Barry Castagnola in Where’s Barry

4 Star

****

Fringe veteran Barry Castagnola has always been a funny character comedian who has a novel and inventive use of VT in his productions and this show is no exception, in fact it is better than ever.

At show time following his introduction Barry is missing. The first ‘character’ a venue staff member calls him and with the VT link to the fore we find out why he’s not there. The venue staff guy is persuaded to ‘fill’ for him and so the proceedings go.

The next to ‘help’ is Danny Donkin a rather inept comic on ahead of Barry. This guy is a wash out so Barry’s agent Max takes over to keep everyone occupied with Barry ‘just round the corner’ and finally Camford Players a studenty group of Improv’s take over.

All the time this is happening the video footage of the trials of Barry racing to his venue and his problems along the way are very well filmed and are funny. Also cameo appearances from the like of Brendan Burns, Matt Kirshen, Holly Burn and Anna Morris assist this talented actor in his quest.

There are a lot of industry jibes taking place through out too, all in all a very clever piece, especially if you ‘get it’ early.

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Third Door

Until 26 August

19-00 to 20-00

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Laughing Horse’s Funny Fillies featuring Sajeela Kershi

4 Star

**** 

The room my have changed at the aptly titled White Horse pub, which is the stable for these fillies to perform but the ethos of the show remains constant. This hour is a relaxed showcase of some of the many funny women across the Fringe doing a short section of their shows, to entertain the assembled crowd but also to promote their main product.

The acts vary nightly, the constant feature being our hostess with the mostess Sajeela Kershi, an accomplished comedian and compere extrordinaire.

It’s not really like a show in the true sense of the word, more like a bunch of mates sitting around while friends entertain, so relaxed is too harsh a word for it. Don’t be mistaken though the entertainment is of a high quality too. The night I attended we had Jan Moree, Spring Day, Miranda Kane topped off with Laura Levites, but each line up will be unique.

Because this is part of The Free Festival, entry is free, but these fillies need their corn so a donation is actively sort when leaving.

Reviewed by Geoff

The White Horse

Until 26 August

21-45 to 22-45

Al Pitcher – Tiny Triumphs

4 Star

**** 

Although born in the UK and living in Sweden, I always classed nice guy comedian Al Pitcher as a Kiwi. He has been away from the Fringe for a while so it was good to see him back with his show Tiny Triumphs in 2012.

Pitcher is a funny guy and a friendly comic, with a passion for taking pictures on a daily basis of wherever he happens to be and they become part of the same days show. Pictures yes, but not standard pictures, he has a penchant for seeing sights that other people may not see, and as the pictures do half his job, well he did take them himself, a lot of his humour comes across through the illustrations he offers.

But there is of course far more than that, he has a ready wit, a pleasing manner and comes across as the nice guy he is in reality.

Because of the nature of the beast this show will change daily, and of course with plenty happening during Fringe time in Edinburgh then he will have plenty of scope.

So for a different slant on comedy and an hour of excellent fun go check for yourself, and yes you may well become a part of his history too.

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Sportsmans

Until 26 August

20-15 to 21-15

Set List: Stand Up Without a Net

4 Star

**** 

The principal of this cult show is simple, the execution is far from that.

The idea is that top comics from across the Fringe are invited to pit their comedy brains by seamlessly and spontaneously delivering a set in front of around 150 people on strange and wacky subject waaaay out of their comfort zone and at the whim of the shows producers who project their subject live in front of them.

And yet they still come to rise to the challenge. No matter how big a name they are they are up there strutting their talent and risking their reputation.

Each night is compered by Matt Kirshen who explains the process to those who don’t know the rules, warms up the crowd and does the introductions.

Walking past The Caves on a daily basis lets you see who is performing that night and the show I saw included, Phill Jupitus, Trevor Noah, Tom Stade, Al Murray, Greg Proops, you can see for yourself the calibre of comic attracted. Of course some subjects are easier than others but all performers make a more than decent fist of what they are given.

The show is billed for an hour but do be prepared for a bit of an overrun.

Reviewed by Geoff

Just The Tonic at the Caves

Until 25 August

23-59 to 01-00 ish

Laura Levites:- American Girlfriend

5 Star

*****

If anyone could cast aspersions as to the value of free shows at the Fringe then I would have to point you to this show as an example of all that is good.

Laura Levites is a New York City girl who currently resides in LA, but the story she tells also has a heavy Brit presence.

She is a bright, smiley lady, in spite of some issues, she has a engaging stage presence, a pleasing delivery and the obvious comedy talent. She is able to deliver what is quite a sad story extracting pathos and humour weaved throughout the story, which is never short of laughs.

The set is well structured, packed through out with well observed and funny events in which she is usually the butt of the humour. Although like me not so many in her audience knew of her before she adopted us all as friends and shared private episodes of her life with candour that impressed.

This is her second excursion to the Fringe, the story starts during her first visit, and I just hope she returns next year. I have a feeling that this lady could be a major player in the near future and am totally pleased that circumstances drew me to see her show this year and there are still a few days for you to check her out this year too.

Reviewed by Geoff

Hive 15-17 Niddry Street

Until 27 August

14-45 to 15-45

Amused Moose Comedy Awards Final

5 Stars

*****

Okay there are a few competitions around for aspiring comics and I’m sure each and everyone is well worth their while, but for me the format that Hils Jago, promoter and the founder of Amused Moose, has decided on is the fairest as it takes into account the views of both the pro’s and the public. For breakthrough acts, a series of heats and qualifiers are run around the country being judged partly by the audience and partly by industry experts until the crème de la crème, the top seven consisting of Richard Todd, Matthew Giffen, sketch troupe Foil, Arms & Hog, Dane Baptiste, Toby Brown, Clint Edwards and Funmbi  emerged to competed for the shiny Moose trophy and a cash prize on stage at the Bongo Club, an extremely slick event hosted by the excellent Rob Beckett.

The standard as you would expect was extremely high and the voting so close that actually two winners emerged, those being Richard Todd who won the industry vote and Funmbi who came top of the audience poll.

But was that it? No. The second award Amused Moose Laughter Awards is for more experienced comics. The criteria for this competition are they must not have a DVD deal and are performing a full hour show in Edinburgh.

A comedy industry panel view the 100’s of shows on line initially, then in Edingugh, finally selecting the top ten to fight it out in a semi-final. The three who emerge from a similar audience and industry vote play it out for a £5000 prize and talks with 2entertain who support the event for a possible DVD deal as well.

The 3 acts who made the final after all the exhausting process were Laurence Clark, Alistair Barrie and Marcel Lucont, the French alter ego of Alexis Dubus.

Again the voting was close but Marcel Lucont emerged as a popular winner.

In Fringe terms this was not only a marathon show, approaching 3 hours, but if there is a better value for money afternoon to be spent then I haven’t found it. 10 comics, a compere and the Moose crew keeping it all on track. Splendid production all round, so no wonder it is a massive sell out each year.

Reviewed by Geoff

Bongo Club

19 August

The Showhawk Duo

*****

The Showhawks are acoustic guitarists Mikhail Asanovic (Lead) and Jake Wright (Rhythm). I first saw the guys perform last year doing a couple of numbers on Edinburgh Tonight with Joe Simmons and Lorraine Chase. For me, they stole the show that day.

This year they have a whole show of their own for the first time at the Fringe and what a brilliant show they put on! The two guys come from contrasting guitar backgrounds, Mikhail is a classically trained with leanings towards jazz and Jake has a rock background with leanings towards heavy metal.

They structured their show as a musical biography beginning with their coming together as a musical partnership. When their contrasting backgrounds are put together, they can cover a huge spectrum of music from gypsy jazz to rock classics to orchestral classics – Django Reinhardt to Jimi Hendrix to Tchaikovsky. This is only a sample what they perform. Since they are in Scotland, they have devised a combination of Celtic and Metal in one of their numbers which they term Cetal (pronounced with a hard C).

Their arrangements are inventive. Their playing is fast and faultless, and really, really tight.

What is immensely enjoyable about their musical style is they break down the barriers between musical genres and often with little twists of humour. A strong melody is worth celebrating whatever its origins. They mentioned they would love to return to the Fringe next year. Well, Haste Ye Back!

Reviewed by Ben

SpaceCabaret @ 54

3 to 25 August 2012 (not 13)

16.45 – 17.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 232