Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Bec Hill @ Gilded Balloon

bec hill

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★★

With captions for all her jokes laid out on post it notes on a sheet of paper in the centre of the stage, Bec Hill allows the audience to shout out which jokes they want to hear in any order they like. There is an obvious closer in the gag titled “Finish the Show”, but no-one would ever be in a hurry for this show to end.

Hill combines straight-forward jokes with songs and visual accompaniments, mainly in the form of pop-up books – a talent for which she clearly developed at a young age, judging by one of her props. This unique and playful structure of Hill’s show gives it enough of an edge to keep it interesting.

Hill is a creative, bright and talented – and also very funny – comic, and this show further proves it.


Bec Hill: Out of Order, Gilded Balloon, Teviot (Turret), until 27 Aug (not 15), 5.15pm, £7.50-9.50

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Goodbear @ Pleasance Dome

goodbear

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★

Goodbear’s Pleasance show plays out like an acting reel rather than a comedy hour, with duo Joe Barnes and Henry Perryment throwing in every accent and character impersonation they possibly can in their allotted time period.

Set in the Hotel Apres Vie, quite literally the Hotel for the Afterlife, and narrated by the two hotel concierges, we encounter all manner of guests and their stories are acted out. There are some funny characters here, like the American footballer holding a press conference in the hotel and the two yoga instructors channeling their spirit animals, but sadly most are unmemorable.

The acting is good but the sketches are clichéd: long-winded, over-dramatic lead-ups are followed by weak, predictable punchlines that aren’t worth the wait. The duo have good chemistry and are clearly both talented actors, but comedy just doesn’t seem to be their forte. With better writing and unique characters, Goodbear has the potential to be a good sketch show. But for the moment, their jokes just aren’t quite there yet.


Goodbear, Pleasance Dome (10 Dome), 2-27 Aug, 9.40pm, £8-£11

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Nazeem Hussain @ Assembly George Square

nazeem hussain

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★★

Nazeem Hussain is Australian and Muslim; this information is important because he talks about these things a lot throughout his show, Hussain in the Membrane.

The world is a difficult place to live in right now, particularly for Muslims, and Hussain insightfully points out the absurdity of this. Much like the show’s flyer explains, Hussain has a knack for exposing the flaws in prejudices against Islam and finding humour in them, detailing some of his own personal experiences with this.

However, the show is not entirely politically-fuelled – Hussain opens by discussing his stint spent on Australia’s version of the reality show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and how his sensitive gag reflex has brought him some unwarranted attention.

His jokes regarding his mother are perhaps his finest moments and judging by his stories and imitations of her, pink wedding sari and all, it seems as though she too deserves her own stand-up show. Racism and prejudice can be a difficult topic to cover but by poking fun at the ridiculousness of it, Hussain manages with ease, proving that sometimes the most sensitive of issues are best addressed with laughter.


Nazeem Hussain – Hussain In The Membrane, Assembly George Square (Studio 5), 2-27 Aug (not 15), 8pm, £10-£12.50

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Phil Dunning @ Pleasance Courtyard

phil dunning

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★

Welcoming the audience into his world, Dunning introduces us to the show’s very loose storyline: that being the seedy cabaret bar House of Pigs, in which the show is set, facing closure and replacement by corporate chain The Slug & Arsehole.

Performing under numerous personas throughout the show between guiding the audience through his attempts to save the House of Pigs, Dunning’s impressions will have you amused but also confused. He isn’t lying when he says the storyline here is loose and the show reaches an abrupt end, without any explanation as to the fate of the House of Pigs.

A part cabaret, part character and part sketch show, it is also surrealist comedy on steroids, with added musical interludes. There’s lots of the weird and wonderful going on, but Dunning struggles to navigate his way through. It is a hit and miss show that leaves more questions than answers, although maybe that is the point.


Phil Dunning: The House of Pigs, Pleasance Courtyard (Below), until 27 Aug (not 14), 11pm, £6-9

Iceage @ Summerhall, Edinburgh, 5 Aug

iceage

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★

Iceage frontman Elias Rønnenfelt is frequently compared to Nick Cave, and those comparisons are not wrong. The problem is that Rønnenfelt attempts to emulate Cave a little too obviously, and doesn’t quite pull it off. He comes swanning onstage in a blazer and button-down shirt, proceeding to imitate Cave’s hand gestures and stage persona like he’s been studying the body language of the Bad Seeds frontman for years.

When the first chords of The Lord’s Favourite are heard, the front half of the crowd quickly alters from polite, head-nodding observers to moshing, stage-diving punks. This seems to please Rønnenfelt for the first time during the band’s set, and he leans forward into his loyal followers, singing directly into their faces. As soon as they get too close, though, he smacks their hands away with a sour look on his face, as though he detests their adoration.

This again is another common Cave trait, but one that doesn’t work in Rønnenfelt’s case. Cave can get away with this kind of behaviour because he is an actual Rock God; Iceage’s vocalist, however, is still far too early in his career to even hope to reach the same heights.

Between the frontman’s moans about needing a new snare drum (after drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen breaks his own one song in) and looking like he’d rather be anywhere else, Iceage actually prove themselves to be quite a promising live act. Rattling through a selection of old and new tracks, the Copenhagen quartet are actually quite an engaging live band. If only they showed a little more respect to their ticket-paying, album-buying fans, it might be a little easier to give them the credit they deserve.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Princes of Main @ Bedlam Theatre

princes of main

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★★

Oddball sketch trio Princes of Main delight the audience with their what-the-fuck-is-going-on? comedy.

Hosting a New Year’s Eve party in August may seem odd, but Princes are probably not alone in wanting to say an early goodbye to 2017. They run us through a series of lowlights from the year so far, naturally heavily featuring Donald Trump and Theresa May, and their own personal, albeit fictional, highlights.

The madness takes form in a number of ridiculously hilarious sketches, with stand-outs including a creepy antique shop owner and the occult, summoning spirits from the audience. The show relies quite heavily on audience participation at times and tonight the group were unlucky with their first attempt but lucked out later on, with a more up for it audience member challenging their wit.

There were a few hiccups here but Princes of Main’s fictional New Year’s Eve party will leave you hoping that their version of reality is fact.

Princes of Main: New Year’s Eve, Bedlam Theatre, 2-27 Aug, 9.30pm, £8-£10

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Abigoliah Schamaun @ Underbelly Cowgate

abigoliah schamaun

Originally published for The Skinny.

★★

Musicals can be a divisive topic: people often love them or hate them, so to centre a large part of a show around your love of musical theatre can be a risky move.

This is what Abigoliah Schamaun does in Namaste Bitches. Despite not being the main topic, Schamaun spends much of the first half of the show talking about her love of musicals, before moving on to discuss her more recent endeavours in yoga and fitness. There are some funny anecdotes in among the show, like the time during the Fringe last year that Schamaun found herself in the Meadows playing ultimate frisbee with a group of mormons at 5am, but an erratic, overexcitable storytelling style undercuts this.

More than a few times Schamaun puts on an odd geeky voice when making jokes for reasons unknown, which doesn’t contribute anything to the story. Perhaps it was nervousness, perhaps it’s part of Schamaun’s stage persona, but regardless, it feels awkward and unnecessary. There are a few walkouts halfway through the show, and unfortunately, today, it never quite gets beyond the mildly amusing.

Abigoliah Schamaun: Namaste, Bitches, Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Laugh), 3-27 Aug (not 15). 7:40pm, £8-£10
http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk