Grant Busé: SentiMENTAL!

By Ron Bingham

A chaotic start to the show, as the audience couldn’t find the entrance and most staff had no idea. Eventually we were all herded grumpily to the backstage entrance. Not a great warmup act for a Comedy show.

The cheery energy of Grant Buse soon had us forgetting the outside world, while laughing and tapping our toes. Grant took us back to the simpler times of the 1990s, a time when I had dropped out of the mainstream somewhat, so I missed some of the references to boybands and Sex & The City. I also don’t think I’ve ever had a Calippo, but there were enough general references to get some laughs from me. The rest of the audience were having a wonderful time, though, and a lot of the later parts of Grant’s show were more entertaining (for me) as he analysed people’s adoration of the good bits of the past and teased the audience with some very funny songs about love and lockdown. The finale was brilliant, partly thanks to a couple of gents dragged up from the audience to help him, and a big finish full of lycra and hair work.

Like most other comedians in this year’s Fringe, Grant included a section about the Covid lockdown, in which he was forced to leave his budding career in the UK and return to the family home in Brisbane. Does anyone think about the parents in this situation, being forced to have their adult children back home after a brief period of freedom? Anyway, SentiMENTAL! was an engaging hour of high energy songs, nostalgic stories and jokes, with a frenetic ending that will have you dancing out the door.

SentiMENTAL! is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot

Eleanor Tiernan: Away With The Fairies

By Ron Bingham

Eleanor had a promising comedy career before Covid, constantly touring and living out of hotels and B&Bs, as well as appearing on a number of TV comedy panel shows. Lockdown has forced to her to reassess her life (sort of) and spend time with people she previously avoided (ie her housemates).

Eleanor is a born comedian who isn’t going to let a pesky thing like a world wide plague and shutdown get in her way. She kept herself busy writing some very funny songs, I really enjoyed the one about the death of comedy – in a morbid way – but could she have found some time for singing lessons, maybe? Other minor matters she dealt with during the lockdown included not being able to make a living from comedy and working through her sexuality in a rather awkwardly public way. And of course things don’t go down the path you might expect. Real life is weird.

The show ran for about 45 minutes and mostly consisted of Eleanor running round the stage like a manic Irish pixie, singing some very rude songs,  joking about the chaos of the last couple of years and generally telling sharply funny stories to a very appreciative audience.

Away With The Fairies is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot

Arthur Smith: My 75 Years at the Edinburgh Fringe

By Ron Bingham

This is Arthur Smith’s nostalgia show, in which he looks back at his triumphs and tragedies at the Edinburgh Fringe. It doesn’t quite span the full 75 years of the Fringe, due to the tragic circumstance of Arthur not being born until the 1950s.

Unsurprisingly he has some fantastic stories from the shows he has done throughout the years, as well as a couple of bits that didn’t make it into the originals (deleted scenes?) For our pleasure he includes a little Hamlet, some Leonard Cohen and a few poems. I especially enjoyed hearing his tale of being arrested in one of his late night tours of the Royal Mile back in 2002, as it filled in a few details Simon Munnery missed when referring to the same event in his 2022 show.

My 75 Years at the Edinburgh Fringe is an excellent show in self but especially wonderful for the long term punters as it will either remind them of great comedy events they had seen, or learn about things they missed from back when the Fringe was more chaotic and unhinged. There is a little swearing and the possibility of nudity. Arthur is an Edinburgh Fringe icon and must-see artiste with the room absolutely jammed with excited fans. I recommend becoming one of them.

My 75 Years at the Edinburgh Fringe is on at Pleasance Courtyard

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