Alice Fraser is performing in one of the new rooms under George Square; comfortable chairs, clean, good line of sight to the stage. Very nice venue. Not really what one usually expects in an Edinburgh Fringe show but it is a room that suits this exceptional performer.
Ethos explores the modern world and the nature of humanity, through the use of the comedian interacting with an artificial intelligence called “Ethos”. So this is not about the big laughs, more an amusing deeply thoughtful reflection on existence. It’s still funny and engrossing, but don’t come expecting an hour of one liners and a laugh a minute.
Alice’s AI alter-ego works something like a virtual assistant such as Alexa, asking questions of our host, searching the ‘net for answers when Alice is unable to explain concepts such as love or sarcasm, even trying out a few jokes of its own on the audience. We also hear a little about Alice, her family and friends and some entertaining stories, as she tackles racism, sexism and human nature.
Fans of The Bugle (with Andy Zaltzman) podcast (or indeed her own Tea with Alice podcast) will be familiar with her style of comedy. I enjoyed Ethos immensely (as did most of the full house), but this style may not be to everyone’s tastes. If you’re after puns, slapstick or scatological humour, you’re probably going to be better served elsewhere. If, however you’re after an hour of thought provoking comedy from a very smart and engaging comedian, which will still have you pondering deep thoughts days later, then this is definitely the show for you. Oh, there IS a dick joke, but I’ll let you discover it’s relevance to Alice’s Ethos.
It’s not long now until the world’s largest fringe arts festival begins in warmer climes and again a massive contingent of Australians and expats are headed to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many have traveled the Australian festival circuit and have been whipped into shape for international audiences. Some have been previously reviewed by Squirrel but remember they will have been further polished and may have been revised and reworked.
Last year Australian, Hannah Gadsby won Best Comedy at the Fringe, she’s had to cancel her Edinburgh Fringe run this year but there’s a lot more amazing comedy talent coming up from down under. If you are travelling anywhere near Edinburgh this August, have a look at the following list of shows and consider going to see an Australian act.
Melbourne Fringe Festival is Whizzing towards us at great speed. It starts on Wednesday 16th of September and we are looking forward to seeing lots of interesting and funny things.
We are also really looking forward to bringing lots of reviews for you.
Meanwhile there are some shows at this year’s Fringe that we’ve already reviewed and so to whet your whistle here are some shows we recommend. They were all pretty popular with us and you can read our reviews from the links below . Remember that the performers would (and should) have updated, strengthened and developed their performances since their first outing, which is, of course, what makes live Performance so wonderful
Alice has been going through a rough time. The sort of time that might make some people want to withdraw to a quiet place for a while and not have to entertain a bunch of strangers for a month but the show must go on and Alice is a trooper. A born entertainer who’s managed to rustle up an impressive show that she admits wasn’t quite what she planned when she made her Festival application.
Australia is blessed with comedians who appeal to all levels of taste and sophistication and Alice is definitely at the intellectual end. At its heart is a talk she gave for TEDx, but her themes and ideas are universal. What is love, belief, tragedy, truth and beauty and can we explore them while laughing at how absurd it can all be? There is also the story that surrounds her whole TEDx experience which is hilarious in itself.
Alice is skilled in transforming her densely written piece into a conversation with the audience. And it is a conversation, there is space for the audience to express themselves providing entertaining feedback, recognition and sing-alongs. Yes, Sing-alongs. Alice plays some cute songs on her trusty talking banjo which is an unexpected delight. There are also engrossing stories, delightful observations, dating advice, threaded through with a pre-recorded interview and peppered with excellent gags. She is in turns hilarious, charming, moving, gently sarcastic, silly and always a warm presence in the intimate space.
For a show put together under duress, there are a lot of laughs to be had. There are also a few tears so you might want to remember the tissues. It is quite an ambitious show that while entertaining as it is, it would be extra awesome with a decent sound and a tech rather than just her laptop. Alice gives her audience the best show she can and proves that she is a household name in the making. Go and see her so you can say ‘I saw her when’ and help get her moved to the bigger, better equipped room she deserves to be in.
Everyone’s a Winner is a beautiful, intelligent, funny, story show about survival, not fitting in and gaining the strength to walk away and find a better life. Sydney comedian Alice Fraser trained as a lawyer at Cambridge University, but thankfully for comedy audiences a legal life did not suit her and this show is about the miseries of the corporate world and her joyful escape.
Before the story proper Alice Fraser sings us a silly song on her banjo, an instrument which is almost as funny as the ubiquitous ukulele, that she plays wonderfully. Then just to let us know that she can crack out some pretty sharp gags she starts by popping zingers at us inspired by topics set out on cards. They are file cards because her props in the show tend to relate to her corporate theme.
When Alice moves into the story proper there is a change in mood and in manner which has more of a feel of spoken word but luckily is also very funny. Alice’s topics can get quite dark at times, the high levels of mental illness and suicide in her profession, the deep shame of failure, sexual harassment, the disdain towards women who choose motherhood and working in a place where non conformity is treated like a crime. Seeing her perform comedy and play the banjo, it is not surprising that she felt so out of place, could see through the bullshit and is thankfully able to make comedy about it.
I saw Alice absolutely slay a large comedy room with her intelligent, feminist comedy routine recently. It was then awe inspiring to see how she had expertly placed the jokes from her routine throughout her festival show. Which came first the routine or the festival show? I don’t know, but she is clearly mastering both. She has worked out an interesting structure with a warm welcome, Dictaphone messages that tell the story and routines about the topics that emerge, interspersed with some musical interludes including a lovely sing-along.
It is always fabulous to discover a new hugely talented comedian who is clearly destined for big things. You should discover her too, before she starts selling out in more expensive venues.
Alice Fraser performs Everyone’s a Winner at The Swanston Hotel in the Downstairs Lounge at 6.15