Lauren Pattison: It Is What It Is

By Ron Bingham

It’s been a turbulent couple of years for Lauren. The last time I saw her was in London in March 2020, as Covid was just breaking in the UK. It was also Lauren’s last show before everything shut down, and forced her to move back home to Newcastle.

Despite the setbacks Lauren has lost none of her brilliant comic timing and fast paced conversational style in the two+ years since her pre-Covid days. The audience sat enraptured throughout the hour, as Lauren regaled us with how and why she was able to cope with the disasters of the last two years that included a breakup and having to go back to working in retail. I sympathised with her story of working at the Morrisons checkout without a comprehensive knowledge of the fruit and vegetables sold in the store, to which she had an ingenious & hilarious solution.

The only thing that confused me was her story about Bottomless Brunch, which I sort of understood but have never encountered such a thing before. Now I’m trying to work out if that means I’m too posh, not posh enough, or just old (or foreign)? Maybe I’m just not that excited by endlessly refilled glasses of Prosecco at 10am.

The room Lauren is playing in was absolutely jammed full and despite it being a “pay-as-much-as-you-want” or buy a ticket show, I noticed almost everyone had bought a ticket. Lauren was in her element, thankfully (like a lot of us), she is coming out the other side of that long dark tunnel and her new show is all about her indomitable spirit, no matter what the world throws her way.

It Is What It Is is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy

James Roque: Badong

By Ron Bingham

James is from the Philippines before  moving with his family to New Zealand as a child. His family nickname is Badong and in his Edinburgh debut James explores how he got the name, looking in loving detail at the film Kung Pow: Enter the Fist and the actor that inspired it (sort of).

James is a pleasant young man with some very funny and embarrassing stories from his life. He also talks about racism he encountered at school and in the world around him, including an embarrassing acting job for some “rich white dudes” and an encounter at a Lost & Found counter at an airport. He aptly uses the big screen on the stage to show the evidence of some of these experiences, as well as ending with an excellent remake of the film we saw glimpses of at the start of the show.

The room James is playing in is very small and the audience was jammed in. In fact, at one point the staff asked everyone to move forward a bit so they could squeeze in an extra row of chairs for the latecomers. About 20% of them seemed to be Filipino from the sound of the cheers at some of the references, which surprised James too and added a great chummy atmosphere to the room.

A very entertaining hour from a promising young Kiwi comic.

Badong is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot

Adele Cliff: In the Dark

By Ron Bingham

While Adele’s show this year was fun and entertaining, in some way I felt disappointed as she only gave us a couple of appalling puns during the hour.

Adele was the UK Pun Champion of 2020, so her punning is legend. She also proves to be a fine storyteller and this year she had some entertaining tales about her share-house living in London, her parents (especially her movie obsessed mum) and living as a single socially awkward nerd who hates reading emails.

It was an enjoyable hour from Adele who, despite her protestations about being an awkward loner, has excellent delivery and knows how to keep an audience enthralled in her tales of woe. A highlight of tonight’s show was when she was talking about her mum’s breast cancer, explaining that, for those needing a prosthetic breast after surgery, there is a Book of Nipples, one gent in the audience was a bit too enthusiastic in asking where he could get a copy.  Adele also had a very funny finale, possibly involving some strategically mounted death lasers, maybe.

The venue is a low wide room with pillars, backless stools for seating and requires careful thought in choosing a seat where you can see the stage. Of course, it’s all ruined when that really tall bloke comes in just before the start of the show and sits in the front row, but that’s the fun of The Fringe….

In the Dark is on at Just the Tonic at The Tron

Dragons and Mythical Beasts

By Ron Bingham

Packed house to see this show (probably 60:40 kids to adults ratio). Well it turned out to be very much created for children with not only a panto element, but an interactive roleplaying vibe. It’s a show for kids of nerds!

Our host/apprentice hero, Dave, explains that we are there to help him become a proper Hero and we will all be elevated to hero status as well, for our help. We have to complete six tasks, which include; obtaining a diamond from a Stone Troll – Emma from the audience volunteered to help with this and obtaining the horn from a unicorn – Ellie was determined to be chosen for this task, she was almost on stage before help was asked for and  she’ll have her own show at the fringe in ten years no doubt! Other tasks were collecting some gold from the griffin’s nest, taking a dream from a Japanese Dream Thief, Baku that looked like a cross between a gremlin and an elephant, making a deal with The Tooth Fairy, and taking a tooth from a dragon, who was the real showstopper.

Once these tasks have been completed, the deer spirit of the forest will come and confer hero status on us. Unless a disaster occurs right at the end. But that couldn’t happen, could it?

The audience were loud and shrieking with delight and laughter at the appearance of each magical creature and a marvellous time was had by all. The huge puppets really were jaw droppingly gorgeous and the visible puppeteers seemed to be having almost as much fun as the kids. The English have a proud panto tradition and are great at entertaining kids and adults alike.  Twas an excellent start to the day. Hussah!

Dragons and Mythical Beasts is on at Underbelly, Bristo Square

Erin Fowler: Egg

By Ron Bingham

There’s an egg on stage. Well, this is going to be interesting. Sure enough  Erin Fowler has a cracking show for us. A fascinating and funny look at those big life decisions, women, in particular, have to face, most notably of whether to “settle down” and “start a family”. This was  made all the more complicated when the coronavirus struck and saw people forced to re-evaluate their lives.

Egg is Erin’s personal and often moving story of trying to decide a future for herself through dance, physical comedy, some impressive costumes and a number of pretty cool songs (as well as one or two daggy ones – eg It’s Raining Men). The music can be overpowering at times for those in the front, thanks to the rock ‘n’ roll sound system, which does drown out Erin’s little headset mike occasionally.

She opens with an artistic dance showing conception to birth, followed by stories of Erin’s ambivalence over children, the pressure by friends to find the right man and companies to sign up for tests and egg freezing, fears that her eggs are “getting old” and the attendant stress that all of this induces. While there are a number of jokes and comic stories, much of the humour in the show comes through Erin’s dancing and clowning, which she’s very good at, in fact this show unsurprisingly won Best Weekly Dance Award at the 2021 Adelaide Fringe.

The all-ages audience (I spotted a couple of kids who had to be about ten) enjoyed themselves thoroughly. One for the whole family, as long as you’re not squeamish about discussing the birds and the bees with the kids. I get the feeling this might be banned in most states of the USA over it’s fact-based depictions of all matters sexual. Luckily Erin is at the Edinburgh Fringe where such things can be celebrated through shared laughter in a gorgeous room.

Egg is on at The House of Oz

The Weegie Boys: Weegie Hink Ae That?

By Ron Bingham

Scottish comedians performing at the Edinburgh Fringe? Why not! These three young unpolished lads (Gregor Mackay, Conor Hardie and Elliot Hanigan) sing songs and perform sketches that get more and more Scottish as the show goes on.

If you want to perfect your Glaswegian accent, or hear some original local Scots patois, this is the show for you. Unless, of course, you’re offended by copious amounts of swearing, people dropping their trousers for a punchline, some very dodgy jokes.

The Weegie Boys manage to surprise us with some very pleasant singing – about the poor timetabling skills of ScotRail, giant seagulls in Aberdeen and the Scotch Pie (a pack of which they have on stage, and which I noticed had some lovely green mould spots – come see the show at the end of the Fringe and I expect it’ll be the same pack filled with lovely green fungus).

An excellent show, most of which I was able to understand, and a pleasant change from all the London (or Australian) accents. The Weegie Boys are still a bit rough around the edges but the audience were having a wonderful time (apart from the young lad seated next to me, who was much too close to some sausage roll fallout from the stage). There is a LOT of swearing, but it’s in a Scottish accent, and therefore an essential component …. isn’t it?

Weegie Hink Ae That? is on at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose