David Longley – My Favourite Things: Fringe Review

david-longley-my-favourite-things_24183When the Show Bites

3/5

David Longley’s opening skit is enough to put you off children’s television for life. A well edited, if somewhat crass reconfiguration of an entirely innocent scene between a sheep and a duck, its playful immaturity sets the tone for the rest of the show that follows.

Returning to the Fringe following a two year absence, Longley bases his content around the concept of cognitive dissonance. Explaining how we spend much of our lives holding conflicting beliefs yet seem unable to set them right, he uses this as an axis at which to divulge much of his personal life. A man who clearly lives through comedy, he presents sharp, carefully thought out quips and anecdotes that range from the puerile to the surprisingly poignant. Centring much of his material on his young children and recently deceased grandfather, he supplements this with slideshows that help to paint a picture of his very normal life.

As endearing a comedian as he may be, his kind hearted nature is more attractive than his comedy. Far more frequently you find yourself smiling rather than laughing, the honest nature of his material often lacking comedic substance. It is also not a show for the easily offended, as jokes that teeter on the edge of acceptability will be too much for many to bear.

A perfectly amiable show, Longley lacks the consistency necessary to make him truly memorable.

Taken from Broadway Baby, published Aug 2012.

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Tom Stade Live Review

2/5

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.

Andrew O’Neill: Occult Comedian Review

2/5

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.

The Best of Scottish Comedy Review

3/5

The Best of Scottish Comedy is a monthly night held at The Stand showcasing some of the finest talent emerging north of the border. An outlet for rising comedians, it saw the first steps of big household names such as Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges and provides an ever changing mix of four different comedians and a compère.

This month saw pintsized ex-lawyer Susan Calman taking on the role of compère, where she roused the audience and introduced the acts while adding a comic flair of her own.

Opening the night’s proceedings, Chris Forbes towered over Calman as he entered the stage. Combining a mix of jokes and lurid anecdotes it was a controversial start, but one that the audience welcomed gladly and enjoyed.

Noting his location, it seemed only fitting that comedian Garry Dobson felt it necessary to mention that, despite his rather unscottish sounding surname, the spelling of his first name made up for this. Evidently quite new on the comedy circuit his delivery came across as nervous and it can be frustrating when new comics repeatedly mention that they are not real comedians.

By far the youngest of the night’s performers, Daniel Sloss is only 20. However, with over four years experience performing on TV, writing for Frankie Boyle and having sell out shows at the Fringe, his confidence and knowledge of the techniques and composition of comedy is admirable. From the fact that he looks like the kid from Home Alone, to his ease at dealing with taboo subjects, he easily stole the show.

The show finished with Vladimir MacTavish, who looks like a cross between Oor Wullie and Rod Stewart, yet I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the choice of headline act. Admittedly he was the oldest and looked as though he had been around a bit, but this shouldn’t have constituted the decision to make him end the evening.

His jokes were average at best, his references to Scottish culture were only intelligble to those members of the audience who were clued up on their Scottish knowledge and his closing sketch of what happens when you agree to go out for a drink with a colleague after work came across as an unfunny means to get free drinks from the bar. I’m not sure he was successful.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 30th 2010.

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

4/5

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.