Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, 7 August 2012. Yes, 2012, even though that sky is suspiciously blue.
It’s six years since I’ve done anything substantial in the way of Fringe reviewing here, mostly because it’s six years since we’ve done anything substantial in the way of Fringe-going. Since W. was born we’ve got along to a few shows a year at most, and as my blogging was on the wane anyway it didn’t seem worth writing about them here. Or if it did (like the excellent kids’ comedy show by Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown last year), other things got in the way.
But I’ve managed to spend three Tuesday nights in a row getting along to stuff this year, and as the blog is a going concern again I really have no excuse. So here we go.
Gearóid Farrelly, Turbulence ***
Our first shows this year were on the last of the 2-for-1 nights, and as I didn’t get around to booking until that afternoon I had no chance of getting my first picks like Rhys Darby. Hanging outside the Gilded Balloon I was handed a flyer for this guy, an Irish comedian I’d never heard of, and figured he was worth a shot. After all, I’d never heard of Dara O’Briain once.
Farrelly played to a small, packed venue, and after a bit of a tentative start soon won the crowd over. Likable persona, good semi-autobiographical and observational material, and some good gags along the way. But these were slightly undermined by a tendency to ask the audience how we felt about each subject he’d just raised, such as Lady Gaga, as if he were testing to see whether to give us Gaga Gag A (for the fans) or Gaga Gag B (for not). Personally, I’d rather hear—or believe I’m hearing—honest admiration or honest disgust than suspect I’m being played. Recommendations for You are disturbing enough at Amazon. 7.8.12
Peacock and Gamble, Don’t Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway ***½
This was my second pick on that night that we had a babysitter, based on their inspiringly glum poster and not much else. It turned out to be a good one, with lots of madly surreal moments, many involving a rubber duck. The pair worked well together, with Ray Peacock forming the comic backbone as a kind of 2010s Bill Oddie (Goodies-era, not birdwatching-era; although there was that duck) and Ed Gamble as the straight man. All the more surprising, then, to catch one of Gamble’s old performances on YouTube and realise that he’s a strong standup in his own right—he hid that a bit too much in this show, I thought.
Why not four stars? Because the conceit of their show, that Ed and Ray didn’t even want to be on telly anyway, was exploded a bit too obviously at the end with a song about how they really did desperately, screamingly, want to be on telly. Yes, we know, and you had us on your side... but pleading is always a turn-off. Even if we aren’t the TV producers it’s aimed at. 7.8.12
Sam Simmons, About the Weather ****
One of the drawbacks of not getting to nearly as much of the Fringe as we used to is that the chances of having seen any of the acts that end up with all the buzz are remote. Before, as often as not we’d have seen at least a few in the first week or two, before they’d all sold out for the rest of the month. So when I saw that one major recipient of last year’s buzz, Sam Simmons, was back, I made sure to get along to his new show.
He warned us at the outset that it would be weird. And it was, in a suburban Adelaide kind of way (which, from the modest amount I’ve seen of Adelaide, is about the same as suburban anywhere-in-Australia weirdness). The show was structured around a mysterious radio weatherman (in voice-over) narrating—and directing—the story of Simmons’ everyday struggles to win the affections of his Bus Crush. Naturally, this involved flat-pack coffee-tables, Gillette jingles, Chinese waving cats, and medieval chocolate owls. Oh, and a boxful of shoes thrown one-by-one into the audience. Simmons himself is a great comic presence, kind of a Mr Kotter meets the evil monkey from Family Guy; and he’s got a fine show here, worthy of any amount of buzz. 14.8.12
The evening has got away from me again, so my review of last night’s show will have to wait. For once, I anticipated the buzz, for reasons which will soon become clear.