Alice Fraser – Ethos

By Ron Bingham

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.

Ethos is on at Underbelly, Bristo Square until August 27