anyway, huh?

Added by Anthony on 30 August 2006.

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