Tony Law: Identifies

By Ron Bingham

Tony Law is the very definition of absurd comedy. There wasn’t a theme to this year’s show and the humour didn’t come so much from jokes with punchlines but from his constantly switching accents and the word salad of crazy coming from his mouth. There was a large map of the world on the wall behind him but I don’t recall him referring to it in the show. There were a couple of songs (very loose definition) and a cameo appearance by his son (I’m guessing about ten years old) dressed in full Scottish regalia and lip synching along with the classic Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime. No reason was given for this (apart from Tony claiming this should get any desire for performing out of his system so he can concentrate on a proper career at school).

If you are a fan of semi-organised chaos by a large Canadian madman, you can’t go wrong with this lunch-time extravaganza. Tony tries not to swear (unless it’s in a foreign accent, in which case it doesn’t count apparently), as his son is backstage. The room was full of fans and I recommend getting a ticket as available seats for his show are becoming scarce.

Identifies is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy until August 25

Jess Robinson: The Jess Robinson Experience

By Ron Bingham

Jess Robinson’s forte is musical impressions of famous divas, but she is also a dab hand at other vocal impressions and a very funny conversational comic to boot.

Featuring an on-stage band, this year’s show looks back at Jess’ life – her origin and influences. The songs are reworkings of well known tunes with adapted lyrics, that tell the stories of her musical and film heroes, growing up in a small town (Aldbury) in Hertfordshire (or, as she described it, Brexit central), and her grandmother, who was a remarkable woman (and who managed to escape from Germany in 1939). There is even a very special tribute to Kate Bush with a “special guest dancer”.

The venue is a wooden “tent” featuring wood pillars with mirror panelling a central seating area and booths around the edges. I recommend trying to sit somewhere in the middle as the pillars block the view of some of the action on the sides. Jess wore a bright costume with sparkly bits (and some impressive sparkly boots). The audience was raucous in their applause and even joined in on most of the singalong bits. The big finale song featured Jess singing along with a number of other Jess Robinsons on the big screen, which was the best way to break from the poignant version of Climb Every Mountain that Jess sang for her grandmother. This was a very entertaining show and it was hard to believe how much they crammed into one hour. If you’re a fan of musical comedy songs, then this is definitely the show to see.

The Jess Robinson Experience is on at Assembly Rooms until August 24

Bart Freebairn: Maximum Delicious

By Ron Bingham

This show will make you hungry. Bart talks about his love of food, giving us examples of some of his favourites (not literally, sadly). He also tries to explain why employing a personal trainer is the perfect justification for being able to eat an entire cheesecake.

His stand-up comedy, while mostly food based, (and who can’t relate to food based comedy?) does also delve into first impressions of the UK from an Australian visitor and a number of other subjects. It is an hour of confident, funny and sharply observed humour, which should appeal to most comedy lovers.

Bart has been performing a bit under the radar in Australia for a few years now and it’s a shame, because he’s a charismatic performer who can bring audience members to tears of laughter. It’s fantastic to see him pulling full houses here (so buy a ticket if you want to be sure of a seat)  and the audience was certainly having an excellent time at the show I saw. Then finally, everyone was further rewarded with a Jaffa Cake at the end of the show. YUM.

Maximum Delicious is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves until August 25

Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face

By Ron Bingham

This year Jayde Adams has moved out of her comfort zone, removed her diva costumes, put down her singing voice and donned a turtleneck jumper, to deliver a lecture on the history of feminism and a little of her family history, as seen through the Jenner/Kardashian family. I was a little surprised as I only knew her through her songs, but this was an excellent show.

Jayde came out with her Serious Black Jumper (you can buy a SBJ after the show, so you too can be taken seriously), to explain her theory of how people listen to those wearing turtlenecks. She is also carrying a cane, as she said she stuffed her knee up on the second day of the run. Using the big screen on the stage, she explains how last year’s hugely successful Edinburgh show led to no further bookings as well as a change in her agent and the direction of her comedy. We are given a short history of the Jenner/Kardashian family, which was very handy for some of us (me), and how Kylie completely changed her facial structure using just some of her own-brand cosmetics (which led to her becoming a billionaire). Cue a number of scathing comments, a short history of feminism and a call to arms of the young. We also had a story of an embarrassing trip to a very posh restaurant in Paris and a slightly depressing family Christmas party.

Despite the lack of singing which I had expected, I really enjoyed this show. Lots of laughs, some interesting points and some very funny stories. Now I just have to remove all that information about the Jenner/Kardashian family from my brain and I’ll be happy. I highly recommend this great new direction from an established comic.

The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 25

Phil Ellis: Au Revoir

By Ron Bingham

After six years of performing at the Fringe, and with nothing to show for it apart from four broken relationships, two lost houses and five unaired pilot episodes for the BBC, Phil Ellis has decided this will be his farewell performance.

As he is a very deceptive performer, it is difficult to be sure whether any of this is true or not. Are those drunks in the audience real? Was that clown supposed to die like that? Is Phil really running that much overtime? (I can say yes to this at least as, even with all the hurry-ups from his soundman, we still finished ten minutes late). Was young Phil really that sexy looking and saucy? Why was that swingball set (totem tennis) on a stage much to small for it to be used without losing a few audience members? Was the can thrown by those drunks meant to swish so close to my head that it parted my hair and left a trail of Guinness foam in my hair? Only multiple visits would be able to determine the answers to these questions and, sadly, I think the rest of the run is sold out.

The show was packed and the audience was loving every minute of this show, even the melancholy and tragic bits. Phil is a comedian who, with an able band of willing to be very embarrassed friends, will leave an audience very happy but slightly mystified as to what was real and what was a fortuitous accident. Mug someone for a ticket to Au Revoir if you have to. One of my must-see shows this Fringe and I hope to see his “we reformed the band” visit next year.

Au Revoir is on at Heroes @ The Hive until August 25

Cally Beaton: Invisible

By Ron Bingham

Cally Beaton recently turned to stand-up comedy, after a traumatic break-up and a life changing experience in Iceland two years ago which she describes in Invisible. The title of the show stems from something said by French author Yann Moix a couple of years ago – women over fifty are invisible. Cally is out to disprove that claim in this wonderfully funny hour.

The show features stories of her two teenage children, her many and often spectacular break-ups with a number of gentlemen (during the show Cally mentions that she also dates women but we got no relationship horror stories about them. Hmmm), and her life as an invisible person.

Cally is an engaging storyteller with excellent jokes and routines, and her interactions with the audience were friendly and non-threatening. There are quite a few swear words but, as one of the most embarrassing stories involved her teenage kids, her vibrator and social media, any youngsters in the audience will probably be more relaxed about this than their parents. The ending is lovely, involving some pictures and music which relates to her main story (spoiler: she survived) and the full house were very vocal in their approbation at the end. This is an impressive performance – it’s hard to believe she only chucked in her old job for comedy two years ago. Thoroughly recommended, if only for the break-up song that someone left on her voicemail.

Invisible is on at Assembly George Square Studios until August 26