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2009 Press Digest and Reviews

latestnews.jpg (32088 bytes)19th Sep - Review Catchup - Three Weeks / Scotsman

Are We There Yet? - Opera Larks & David Barnard (Three Weeks) 'Are We There Yet?' Hopefully not, because I'm not sure I've had enough! This performance is truly hilarious, blending famous arias and songs from musicals we travel from country to country, following our heroines as they make their way to Las Vegas. The circumstances arising are ordinary, but the songs accompanying them are so well-known and their lyrics so wittily exploited that you find yourself holding your belly in fits of laughter. The actresses interact with the audience and truly make use of their reactions. Both are very talented with surprisingly good voices, capable of singing both opera and mainstream jingles. The pianist is lively and always interferes in the action at the right moment. Fasten your seat-belts...

Everything you Always Wanted to Know about Greece (But were afraid to ask) (Scotsman)

‘Manos plays the stereotype card cleverly, flirting with those popular myths … before deftly dismissing them as the apocryphal (another good Greek word) nonsense they are. Catch him now, before his inevitable promotion to head waiter’ *** THE SCOTSMAN

The promotional material for this informative presentation by Manos the Greek waiter does not augur well. Manos beams out at us, the very embodiment of Harry Enfield’s Stavros. Surely, his act can’t really be that hoar? Thankfully, not.

True, like Stavros, Manos is an expatriate Greek who has been living in London for a few years but he is still in touch with what makes Greece tick. He riffs on how Greek children stay at home longer than most; how Greece fought its smoking ban and won, and his mother country’s long running hatred of Lord Elgin and Turkey (not necessarily in that order).

The comedy gods are clearly smiling on him, for among the front row is a real-life Turk! He is a sporting chap as well, playing among gamely when Manos cordially invites him and any of his countrymen to f*** off before the show has even started.

In fact, Manos plays the stereotype card cleverly, flirting with those popular myths all Greeks are homosexual, love their donkeys more than their mothers and throw plates around at every available opportunity before deftly dismissing them as the apocryphal (another good Greek word) nonsense they are. Catch him now as part of the Free Fringe, before his inevitable promotion to head waiter.

19th Sep - Review Catchup - Scotsgay reviews

Ben Lerman’s Size Matters
Laughing Horse @ Café Renroc

Ben Lerman plays the ukulele.  Oh yes, he does indeed.  Passing well, too.

He is also a truly sick and perverted individual performing songs that I feel sure he neither learned nor sang at mother’s knee (unless he had an extremely tolerant mother).

His pleasant singing voice combines with the product of considerable manual dexterity on his small but perfectly formed instruments to fill the converted subterranean bakery that adjoins Renroc’s famed Rusty Water Department.

The cubby New Yorker sings of things he knows: love, loss, pirates, chubby chasers, online dating and much more…  And has the intimate space rocking with not inconsiderable mirth.

It’s the intimacy which makes it work.  And why he should be confined to the small stage – if not a padded cell.

Contains strong language: not suitable for trendy bisexuals, vegetarians or the politically correct.  Enter this open sewer with an open mind!

As Edinburghers oft say of the last omnibus of the evening: not to be missed!

19th Sep - Review Catchup - and more reviews from

A Walking Advert For Free Abortions
Richard Coughlan with his pedantic stand-up instantly raised the bar for free performers at the fringe. He mixed his ideas on the topical, political issues with emotional stories very effectively, both warming the audience to him and engaging them. His lively, intense wit combined with the mature material he used kept those watching in stitches throughout the show. Richard is jaw-achingly funny and definitely not one to be missed!

Adventure Incorporated
The completely improvised show by the comedy group ‘Adventure Incorporated’ presents 40 entertaining minutes of hilarious scenes and scenarios. Being purely improvisation means this show is different every time and bases itself around its audience and their ideas. It makes for a fast paced and quick thinking set, but with comical pieces of genius. Christopher Thursten, Chris Turner and Daniel Roberts are all extremely witty, but perform a fluent show. Brilliant piece of lunchtime comedy at any level.

Circling The Drain
In an original and earlier time than their later show, Scurvy comedy bring ‘Circling the Drain: Scurvy comedy presents Mankind's Inevitable Spiral Towards Total Destruction.’ Tony Dunn compares the afternoons proceedings, interacting with the audience and with many a funny story. Lawrence Francis then mixes music with the humour of his parodies and songs. Then Charles Duncan performs his stand-up routine to round off a great array of talent. The gig is ended on one final note and involves all the comedians and audience members, which finishes a very amusing comedy show.

Crimewhoppers’ the comedy stand-up by Karl Edrik tells all about his criminal past into his new reformed life as a comedian. His style was engaging and his stories linked well and kept it interesting all the way. It was only a shame more were not present, however, it allowed for more audience participation and a more personal touch to his approach. Extremely funny and a genuinely nice personality.

Dan Willis: Control-Alt-Delete
In what can only be described as a blast from the past, Dan Willis takes us through his life and how computers have altered it. From his first computer all the way up to modern day computer geek, we get all the information with the binary intact. It’s not just all computers though and even when it is, this talented comedian manages to keep all involved. With his appealing on stage personality and humorous comedy, ‘Control Alt Delete’ is one for those lovers of technology and those who do not.

Demitris Deech: Hypochondriac
In his first show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Demitris Deech performs in his solo show ‘Hypochondriac.’ He shares the fact that he once held an ill-founded anxiety about his health and his one unfortunate event at the doctors. He comes across very friendly on and off stage and is proved with a very non offensive show where he engages well with his audience. The humour is also very topical and based around some of the events that have happened so far in his life. With many an award to his name and already involved in BBC radio, this show is a good show.

Donald Mack is a Stereotype
It’s not often a comedian has an excuse for being late to a gig, but re-writing the whole show is perhaps one where they may be forgiven! Donald Mack came across as naturally funny with a relaxed, yet invigorating performance. With intelligent comedy it’s plain to see this is a man who knows what he is doing. ‘Donald Mack is a Stereotype’ is one to be enjoyed by all.  

Inner Badger With a fast paced set and a personality revolving around original and funny ideas, it makes for exciting viewing. Julie Jepson in ‘Inner Badger’ was a lively character, chatting away before and during her show, gaining the audience on her side. This was despite perhaps picking topics that are topical, but also borderline, she had us laughing with her impressive comic timing. Not just jokes, she does all that could possibly make you laugh, and she does it well.  

Lewis Schaffer - Bigger and Blacker
In the lovely setting of the Counting House Ballroom we witnessed one of the most outrageous comedians yet. Lewis Schaffer in ‘Bigger and Blacker’ throws away all boundaries and supplies the audience with a number of opportunities for laughter. With jokes about his Jewish upbringing, Scotland and England and even Michael Jackson, this American comedian really does push limits. However, for the most part of the show he had the audience in stitches. Get rid of your standards, or he will for you! 

Mason, Carroll and Graves
Bobby Carroll, James Mason and Luke Graves bring the self titled show ‘Mason, Carroll and Graves.’ The three comedians mix it up in their own unique way, however, each manages to bring up laugh after laugh. Bobby Carrol was the compare for the afternoon and as good compares do engaged with his audience one by one. He then introduced James Mason, though slightly outrageous, entertained with his Alternative Stand up comedy. Following on was Luke Graves who was very witty and extremely funny through-out. What links them all is that they are slightly outrageous, yet so hilariously high-quality.

Moz and the Meal If meat eating cannibals are up your street then this is without a doubt the show for you. We are taken through the life of a human flesh loving Moz and his troubles with relationships and problems it can cause. This is without a doubt the best prepared and perhaps the most professional piece of acting you will see at any comedy show at this year’s fringe. Incorporating a mix of voices, ideas, sounds and music the show flows effortlessly. ‘Moz and the Meal’ is maybe not for the biologically squeamish, however, this dark humour brings about many a chuckle. Even if this is not your usual comedy show, this brave one deserves to be admired.

Nick Wilty - Behind the Jokes
Now it certainly is not every day you get to listen to a comedian as experienced as Nick Wilty is, describing his events in roughly 112 countries worldwide. In his show ‘Nick Wilty - Behind the jokes’ he does just that, describing how the jokes came about and of course throwing in some stand-up as well. From being involved in the Icelandic syllabus for English and street carnivals in Rio, this will keep all excited and laughing. This is simply a relaxed and witty show for all those who want comedy.

Paul Sweeney and his Imaginary Friends
Paul Sweeney with his brilliant, bubbly personality brought the audience a show bursting with talent. He introduced fellow comedians Tania Edwards and Luke Toulson to the stage; Tania with her cool, charming wit, and Luke with his very appealing and original humour. Paul also entertained with his musical parody about being a vegetarian, showing a more varied style of humour. The mix of music and comedy and the complementing characters of the comedians made for a very amusing show and one of the highlights of the free fringe.

Posh and Trampy Do Some Comedy
Lou Sanders and Tania Edwards, a comedy duo based in London, bring to Edinburgh ‘Posh and Trampy Do Some Comedy.’ They have guest comedians every day, on this occasion Luke Toulson, who introduced the acts and added to the feast comedy. He also features at this year’s Fringe with the show ‘Too many last cigarettes.’ It was obvious that Lou and Tania enjoy their work and as good friends complimented each other’s comic style. Though differing in their approach, they both worked with the audience well and provided an entertaining show. This is brilliant pure comedy for all those who want a laugh.

Sajeela Karshi, star of ‘Bitch Got Owned,’ is an energetic and naturally chatty woman who provided a very engaging stand-up routine. She effectively mixed a good dose of comedy with an insight into a different culture. Sajeela has a very appealing personality and lots of audience participation made the show enjoyable and not one to be missed!

Terrors Of The Black Museum
Ben Smith, Laurence Tuck and Dan Mckee all star in the comedy act ‘Terrors Of The Black Museum.’ We are involved in their task as they try to escape the horror inside the museum and are taken along a dark, yet funny path. They all act out different parts to the set, which adds to the plot and humour of the situation. This is certainly not just acted out though, there are many humorous outlooks on today’s society, but still the plot remains water-tight. An original act for all free fringe fans.

The Birds and the Bees
To put it simply, Mark Butler in ‘The Birds and the Bees’ is amazingly funny. In his character role as a substitute teacher, he delivers the sex education lesson you never received in a performance that was flawless and a joke was on the end of his fingertips every single time. He also managed to interact well with his audience and yet did not move off the direction of the show at a single point, which on such a subject would seem easily done. I suggest you get down to this show early in order not to be left disappointed!

The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly 'Ride Again
Sion James and guests perform at the Meadow bar in ‘The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly 'Ride Again.' Sion is compare for the afternoon, talking with his audience but retaining his own comic style at the same time. Special guests were Celia Pacquola and Imran Yusuf who were both fantastic. Celia performs a highly acclaimed show at the Gilded Balloon and brought original ideas to her set. It was then Imran Yusuf’s turn, with what was an energetic performance, but with brilliant comic timing. With special guests every day, you’re in for a treat with this show.

1st Sep - Sound and Fury's Testaclese and ye Sack of Rome - - Three Weeks Friends, Romans, audience members, lend them your ears. For Californian vaudeville troupe, Sound and Fury, deserve your undivided attention in this ingenious pastiche of Orphic myth. From start to finish, the trio had the audience in stitches with this epic but nevertheless bawdy tale of Grecian hero, Testaclese, played with churlish glee by the charismatic Richard Maritzer. Armed with only a cheap assortment of props and costumes, including a pair of ridiculous fake breasts, 'Sound and Fury', switched between physical humour and lewd wordplay with masterful skill, enticing the audience, who were furthermore actively encouraged to participate in the evening's performance. A historical screwball romp of 'Herculean proportions', 'Testaclese' will put a smile on the face of even the most cynical of viewers.

1st Sep - Trying 2B Funny - - Three Weeks Let's not lie. The title of this show is in no way comforting. As Michael our first teenage comic pointed out, trying to be funny indicates that these kids aren't funny. Which is very far from the truth. They were 100% hilarious. Heatham House is a youth centre for children in Twickenham and surrounding areas, and boy has it done these kids proud. There were a couple of blunders, and not every gag went down well, but I laughed all the way through. Special mention has to go to Esther, rightly the headline act. She was a natural comic, in a way that was refreshing. This was serious talent, watch them now or pay for it later.

1st Sep - Bluto Balthazzar's School of Surreal Sorcery - - Three Weeks Short of employing an extensive network of audience stooges, I have no idea how Bluto manages the vast majority of his tricks. In fact, even if there were such a network, these would still be very difficult to explain. It appears, straightforwardly, to be magic. That's the charm of sorcery, and in this instance it is presented by a refreshingly understated, indeed quiet sorcerer. Some may find that the lack of showmanship gives the experience a shoddy, unprofessional feel, but I reckon it creates an impression of intimacy and authenticity, rendering the act all the more baffling. I'm sure in a few weeks time I'll still be trying to work out how he did it. Great fun for all ages.

1st Sep - Raiders of the Lost Groove - - Three Weeks Never mind the Lost Groove, it looks as though the three men of HabenGoods have raided B&Q for their props. There's quite an industrial, hardware feel to this half hour of percussion; I imagine it's similar to the results you'd get if you let three childish drummers play about in a hardware shop for a few hours. That's no bad thing; this is inventive stuff, and I couldn't quite keep the word 'Stomp' out of my head. These boys give us a trio of eccentric characters, trying to outdo each other with whatever bits and pieces they have to hand. Their strength is in playing so many objects - and yes, that includes a kitchen sink.

1st Sep - Tyrannosaurus rex: A Pack of Lies? - - Three Weeks Was T-Rex a predator, scavenger, or was he in fact a pack-hunter? Obviously these are the burning questions on everyone's lips nowadays and Matt Brierly attempted to uncover the truth behind this age-old debate. I wouldn't say I was a dinosaur lover particularly, however, I found myself becoming strangely compelled by the anecdotes and diagrams in the show, which turned out to be less of a comedy, more of a palaeontology lesson; nevertheless it was fascinating. Whilst the content was great, however, the overall presentation lacked charisma and was very slow to start off. Ultimately, though it lacked much comedy, it was good example of how far determination, and Bill Oddie, can get you.

1st Sep - An American redwolf in London - - Three Weeks A humorous insight into the life of a real Native American which breaks convention. Chuquai Billy treated the audience to several hilarious impersonations and mini-sketches of both Western and Native American characters with an energy that is lacking from many British stand-ups. Unfortunately, his sidekick in this intended double-act had pulled out, and his struggle to improvise and fill the time showed, but this likeable character was a hit with the audience. Although some of his punch lines seemed to fall through the net, his impersonation of an Asian mini-cab driver in London, among other great moments, provoked genuine belly laughs. 'An American Redwolf In London' was insightful, poignant and funny. Not bad for a free show over a pint.

31st Aug - The Taming of the Shrew - - Three Weeks Clambering over and around the audience and into the bar, creating complete havoc and making improvised banter, this is definitely how Shakespeare should be done. Might I suggest a drink or two before hand - some dutch courage might be just the thing to make it a truly authentic experience! You'll find none of that pole-up-your-arse, nose-in-the-air RSC stuff here. Using much of the original script, ad-libbing where appropriate, and giving huge ironic winks to the audience, Full Tilt will tell you the story of the Shrew like you've never been told it before. With flamboyant cross-dressing that even the gender-bending bard would approve of, this raucous, tongue-in-cheek production will rock your socks - that is after the initial shock wears off!

31st Aug - The Cubicle - - Three Weeks Hen-nights, terrifying wedding planners and eighties-style electro-bands fuel the themes presented in this short play about the going's on of a men's toilet. It's a bit obscure how its plot has exactly been "devised from people's thoughts scribbled on toilet doors", but if it's so, the outcome's pretty impressive. The acting is good in general and it seems as though they have made an effort to give some of the old stereotypes a new twist. Due to the brevity of the show, there isn't much space for character development; the ending, however, is very suitably tongue-in-cheek. Still, though funny and accurate in many ways, this play doesn't quite escape the feeling that a bunch of students are simply having fun.

31st Aug - Radio Star - - Three Weeks A wonderfully playful parody of the 1940s New York murder mystery genre, brimming with lovable stereotypes and obscene innuendo, is the best one-woman show I've seen. Presented as a radio show, complete with cigarette adverts promising to act as a cure for diarrhoea, cancer and penile curvature, Tanya O'Debra boasts an incredible talent for parody and performance. Deadpan, she slips effortlessly in and out of character, from Bugsy Malone-esque 'dolls' to Irish police inspectors, never missing a beat. Complete with sound effects and cliffhanger music, the effect is spot on. The dime-a-dozen clichéd plot has a surprising amount of momentum, and garish sexual puns soon become side-splittingly hilarious. This show is originality steeped in old-school - a winning combo.

31st Aug - Short Intention Span - - Three Weeks Have you ever flicked through all the TV channels and thought to yourself "there's nothing good to watch"? 'Short Intention Span' parodied familiar TV programmes and adverts in a comic and wacky sketch show which did not lose my attention. The scene where Will Jennings took on the persona of a creepy old man trying to get a refund for 'too sufficient' condoms was hilarious. Creator Richard Soames' musical comedy sketch song, 'Oh God, I'm Dating A French Arsonist' was equally entertaining. With an invisible band, a sketch about removing gingers from the planet and a comic take on the 'Give Blood' advert, this was one of the better shows the Free Fringe has to offer.

31st Aug - Seething is Believing - - Three Weeks I've yet to see another show this festival that kicked off by dividing the audience along anthropological lines. This set the tone for an hour of better-than-usual repartee from two quite different but equally competent comics who are both - though you wouldn't gather it from their non-confrontational on stage attitudes - pretty pissed off about stuff. A catalogue of life's irritations are assessed against a custom-made seethometer - a neat structuring device that provides the framework for some interesting and quirky material that somehow doesn't quite hit home. McCure's set lifts the tempo, with some killer ramblings on fertility clinics and the class system, but overall, while this comedy is well-done and decently amusing, it's nothing that extraordinary.

31st Aug - Obie: Living the Dream - - Three Weeks An hour of charming Glaswegian banter, mostly about Glaswegians. Sound clichéd? Well, yes it was a bit but it was also hilariously funny. Stand-up of ten years Obie (who's real name is John), took us through the ways he proposed to better his life - get a girlfriend, a better job, get more fit and be happier - in this side-splitting, feel good comedy show. As well as the predictable sex jokes, this likeable comedian entertained the audience with a dark yet comic take on children's' nursery rhymes. Animated and full of expression, his witty impersonations (including one of a cross-eyed policeman with a lisp) had me in stitches. This is laugh-out-loud comedy, with a strong theme that is carried through to the end.

31st Aug - Mason Carrol and Graves - - Three Weeks As free comedy goes, this is a solid offering. On the bill are two comics and a compere, who between them do a competent job of creating an hour's amusing respite from the rain outside. It is hardly ground breaking stuff, but they do get laughs from the usual stand-up fare: sex, relationships, obesity and the Daily Mail. Whilst Carroll livens things up with some quick-fire banter between acts, Graves goes for a more personal, anecdotal approach. Mason, the headliner, presents his material as a quiet barrage of understatement which is heavy on the self-deprecation. He does, however, laugh too much at his own jokes. Looking past all the filler, there are some rare moments of brilliance and originality here.

30th Aug - Piff-Tacular - - Chortle

30th Aug - Memories of a Free Festival, in the Guardian -

30th Aug - Ben Lerman Size Matters -   - Fringe Guru (well, 4.5 stars but we haven't got a half star graphic!)

30th Aug - Northern Talent - The Stage

30th Aug - Mark Trenwith Be My Friend - The Stage

30th Aug - Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection  -   - Three Weeks I've grown to love these shows. Presenting a smorgasbord of comedic talent, performing quick-fire sets full of punchy, innovative material, these gigs are great for picking up tips. My highlights were Geraldine Quinn ('Hex and the City' @ Underbelly) and Richard Coughlan ('A Walking Advert for Free Abortions' @ Espionage). Quinn's flyer proclaims her a witch, who "would've been burned alive in 1645", a perverted Australian songstress who ends her set with a nihilistic, anti-heroic anthem (chorus: "The world is fucked; they're all cunts and no-one cares"). Coughlan, an emaciated, barking whippet of a man, is full of ferocious energy, snarling indignation and barbed-wire wit. A word of warning: don't heckle this man if you value your pride.

30th Aug - Laughing Horse Free Pick of the Fringe  - - Three Weeks There are different comedians every single day, but the quality never slips. With Tony Cowards as the MC skilfully whipping the full house into a state of rapture in anticipation of the evening's special guests, first up was Londoner Nik Coppin who effectively parodied his own racial heritage and other observational humour down to a fine art. This was followed by a narrative-based stand-up about a ghastly day of paintballing on his first comedown; Welshman Elis James didn't waste a second of his fifteen-minute slot. Lastly came Cockney geezer Nick Wilty whose dry and dirty humour didn't disappoint. If every show was as good as today's it is worth paying your respects to!

30th Aug - The Seven Deadly Jokes - - Three Weeks There's surely a certain satisfaction in having to clamber over a packed-out and eager midday audience to reach your stage. Consequently, Hannah George and Ashley Frieze were in great spirits as they stumbled through a cleverly conceived set. Despite a clumsy beginning they eventually established that comedy education is their game, and in one hour a vague attempt to categorize jokes into seven genres was made. This led to quick fire quips with a brand of self-deprecating and fragile humour that was both raw and fresh. Don't expect even a modicum of useful information, but learning was never required for laughter. So if they sweep away the cobwebs, here's an act that should definitely return for another bout of wit tuition.

30th Aug - Parry and Allen's Revoloutions - - Three Weeks For a couple of comedians who love revolutions they both express their ardour in different ways. Steve Parry found comedy a natural calling as a ginger-haired gentleman, possibly the only sub-category of human who gets unfairly heckled on a daily basis. Well-attired for the business, his rebellious zeal could be defined by a professed undying hatred of Thatcher. Paul Harry Allen in contrast is more of a chipper chappy who steals our laughs by playing his deliriously dreadful selection of seventies thrift-store purchased vinyl. Ingenious jokes concerning the concept of stag gap-years and rare Gary Glitter recordings ensued. These two guys are a funny old pair and I mean that as a compliment!

30th Aug - Scurvy Stand-up Showcase - - Three Weeks It's in the nature of showcase events that they are of mixed quality and vary from night to night, but the idea is that you get some real dross at the same time as discovering something special. The best act was the former teacher Charlie Duncan, Nietzsche t-shirt proudly on display.

30th Aug - The Laughing Penguin Presents... - - Three Weeks Once I had crept down flight upon flight of stairs, journeying deep into the bowels of Victoria Street, I sat and anticipated with trepidation the free comedy that awaited me. Tony Jameson proceeded to lure me into a state of calmness, his pleasing Geordie patter assuring me that things might turn out all right. Standing in for Simon Donald, Gavin Webster truly made me chuckle as he recalled the pitfalls of the large panda populations of years gone by. Sean McLoughlin with his tightly wound angsty anecdotes, not to mention genitalia, simultaneously amused and drew sympathy. As I emerged blinking in the glare of daylight I realised there was nothing to be scared of...except maybe a real laughing penguin

30th Aug -  Mark Trenwith - - Three Weeks The fact that The Outhouse is probably the most comfortable free Fringe venue in Edinburgh is a good start for Australian comedian Mark Trenwith. He storms through his fifty-minute show, only pausing to play projected video clips of sketches where he does outrageous things in public. There are a few really audacious stunts pulled, like the sketch about his childhood bully, which is probably as good as sketch comedy can get. The video clips are the funniest part of his routine though, as, despite loads of on-stage energy, Trenwith's stand-up is noticeably weak. Wearing a headset mic which looks a little out of place in this small venue, Trenwith appears much better in his film clips than when performing live on-stage.

30th Aug -  Short Skirts - - Three Weeks The ladies dealt with the low turnout extremely well, introducing everyone individually, and only bemoaned the lack of a female presence. Shannon Woodford kicked things off with her obsessive ex-girlfriend shtick, which was even stronger when delivered by her painfully well-observed alter-ego persona later in the show. Marie Connolly and Halley Metcalfe both focused on family eccentricities to great effect, with the latter's story of conversational one-upmanship with her dad going down especially well. By the end of the show, numbers had swelled, and as it is still early in the run, I'm sure this will be a trend that continues.

30th Aug -  Hattie and Tony rub it Better  - - Three Weeks The idea of a comedy double act immediately brings to mind timeless twosomes such as Laurel and Hardy or Morecambe and Wise. It's unlikely that Hatty and Tony will be ranked among these legendary duos any time soon, but they do provide a cheerfully unpretentious hour of lunchtime humour. The laboured, un-hilarious banter between them is the weakest part of the show, but individually they show themselves capable of decent stand-up. Hatty muses on the infuriating but lovable habits of the elderly, while Tony's parodies are slightly hit-and-miss, although his impersonation of an egotistical new dad is spot-on. This pair could be better, but at least they're unlikely to rub anyone up the wrong way.

30th Aug -  Daniel Simonsen & Mike O'Donovan  - - Three Weeks Daniel Simonsen's sublimely subversive comedy operates on the edge of a unique, neurotic Scandinavian reserve - you're never quite sure how much is a genuine foreign naivety and how much is cleverly feigned, although judging by the skill with which he deploys most of his quiet, nervous, backhanded jokes, it's probably the latter. Impressively keeping a slightly drunk and uninterested audience of people probably just sheltering from the rain entertained, he's better than the second act on the bill, a depressive Australian with a relentlessly downbeat set. Mike O'Donovan tries his best, but the unremitting gloom of his set, though mildly funny, can't sustain the laughs Simonsen's does, and it makes for a slightly disappointing end to the show.

30th Aug -  A Years HArd Labour   - - Three Weeks This interesting piece of new theatre focuses on six jury members and one oddball's attempt to decide whether to send an asylum seeker back to Somalia. The style is compelling - the six argue together but branch off into monologues and occasional visits to Frank, a man who follows court cases for fun, and the discussion is captivating and sometimes funny. The acting is solid with no weak performances, but there's a serious setback in the length of the show. In a piece like this, where characterisation is key, there's simply not enough time to absorb yourself in the production, and you're left thinking: "Was that it?". This has the potential to be a lot better, but it's certainly not a bad start.

30th Aug - Lewis Schaffer - - The Scotsman

30th Aug - Cabaret Whore - - Chortle

29th Aug - Lewis Schaffer - - Chortle

29th Aug - Lewis Schaffer wins the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt award for best Publicity Stunt ( which in it's two years of exisitnace has only been won by Free Festival acts. BBC & Chortle

28th Aug - Are We There Yet? - - The Scotsman

28th Aug - Mark Trenwith writes in Three Weeks

As a one man producer / promoter / performer I was beginning to feel the strain of having too many hats to wear, and feeling guilty for spending time on one task at the expense of another. Does one spend the day begging reviewers to come to the show, making more pestering calls than a telemarketer? Or do I take that 20 pound cab ride to that obscure gig in the middle of nowhere only to find there's two people in the crowd (who are leaving the next morning anyway)?

-- Do I have that drink with that fast talking promoter whose 'big chain of clubs' turns out to be a bunch of strip bars, or do I go out and bravely flyer until I have no voice to actually perform the show I'm flyering for? Adding further stress was the arrival of an enthusiastic non-performer friend who would be distracting me from my precious Fringe schedule. On her first day we took an obligatory free walking tour. I watched her laugh at street performers, point at buildings, taste weird foods and my spirits suddenly began to lift.

Over the following days we went on ghost tours, went to non-Fringe bars, met random locals, slept in late, and I became aware of how inside my own head I had become. On the day she left, despite my lack of sleep, I was filled with a vitality that led me to having my best performance yet!

So to anyone feeling stale, go buy yourself a hot chocolate, hike up Arthur's Seat, and pat a homeless man. Spend time wasting time and you'll be amazed how much better you'll feel. And for punters, email this article to your boss back home - and demand another day off to come play with us.

27th Aug - The Good, The Bad and the Cuddly - - Three Weeks The clue is in the title with this one. Laughing Horse stalwart Siôn James holds the reigns in this enjoyable comedy triptych, warming up the afternoon crowd with a cheerily sweaty blend of smut and anecdotes. The second act, Stuart Hudson, pulls out his misanthropic weirdo schtick - it's not bad, but overlong and the tone's too Eeyorish for the show. Finally comes Imran Yusuf and he is - I cannot stress this enough - fantastic. Eloquent, quick-draw and punchy, this guy's one of the best acts I've seen at this year's Fringe. Sniff him out, for I suspect he won't be free for long. With the line-up changing every day, this is a super way to spend an hour.

27th Aug - Nick Wilty - - Three Weeks Part travelogue, part stand up comedy, Nick Wilty's offering is both interesting and funny. An old-school London geezer who's been to all four corners of the globe, he tells tales of his various adventures and of the many stages upon which he has plied his craft. This is not intended to be a conventional show of jokes; instead, this is a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the life and times of a seasoned comedian. A typical story involves his telling of how during his time on the other side of the Atlantic, he won an award for Best New Canadian Comedian and was then promptly deported for not having a work permit. His wry sense of humour keeps things entertaining throughout.

27th Aug - Iszi Laurence - - Three Weeks Iszi Lawrence claims that it takes two hours, locked away in the bathroom, to bleach-dye her hair. I'm not surprised. It explodes upwards from her brow like a conflagration in dry grass, giving her a permanently astonished look, as if she's just seen the falling Icarus, or can't quite believe how amused people are by her material. Some of her pay-off lines, for all their earnestness, are almost apologetically delivered; this merely adds to her charming mien. Too many comedians snarl, wild hounds unleashed. Iszi Lawrence smiles, laughs: she enjoys the joke with you. She's also a comedian of ideas, promoting herself as the acceptable face of modern atheism, in direct contrast to Richard Dawkins's acetic disdain. A future headliner.

27th Aug - Simon Jenkins plus One - - Three Weeks At the tender age of 21, Simon Jenkins gives Daniel Sloss a solid run for his money in the 'young comedian' stakes with a breezy, natural on-stage presence that many twice his age would envy. His anecdotes and manner belie his age, and his witty brand of cheeky audience banter mixed with fast-paced anecdotes ensured that laughter was never far from the room. His 'plus one' for the evening came in the form of Matt Rudge, a similarly chirpy and affable young comic who, while resorting to puerile asides that sometimes didn't work, possessed a friendly and promising stage presence which engaged and entertained the audience. An evening of promising and impressive stand-up; Sloss, this is how it is done.

27th Aug - Stand-Up Monkey Poet - - Three Weeks Matt Panesh does stand-up poetry, the content of which is fairly boisterous, but also always honest and authentic. It's clear his heart and soul have been poured into this show, and that he feels passionately about the subjects addressed. Regrettably, I found that the format of his poetry often acted as a barrier to the true meaning and the humour within. Really well written and rehearsed stand-up has a poetry of its own: it thrives on its timing and sense of rhythm. The traditional rhyming poetic style used here was just a little clunky, and sometimes required stepping out of the poem for clarification. The show has plenty of excellent insights, I'm just not convinced this is the best way of delivering them.

27th Aug - 9 to 5 Idiot - - Three Weeks My heart broke for Roland Gent; his first date in the Edinburgh Fringe, there were four people in a pub basement and one of them was a reviewer. The miniscule audience made him sweat to find family-friendly gags and we sensed he was uncomfortably adapting his material. Yet Gent grafted to keep us with him and ignore the awkwardness of the situation. He reached the fifty-minute mark having been as amusing as could ever have been expected before two drunks rumbled in. There was a sharp improvement in the performance, with some quality concepts and neat lines, but all too late. Gent is obviously capable of much more; so give the salesman a moment of your time.

27th Aug - A Tribute: Gielgud's Ages of Man - - fringeReview

27th Aug - Lynn Ruth Miller is guest Editor for Three Weeks

27th Aug - Lynn Ruth Miller's Fringe Tips in Three Weeks -  -

27th Aug - Desiree Burch answers Three Weeks Quick Quiz

A fifty-two man pickup? Doesn't sound like a show for the faint-hearted. New Yorker Desiree Burch combines card games and comedy in her stand-up based on her chaotic sex life. The show was a hit at the NYC Fringe, so looks set for similar success in Edinburgh. Desiree took a few minutes out of her schedule to take on the ThreeWeeks Quick Quiz.

Q1: What is your 2009 show all about?
Sex in the city that never sleeps, with the same person twice. In 80 minutes I go through my entire hilarious, random, quixotic sex life by playing it out through a series of card games. Each card in the deck is a person, a story and a bit of wisdom I encountered in the night, and I play a series of games with the audience so they can help me win in the end, or at least figure out what the hell happened.

Q2: Why should we come and see it?
Cause I know more about sex than you. Perhaps you can tell me a little about the 'love' bits.

Q3: If your show was a superhero, what would his or her super power be?
Instant and total revelation.

Q4: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Edinburgh Festival?
Getting to meet people from all over the world, and discovering the little kinks and quirks that make them exactly the same as everyone else.

Q5: What are you least looking forward to about this year's Edinburgh Festival?
Standing outside in a corset in the rain to hand out postcards, with my tits all perched up on display, sopping wet like the saddest birthday cake ever.  Though it could be fun...

Q6: What advice would you give to an audience member coming to the Fringe for the first time?
Be easily wooed.

Q7: Other than your own show, what's your hot show tip for Edinburgh 2009?
Some other solo performance goddesses that I know, Carolyn Castiglia, the inimitable Marga Gomez, and the nothing short of phenomenal Cynthia Hopkins, who I am eager to meet.

Q8: Describe your show in three words
The Naked Truth.

26th Aug - Stuart Mitchell in East Kilbride News - click here

26th Aug - Keira Murphy: Lyre Burd - - One4review

26th Aug - Cabaret Whore -  - One4Review

26th Aug - Bitch Got Owned - - One4Review

26th Aug - Nik Coppin: Loquacious - - Hairline

26th Aug - Mark Trenwith - The Stage

26th Aug - The List's pick of the free Fringe:

"In a festival where Ricky Gervais can charge whatever he wants for a show in the Playhouse and sell out comfortably, as well as expecting to pay £10 for a half-decent comedian nobody's heard of, it's nice to see the free alternatives still going strong.

A main part of that strength would be the brilliant Beta Males' Picnic () whose silly but smart sketch show manages to be just as clever and quipful as Idiots of Ants or Pappy's Fun Club. Looking the part in waistcoats too, and with a matching air of grinning eccentricity, few free acts are so charming and so prepared.

Jay Foreman preforming as part of the The Complete Guide to All Human Knowledge in 59½ Minutes () is similarly impressive compared to both his free peers and more established acts, singing simple songs with wonderful lines of thought that Flight of the Conchords wouldn't turn their noses up at. And the more songs about Dick Van Dyke, the better."

26th Aug - A Year's Hard Labour - - The List

26th Aug - A Trubute - Gielguds Ages of Man  - - The List

26th Aug - The Cubicle - - The List

26th Aug - 52 Man Pickup -   - The List

26th Aug - No Parole: family is a Life Sentance -   - The List

26th Aug - The Works of Fate - - The List

26th Aug - Accidental Dog Detective - - Chortle

25th Aug - Giacinto Palmeri - - The Scotsman

24th Aug - Cabaret Whore -  - Broadway Baby - click here

24th Aug - Taming Goldfish - - Broadway Baby - click here

24th Aug - Cabaret Whore -  -Time Out v

24th Aug - Cabaret Whore -  - The Skinny  

23rd Aug - Piff-Tacular -  - Three Weeks It's a guilty pleasure to watch magician John van der Put perform as his alter ego, Piff The Magic Dragon. His style in a nutshell: Van der Put grumpily walks onto the stage wearing his full dragon costume and directs his audience to the fire exits, first pointing to the rear of the room, then the sides and finally to his frowning dragon face. I'm not sure whether you'd call him a magician or a comedian in character as he flits between delivering his typically deadpan humour and performing impressive magic tricks. Over the course of his show, van der Put develops a sweet rapport with his audience, eventually leading to raucous applause, though not before Piff's grand finale.

23rd Aug - At Home with the Ham Yard Tourists - - Three Weeks I wouldn't necessarily pay to hear Ben Fogle being called a 'posh bastard', but since it was gratis it was pretty funny. The mere mention of the adventurer might give some clue as to just how random a double act Ham Yard Tourists are, delivering a show of pure and utter nonsense. They are like a free buffet: some of their material is crap, a bit like quiche, and then there are Ben Fogle jokes, which, like sausage rolls are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. I'd been wondering how long it would be before I heard a joke about Josef Fritzl and dungeons, clearly the sausages-on-sticks of the comedy world. Turns out I didn't have to wait too long.

23rd Aug - The Beta Males Picnic -  - Three Weeks
Fizzing with energy and a manic inventiveness, 'The Beta Males Picnic' is a delightfully daft way to get your lunchtime fix of comedy. This comedy quartet play off the crowd and each other with natural ease, attacking the well-constructed sketches with a fearless confidence and great comic timing. Their surreal brand of slapstick has been practised and polished until it shines, and their use of recurring sketches, especially the gloriously funny moon-landing ones, and a short comic play at the end gives the show a sense of structure that it might otherwise lack. Fresh, fun, and free to see, there's really no reason not to go and enjoy 'The Beta Males Picnic'.

23rd Aug - A Personal War - - Three Weeks The premise for 'A Personal War' is interesting- seven different people individually recall their experiences on the night of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Although the acting is somewhat clichéd, the chilling real life footage of the shootings that is interwoven between the separate monologues adds a haunting depth to what could otherwise be construed as passé. This poignant tribute reaches a height in the final ten minutes during the interaction of the seven characters, whose emotional rapport with the audience brought on tears, standing ovations and a shocking blast of reality. Capturing the hesitant desire to renew oneself and love again lies at the core of the play and makes one regret the fact that it is only on for a limited run.

23rd Aug - A tribute - Gielgud's Ages of Man - - Three Weeks Calling all Shakespeare lovers! George Innes is back and has a special treat for you! Seamlessly interlacing John Gielgud's 'Ages of Man' and excerpts from the great Shakespearean actor's personal correspondence, Innes' solo performance is powerful and flowing. Exploring the concepts of youth, maturity and old age, carefully chosen sonnets and speeches serve to complement Gielgud's own journey through life. From Romeo burning with young love beneath Juliet's balcony to old and broken Lear grieving beside his daughter's body, there is enough of the Bard's great works in there to please everyone. Although perhaps a tad long, the script is expertly delivered and its message clearly communicated - that in the end, all men age as nature dictates.

23rd Aug - 52 Man Pickup -   - The List

22nd Aug - No Parole - - Hairline -

22nd Aug - No Parole -   - The List

22nd Aug - Jessica Delfino -  (well three-and-a-half stars but we don't have the technology here for half a star) - Fringe Guru  

22nd Aug - Accidental Dog Detective -   - The Skinny

22nd Aug - Piff the Magic Dragon - - One4Review (last review at bottom of page of reviews)

22nd Aug - Murder for Profit and Pleasure - - One4Review

22nd Aug - Short Skirts - - One4Review  

22nd Aug - Beware of the Dogs -   - Three Weeks As all three cast members don burqas - at the climax of a performance highlighting the pervasive oppression and abuse of women - they open themselves to accusations of insensitively courting controversy. Yet 'Beware Of The Dogs' has all the ingredients necessary for ground-breaking political theatre: it is intense, provocative, challenging, and a little shocking. Unfortunately, it falls short of achieving this status. At little more than ten minutes long, the piece moves on too quickly to fully explore the deeply troublesome issues it raises. Consequently, the structure seems slightly disjointed, if not a little rushed. Nonetheless, the cast are capable of making brutally honest observations on our society, though they must avoid needlessly creating drama off the stage.

21st Aug - Sarah-Louise Young on Fresh Air -

21st Aug - A diplomatic Incident and Free Fest comic Yariv in the Independant -

21st Aug - Free shows in Fringe Director's spotlight, plus comment from Free Festival organiser Alex Petty in The Scotsman -

20th Aug - Hari Krishna and the Philosopher's Stoned -   - Three Weeks As is perhaps evident from the title, this routine dealt with issues of drugs and spiritual enlightenment delivered in a bohemian style by Karl Edrick. The anecdotes were engaging and it was clear he has lived an extremely colourful life, however, I felt that many of the stories could have been told much more effectively. As it turned out, the sheer implausibility of many of his life events, rather than the delivery, were the most entertaining part of the show. The set slowed down towards the end rather like the last desperate drag before stubbing out. Not the worst show I've seen by a long shot, but don't expect to come away with a new-found perspective of the world.

20th Aug - Jo Romero -   - Three Weeks Ever wondered what an AA disco was like? Full of sweets, caffeine and angry people, according to Jo Romero. Taking us through the perils of alcoholism, Christian dating and lack of sex, Romero gives an eccentric and funny performance. Her interaction with the audience gives this show a fun and intimate feel whilst also giving her the chance to try out a scene she has written for 'Eastenders' involving Nigel Harman's character and nudity. There were a few awkward points in the show but Romero recovered well by having an unabashed approach to the material. A thoroughly likeable woman, Romero has a light-hearted approach to the more serious matters in life. No Benylin / Night Nurse cocktail needed to enjoy this.

20th Aug - Pig with the Face of a Boy -   - Three Weeks The idea of an "anti-folk" band with an accordion raises major questions, which are thankfully soon answered by 'Pig With The Face Of A Boy'. Their off-beat silliness charms from the start with a ditty on safety hazards in the London underground, and they quickly move onto urges to eat placenta and embrace sheep. This left some of the audience a touch bemused, but most in fits of laughter at the sheer invention and wit of Dan Wood and Donald Newholm. Both are accomplished musicians, entertaining as much with their playing as their jokes. It's well worth slinging a few pennies into their enormous hat; these boys are in danger of making 'anti-folk' the new rock'n'roll.

20th Aug - Zip, Zap, Zop -   - Three Weeks This lightning-fast whirlwind of sketches from Scottish three-strong group How Do I Get Up There? just about leaves enough gaps to have quite a few laughs. Some scenes show signs of brilliance, such as finding out what Noel Edmonds really hears from the banker, and a cruel but entirely accurate portrayal of Glasvegas front man James Allan. Others are a little predictable, and some go for some very cheap laughs, which let them down somewhat. However, if these were simply cut out, we'd have an intelligent, lively and, crucially, very funny sketch show on our hands. Probably wise to catch them now whilst they're free, as they're surely destined for bigger things next year.

20th Aug - Hot Air -   - Three Weeks - This is the kind of show the Free Fringe does very well; it's short and simple, sweet and fun. A pair of amateur criminals, brought together by an internet chatroom, meet outside their latest target and work up the courage to begin. Nothing much happens after that, but the winning performances and sharp script keep things entertaining, as the tensions mount and the pair's many neuroses threaten to ruin everything. It soon becomes apparent that they are each motivated more by their own strange fetishes than by greed, and despite the surreal set up they each have a wistful desperation about them that rings very true. 'Hot Air' is a charming oddity that's well worth your time.

19th Aug - Shorts Skirt - - One4review  

19th Aug - Heresy Project - - A locals Guide - Be afraid... Be very afraid..... for the two comedians brave enough to put on a show with this title, let alone the content within the show.

The advertising for the show is not subtle "...makes Richard Dawkins look like the Archbishop of Canterbury" screams the poster. This show is clearly not for people with imaginary friends!

I've taken a keen interest in the god debate in recent years, so this is my kind of show and I knew it would be.

The show pulls no punches. Zero. Imagine the most blasphemous thing you can possibly think of, then add willies to it. And Donkeys. With willies. For every major religion.... So, you get the idea of the content. On to the show itself.

The show is a well presented and well prepared hour which makes good use of mulitmedia without being overly flashy and dependent on it. But what impressed me most was the preparation that has obviously gone in to preparing the dialogue itself. The two comedians did have their scripts on stage to refer to, just in case they went off track but they didn't take too many peeks so it never took away from the show itself.

What we ended up with was two passionate comedians talking about something that they believe in with a good on stage rapport as well as a natural talent for being funny.

Although there is a lot of goofiness and a fair bit of equating people they don't like to other people they don't like (Christian Voice are a bit like the BNP apparently) some of the central arguments of the atheist perspective are put across quite well, in a simplified, offensive kind of way.

So... if blasphemy is your kind of thing, go and see it. If it's not, don't.

The Heresy Project: Kill Your God is on at Espionage at 20.40

19th Aug - Shaggers - - A locals Guide

Marcel Lucont: An absolute class act both times. He's got some cracking on stage banter as well as some great prepared material. He has his own show at the Underbelly around 10pm, which I'll hopefully get a chance to see before the end of the fringe.

Dan Willis: Solid shagging stories from an experienced comedian. He's on quite regularly so there's a good chance you'll see him if you head down. If not he's got a solo show around 6pm in Espionage and he comeres "Northern Talent" in the Meadow Bar.

Lewis Schaffer: Got to gives him kudos for pushing the boundaries. He managed to get about 10 eopl eot walk out with his humour but alos provided me with the best joke to repeat to all my sick and twisted mates (which I'm not repeating on here). His show, which is definately not for the feint hearted or easily offended is on at the Counting House at 6.40pm.

Nik Coppin: My lodger for the fringe... superb compere (he'd kill me if I said anything else but it's true). He also has a solo show at Espionage at 7.20pm.

Ben Dover: Porn star, but also a pretty competent stand up judging by his preformance. Alhtough I have friends who went to his show last night and apparently a few people walked out it was so bad! Funny how comics can kill one night and die the next. Pretty good based on what I saw though.

19th Aug - Matter of Tact -  -The Scotsman

19th Aug - Anthology -  -The Scotsman

19th Aug - Nick Wilty: Behind the Jokes  - EdFestMag

19th Aug - Lewis Schaffer answers the Three Weeks Quick Quiz

His show is called 'Bigger And Blacker', but I'm not sure that Lewis Schaffer is actually that big - and he's definitely not black. He is, however, a Jewish New Yorker with a penchant for political and social satire. He tells ThreeWeeks about his Fringe show in eight bite-sized chunks...

Q1: What is your 2009 show all about? 
'Lewis Schaffer - Bigger And Blacker' is 5O minutes of a middle-aged Jewish New Yorker now living in Peckham telling you how much he hates you. It shouldn't be fun or funny but it is.

Q2: Why should we come and see it?
"The best festival show you'll see for free - and maybe the best you'll see at any price".

Q3: If your show was a superhero, what would his or her super power be?
Superman, because he couldn't walk but never gave up trying. He's probably still trying and he's dead. That's Lewis Schaffer. He's dead but doesn't know it.

Q4: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Edinburgh Festival?
I'm looking forward to spending hours annoying complete strangers by asking them to see me! That part is as fun as getting on stage.

Q5: What are you least looking forward to about this year's Edinburgh Festival?
The end of the Festival. I loved the Festival so much last year that I went into an emotional tailspin that would make my mother envious, and she is the Queen of Emotional Tailspins.

Q6: What advice would you give to an audience member coming to the Fringe for the first time?
Wear less clothes around town, because it gets hot inside the venues and because you'll look good to me.

Q7: Other than your own show, what's your hot show tip for Edinburgh 2009?
Go see Reginald D Hunter, Andy Zaltzman, Jo Romero and Geordie John Smith - but not if you're drunk. They can be drunk but you'll need to be sober. See my show for free, then pay to see theirs. Worth it.

Q8: Describe your show in three words.
"Lewis Schaffer hates" :)

18th Aug - A Peculiar River  -   - Three Weeks  The central feature of this play is given away by the title (and I'm not referring to any river) but for admirers of the strange - such as myself - this peculiar production was a tantalising treat! Dark comedy, melancholy music and colourful costume made for a thrilling theatrical experience based loosely on Shakespeare's problem play 'Measure for Measure'. This original script by Dug Williams deals with madness in a madder world, stylishly satirizing society, and dealing with a family full of eccentrics; be prepared to experience some beautiful bewilderment. If you like corruption and champagne then you will like this weird and well-delivered play. Best of all is that enjoying this debauched debacle won't cost you a penny!

18th Aug -Arthur Fowlers Allotment   -   - Three Weeks Although inexplicably listed as theatre at The Counting House, this is in fact a free comedy show in the beer garden of The Pear Tree. Confused? I was, but once the show actually began it became clear that this is a fairly traditional show featuring a selection of different comedians. Today's show included the excellent comedy musical techniques of Tom McDonald, some great sketches from 'Beta Males Picnic', a hastily sanitised stand up routine from Marc Hogan and some funny tricks from 'Piff the Magic Dragon'. The acts were all very good, and the beer garden is lovely. Unfortunately the compère was a weak link, serving to kill the mood, and sapping the good will built up by the performers.

18th Aug - Divorce: The Truth  -   - Three Weeks The title of 'Life After Divorce: The Truth', gave me cause to feel apprehensive as I entered the Laughing Horse @ Espionage; I imagined a clichéd ridden set moaning about marriage and probably menstruation. I was pleasantly surprised then, when I was presented with an anecdotal set complemented by a number of inverted witticisms for good measure. As he focuses on the life he is able to live now he is free from the constraints of marriage, Kevin McCarron reveals himself to be a genuine, thorough and amusingly clever comic who gently coaxes the laughter out of the audience. He doesn't induce fits of uncontrollable laughter, but one is feel tickled and entertained, as McCarron exudes his natural, comforting charisma, putting you at ease with his far from bitter humour

17th Aug - 80's Movie Flashback 10 Questions - London is Funny

17th Aug - Sajeela Kershi on the blog  

17th Aug - Hatty & Tony rub it Better - - The New current  

16th Aug - Rent-a-Toast -   - Three Weeks - Though perhaps the worst named show at the Fringe, this combination of comedy song and sketches is a real gem nestled inside the dark belly of Espionage. Most impressive is the fresh talent of Jay Foreman, whose personality and manner with the audience are as charming as his lyrics are funny. On his guitar he leads you through an eclectic range of subjects, from illegitimate Japanese babies to why he's glad John Lennon died. Foreman on his own would be a great show, but his act is broken up by consistently amusing, sometimes brilliant sketches. Nothing at all to do with toast, or with anything in particular, but who cares? Sap up this young talent before it's old and expensive.

16th Aug - Ben Lerman - - Three Weeks - "My name is Ben Lerman and I play the ukulele." It's an introduction that does not instantly cause alarm. Beware though, as this façade of innocence is happily deconstructed through myriad self-composed songs centring on Lerman's own uncouth experiences. A hilarious cover of Natasha Beddingfield's 'Unwritten' emerges as a call for mankind to be 'Unshaven'. Next up is a witty critique of Manhunt, a men's dating site, portrayed through 'This Little Piggy Went To Market'. 'Multiple Orgasm Pam' extols the virtues of female satisfaction, whilst Karl Lagerfield is deemed, "crazier than hell" owing to his Amish-esque catwalk collections. Ultimately, Lerman's musings are always unforgiving, never modest and usually with a sexual undertone. Wordplay at its most hilarious!

16th Aug - Mark Butler - - Three Weeks - was the case when Mark Butler united his audience in horror as he dragged 16 year old Emma up to the front to demonstrate putting a condom on a banana. His show takes the form of a filthy school sex education lesson and I spent the entire time terrified that I would be hauled from my third row aisle seat to embarrass myself in front of the rest of the 'class'. I don't think it's an improvement on Monty Python's sex education sketch in 'The Meaning Of Life', but a braver person than me might be able to relax and enjoy the jokes.

16th Aug - Clean Free and Kiwi - - - Click here

16th Aug - News at Tenish - - - News at tenish

16th Aug - Apocalypse Wow - - - Accopolyspe Wow

16th Aug - Speed Bumps - - - Speed Bumps

16th Aug - Heresy: Kill Your God- - - Heresy Project - Kill your God

16th Aug - Iszi Lauwrence - - - Iszi Lauwrence

16th Aug - My Name is Chris Henry - - -   Hi my names Chris Henry

16th Aug - It's Got Jokes in - - - Its got jokes in it  

16th Aug - Gag Hole - - -   Gag Hole

15th Aug - it's Got Jokes in - - Hairline  

15th Aug - Mugging Chickens - Fringe Report 

15th Aug - Cheese Badger - Fringe Report    

15th Aug - A Personal War - - Fringe review

14th Aug - No Parole - - Three Weeks The play was like a Pedro Almodovar film on speed: outlandish, fraught, comic and underlined by a Hispanic pulse; all ingredients for a gripping production, but one that did not fulfil its promise. A new autobiographically-based, one-man show about a son's relationship to his fraudulent identity-shifting Peruvian mother, it's a potentially hilarious and tragic piece, and, dealing with issues about immigrants' displacement and the ties of family, it raises interesting questions. However the delivery is where this production falters. Though Carlo D'Amore is endearing, his overblown, quick delivery, and blurred physicality means characters are hard to discern and nuance doesn't seep through, denying an emotional impact, instead producing a clichéd veneer.

15th Aug - Piff-tacular - - EdFestMag

14th Aug - Choose Your own Edventure - - Fringe review

14th Aug - A Personal War - - The Scotsman

14th Aug - Free Fest organiser Alex Petty, Nik Coppin, Nick Wilty, Isabel Heartag, The Pear Tree Courtyard,  on 'You and Your's' on Radio 4   (starting at 27mins ish) - will probably disappear over the next week as iplayer stuff does!

13th Aug - Free Fest organisr Alex Petty on Free Shows on the BBC

13th Aug - Piff-Tacular in the New Current

12th Aug - Cabaret Whore - - Three Weeks Trailer-trash, librarians, reality starlets and the French: if you happen to be sensitive about any of these subjects then perhaps this one-woman show is not for you. Then again, a little bit of crudeness shouldn't surprise anyone who goes to see a show with 'whore' in its title. However, there is plenty of wit in it and Sarah-Louise Young does have an impressive voice. Some of the jokes might seem a bit worn, but there are quite a few clever moments, like the rant by a French cabaret singer who has a bone to pick with Édith Piaf. This is not a place to find meaningful theatrical experiences, but it's a good accompaniment to some drinks with friends.

12th Aug - Ben Lerman - - Three Weeks “My name is Ben Lerman and I play the ukulele.” It’s an introduction that does not instantly cause alarm. Beware though, as this façade of innocence is happily deconstructed through myriad self-composed songs centring on Lerman’s own uncouth experiences. A hilarious cover of Natasha Beddingfield’s Unwritten’ emerges as a call for mankind to be ‘Unshaven’. Next up is a witty critique of Manhunt, a men’s dating site, portrayed through ‘This Little Piggy Went To Market’. ‘Multiple Orgasm Pam’ extols the virtues of female satisfaction, whilst Karl Lagerfield is deemed, “crazier than hell” owing to his Amish-esque catwalk collections. Ultimately, Lerman’s musings are always unforgiving, never modest and usually with a sexual undertone. Wordplay at its most hilarious!

12th Aug - About Comedy Stand-up Courses - - Three Weeks This course, led by Kevin McCarron, has to be one of the best on offer. The students, including a policeman and a Dutch porn addict (if his act is to be believed), had all travelled into Edinburgh especially for the course. Notable was the relaxed and uncompetitive atmosphere, in no small part down to Kevin, who focused on helping each participant to find a personal style, coached them on how to edit their material and explained how not to fall out with comperes (particularly by not bumping into them on their way on and off the stage). The course culminated in impressive performances that night at a Free Festival venue with radically improved acts. Pricey, but everyone seemed delighted with the experience. Highly recommended.

11th Aug - Lots fo female comics in the Times - many of them Free Festivalers -  

12th Aug - Rob Deb - - Three Weeks Charmingly self-deprecating throughout, Deb himself describes the format of the show as "tangential". I will not disagree, but Deb's amiability manages to keep the crowd on board throughout his many digressions. The material, albeit aimed at a particular (geekier) audience, was strong enough, but the delivery was sometimes lacking, seeming unrehearsed. The unvarnished approach has its benefits, in that the material was clearly fresh, and Deb was versatile enough to adapt his routine to the room, plus, the Q&A session at the end displayed how confident a stand-up he could be. In summary, if you have ever tried to bed an elfin princess by lying about your character on World of Warcraft, then this is the show for you.

11th Aug - Lynn Ruth Miller at the BBC Radio Cafe

11th Aug - Posh and Trampy do some Comedy - - Three Weeks They say you should never judge a book by its cover and that is good advice when applied to this show. Despite the trashy sounding title, the standard of humour on offer has aspirations to the upper classes of comedy. Genuinely funny jokes combined with personable styles of delivery to create just the right atmosphere for some brilliant banter. Both comediennes were possessed of likeable qualities, and Lou Sanders in particular had a very engaging glint in her eye. Jekyll and Hyde is a quirky little venue where punters enjoy spending time basking in its bizarreness; the benefits of free comedy of this standard, as well as the intoxicating effect of the bar will surely prove alluring to the lunchtime crowd.

11th Aug - It's got Jokes in - - Three Weeks Meet Hannah, Catie and Lou - possibly three of the most uninhibited but very funny young ladies providing laughs aplenty for free this Fringe. Hannah George (and her booming, female-Blessed style voice) succeeded as the glue holding everything together, and her excellent natural ability to recover maintained momentum when some jokes were less well received than others. Catie Wilkins may have failed to extract intimate details of audience members' sex lives but the remainder of her stage time was great entertainment. Lou Sanders had the best comic timing, particularly with her anecdote regarding bizarre train announcements about an ill-stocked buffet carriage. Complete with risqué jokes, unintentionally funny technical difficulties and quirky personas, 'It's Got Jokes In' was well worth a visit.

11th Aug - Dan Willis - - Three Weeks Imagine your favourite teacher or lecturer from the past - were they likable, friendly, and passionate about their subject? This is Dan Willis. Clearly, an enthusiasm for computer programming is helpful in a stand up show about such a subject, but whether this is enough is open to question. Still, whilst Willis' show isn't exactly a riot, his amiable manner and great delivery mean passing an hour in his company is not at all unpleasant, and there's a chance you may even learn something. His tendency to wander off the subject is more endearing that it is annoying, and whilst it isn't necessary to know anything about computer programming to enjoy this, it is certainly helpful if you are, like him, a self confessed geek, and proud of it.

10th Aug - Sol Bernstien - Metro  

10th Aug - Ophelia Blitz and Mike Amato in the Times story on smut at the Fringe

10th Aug - Lynn Ruth Miller Interview - Festival Previews

10th Aug - Beta Males Picnic - - The Scotsman

10th Aug - Moroccan Disco Spokesman - Freshair

10th Aug - Bitch Got Owned - The Stage

9th Aug - Mildy Terrible Revenge of the slightly Evil Brainwashing Puppets - Edinburgh Festival Mag

9th Aug - Matter of Tact - - London is Funny

9th Aug - 10 Questions with Geek Night Out - London is Funny

9th Aug - 10 Questions with Sajeela Kershi - London is Funny

9th Aug - Anthology - One4Review

9th Aug - All About Me - Three Weeks Could you do three shows a day for an entire month? Most casts would refuse to. Lynn Ruth Miller jumped at the chance, and she does it alone and in style. 'All About Me' is a collection of stories from Miller's own life as a child in depression era America. Her beautifully told tales evoke memories that at times overcome her with emotion and as an audience member you can't help but be moved. Sometimes the pace drops but you really won't care, because she's totally captivating. With her you laugh and very nearly cry while listening to this fascinating oral history. However don't be fooled: Lynn Ruth is not an old fogey, she's bursting with energy, slightly wacky, but always wonderful.

9th Aug - Le Petite Mort: - The Scotsman

9th Aug - Apocalypse Wow - Three Weeks - Combining the insincerity of Blair with the pretension of Cameron, comedian Dougie Hastings depicts the shortcomings of fictional political leader William Hampstead in this satirical character-based comedy. Taking the form of a resignation speech to the press, Hastings draws on current affairs such as war, terrorism and the economic crisis - craftily adapting them to create a dark dystopian vision of future Britain. Although enjoyable and somewhat witty on occasion, the show felt disjointed at times due to the choppy, uneven nature of the character's blundering delivery. Overall, while generally well scripted and acted, 'Apocalypse Wow!' fails to do what it so boldly suggests in its title, to wow.

9th Aug - Crimewhoppers - Three Weeks - In this show, Karl Edrik tells the story of his life, from the early days as a 'disruptive' school pupil in the Shetland islands to his experience as a law graduate on the run for drug trafficking. In case any police are reading, Karl has served his time and is now an up-standing citizen giving back to the community as a stand-up comedian, though in truth he is better at telling stories than writing jokes. You will enjoy the Indian parable about the perils of alcohol and the tale of evading Interpol in Paris, but you are unlikely to contribute much more than the odd sympathetic chuckle to the proceedings. Nonetheless, not an unpleasant way to pass an hour.

9th Aug - Katrina and the Wives - Three Weeks - A likeable comedienne, Katrina engaged her audience with her friendly disposition despite having only a handful of gags. Impersonating seven wives ranging from a posh Amy Winehouse to a depressed communications trainer, Katrina quickly confirmed her ability as an actress. Unfortunately, the comedy was often bland and uninspired, her spontaneity with audience responses wasn't as sharp as it could have been, and her wife resources were a little disappointing and lacked much topicality. However, the intimate audience were definitely on her side, and happily joined in when she wrapped up the show with a witty rendition of 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'. Katrina – with some more exciting ideas – may one day ride the big comedy wave.

9th Aug - Bitch Got Owned - Three Weeks - A comedy show with the name 'Bitch Got Owned' was not the most appealing prospect, but it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. The comedienne at the helm was Sajeela Kershi, whose anecdotes mainly focussed on her Indian upbringing and a controversial previous show she was involved in. She came across well, but her routine lacked structure, some of the stories were confusing, and her requests for audience participation were a little ambitious, leading to a rather unsuccessful attempt to get us all to dance around the room. Not a must see show, but to give her the benefit of the doubt, Sajeela admitted that this was the first performance and improvements were to be expected.

9th Aug - Myth-Illogical Improv - Three Weeks - The funny thing about improv shows is that, although every performance is unique, at the same time they're all strangely similar, drawing on the same basic format to produce a brand of humour that centres on random scenarios and rambling narratives – rather like a game of consequences. Bristol's Goats In The Shell prove themselves experts in this genre, seizing on audience suggestions with energy and charisma, and conjuring an original array of comic characters as they construct their unscripted 'myth'. Despite their quick-thinking skills and imagination, however, the results are ultimately amusing rather than side-splitting. Hardly ground-breaking stuff, but an enjoyable enough lunchtime diversion, especially as it doesn't cost a penny.

9th Aug - Nik Coppin: Loquatious - Three Weeks - Listening to him rant about a bad ThreeWeeks review he once received was the only time I felt slightly awkward during Nik Coppin's set; not sure whether he has amazing intuition or it was just a coincidence. With his desperation to make friends, and his beaming smile - which takes over his whole face - he puts his audience at ease from the outset of his show, which, as its title 'Loquacious' might imply, sees the comedian spending an hour talking bollocks. Not that this is bad; his anecdotes from his travels around the world are genuinely amusing, as is his repartee with the crowd, but it was easy to see that Coppin was, in this preview week, still testing what worked.

8th Aug - Gill Smith in Article in the Telegraph -

9th Aug - Butch Got Owned - Charley and the Fringe

8th Aug - Free Festival Preview - The Guardian

8th Aug - Lewis Schaffer and publicity stunts - The Scotsman

8th Aug - Freeing the Fringe - Free Fest organiser Alex Petty on the Free Fest in the Scotsman

8th Aug - Garden Detectives - -Three Weeks Even on the sunniest day we've had in a month there were quite a number of children contentedly inspecting the interactive displays at the ‘Garden Detectives' exhibition in the NMS. By peering through holes at stuffed mice, catching magnetic cartoon fish and smelling a sunflower, it is hoped that visitors will learn something about what lurks, crawls or grows in a British garden. The exhibition is small but there is plenty to keep you occupied and it is easily accessible in a buggy. Contributors to the visitors' book had reached the consensus that those aged between three and seven would enjoy themselves best; their general comments varied from “the best children's exhibition we've been to” to “POO”.

8th Aug - Pig With the Face of a boy - - Skinny

7th Aug - Cabaret Whore - - Edinburgh Guide  

7th Aug - Laughing all thw way to Bancruptcy - Lewis Shaffer comments in the Scotsman

7th Aug - Lewis Shaffer's fist fight, the 80's Movie Flashback and Bobby Carrol all on Chortle  

2nd Aug - Giacinto Palmieri chortle Article

2nd Aug - Bobby Carroll and Tyson Boyce on 'London is Funny'

30th July - The Free Festival Footballers in the Evening News

29th July - The Lists to 5 free shows - the top four are Free Festival shows

27th July - Free Fest Football Match on 

23rd July - Ben Lerman listed in the top LGBT shows at the Edinburgh fringe in The List

17th July Ben Lerman in the Jewish Telegraph- download here

12th July - Free Festival returning to Edinburgh reported on

24th June - Heresy review in the Skinny - Click here

23rd June - Proud to be Italian - Chortle Article by Free Fest act Giacinto Palmieri

23rd June - Europe Up "The annual Laughing Horse Free Comedy Festival is back this year and is a guaranteed riot.  And yes, it’s free".

22ndJune - Piff-tacular - Fringe Guru reccomends Piff-Tacular at the Hive:   

21st June - Informed Women UK - "Laughing Horse Comedy’s Free Festival will be organising lots of great events for free for practically the whole month of August. Thousands of hours of free events including comedy, theatre, live music and childrens’ shows.   Click here for details "

16th June - Three Weeks on the Free Festival"...I actually sleep sounder at night knowing the Free Fringe and Free Festival exist. Partly because they have provided an exciting comedy alterative within the Edinburgh Fringe, where, while it's true there's some dross, there are also many gems. And more importantly, because their existence has proven that fears at the start of this decade that the comedy strand at the Fringe was getting too commercial and would ultimately lose its edge were unfounded. What's great about the Edinburgh Fringe is that there'll always be someone somewhere with a new idea, or a grand plan, or a different way of doing things, and that will help the world's biggest cultural festival reinvent itself all over again. It doesn't matter if some in the Fringe community don't think the new idea is a good one - the festival is big enough to accommodate everybody - but it's the regular introduction of fresh thinking and new approaches that ensures that, despite inevitable commercialisation in the centre, the Fringe remains as refreshing, innovative and rebellious as ever"

14th June - Free Festival Act Lewis Shaffer nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Award for the best publicity stunt of the Fringe, and Gill smith, Free Fest act from 2008 and 2009 recieved a retrospective award from last year

13th June - The Top 5 free Fringe shows - Two of our shows, "A personal War" and "Shaggers" (at number 1 ans 5 if the printed order is relevent) listed as the best Free shows in Edinburgh by Scotland on Sunday, alongside one at the Pleasance, and one at the Underbelly, so we're in good company! And an outdoor fasion show which sounds interesting too...  full details here:

11th June - Review of Mascha and Vascha from the Devizes Arts Festival: "The first thing that strikes you about the show is how faithfully the two characters, playing old women with absurdly exaggerated proportions, resemble cartoon characters in the style of Monty Python's Terry Gilliam Then comes the quiet and measured humour from artful mannerisms and the often witty script as they share memories that collide with anticipation and hopes for the future. Finally, a sense of the ridiculous overlays the whole performances and the two women shuttle between doleful frailty and youthful slapstick. The show, performed by Lily Sykes and Hanna Pyliotis, explores the ned for companionship, the dread of loneliness and the power of hope. It is visually rewarding, with almost as much emphasis on unspoken expression as the spoken word, and uses simple but effective sound effects and props The genteelnes of Lily Sykes' character Mascha contrasts with Hanna Pyliotis's robust character, Vascha, and this dissonance is sustained throughout the performance. It is an amusing commentary, taughtly directed by Michiko Miyazaki Gaulier, who, with the two players, devised and wrote this imaginitive piece." - Devizes Gazette and Herald

11th June - The Free Festival listed in the Guardian's pick of 50 Free things to do around the UK this Summer - click Here - Don't worry if you missed out on tickets for the Edinburgh Festival – catch a performance at the (free) Fringe Festival instead (6-30 August).

10th June - Free Shows Covered in the Fringe launch for the first time - the Fringe'slaunch noted not only notes a quarter of shows at the Fringe this year are free, but also mentions Free Festival shows "A personal War" about the terror attacks on Mumbai, and "The Black Swans" about political power in britain   - full release, here: plus coverage in The Scotsman, The BBC, What's on Stage. And many more that mention the prolferation of free shows and A Personal War.

10th June - Free Festival Comedian Lewis Shaffer makes the news and upsets Edinburgh Comedy Awards boss by with a spoof press release about the comedy awards. See: Chortle

4th June - Chortle mentions our launch before it even happens as they start to buld thier database of all Fringe Comedy - click here

25th May - Free Festival Act Lynn Ruth Miller Awarded "Star of the Fringe" award at the Brighton Fringe along with being nominated as "Best Female Act", "Best Intternational Act" and "Best Cabaret Act". (The Latest / Brighton Fringe) Full details of all of the awards:

18th May - LBC Radio Interview with Lynn Ruth Miller - Download Here

16th May - BBC Radio Interview with Lynn Ruth Miller - Download Here

15th May - Free Festival Act Andrew J. Lederer talks about how buraucract and Big Budgets are Killing the Edinburgh Fringe (The Scotsman) -

lynner.jpg (26702 bytes)12th May - Lynn Ruth Miller's Aging is Amazing Redux reviewed on Chortle during the Brighton Fringe (Chortle) - click here

11th May - Heresy: Kill Your God reviewed at the Brighton Fringe (Three Weeks) star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)
Comedy duo Rick Molland and Sully O'Sullivan wage an unadulterated war on world religion in an hour of blasphemous comedy that would have Jehovah, Allah and Zeus joining forces to smite them - the heathens! The sceptics incite religious hatred, endorsing aesthetic martyrdom and blowing yourself up in the name of nothing, doing little or no damage. These sacrilegious infidels, high-priests of impiety, preach atheist propaganda, presenting an argument against the existence of God which is both hilarious and surprisingly well supported. The show holds interest for all - non-believers for its comedy, the parish for its picketing potential and fundamentalists for its legitimate targets. I have faith the sinners will deliver again, convinced that if hell does exist it is missing two devils.

10th May - Lynn Ruth Miller: Aging is Amazing Redux reviewed at the Brighton Fringe (The Latest) star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes) The word of mouth buzz around this “stripping granny” spread so fast the venue could have been filled three times over, and many were turned away. For those lucky enough to squeeze in, Ohian 75-year-old Lynn Ruth Miller lived up to the hype. She began with a song and a strip - down to a lace teddy - and continued to misbehave riotously; flirting with men, sitting on my friend’s knee, bombarding the audience with condoms and incontinence pads, getting us to sing along and charming our socks off. We were taken aback by her energy - when this 20-something reviewer went home to bed, Lynn went on to a 12.30am gig. Moving, hilarious, inspirational and everything you hope for from a fringe show; if you didn’t catch her this year, make sure you’re there when she returns in 2010.

10th May - Heresy: Kill Your God reviewed at the Brighton Fringe (The Latest) star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes) Not for the easily offended, this was a show/lecture from comedians and self-proclaimed ‘militant atheists’ Rick Molland and Sully O’Sullivan that made compulsive viewing. Well researched and presented, it was a FreeFestivalLogo2009a.gif (26378 bytes)determined, planned-out and non-stop attack on all beliefs, which although not laugh-out-loud funny had the presence of a fascinating presentation given by people who feel passionately about their subject. Culminating in their ’scientific experiment’ testing the existence of any god by systematically abusing three faiths soundly and waiting to be struck by lightning, their goal was not to offend but simply state their case. It just so happens that their case is for a very controversial argument, leaving a slight sting like an unexpected slap in the face.

9th May - Iszi Lawrence: Matter of Tact reviewed at the Brighton Fringe (Three Weeks) star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)star.jpg (425 bytes)
Although an excited audience packed the venue, creating the kind of buzzing atmosphere common to standing room only events, there unfortunately remained enough space between the persistent comic's act and the audience's reception to it for awkward silences to remain comfortably seated; the absence of consistent laughter became increasingly clear. That said, though there was an age range in the audience that would have appeared blizzard-like on a scatter graph, Lawrence did manage to unite her audience on occasion with her truly eclectic repertoire grounded in sometimes engrossing, but more often humorously tasteless anecdotes. Truly hilarious or not, with free entry, the punter was always likely to get the last laugh.

You can have a look at some of last years news and reviews - click here for 2008's press and reviews!


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