Imran Yusuf – Bring the Thunder: Fringe Review









Imran Yusuf talks with such unrelenting enthusiasm that it is inexorably infectious. His material, which covers everything from politics, multiculturalism and difficulties with women, shows a diversity that is supplemented by an undeniable passion for what he does. This is honest comedy delivered by a man who primarily seeks to entertain. Using questions of identity as a major focal point of the show, he delivers a powerful message of following one’s dreams and never giving up. But this is also accessible comedy – it is easy to listen to and therefore easy to like. It also, therefore, fails to offer anything truly different – a shame, as he has lots of potential.

Pleasance Courtyard, 3 – 28 Aug, 7.00pm (8.00pm), £9.50 – £12.00, fpp92. 

tw rating 3/5

Taken from Three Weeks published Tue Aug 16th 2011.

Three Weeks 2011 – Daily Edition #12, Aug 16th

John Robertson – Blood & Charm: Disturbing Stories For Disturbing Bedtimes: Fringe Review









With a very unique approach to comedy, John Robertson delivers shocking stories from his past in a fast paced style that is well articulated and, at moments, somewhat intelligent. However, with its strong emphasis on bondage and a number of unpleasant topics – including that of punching a kid in the face and the fun you can have with razor blades – it remains a style of comedy that only caters for a niche audience. For those who are fond of comedy that is meant to leave you questioning its political correctness, Robertson offers a satisfactory, if somewhat austere platform for this style; however, for the average festival goer it is most likely a show that is not worth fighting for a ticket over.

Assembly Hall, 4 – 29 Aug, 10.30 (11.30), £8.00 – £9.00, fpp101.

tw rating 2/5

Taken from Three Weeks, published online Sun Aug 14th 2011.

Comic Strip: Fringe Review

With its vivid 1960s atmosphere, the Dans Paleis forms the perfect setting for this innovative concept for late-night entertainment. Compèred by Australian comic Asher Treleaven and featuring a host of different acts on its various nights, this evening of comedy is interspersed with burlesque dancing and strip-tease. It’s surprisingly light, though, and is something that can be enjoyed by both genders, while the relaxed ambience makes it an excellent way to see a good variety of performers for a reasonable sum of money. This gentle show provides the perfect introduction to a genre that is often the subject of misunderstanding, so even if you have never fancied yourself much of a burlesque lover, you may find yourself converted.

Assembly George Square, 4 – 7, 11 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28 Aug, times vary, £13.00 – £15.00, fpp60. 

tw rating 4/5 

Taken from Three Weeks, published Thu Aug 11th 2011.

Three Weeks 2011 – Daily Edition #7, Aug 11th

Anil Desai… Fringe Review









No stranger to the Fringe, Anil Desai returns for his third solo show with a light hearted performance that has something for all. Employing a mix of comedy, impressions and songs, Desai presents each of his characters in the form of special guests appearing on the show. Moving from the likes of Rajesh the Bollywood lounge singer to Candice the fluffer girl, he uses each character to explore different styles of comedy, adding variety to the performance and appealing to different tastes. The only thing letting him down are his costume changes, which slow the pace and thus the fluidity of the show; Desai remains a worthwhile watch, however, for anyone keen on comedy that includes everything from witty jokes to frivolous cabaret.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 – 18 Aug (not 9), 7.45pm (8.45pm), £9.00 – £12.00, fpp39.

tw rating 3/5

Taken from Three Weeks, published Mon Aug 8th 2011.

Three Weeks 2011 – Daily Edition #4, Aug 8th

Joe Wilkinson – My Mum’s Called Stella and My Dad’s Called Brian: Fringe Review


The awkwardness at which Joe Wilkinson enters the stage, sloth-like with his long limbs and scraggly beard hidden behind a dishevelled brown suit, creates an immediate sense of uncertainty amongst the audience. Proceeding to hug most of the crowd before fumbling through the first few minutes of his set with a definite lack of self-assurance, it is understandable that many would think this the result of a lack of experience in the field of comedy. However, this is Wilkinson’s game.

As the show unfolds you realise that this incertitude forms the backbone of his comedic style where he seeks to divulge the lack of excitement that has happened in his life. This disassociation from the sort of events that are commonly experienced amongst men his age creates stories filled with embarrassing and cringe-worthy situations that are hilarious when recounted.

It is easy to empathise with Wilkinson as one could feel sorry for the relative lack of stimulation he has experienced in his life but whether or not any of these events actually happened is testament to the brilliant way in which he says them. The sincerity at which he presents the material – ending with a fantastically uncomfortable ending to the show where the audience is left questioning whether it ended in disaster or purposefully – makes this a performance that is definitely worth looking into as it offers a form of comedy that is not often found at the Fringe.

3rd – 28th Aug 2011 (not 10th, 17th, 24th ), Pleasance Courtyard, 5.45pm, £9.50(£7)

Taken from Informed Edinburgh, published online Aug 2011.

Tom Stade Live Review


The Canadian born “maple licking seal killer” is a comedian whose cheekiness and laid-back delivery make him a likeable man, but one whose comedy ultimately falls short of the mark.

Unbothered about his self-confessed love of alcohol and haggard voice as a result of a supposed 20-year pot addiction, the everlasting teen warms to the audience by interacting with a sort of colloquialism that gives the impression he is everyone’s best friend.

Stade bases his routine on what he’s fed by the crowd and a fabricated history he shares with a person in the front row he names ‘Jimmy’. He also recounts stories of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, struggling with a massive drug addiction and buying meat out of a van in Wolverhampton.

Whilst Stade is very easy to listen to and offers moments of very funny comedy, his lack of structure combined with an overwhelming feeling of trying to get laughs only through shocking material makes him difficult to truly enjoy.

Perhaps it is due to his co-writing of Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights that his comedy has taken on a very harsh nature. Nevertheless, it seems little favour can be found in a man who claims charity can be achieved through the exploitation of others’ misfortunes as it creates “awareness” of their adversities.

The self-assuredness at which he delivers his anecdotes, at times even waiting for applause, creates an awkwardness which detracts from his moments that do shine.

While it would be unfair to claim that Stade’s performance offered nothing, it seems reasonable to say that his closing sentiment aptly iterates the general consensus of the show: “I did the best I could, seeing what I was given”.

Taken from The Journal, published Wed Feb 23rd 2011.

Russell Kane: Smokescreens and Castles Review


Russell Kane has seen considerable improvement since his 2009 fringe show Human Dressage, which illustrated his definite potential but lacked the lustre necessary for a brilliant show. His latest effort Smokescreens and Castles not only won him the esteemed Fosters comedy award at this year’s fringe but demonstrates that Kane has hit the nail on the head with sharp, effective and even endearing comedy.

The incredibly quick, sporadic style of Kane’s comedy takes a while to get used to, but once accustomed becomes remarkable to watch. The speed at which one almost sees his brain working, along with the prodigious accuracy with which his thoughts are expressed is truly impressive.

Kane takes a while to break into the core of his material, although his plethora of put-downs and the dexterity with which he interacts with his audience could arguably create just as effective a performance.

Previously criticised for his overly camp and airy nature, it comes together with a focus on sociocultural divides and his working class upbringing, there is a particular emphasis on his somewhat oppressive father who has been of various significance in parts of his prior shows.

The honesty with which Kane goes into detail about his right-wing father’s racist and homophobic tendencies and his mother’s aspirations to appear of higher status in society gives an endearing edge to the performance; this is real life comedy, better explicated through its construal by Kane.

There is, however, perhaps one slight flaw in his performance. The speed at which he moves from one story to the next makes it appear to be founded on a desultory sense of what pops into his head and not on any particular structure. It lacks a certain seamless transition or flow from one anecdote to the next, combining the ideas together. Arguably though, this doesn’t matter as it is exactly this capricious style which adds to Kane’s appeal.

Taken from The Journal, published online Sun Feb 13th 2011.

Andrew O’Neill: Occult Comedian Review


Andrew O’Neill isn’t your average comedian. For a start he is dressed as a woman – albeit an unconvincing one. However we soon learn that this is his intention because apparently,  he is “ridiculously heterosexual”. O’Neill’s contentious and bemusing start sets up an evening of rather different and at times commendable comedy which he admits doesn’t make any sense but should be left to wash over, like jazz.

His material seems to favour the spontaneous use of the non-sequitur with subjects focusing on his lengthy love of metal music and occultism dropped alongside various absurd ditties and poems. Although these are rather obscure topics to base a one hour 30 minute show on, he does well to hold it together without losing his audience with too many abstruse references.

A general misanthropy is conveyed in his attack against organised religion and in particular Christianity, which though funny in parts does come across as overly abusive when not backed by witty jokes or aphorisms. There is a definite feel that O’Neill is a comedian who craves a little too much attention, an attribute which is all too greatly reflected in his style. He appears to make a self-conscious effort to appear outlandish and challenge the audience’s perception of normal whilst invoking curious existential ideas on the nature of the mind which seem bizarrely placed at a comedy gig.

O’Neill’s show is definitely one that will stick in the memory, but perhaps not for the right reasons. The surreality of the subject matter and the method at which it is delivered makes the appeal of the show limited to a select audience whilst the remainder are left only partially satisfied.

Taken from The Journal, published Wed Jan 26th 2011.

Comedy Central Live: Ria Lina and Yianni Agisilaou Review


Being half German, half Filipino and with an American accent, Ria Lina is something of a mixed bag of cultures and identities, which allows for copious amounts of self-ridiculing.

Accompanied by a ukulele, she does well to craft entertaining songs about topics as diverse as her mum being a mail-order bride to stories of various dubious sexual experiences in a catchy, well structured fashion.

Teetering on the edge of social awkwardness, she gauges the audience’s mood whilst constantly stretching the limit of an impertinent style which leads to some highly controversial yet enjoyable comedy. Perhaps it is because of her girlish good looks and multi-nationality that she is able to get away with it.

However, at times this brash nature feels shocking for the sake of being offensive. This combined with a clear sense of script that has been followed too many times removes some of the life from a show that is in need of more vigour and energy.

Australian comedian Yianni Agisilaou, of Cypriot descent, imbues some of the energy which Lina lacks in a set that unfortunately would have been considerably better had compère Ro Campbell not been absent, making Agisilaou have to fill more time than the amount of material he had would allow.

He does well to ostracise his audience early on as his overflowing personality leads him to accidentally make various incongruous comments. Luckily these are accepted as hilarious moments of temporary ignorance and not merely prejudice.

Peak moments follow those where the audience questions what he is trying to say, as the flow of his performance is somewhat sporadic. However, this slightly disjointed style is again probably due to the undesired length of his set.

The moments that do shine are particularly excellent allowing the audience to warm to his nature, especially those where he recounts moments with his family in Greece such as his ability to speak Greek better than he understands it, which, as he sarcastically points out, makes no sense.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Jan 18th 2011.

Alun Cochrane: Jokes. Life. And Jokes About Life Review


Rarely do you see a comedian who admits his material will fail to humour an entire audience, but the honesty with which Alun Cochrane begins his show forms the backbone to an endearing evening that ensures everyone goes home suitably satisfied. It appears he has learnt a lot since being heckled last year and told to tell a joke.

Known for his preference of anecdotes and every day observances over straight up jokes, his current tour shows a slight deviance from this style – as a result of the heckle – and with a deliberate sense of irony he now performs with the addition of a box of one liners, of which the audience are invited to decide which have potential and which are destined for the “pocket of doom”.

Naturally, these jokes are really hit and miss but this appears to be intentional as it is the audience’s reaction to the jokes which provides the real comedy. Some, which Cochrane views as infantile or fatuous, the audience seem to really enjoy. This adds an interesting interaction between comedian and spectators as he begins to understand what sort of crowd he is dealing with.

These jokes are cleverly interwoven into his set alongside his anecdotes predominately concerning his wife and young child. The ease with which he delves into his personal life, which at times points to some rather dark topics, only adds to the amiability of his nature.

It is evident from the title of the tour that Cochrane sees everyday experiences as superior to crafted jokes when constructing comedy. What we witness from day to day offers not only greater amusement but a greater ability to captivate an audience.

Alun Cochrane is undeniably likeable, and refreshingly innocent of any of the arrogance or cries for attention found in many of his contemporaries, even if he does wear double-denim.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 23rd 2010.