Saturday 9th August
Comedy Bus - Various venues, starting from Walkabout, Omni Centre
For the first show of this year's festival Darkchat decided to board the Comedy Bus. After a disappointing first comedian at the Walkabout we finally boarded the (replacement) bus, not quite the silver double decker with booth style seating advertised in the brochure.
Fortunately the 3 comedians on board the bus overcame the cramped and wobbly environment (it must be the only venue where a comedian must time his punchline according to the traffic lights) to produce laugh out loud comedy! The best of the 3 was a comedian named Ashley Frieze who is performing at the Meadows Bar every evening at 5.35, well worth a look.
However, for a ticket price of £15 less than an hours worth of good comedy (spread across almost 4 hours) and 2 free shots at 2 free venues en route did not provide value for money.
Average score (out of 10) was 6.3. (N.B. This would have been lower had most of us not paid 2 for 1 ticket prices.)
Sunday 10th August
In The Mouth - Free, Laughing Horse @ Espionage 12:00
Despite an awful setting, the entire show cramped into a corner with the all the square metres of a shoebox, this sketch show threw up enough nuggets of laughter to make it worthwhile. The acting was fairly strong despite the lack of energy which a 12 o'clock showing tends to foist, and, whilst certain pieces such as the bad stand-up parody fell flat, the playschool/puppet sketch provided a welcome belly laugh. A better time and setting would help, but certainly had glimpses of potential.
Where's Yak? - Laughing Horse @ The Counting House 14:05
A sketch show weaved within a narrative, Where's Yak certainly set itself up well. The surrealist Yak moments were few and far between however and felt a little bolted on. Some good acting led us from the Wimpy joint to Brief Encounter & A mosquito/spider love affair, but the flights of fancy were few and far between. There were good things, but more breakaway sketches would help immeasurably.
The Terrible Infants - Underbelly's Pasture 14:20
Timeless morality tales for all ages, created and performed by a multi-talented cast. Beautiful and inventive moments such as the swarm of bees in the story of Bea the Chatterbox, whilst the tale of Thingummy Boy brought a tear to at least two Darkchatters' eyes. Judi Dench, one of the performers (in voice only) may have a future too!
Fine Sketch-Up - The Best In Sketch Comedy - Laughing Horse @ The Counting House 15:05
A snippet of three shows varying daily, ‘A fine Sketchup’ is therefore only as good as the sum of its parts, and as you’d expect it’s a bit of a mixed bad. The first show, ‘Hollywould’, would probably change to ‘Hollywishesshehadn’tbothered’ were she to be a member of her own audience. Part 2 was ‘Where’s Yak’, already reviewed, but the real quality came through in the form of ‘Ginger and Black’ – a singing double act that, along with the excellent ‘French’ compeer, made it a show well worth seeing if you’ve a spare hour and are in the neighbourhood.
Festival of Football 2 - Laughing Horse @ Edinburgh City FC 16:25
If you like your comedy football-based, strap on your replica shirt and head on down to Edinburgh FC. Although promising in parts, and showing great restrain not to smash his glass of coke over an irritating fat woman in the audience, Cowards spent far too much time dwelling on his recent break-up than proved comfortable. His ‘amusing’ list of footballers name were like a bad work email, his rants out of character for such a nice guy, and his knowledge of low-ranking midland football tops unforgivable. But then, who would know what a Coventry top looked like?
Idiots of Ants - Pleasance Courtyard 18:20
Excellent sketch comedy, from 4 performers who should be playing to a larger venue (this one only seemed to seat about 73?) Excellent callback in sketches, great use of the audience and the technology, I'd be surprised if there is any better sketch comedy at The Fringe this year.
Aeneas Faversham Forever - Pleasance Courtyard 19:10
"If this was the only I saw this year I'd go home a happy man." One of our party decided that this was the best show that he had EVER seen. Some of the others saw it the following day and decided it was the 4th best show they'd.....seen that day, although in fairness that was an exceptional day!
Otway And Barrett - clubWEST @ Quincentenary Hall 21:00
Shambolic but brilliant stuff. They were great in the 70's (although my memory is rather hazy) and the long awaited reunion didn't disappoint loyal fans, whilst Otway's charm won over bemused newcomers. And when did Barratt get to be such a great musician?
Tim MInchin - Ready For This? - Pleasance Courtyard 21:45
A fantastic show from Australian Minchin, fantastic songs and improved stand up make for a fantastic show that will have you humming tunes for days afterwards. One of our ladies is also proof positive that you can become obsessed with a man that you thought was going to be Tim Key until he came on stage!! Go and see it or catch the tour, which we fully intend to do again.
The Absolute Best of Absolute Beginners - The Mercat Bar 22:15
The set-up: Eight budding Edinburgh comedians showing off their finest material to an audience of keen comedy-goers, held together nicely by an enthusiastic and witty compere.
The reality: Eight locals with as much chance of coming up with a joke as a jar of lollipops being elected the next British Prime Minister, an audience under the illusion that every thought in their head is worth shouting out, and a man occasionally introducing what passed for the next comedian with repeated shouts of ‘are you having a good time’ – I presume it was rhetorical. Still, at least it started with a nice song.
Reginald D Hunter - No Country for Grown Men - Pleasance Courtyard 23:15
Hunter promises "Reg on vodka" as opposed to the edited Reg that you get on TV. Given that we were treated to an hour of tip top comedy that certainly didn't offend. The most offensive thing was the idiot behind who decided to talk right through the show and spill beer on my coat - twat!
Monday 11th August
Turonimo Numpty, Laughing Horse @ Espionage 12:00
Sketch Comedy. Two girls and some bloke joining in at the end.....it was a bit pants to start but the likeability of the performers began to shine through after a while!" Oh, and Phil got on stage.
Bishop & Douch at Sesame Lane - Beehive Inn 13:30
More sketch comedy. "Hysterical Cloverfield parody." Very professional looking show but let let down by some weak material. "Weird and VERY naked!"
Afternoon Men - Laughing Horse @ Jekyll & Hyde 15:20
Stand up show compered by a "posh but shit" bloke with REALLY bad jokes. The first of the afternoon 'men' was a woman who was very good. Second up Tony Cowards with some great 'non-football' material, and then ruined by a compere who was on for far too long. An absolutely fabulous venue though.
Shakespod - C 17:10
Irritable 2 for the price of 1 Theatre, taking Shakespeare dialogue and spearing it up into bits and pieces. Unfortunately it ended up as a bits and pieces show, with too many references, and becoming a bit fuddled. The kind of show that makes you want to shout "what are you doing??!!!" Potentially a good idea but badly executed.
The Great Big Comedy Picnic - Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar 17:30
Two decent comedians performing to an 'audience full of idiots.' The 'awesome' Ashley Frieze performed a range of excellent songs and won over a difficult crowd.
Alex Horne's Wordwatching - Pleasance Courtyard 19:30
Horne engages the audience with his tales of trying to create new words that will get into the dictionary (not onto Wikipedia, that doesn't count.) Tales of internet vandalism and Carol Vorderman's R's provide plenty of fun and we'll be helping him in his quest to have them realised.
Great value for Honk at 2 for 1 ticket prices and certainly not a load of Bollo!
Andy White: I Think Therefore I Joke - Laughing Horse @ The Argyle
"The nicest comedian on Earth" and arguably the funniest man that Rick & Phil had seen this week. Started off very funny, turned into an excellent lecture on philosophy and then went very funny again. His Welsh Pythagorus and West Country penguin were amongst the many high points.
Mark Olver Ramble On - Underbelly 21:10
Olver's interesting and thoroughly enjoyable story of a hike from Bristol to Edinburgh, left us laughing a lot. A step up in comedy quality from the free comedians seen earlier in the day.
Craig Campbell is Mr Eyetwister - Underbelly 21:50
"Mindblowing" 1 man show from Campbell who delivered something totally unexpected given that we'd all seen him before and were expecting some stand up. A stunning performance that surprised us all and something that Campbell should quite rightly be very proud of.
Tuesday 12th August
John Hegley - Pleasance Courtyard 11:50
For the 2nd successive year DARKCHAT returned to Pleasance to see the perennial poet John Hegley. Having watched his "Letters to an Earwig" set last year we could relate to his opening line "Well , we have now reached the letter I" from his alphabet animal anthology. The show may be a little more unstructured but his reading from "Beyond our Kennel" is worth the ticket price alone. If you haven't seen this true original before, 2008 is a good place to start.
The Talented Mr Ripley
The recent tendency to transfer famous films to stage is always fraught with danger, especially when attempted by a college. There is some good acting here ( although there is little inter-acting with other cast members) and certain key roles were mis-cast leading to our hurried departure after half an hour. My umbrella, however, did watch the whole show and did not have a bad word to say about it.
James Dowdeswell, No More Mr Nice Guy - Underbelly 19:55
James Dowdeswell is a up and coming young stand-up whose gentle show contains rambly anecdotes about Ricky Gervais and his school-days. Neither delivery or material is yet quite the finished article but there is enough talent on show to indicate that "Dowders" is one to watch.
The Yiddish Song Book -
This show does what it says on the label. A 3 piece group performs old and new Yiddish songs in a fun and accessible manner while not losing sight of their (often tragic) roots. So if you like good music, head to the old converted church.
66a Church Road - Traverse Theatre 22:00
Sublime one man show from Daniel Kitseon recounting the longest love affair of his life, wiith the eponymous flat in Crystal Palace. 90 minutes simply flew by as Kitson controlled the audience using great dialogue and wonderful stage models - sit near the front for a better view of these.
We Need Answers - Pleasance Dome 00:15
Well, where to begin!? Sauna like conditions in this smallish venue, more comedians on a mental safari than you can count, silly questions - Mark Watson trying desperately to keep control "I don't drink on stage, I 'm a professional" of a less "professional" Glenn Wool. Complete mayhem for little honk as Cochrane triumphed over said Wool. (Did I mention that Alex Horne was involved?).
Wednesday 13th August
Deep Cut - Traverse Theatre 11:00
Deeply moving, powerfully performed piece from Sherman Cymru. "I've never been moved by a Theatre performance in this way before."
Crocosmia - The Space on the MIle @ The Radisson 12:00
The inventiveness and maturity of the writing is astonishing from this young company, as was the quality of the performances. They successfully walked a tightrope between sentimentality and truth. We laughed and cried and when we regained the power of speech we immediately booked tickets for our friends. Darkchat will never forget the Brackenberg Battenburg Theatre. Quintissential Edinburgh Festival at its best.
Rich Hall: 50 Cent Words - Assembly @ George Street 13:05
Funny self-penned stories read by the award winning comedian, slightly lacking the quick wittedness you come to expect but still a formidable presence.
Comic Potential - C 13:35
Youth Theatre Group performing an Ayckborn piece that was slightly beyond some of the performers who came across as a little wooden. Some laughs and an inoffensive way to spend 90 minutes.
Beating of The Russian Heart - C Soco Urban Garden 14:00
Stamping, skipping and singing from 7 attractive Russian women on a beach! And Dave on stage doing some kind of kissing dance!
Cowards - Pleasance Courtyard
Recording for the Radio 4 sketch comedy featuring some of The Fringes new young favourites. Some laugh out loud funny moments peperred between a few average sketches, an up and down recording.
Tom Wrigglesworth: I'm Struggling to See How That's Helping - Pleasance Courtyard 18:00
Hilarious Comic singing and stand-up, consistently funny throughout, well paced fun from the man with "the body of Peter Crouch and the face of Postman Pat!"
Mark Watson: All The Thoughts I've had since I Was Born - Pleasance Courtyard 20:00
Watson on top form as usual, great material, excellently delivered by the 'pretend' Welsh comedian.
4 At The Fringe - Pleasance Courtyard 22:30
Michael McIntyre comperes 4 other comedians, really enjoyable end of the day stuff with laughs from start to finish. Great work from McIntyre, Cochrane, O'Doherty, Green & Richardson. "I was so full up I didn't want to be laughing this much!"