Des Bishop – My Dad Was Nearly James Bond

*****

5 Stars

Irish-American comedian Des Bishop was born in London to an English father and Irish mother. He was raised in Queens, New York until the age of 14 when he was kicked out of school and sent to boarding school in Ireland. This complicated upbringing has provided plenty of material for Bishop in the past and continues to do so with devastating effectiveness.

Not only did Bishop have a complicated upbringing (the show touches on his alcohol and drug problems as a teenager, and discovering he had testicular cancer at the age of 24), but he also grew up with a father who had small roles in several films and commercials, and a successful career as a model before becoming a retail manager in several big New York department stores in order to support his wife and three sons.

When Bishop’s father was diagnosed with Stage 4 small cell lung cancer recently it gave the eldest Bishop son (his younger brother Aiden also has a show at the Fringe this year) cause to reflect on his childhood and the career his father gave up to support his family; the peak of which was when, as the show title suggests, he narrowly missed out on the role of James Bond which was won by George Lazenby.

The show is fast paced, passionate, touching and hilarious. Des’ interaction and banter with the near sell out crowd is effortless and only adds to the friendly atmosphere in the room, even when giving sex advice to a 19 year old boy sitting in the front row with his family! The show is also accompanied by film clips and photos projected behind Bishop and these effectively add to the story being told.

This was the first show of this Fringe that has managed to make me laugh until I cried and then moments later bring a genuinely emotional tear to my eye. As I mentioned after seeing Des Bishop’s Fringe show last year, he is a household name in Ireland where he still lives and he certainly deserves the same success this side of the Irish Sea.

Reviewed by Sarah

Assembly@George Street

20:05 – 21:05

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Caroline Rhea

5 stars

*****

This show was an absolute delight!  I could leave the review right there, but I realise that I need to say more.  Rhea is best known to UK audiences as Aunt Hilda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a programme which, I’ll admit, was a staple part of my University viewing.  Therefore, I was curious to see how she would perform as a stand-up.

What a revelation!  This was truly a master class in comedy by someone who has spent years honing her craft.  But not witchcraft.  As she admitted, she’s not actually a witch and she can’t perform magic.  However, she certainly cast a spell on this particular audience (how many of these references can I shoehorn in?).  Her approach to material is scattergun, riffing with the crowd and flitting through material which took in her time on Sabrina, the mothering of her 21 month old daughter and some wickedly funny observations on relationships.  She also catered to the home crowd with some excellent references to experiences she’s had since being in Scotland.

Her delivery was relentless and the lovely thing was that she seemed to be having as much fun as the audience.  She was willing to go on for longer but unfortunately had to wrap up as the next show needed to get started.  I’ve no doubt that she could have held us all enthralled for another hour if the scheduling had allowed.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Gilded Balloon Teviot, Debating Hall

21.30-22.30

Footlights in ‘Good for You’

4 stars

****

It was pretty much a full house for this afternoon sketch show performed by the Footlights.  Obviously their name precedes them and, if this show is anything to go by, these five performers are destined to follow in the footsteps of previous successful alumni.

The sketches zipped along at a fair old pace, each eliciting a good response from the assembled throng.  The material on show included several nicely observed pieces on modern culture as well as the odd surreal twist.  The recurring character of Chad Slazenger was warmly welcomed by the crowd, and as I left the venue I could hear a number of audience members repeating the characters catchphrase, so it appears the group are onto a winner there.

The pace was well sustained over the hour and I would be hard pushed to find a duff sketch amongst the number performed.  A solidly entertaining show which showcased rising comedy talent.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Pleasance Dome, Ace Dome

15.50-16.50

Mackenzie Taylor:- Joy

****

4Stars

Having already seen Mackenzie’s ‘other’ show, No Straightjacket Required’ I with many more returned to the same venue a couple of hours later to witness ‘Part Two’  a more stand-up show but picks up where the other one left off.

Taylor is talking about what gives him joy and the way others find their own kind of things to obtain it. He itemises a few of his favourites and seeks audience input, but the underlying message seems to be that even in the darkest moment, there is always something good that can be drawn from it.

Taylor is an easy guy to listen to. Obviously well educated and articulate, the material he has follows from him and a lot of what he says makes total sense, even if not immediately obviously.

Be prepared to get involved in the show, it’s not painful, and certainly the audience I was part of had no problems in what they were asked to do. But do listen. He has been through a lot in recent times, and if he can come through it all still feeling Joy, then there is hope for everyone.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

C SoCo V 348

4 to 30 August

16-25 to 17-20

Fringe Brochure P 91

Brendon Burns: Y’Know- Love ‘n’ God ‘n’ Metaphysics ‘n’ Sh*t

****

4 Stars

This was a very different gig from the comedy genius that I have for years held Brendon Burns to be. He has been a favourite of mine for absolutely ages and I certainly was not alone in thinking that as he always seems to have the sold out signs on his posters very quickly indeed.

On entering the Udderbelly, unusually one was greeted with the guitar playing of Aussie Dave Eastgate to entertain while people were being seated, in fact he was on stage more than the Maestro as even when Burns was doing his set, he generally accompanied with Eastgate on acoustic guitar and occasional comments.

Burn’s show is usually tight as a drum, I felt this one was far more fluid, he still packed in a whole load of material, but the banter between the two, not to mention occasional audience interruptions gave the whole gig a different feel than what I and many others are used to.

Burns has spent a lot of time in the US and his material starts off with a section of some anecdote of incidents encountered, moves on to the Mardi Gras Festival a homecoming gig in Perth, texting, apathy and religion. A whole host of potential for him to expound upon and in his own inimitable style he did.

Real success is something this guy deserves. For years he has put in the hard graft and it has over the last year or two he has finally be recognised by all. He would probably admit he is not for everyone, but give him a chance as I did all those years ago and if he is to your taste, he is addictive. Be warned.

And don’t leave early!!

****

Reviewed by Geoff

E4 Udderbelly V 300

5 to 30 August

21-55 to 22-55

Fringe Brochure P 37

James Dowdeswell : My Grandad was a Clown and those are Big Shoes to Fill

***

3 Stars

West Country comedian James Dowdeswell has been on the comedy circuit for 12 year now, but other than a ten minute slot on ‘A Best of’ last year this was the first time I had seen him perform.

Following on from the initial getting to know you section with the audience James was into his entertaining set covering his upbringing in a pub and further back to his great-grandfather who was a comedian and clown way back in the good old day, who even worked with some of the silent movie greats. He has well researched this gentleman and has come up with reviews of his career.

His set is fairly gentle and easy going, Dowdeswell is not an in your face comedian, and I found his show very easy on the senses. Not ground breaking, just a pleasant way to spend an afternoon hour during the hectic pace that prevails during August.

Dowdeswell has taken large steps to follow after his antecedent recently and passed on a few tips, and has a radical idea as to how the 2012 Olympics could be improved. Who knows it may work!!

***

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand II V5

5 to 29 August

15-00 to 16-00

Fringe Brochure P 75

Susan Morrison : ‘F’ is for…

***

3 Star

Stand Comedy Club stalwart Susan Morrison is for the first time in ages presenting her one woman show in the early afternoon entitled The F word.

Pint sized Ms Morrison hails from Glasgow although now live in Edinburgh and her opening intro, together with getting to know the audience, was largely based on the Glasgow and Leith, an area of Edinburgh, issues, characters and characteristics.

The main body of the show consists of Susan’s favourite words beginning with F. She has so many that lots are drawn by the audience as to what order they are dealt with. Each word Ms Morrison draws on a whole host of facts and fun about. She has obviously researched this work well.

Susan is a huge personality inside a small woman and really deserves a bigger audience than the twenty plus the day I went, ‘cause she really knows how to spark off the crowd, so this is where you can come in.

***

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand II V 5

13-45 to 14-45

5 to 29 August

Fringe Programme Page 128