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(A-Z) 16 out of 16

Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Don't be Needy, be Succeedy! (page 19)
Drams none
Venue Assembly Rooms (3)
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn

Life coaches are no longer a novelty. And that allows Neil Mullarkey to take the rip, expertly and mercilessly. The audience enters the Assembly's Wildman Room to the sound of enthusiastic taped testimonials from satisfied clients. Then the lights dim and pony-tailed L. Vaughan Spencer bounces on stage. The audience knows its part and claps on cue despite the fact they don't know him from Adam.

L. Vaughan begins his patter and within fifteen seconds the front row realises it's made a bad choice of seating - virtually every member gets the opportunity to participate in their own humiliation. One row back, we're all chortling safely and indulging in some serious chardenfreuder. Oh yes, we're pretty confident we're not going to get his attention now - we hope. For the next hour Mullarkey mocks the whole silly coaching business deliciously. It's good material and I won't spoil it with samples. Suffice to say that he's good and we need this sort of sharp parody to show how open we are to commercial and showbiz mindfuck L. Vaughan is on the ultimate ego trip; our presence and compliance feeds his monster. The penalty for not complying is serious - uncertain but, well it must be serious, surely? Can you take the risk and leave? Nobody does.

"Don't be needy" is very clever but as an idea, it's so obvious there must be similar acts around. This "Session" was delivered with superb comedy timing and nerve by Mullarkey, but I thought I detected a weary edge to his performance. A bit more pzazz and he would have sold it to me completely. Maybe Neil should attend one of L. Vaughan Spencer's "Weekends in Watford"?
Runs 2nd-26th August 20:00 (21:00)
http://www.neilmullarkey.com/
Max Blinkhorn. 8th August 2002
   
The Best Of Scottish Comedy (page 18)

Drams None
Venue The Stand Comedy Club 1 (5)
Address 5 York Place
Reviewer Patrick Evans

There have been evenings over the past decade or so when the idea of a "best of" night featuring a lucky dip of contemporary Scottish comedy talent would have been the best gag on offer that evening. It wasn't that Scotland wasn't producing brilliant comedians only that there weren't that many. No longer. The increase of all year round comedy clubs in the major cities has produced an environment in which Scottish talent no longer has to leave for London in order to hone its skills and ply its trade. For this The Stand, Scotland's top comedy club with venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh, must take the lion's share of the credit for what has been a renaissance of mirth. And it shone through on stage. Jane Mackay, one of the best of the generation that have grown in stature with The Stand, compered the evening with sure Sahara dry dead pan and a control of her audience with that style I haven't seen since the early days of Jack Dee. Next up was Parkheid's legal eagle, Raymond Mearns, who proceeded to send down more gags per minute than a Glasgow circuit judge. Raymond Mearns is in the process of developing a top class act and is now well worth catching.

Bruce Morton topped an evening of real five star stand-up. Morty's tales of England's white wine suburban hinterland are crafted with the same eye for surreal detail as the best of his Dennistoun routines and his flights of imagination still soar to the heights of hilarity.

The line-up for these shows changes every night but in the hands of its superb regular host Susan Morrisson and promising visits from Fred MacAulay and Parrot among others whatever night you choose to come down and enjoy a pint in front of The Stand's pick of who's Scottish and chuckling you can rest assured you will be in for a treat.

Runs until Aug 26
Patrick Evans 11 Aug 2002

   

The Black Sheep (page 19)
Drams full glass
Venue C Chambers Street (Venue 33)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Garry Platt

Black Sheep who are probably better known as Ubersausage have become Fringe regulars and somewhere back in the mists of time (well 1999 at least) they stumbled upon a unique seam of comedy and humour and have continued to mine it, process it and deliver it to us ever since. Watching their shows is exciting; you know you’re not just going to be regaled with one comedy scene after another; they’re going to take you where no other comedy show has thought to go.

Describing what Black Sheep do as comedy does not do them justice, indeed comedy is only part of it. They create a temporary enclave of the absurd, a rift in the space time continuum where the bizarre is quite normal, they are the belly button of humour, you know where all the strange stuff and unidentifiable material collects. The show is a kind of strange genetic freak a hybridized cross between the Really Fast Show, Tony Hancock and a packet of leaking batteries, if you can imagine that go and see a doctor but only after you’ve gone and seen this show.

These are young people pushing the comedy envelope rather than staying on safe ground, their sketches of deceased fathers who still taunt their sons from the grave are surreal and the mundane act of looking through a family photograph album becomes weird when seen in juxtaposition to the life and death struggle between a fly and spider. Intrigued? I hope so, this show is what the fringe is really all about.

Runs Until 25 August not 13
Garry Platt, 04 August 2002

   

The Bongo Club Cabaret (page 20)
Drams full glassfull glass
Venue The Bongo Club (Venue 143)
Address 14 New Street
Reviewer Patrick Evans

The value of a cabaret like The Bongo is that it will give a platform to the weird, the faintly wonderful and anything else that isn’t just simply stand-up and over the last couple of years the cabaret has gained a reputation for itself as the best late late night show in town. The Bongo Club started its life as a celebration of the diverse talents of Edinburgh’s avant garde community. These days though I doubt they could afford the club’s prices with a dollop of curry priced at 6.50 a throw and 2.70 for a bottle of Czech lager. But the club’s vibe is still as busy, bustly and brilliant as ever and people do dance there juggling fluorescent light clubs. On a poor night by The Bongo’s standards the cabaret, still had enough that wasn’t truly abysmal to make the evening worth while.

Jem Rolls delivered an hysterical poetic avalanche flawlessly and the plumed African dancers from “Go Go The Boy With Magic Feet” were simply breathtaking. The Bongo Club is an Edinburgh Festival Institution and when it closes the city will feel poorer and I have no doubt that the cabaret show will improve. However, on the opening night, a puppet stole the show and the club’s biggest attraction was that for 8/6 you could drink over-priced lager until five.

Patrick Evans


   

Charlie Chuck is Scrooge (page 22)
Drams full glassfull glass
Venue Gilded Balloon - Backstage (38)
Address Cowgate
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn

You either love Charlie or .. not. In this presentation of Dickens' story of redemption at Christmas, the first joke is that this is August. The next is that Charlie and his hard working straight man are having a lark. When Charlie comes on stage, the audience can help but laugh. That's him. He's pure comedy and doesn't need words to switch an audience on. Falling out with a drum kit as an intro gives a glimpse of Charlie's skills. Clowns, as we all know, are the most able of actors. 

From the wreckage of the drum kit, the play proper, begins. Trying to graft Scrooge on to his act is a leap in the dark for Charlie and it shows. In his standard act, Charlie is a sharp reader of the audience and when his radar picks up a response, he plays to that and people fall about - don't ask me why - they just do. Telling the Scrooge story interferes with that process. His radar is jammed by it. There are some good lines and improvisations but it doesn't work well for the most part.

By the end of the performance, the audience has lost touch with proceedings and leaves pleased to have seen Charlie, but feeling somewhat disappointed. His fans love him truly but sometimes he's off target, but that's miles better than being a one joke wonder. Scrooge is a clear attempt by Charlie Chuck to develop his act and while "the play" doesn't hang together properly, he is himself. And for fans that's enough.
Runs 2nd-26th August 2002 (not 10th) 23:30 (00:30)
Max Blinkhorn 9th August 2002

   

Count Arthur Strong’s Forgotten Egypt (page 24)
Drams None! Simply the Best
Venue Gilded Balloon (Venue 38)
Address 233 Cowgate
Reviewer Garry Platt

I had read various recommendations in the papers to go and see this show but as of this date (7 August 2003) I had not yet read a full review of this performance, so I had no real idea what to expect. What I discovered was something really very remarkable.

Count Arthur strong is a comic character creation which surpasses anything I have yet seen on the fringe, this year or any other! Picture the scene, you are waiting in a village meeting room or perhaps your local Town Hall, a talk (with amazing slides) has been arranged by that most prestigious of speakers and learned Egyptologists Count Arthur Strong. The Count finally arrives and due to a technical oversight of his incredibly incompetent and inept support staff the slide projector is not working and what we receive is a potpourri of show biz tales, mostly concerning Rex Harrison! Egyptian cooking tips! And a Piano rendition the likes of which you will never have encountered nor will you ever again!

The finesse and attention to detail which have been achieved in developing this character are just incredible, no chance or opportunity to create a comic moment have been missed and every pause is done with perfect timing so as to extract every possible chuckle, giggle, chortle, snigger and titter there is.

This show is just amazing and delivered with such aplomb, skill and grace that if it doesn’t win something somewhere or make it on to TV as the ‘Life of Count Arthur Strong’ there really is no justice in this world.
For the sake of your soul go and see this show it is quite the most wonderful thing on the Fringe this year, and if you miss it you will quite possibly regret it for the rest of your life. Runs Until 26 August not 12, 19

Garry Platt, 07 August 2002

   

Dr Phil Hammond - 59 Minutes to Save the NHS (page 27)

Drams 0
Venue Pleasance Courtyard and Over The Road (Venue 33)
Address 60, The Pleasance
Reviewer Nicola Osborne

Reduced from an 89 minute touring version (and to it's credit, boy does the wealth of material show it!) this is essentially Phil Hammond's whistle stop tour of the NHS and some of it's more bizarre idiosyncrasies. Since Dr Hammond spends a good deal of his time still working for our troubled medical system he has the view of a slightly bemused "insider looking in" if you will. So whilst he hits plenty of serious subjects from the perspective of an informed professional he always also applies his rather fabulous comic skills (often based in good old common sense) giving you an hour of literally painfully funny material. And we're talking Bill Hicks shocking here only with tougher content (Hammond broke the Bristol heart surgery story) and rather less swearing (not that that - or the early timeslot - mean's child friendly).

The tightly packed show suggests that we the non-medical types (and some of the medical types since Hammond's got a fair few fans in the trade) learn not to trust doctors. Any doctors. Including him. Only there's one major problem with that since Dr Phil seems to be as honest, up-front and downright charming as you could wish and it's very tempting to disobey and trust him completely. Of course whether I'd fall for the classic TUBE (Totally Unnecessary Breast Exam) trick I can't say - although I'm unlikely to be asked as this is apparently the rather odd and indirect way doctors tend to compliment only the really great pairs of tits. Further proof of how very strange a person you need to be to become a medic are offered as we hear how your average student doctor spends his crucial pub time. Prepare to squirm at descriptions of such fun as "bladder tennis".

Aside from the content, what's very unusual about this particular show is the fact that while it is comedy and our host has done this Edinburgh lark before (a few years ago mind), he's also happy to be controversial in the truly shocking way (the truth!) most fringe shows can only dream of. So get thee to the pleasance. Ponder how we could save our health service (simultaneously de-medicalising your life), and prepare to let his more serious points roll along to the point where you laugh yourself silly. Trust him, he's a comedian.

Nicola Osborne, 04 August 2002
Runs 31st July - 22nd August 18:30
Phil Hammond managed by Karushi www.karushi.com

   

The Establishment (page 28)
Drams You've had enough already.
Venue C Venue (Venue 34)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein

The Establishment - which starts at 1am - sees C venues moving into the territory of Gilded Balloon's Late and Live. A fiver (half the price of Late and Live) gets you 3 hours of stand-up comedy with a late-licensed bar to make sure no-one sobers up. Each night has a different line up, chosen from around the fringe, making this an unpredictable show.

Quality is variable, and some acts are best forgotten. Ironically Late and Live are the establishment who get the known names, and The Establishment are the young upstarts. Not as safe, but better value for money. Opening act Lucy Porter was good, but the star of the show was the hilarious (and political) Hils Barker. She's in the finals for the Telegraph's Open Mic Award, and should get it if there's any justice in the world. An entrancing piece of classical Indian dance provided a welcome if somewhat random break from the comedy. Overall, an excellent end to an evening.
Runs until 25th August, 1am-3am. 5
Daniel Winterstein, 11th August 2002


   

Francesca Martinez - I’m Perfect (page 29)
Drams full glassfull glass
Venue Pleasance - Over The Road (Venue 33)
Address 60 The Pleasance
Reviewer Garry Platt

Francesca Martinez ,for some one so young she’s doing rather well, especially when you consider that she has entered the gladiatorial field of stand up comedy. Her style is that well trodden route of closely observed absurdities which litter our daily lives and yet pass by seemingly unnoticed. Francesca appears to be developing that knack for locating, presenting and exploiting these little events but she still has some way to go.

Her material is good, very good, considered, sharp and really top draw in terms of quality, her delivery is good too, though she has yet to learn or employ pathos, one of the fundamentals of the comedians armoury, every single line and story is delivered with a gigantic grin plastered across her face.

The show is interspersed with little reruns of comedic scenes which have occurred in her life and these are acted out with the help of a friend. These work well and help create a tempo and in addition to this she also uses various photographs and pictures to illustrate her points. Every comedian needs an angle, something that differentiates them from the rest of the herd and I suspect that this might well become a signature of her work, of which I hope there will be more. It’s early days for this girl, as I said at the beginning of this review, but she’s already overtaken some comedians who have been on the circuit for years and I’m looking forward to seeing her inevitable rise, see her first here.

Runs Until 26 August not 20

Garry Platt, 04 August 2002

   

Jackie Clune is Boy Crazy (page 34)
Drams 0
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer AGarry Platt

Jackie Clune has finally pulled her finger out and is no longer a Lesbian! She’s turned her back on the world of ‘Cell Block H’, butchness and dyke double-entendres, well no, perhaps not the latter. You could call her bisexual; she did sleep with one woman last year after all. This new turn of events will of course infuriate her case hardened, short haired, Doc Marten attired, ‘don’t look at me or I’ll cut your throat’ lesbian fans. Their view of bisexuality is that it’s just a woman who isn’t trying hard enough.

I also have to say Jackie’s comedy has changed from last years fantastic show, it’s gone from hilarious to incredible, from fast to warp speed and from just plain brilliant to err, err, double brilliant, no treble brilliant, no – quadruple brilliant!

There are more songs this year; the ascorbic wit has increased. A single drop of Jackie’s uproariously venomous humour could probably poison an entire Iraq village. (President George Bush please take note.) She has perfected her act to such an extent that there are certain parts were she only has to tilt her head to one side and the audience break down in laughter.

Her delivery and timing are impeccable. She is an unsung British comedy treasure and a true talent and we do not see her enough on TV. She recently had a big success appearing in a one woman show in London’s West End, this girl has gone far and she’s going further.

Runs Until 26 August not 13

Garry Platt, 04 August 2002

   

Jimeoin (page 35)
Drams full glass
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address George Street
Reviewer Brett Sheffield

Jimeoin, Australia's adopted Irish comic, performs an hour of laid-back meandering stand up at the Assembly Rooms. Remembered by many Australians for his TV show a few years back, and particularly for the cooking segment of the show in which he never ever actually cooked anything. I, personally, have never forgiven him.

Rambling stories and physical comedy slowly charge up your humour capacitor until the smile doesn't fit on your face anymore and you're forced to laugh. From using a stool to impersonate Chewbacca to searching for the funniest part of the stage; if the Festival crowds are getting to you and you need some mood improvement therapy, Jimeoin is what I'd prescribe. To his audience there is no doubt that the funniest part of the stage is the bit with him standing on it.
Runs 26 August 2002 at 19:30pm
Brett Sheffield August 2002.

   

Lord of the Ferrets, The Fellowship of the Beaver (page 39)
Drams 0
Venue Pleasance Dome (Venue23)
Address 1 Bistro Square
Reviewer Veera Airas

AMAZING! AMAZING!! AMAZING!!!

This extremely talented comedy duo, Richard Dyball and Alistair Kerr, will not leave anyone cold. They bounce off each other like two bunnies on heat, going from character to character, accent to accent and story to story, with slickness that will keep you at the edge of your seat waiting for more. And that's what I'm going to do. If you only make one comedy show this year make sure it's this one!
Runs till 26th August at 19.15, Excluding 7th and 19th.
Veera Airas 5 August 2002


   

Noel Fielding Voodoo Hedgehog (page 44)
Dramsfull glass
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 34)
Address 60 The Pleasance
Reviewer Garry Platt
Noel Fielding has for some years been a dominant force on the Comedy Fringe scene being one half of the Might Boosh show, Auto Boosh, Arctic Boosh etc etc. This year he appears in a one man show serving a heady and rich mixture of the bizarre, ridiculous and weird.

Noel Fielding is one of those people who only has to look at you with a whimsical tilt to his head and you find yourself starting to chuckle, he can find amusement in the smallest of things and exploit the absurdities and strangeness his fevered mind discovers within. The show delivered to packed audiences has a pace which is hard to find on the Fringe, most comedians work in either fast or super fast, Noel Fielding operates at the ‘ What the f*ck was that?’ speed, blink and you’ll miss something let your attention wander for only a second and you’ll have missed half a dozen gut busting stories, 3 or 4 tear jerking tales and perhaps the odd one or two tall tale.

It’s a multi-media event with an animated cartoon, talking moon, various props and painted paper plates hanging from the ceiling – don’t ask. The night I saw him he had a fantastic entrance planned; lights, music, verbal intro and then he discovered his microphone wasn’t working, most performers would have thrown a fit and started beating up on the technical staff, not Noel it became part of the act, completely improvised and quite brilliant, in fact the entire show is a rich mixture of improvised comedy and set pieces delivered with an impromptu edge, quite unique and wonderful.
Runs Until 26 August not 6, 13

The hedgehog and voodoo don’t make an appearance until the final scene but it’s worth waiting for – it’s a great show, Noel’s a star.

Garry Platt 5 August 2002

   

One Man's Business(page 45)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road
Reviewer Thelma Good

There's a hammock strung across Traverse Two at 10:30pm until 11 August, two white faced musicians enter and go to their instruments. They begin to play, recorded sounds of the sea mix in and oh so gradually the hammock begins to sway. It starts gently and soon we're chuckling at the occupant who is clearly dreaming of occeans and swiming, a storm brews up. He's struggling to stay afloat. Once awake Pierre played by Claire Bartholomew (directed by John Bolton), begins to start his day, fumbling around he locates his specs, he's clearly very short sighted. As he starts on his morning abolutions, lowering a sink from the above it becomes clear there's something poignant about this wee man who seems so self contained. His world is a reinterpreted version of ours, ours is populated with friends and colleagues but Pierre's?

We see him go through his day, looking after two very floppy babies, making breakfast, toasting communion wafers on a candle. There are some very funny scenes for this is physical theatre not really a straight comedy slot. It's humour reduces, as when the babies cry, he uses the smallest room in the house which would have Child Protection officiers running. Until then I thought strange a children's show at 22:30hrs? It's sad and really quite upsetting this too long, nearly wordless piece. Who and what Pierre is and why he literally has a stuffed wife suggests the isolation so called Care in the Community can create. I kinda hope there are lonely, rather simple people who through their own take on the world, like Pierre, create a world to comfort them. The best is in the beginning and the office scene, but it becomes repetitive in ideas, losing energy and inventiveness as it goes on. Her performance isn't large enough to brings us fully in and the pebble-glass specs remove from Bartholomew one of the clown's greatests assets, the looks from their eyes to yours.
Thelma Good 04 August 2002
Runs to 11 August at 10:30pm

   

The Rabbit Warren (Not in programme)

Drams None
Venue (Venue 156)
Address Niddry Street
Reviewer Patrick Evans

New to the Edinburgh scene, The Rabbit Warren, was formed by comedians for comedians and is the place those-in-the-know go to try out new material and those-who-want-to begin to hone their skills. Situated in a tunnel under Nicol Edwards the evening (and it is an evening) consists of a line-up of five or six Edinburgh comedians taking their turn behind the mic. The admission is value for money, the bar has a selection of good drink promotions and the evening runs into the late night club if you wish to end your night listening to music and dancing. The room itself is small and intimate and the show is unpredictable in all the right ways. On the night I was there the microphone didn't work and so the club's regular host and compere Sarah Wilson, Edinburgh's version of Anita Dobson, bought in pitchers of beer for the audience in true Dunkirk spirit and was soon talking to each and every one as if they had been friends for life.

Sarah Wilson's fiery patter and put down is the ingredient that makes these evenings work and on a women performer only night she introduced a succession of rough, ready but rudely wicked comedians. First up was Marjorie, Fife's Golden Girl, who can remember when men were men and a good night out required corrective surgery. Jacqueline Hannan, comedy hairdresser extraordinaire, followed and included a brilliant routine about understanding the English. After the break a comedian making her debut, Rez, had the audience in stitches of health education and singing along to bawdy songs. The evening was topped by Jojo: a serial single mum with attitude that is currently in between moments on heat. The night was rich in its variety and the humour was delivered with hard hitting Edinburgh verve.

If you are looking for Edinburgh's up and coming sense of humour, The Rabbit Warren hosts a hot night of hard core capital comedy.

Wednesday 9.30pm (all year round), Thursday to
Saturday 8.30pm until 26 Aug
Patrick Evans 11 Aug 2002

   

Rich Hall & Mike Wilmot- Pretzel Logic (page 48)
Drams full glass of rye.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer Neil Ingram

Rich Hall likes Edinburgh, and he keeps coming back for more. This year he's here to apologise for, well, just about everything. In particular for George W Bush, leader of the free world. We didn't elect him, neither did Rich Hall, but he feels he has to apologise.

He feels it his duty to give us an explanation of how and why George W became President, and how well he has done the job. Inevitably this focuses on 9/11, and the War on Terrorism, but there is also an explanation of how come Floridans voted for Mr Bush (it's to do with how most of them are aged and decrepid), a detailed analysis of the Pretzel Affair (hence the title of the show) and lot about American snack food.

It's not the in-your-face kind of show Rich Hall has done in recent years, and some of the material, especially that involving his co-performer, Mike Wilmot, is rather too obvious. But there are some very funny George W jokes, and his feeding off the audience is masterly. Why not get along there and show how grateful we are!
Runs until 26 August at 23.45
Off the Kerb Productions
Neil Ingram 11 August 2002


(A-Z) 16 out of 16

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