amused mooseIf you think you could be the next Jack Whitehall or Sarah Millican, this is the competition for you!

The prestigious, nationwide Amused Moose Laugh Off contest, to search out and discover the next big comedy star, is about to kick off. Entries open on 1st January 2013, and qualifying rounds take place in London, Scotland, and the north of England (in the venue in which Sarah Millican was discovered before going on to win the 2005 competition). Qualifying rounds start at the end of January and places fill up fast so there’s no time to waste.

In association with leading UK DVD company 2entertain, this exciting countrywide talent search for comedy’s brand new comic gems is famed for discovering the comedy stars of the future. Previous Amused Moose Laugh Off winners include Jack Whitehall and more recently Rob Beckett, just back from “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Here Now! 2012” replacing Russell Kane, and finalists have included Greg Davies, Rhod Gilbert, Jimmy Carr, Andi Osho, Simon Amstell and Alex Zane.

The audience votes at every stage, whilst the overall winner is ultimately decided by comedy industry professionals, though if the audience decide differently there is a second award of “People’s Champion” awarded for the first time in 2012, to Funmbi, with the overall winner being Richard Todd.

The Amused Moose Laugh Off 2013 final, featuring a celebrity host and an industry-heavy audience, will be held at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 with £1500 as the winner’s main prize.

Amused Moose Laugh Off has proved to be a fantastic shop window for new talent, with finalists being quickly signed by leading agents and promoters, as well as having the opportunity to be showcased in Amused Moose Comedy Gangshows in Edinburgh and in London’s Soho Theatre.

So if you want to set your stand-up career off to a flying start, showcase your talents to the comedy industry, take your first steps towards your own DVD and have a shot at the main prize of £1500 to invest in the development of your comedy career, what are you waiting for?

For the entry form and more information go to the brand new Amused Moose website at www.AmusedMoose.com/Awards then just turn up at qualifying rounds eager to perform a few minutes of your funniest gags, hopefully on your way to fame and fortune.


Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh 1 November

The calendar has moved on to the 11th month and the dreaded C word is getting ever closer, but at least one C word is always in the forefront of my mind and that is comedy. And for the best example of what is excellent on the circuit then the Stand Comedy Club certainly has to be the place to be, and the ever burgeoning audience on this Thursday, many of whom were enjoying the food on offer or making use of the well stocked bar, were well up for the expansive comedy line-up on offer.

Our host for the night was Jojo Sutherland, a funny lady well versed in the art of comedy and one of the many talented comperes the Stand can call on.

I have seen her do this role numerous times and each occasion she brings something different to party. Ms Sutherland managed to extract a whole raft of laughs from the multi national audience and giving ammunition for the ensuing acts to build on.

Opening act on the night was Edinburgh based Derek Johnston. It has been a while since I had seen him perform and I was looking forward to seeing what he was delivering these days. It is fair to say that he is not the most mobile comic, standing stock still throughout, but his comedy mind certainly makes up for this as he bounds from one idea to the next. Occasionally his material is a little surreal, and I guess there was some in his set, but I felt that his clever content was well received by all.

Following the first interval and Jojo getting proceedings underway again, the ‘short’ slot was given to visiting Norwegian Lars Berrum. This exceptionally tall comic was making a welcome return to Edinburgh having previously been here during the Fringe, and he grabbed the club by the lapels and never let go. He plays heavily on his height, but managed to get the laughs flowing from all corners almost from the off. He sure did hit the right note.I have admiration for anyone doing stand-up and being funny, but to do it in a non-native language deserves even more credit. Catch him if you can, I know I’ll be looking to see him again and soon.

Closing out the second part was Cork comic Keith Farnan. Now I am ashamed to admit that although he has taken the Fringe by storm for a while this was the first occasion I have seen him. And boy have I missed out!  Oozing charisma and confidence he picked up on some topical issues before settling into his set. Farnan is obviously another performer from the conveyor belt that seems to exist in Eire and has a set packed with gags, stories and opinions all delivered with his engaging style. A must see for the future for me.

The second interval and prize draw followed prior to the headliner Mitch Benn holding court. Now I first saw him perform around 1995 and have been a fan ever since. There is much less of him these days than then, having shed a load of weight recently, but his talent has diminished not one iota. As always the Radio Four favourite delivered a mixture of satirical self-penned songs linked together with his machine gun styled comedy musing. You do have to listen closely to get the best of his set, but the effort is more that worth it as the laughs are crammed in. I like the fact that he chooses different subjects to poke fun at and his comedy style well honed over the years is just razor sharp and as always he delivered a great performance.

Jojo closed out the night hoping everyone returned soon. If you, like me, are planning a trip soon then www.thestand.co.uk is the website to check out.

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh 25 October

With the dark nights firmly upon us and the clocks changing shortly the cool fingers of impending winter are very much in evidence outside, but inside Scotland’s premier comedy club the atmosphere is always tropical and no more so than this gig.
One thing that is assured is when compere Joe Heenan is the man in charge the laughs are thick and fast from the opening seconds and when he is on top form the experience is even better than ever. Not only was he on the top of his game but the comedy gods had blessed him with a front row comics can only dream of, an American professor of robotics, a Swedish couple on holiday, a pair of Birmingham visitors, together with a New Zealand promo team and a business analyst a row back. All food and drink for this exceptionally talented comedian and boy did he make capital out of them. His riffing as always was top notch and this allied to his innate talent Joe is just a delight to listen too.
Opening act was David Whitney and although he has been around for a while it is the first time I have seen him perform. Although Aberdeen born, Whitney sounds very English, and a fair amount of his material is about London, but this translated well to the packed out club. He had a packed set talking about drinking, pineapple, pizza, royalty, banks and girlfriends in his all too short set. Whitney has stage presence in bucket loads and I have added his name to the growing list of comedians to be sure to check out again.
Following the first interval and some more Heenan magic Becky Price was next onstage doing her stuff. Now I had seen her a few months ago and was impressed with this linguistic student. Okay Ms Price had only a short time to perform but used the time to the max. Her set was so full of material she seemed to deliver it at machine gun pace, but as before I thought she showed she could more than hold her own on what was a very talented bill. Her somewhat innocent look deceived in some ways as she delivered her set of well crafted funny stuff peppered with language that your maiden aunt may not approve of, although the audience lapped it up. Becky is a name for the future I am sure and I look forward to seeing her undoubted progression.
Closing out part two was Stand regular and genuinely funny guy Keir McAllister. I have seen him perform countless times over the years and have never ever been disappointed and again he was on top form. He has a non stop style, packing in more stories than the average performer into his set, but then nobody could ever describe him as average. Trams, William Wallace, travel, previous gigs and a section on his recent marriage were subjects he delivered his well observed, written and performed set to universal acclaim.
Part three started with the ‘prize draw’ conducted in the inimitable Heenan style prior to introducing headline act Rob Deering. Now I have to admit to being a fan of this guy having seen his Edinburgh Fringe shows each time and a few occasions out with as well. Deering is a very clever comic. He won the Weakest Link comedy special a year or two back without getting a question wrong in the entire programme, and majors on both his comedy and his guitar/effect peddles to create a set packed with laughs and garners genuine admiration from one and all. The way in seconds he can create a band and backing vocals with his ‘live looping’ just has to be witnessed !! Deering is a non-confrontational comic, he has a pleasing and engaging stage manner, always smiling and I lost count of the number of laughs he generated throughout his session. As always it was a delight to witness a master at work.
And that was it unfortunately that was it. Heenan closed out the gig and everyone had to leave into the cold night but with a warm glow remaining inside.
The Stand organisation runs comedy nights virtually every night each year in their three venues Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle so to check out on the line-ups visit their website www.thestand.co.uk
Reviewed by Geoff

Edinburgh Comedy Collective – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -16 October

It had been quite a while since I had been to Edinburgh’s Stand Comedy Club and even longer since I had seen the Comedy Collective perform there so on the cold almost winter’s evening I put both to right’s by joining a healthy audience to witness the spectacle.
Now for those unaware of the format these evenings take then I’ll explain. Jo Caulfield is a constant presence and the first two sections are a series of ‘panel’ games which are recorded as a podcast, available free to download on iTunes, which sets established comics in competition with each other and generally taking them out of their comfort zone and causing many a laugh for all along the way, with the third section a collection of comics, some new some established trying out various different ideas, characters etc, I’m sure you get the idea. The whole evening is ably held together by Improv superstar Stu Murphy this time in his role as compere.
The players in the panel show were Jo Caulfield and Garry Dobson as team 1 against young Glaswegian Ray Bradshaw and stalwart Graeme Thomas as their opposition. So either individually, or in teams these funny foursome were strutting their stuff for the points arbitrarily awarded by mein host Murphy.
As you could expect crazy capers and mayhem ensued, I wonder how the visiting party of Swiss students referenced some of the stuff, but they like us had a really good time in sessions packed with laughs, giggles and the occasional groan dependant on the gag.
So after the two sections of the recorded podcast and a final interval it was the turn of the others to do a few minutes of different stuff. Murphy was still in charge as compere and his character switch was worth the admission money in itself. ‘Arthur Dingleberry’ was our first character comic, maybe resembling a certain Jim Park somewhat, and his eccentric style seemed to divide the room. A lot of belly laughs from some, but a lot of this inventive guy’s material was lost on our Swiss visitors.
Ben Verth was next to give us a character piece as he dons the guise of a ‘famous’ author reading extracts of his successful books. Verth has plenty of stage presence and his own inimitably slightly wacky style of comedy, but he, as always, made a good impression on one and all.
Hannah Campbell was the next comic to grace the stage and was a new name for me. This Glaswegian lady was brimming with self-confidence and established herself from the off. The material in her all too short set was well received and she is certainly someone I’d like to see again this time with a longer set.
And still they came, Bob Graham being the next one to entertain. Fresh from a recent Edinburgh Fringe run Graham another one brimming with confidence and with a certainly noticeable look more than did himself justice in his allotted time.
Closing out the night was Spanish Singer ‘Jelly Bean Martinez.’ I think it is fair to say that he made an immediate impression on the crowd and elicited howls of laughter with the characterisation that he delivered. I think his selection of a couple of our visitors to abet him in a dance number was well received by their peers, but I don’t think anyone could possibly be unimpressed with what was delivered. I would really like to see more of this act, and I’m sure I will. I don’t see anything but a bright future for our Iberian star.
So that was that, only 3 hours after the start. One certainly gets value for money here that’s for sure. To check out the next time The Comedy Collective are present and all of the other shows on offer at The Stand then www.thestand.co.uk is the place to be.
Reviewed by Geoff

Grease:- Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline

If there is there anyone in the world who in unaware of this musical and film then I don’t know where they have been for the last 40 years. Grease had its Broadway debut in 1972, yes really, and there have been hundreds of productions world wide so when the touring production rolled into Dunfermline this week it was hardly surprising that once again the crowds were lining up in droves.

The show, created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey is set in Rydell High School it the late 50’s, where hormone fuelled school kids sing and dance their way through the whole gambit of well known and loved classics such as ‘The One that I Want’, ‘Summer Nights’, ‘Beauty School Dropout’ and ‘Greased Lightning’ to name just a few as Danny Zuko, Danny Bayne, tries to woo Sandy, Carina Gillespie in spite of his still wanting to be cool. These two principals are ably supported by a whole talented ensemble, all of which can light up any performance with the sparkling talent on offer and with Rhydian Roberts making the very most of his cameo role as Teen Angel camping it up to the ultimate it is impossible to leave the theatre without a smile on your face. The production is slick and well staged, oozes class from the principals through the ensemble and the excellent band lays down a solid base for all the well known songs and dance.

It is always heartening to me to see such a wide age group of people attending these productions, from 6 to 86 or more I reckon on Friday’s early show, and I’ve no doubt that this popularity will endure for many years to come.

There are a couple of last chances for you to catch this show in Dunfermline tonight see www.alhambradunfermline.com for details or the next ports of call for Grease www.greasethemusical.co.uk is the place to be.

Reviewed by Geoff

Jason Byrne – People’s Puppeteer Tour

I can’t be exactly sure the first time I saw Jason Byrne on stage. I do remember it was waaaay back in the late 90’s when he was first beginning to make waves on the comedy scene and immediately tuned into his unique style and like many thousands of people have been hooked ever since.

Byrne has appeared numerous times on TV and radio and although he is always good I feel he is in his absolute best medium performing live on stage in front of an army of his enthusiasts.

So having done his usual stint in the Edinburgh Fringe Byrne is now beginning a massive tour of his latest foray into the comedy world with The People’s Puppeteer, and this rolled into Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre on 7 September.

Now I know he does have prepared material, and more than enough of it, but whenever I have seen him perform over the last decade and a bit he gives the impression of being as interested in riffing with the crowd getting gems and running with them, a skill he has in abundance. He also does tend to wander of the topic occasionally, but its part of his appeal and charm.

I guess the success of a gig is the amount of laugh out loud reactions he generates during his set, and if we were talking value for money measured this way he would be way up there, but for me although his is important, it is only part of the package. Byrne crafts his set well, interspersing wickedly observed stories with occasional childlike moments of nonsense to. Byre may have reached the age of 40 but there is still an impish little Irish boy in there and occasionally he gets out.

Audience interaction is essential too; more often than not several find themselves sharing a stage for few minutes with this comedy, maestro as they become part of the show. But still they come and it is usually a fight to get near the front.

Jason, as usual, delivered on every level during the mammoth gig, his set material as usual wide ranging and funny, his riffing top draw and the moments of silliness delicious. He is in control, well generally, ably manipulating everyone to his own ends, and those are really to have a great time. He truly is a People’s Puppeteer.

To find out if he is coming to a town near you check out www.jasonbyrne.ie  and for many other top shows in Dunfermline www.alhambradunfermline.com is the place to be.

Reviewed by Geoff

Rhod Gilbert – The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo

Well the Edinburgh Fringe has been over at least two days now, so time to get back to seeing comedy again, it’s been too long a break.

And where better to start that at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre for the full 2 hours plus of Rhod Gilbert’s outstanding new touring show.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I first saw him in Edinburgh, playing to a not so full room but my goodness times have changed. Gilbert is all over TV and radio and when it comes to live shows well the biggest venue cannot keep up with the demand for tickets, so it was no surprise that this show was packed out.

Rhod admits that his show is always a story of his life and that he is an argumentative chappie, and boy does he love a rant!! Yeah Rhod and we the audience love it when you go off on one too. This articulate Welshman is a total pleasure to see perform. He plays the massive Alhambra like a small room, his stage presence is as vast as the auditorium and his wickedly crafted set is an example of how great stand-up should be delivered. For a non-jokey comic I lost count of the belly laughs he elicited from the crowd who where hanging on his every word as he related episodes of his last few months in his troubled relationship. He doesn’t big himself up, usually quite the reverse but has a way of telling a story like few others could even dream of achieving.

Letters of complaint, a train journey, a house renovation and of course the eponymous tattoo are just a few of the excellent tales he relates and even has a closing video section that used so many call-backs, it was worthy of the entrance money alone.

Rhod is setting off on a marathon tour for mostly the rest of the year. Do yourselves a favour; check out his website, www.rhodgilbertcomedian.com for dates in your vicinity. It is not a tour to be missed in my opinion.

For future events at Dunfermline’s Alhambra then www.alhambradunfermline.com is the place to be.

Reviewed by Geoff