Wicked Wenches – Stand Comedy Club Edinburgh – 7 May 2013

P1030587 With the weather actually feeling like May for a change I made my way to Edinburgh’s Stand Comedy Club for the monthly all female line-up gig full of expectation for a top quality night of comedy and I wasn’t disappointed.

As part of  an unusually bijou audience we were welcomed by our MC and compere Susan Calman, who is usually the mainstay of these gigs and as always no matter the size of crowd delivers a masterclass of how to do the role. Susan has a much higher profile these days but doesn’t have any airs and graces, just an honest to goodness class act who is in her natural habitat chatting with the audience, jesting, feeding in some of her material and generally warming up everyone for the acts to follow. She is always different each time and this show was no exception. Ms Calman was on P1030600fire and ran with an idea that she was ‘psychic’ a la Derek Acorah to absolutely hilarious effect. She had the entire audience in stitches, nothing new there as this amiable Glaswegian always does, but set the scene for those to follow, the first of whom was Elaine Malcolmson.

Elaine seems to have been missing for the scene for a while and I for once have missed seeing her perform. From Northern Ireland originally but now Glasgow based, she has a style all of her own and also is never predictable as to her subject matter. What she is always is a great value act, and manages to draw laughs from unusual ideas and subject. Recent trips to New York, the different meaning of word dependant on where you are from, the NHS and radical solutions to A&E issues and alternatives to medicines TK Max and fridges all were dealt with during her set as only she can. Great to see her back and on top form.

P1030604Following the first interval and more of Susan’s new found psychic powers filling the short slot was up and coming Natasha Yapp, and in keeping with what is the norm on the night certainly delivered a thoroughly entertaining set. Ms Yapp is of a very complicated heritage and a lot of her material was based on and around this, all of which to me anyway was extremely well written and impeccably delivered. I saw her a few months ago on beginners night Red Raw and since then she has matured as a performer so much. Confident without being cocky she took charge from the off and certainly was well received by all. Definitely look forward to seeing her progress to a longer set.

P1030614Closing out part two was Lancastrian Katie Mulgrew. This was the first time I had seen this effervescent lady perform and like everyone was impressed with her offering. She seemed to have boundless enthusiasm, some really funny material  and bags of personality. Her range of  subject matter was wide, her recent engagement, McDonalds, a friends new child, previous Edinburgh trips and ex boyfriends amongst other subjects were intermingled with audience riffing all to great effect. I would like to see her with a larger crowd to play off as I feel she feeds off audience reaction a lot and the more they give the more she does too, so hopefully next time I’ll see if I’m right.

TaHeadline act of the night was the gorgeous Tara Flynn.  This multi talented  comedian / singer/ actress/voiceover artist has been a favourite of mine for years and if anything looks younger today than she did the first time I saw her. Tara has total control from the start, captivating the punters with her mix of comedy and music. Starting off with some really funny stuff on her native Ireland,  tourism, Ryan Air ‘The Gathering’ and the boom years there moving through to her recent marriage and her moving into her middle youth , Ms Flynn royally entertained.  And as a bonus she completed her set with three of her songs to demonstrate not only her vocal abilities and styles and also song writing abilities, a really enjoyable ending to a fine set.

And for another month that was that. Ms Calman closed it out and we all had to leave. Still next month it’ll be back okay a new line-up but without doubt the same high standard. For details of this and all other shows at The Stand in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle check out the website www.thestand.co.uk  ad you can book tickets for their Edinburgh Fringe line-up too.

Reviewed by Geoff

Fancy Something Different in a Fringe Show?

The Noise Next Door

24 Hour Improv Adventure

Monday, 13th August

The Noise Next Door, one of the Festival’s cutting edge improv groups will be attempting a first at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Straight after their show they will be setting out on a 24 hour improvised adventure around the City and the Festival. The parameters of their adventure day will be totally decided by the public through their suggestions online and in person as the guys work their way around Edinburgh from one task to the other.

As they improvise their way around the City and various venues of the Fringe they will ask for suggestions of what they should do next, where they should do it, the style they should perform it in. Their audience, fans and members of the public will be asked to come up with fun ideas of what they should be doing as they work their way around the mayhem of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

So whether they end up selling tickets at the Underbelly Box office in the manner of silent film stars or playing darts in someone’s front room with their comedian chums, this adventure is bound to be one of the most off the wall, exciting and totally unique events ever to have been seen in the City.

So if you want to see five guys improvising their way around Edinburgh and the Fringe, join The Noise Next Door on Monday evening at 7.00pm outside Pleasance Above and let the Improv begin!

Website: www.thenoisenextdoor.com

Twitter: @noisenextdoor

Facebook: noisenextdoor

YouTube : noisenextdoorvideos

Bethany Black : Love and a Colt 45

* * *
3 stars

I saw Bethany Black last year and was fascinated by her set, which was based around her decision to change gender and the subsequent emotional upheaval she went through.  I found it both engaging and life-affirming.  There’s more of that attitude on display here in this year’s ‘Love and a Colt 45’, a show which revolves around her two main addictions – drink and love.

To say that Black’s had her ups and downs would be an understatement, but to live a life which veers between these extreme highs and lows gives her plenty of material to work with.  Her anecdotes about her dependency on alcohol drew laughs of recognition from the audience, whilst her stories about failed relationships were stark and self-effacing. 

I do like Black, and think she has a particular knack in telling a good story, but I also think there’s something which is holding her back from really opening up a crowd.  Whether it’s the brutal honesty of her material or the slightly nervy stage presence, I couldn’t say for sure.  What I do know, however, is that she’s a performer who is well intentioned and who has something different to say.

Di

Janis

* * * *
4 stars

I am of an age to remember the talented performer that was Janis Joplin, just. I was kinda young, but knew parts of the life story of the hedonistic singer that was taken from us at a young age, she was only 27 when she died.

Nicola Haydn plays this complex character, as a potted life story is related to a packed enthralled audience.

The piece is set in a hotel bedroom on the fateful day, as armed with booze, drugs and her guitar, Joplin waits for those who do not arrive.

The Texas girl who made good and who is still revered in some circles as on of the best, truly embraced the 60’s culture of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and Ms Hayden certainly gets the story across with style. The accent never slipped and the direction was well put together.

It was not the easiest of hours as the subject matter was at times a little dark, as it would need to be, yet it was a very well performed piece, certainly if you can remember the late sixties.

Geoff

The Late Show

* * * * *
5 stars

It’s almost 1am.  Why am I standing in the Jelly Belly at this time of the night waiting for a show to START?  Why am I not snuggled up in my bed back home with a good book and a cup of cocoa?  The Late Show, that’s why.

The Late Show is now a bit of a staple on my review schedule as it regularly offers up 2 hours of some of the finest comedians on the Fringe.  Normal life will be resumed in a couple of weeks, but for now I’m perfectly happy to be up past my bedtime  and queuing with the rest of the crowd awaiting a slice of late-night comedy action. 

It’s fair to say there’s not a cup of cocoa in sight, and this crowd are eager  to be entertained.  Fortuitously there seem to be a few entertainers in town.  Compere Rob Heeney warms us all up but it’s the first act that really gets us going.  Glenn Wool strides to the stage and immediately owns everyone in the room.  He’s loud, he’s magnetic, he’s . . . drunk?  Nevertheless he’s thoroughly entertaining, seizing on the opportunity provided by a backstage fan to launch into an impromptu rendition of ‘November Rain’ in all its big-haired, windswept glory.  He also makes us laugh a lot too, which is a bonus.   He’s supposed to do 20 minutes; he probably ends up doing about 40.  There’s your value for money right there.

After a quick comfort break, Heeney’s back and introduces us fairly swiftly to Stephen Carlin.  Carlin is less high-energy than Wool, but it’s a nice counter balance.  His short (in comparison) set goes well but it seems that the late hours are getting to some audience members and they head for the door.  Quitters!  Their loss however, as the last act to the stage is one Reginald D Hunter who makes his way to the front of the room to rapturous applause.  This is the great thing about The Late Show, you’re given the opportunity to see acts who are selling out across the Fringe, as well as acts who you may not have thought about seeing.

At 3 am it’s all over, and whilst many of the audience are preparing to carry on their night elsewhere, I make my way back home to type up this review through bleary eyes.  I’m fine with the sleep-deprivation though, as The Late Show is definitely one worth staying up for.

Di

Over The Threshold

* * * * *
5 stars

Over the Threshold was written by writer / composer Christopher Hamilton in 2004 this 2009 Fringe version stars Madalena Alberto, Kieran Brown, Helen French and Trevor Jary.

The set at first appears strange four obvious doorways, two mats and four chairs. The four chairs are two sets of two, the reason being we have two flats filling the space of one.

Tom (Kieran Brown) and his partner Kate (Helen French) have just moved in to a new flat, despite their time together all is not well. Is it because he has not got a job or is it because she is working too hard and he hasn’t yet asked her to marry him? After one particularly fraught argument she runs out meeting Charlie (Trevor Jary) who entices her out. Meanwhile discovering she has gone Tom manages to get locked out of the flat in his underpants. Sam (Madelena Alberto) the elusive next-door neighbour invites him in and the hilarity and misunderstandings start.

The storyline is fully believable, the direction clever, the musical numbers memorable and as for the cast they are superb. Had I the time I would go back to see it again.

Sheila

Pappy’s Fun Club’s World Record Attempt : 200 Sketches in an Hour

* * * * *
5 stars

My expectations were high as Pappy’s Fun Club (Ben, Brendan, Matthew and Tom) bounded onto the Pleasance One stage, and for the next hour I wasn’t disappointed. The premise of this sketch show is that the boys from Pappy’s Fun Club aren’t doing too well financially and in order to keep the backing of their benefactor; Pappy, they must break the world record attempt for the number of sketches in a hour.

Kicking off with Matthew on guitar for ‘The Opening Song’ which they haven’t got time to sing if they are going to fit in all the sketches, the laugh rate started off high and stayed that way throughout the full hour show. With numerous lo-fi props and costumes the sketches come thick and fast, with occasional appearances of a totaliser to let us know how the record attempt is going. There are a few running themes through the show, including time travel, the world’s tallest man and shortest woman, a lovably stupid dinosaur called Dean, and the founder of the Quakers (according to Pappy’s the same man founded both the religion and the porridge oats company!), which brings the show to a very satisfying conclusion with some excellent audience participation.

The energy and enthusiasm from these four talented performers was possibly the highest I’ve seen this Fringe and Pappy’s Fun Club I can only add my praise to the growing number of excellent reviews the boys have already received.

Sarah