Luke Rollason’s Planet Earth

By Ron Bingham

My first random pick of the Fringe and I’m glad I had the gap in my schedule as it was a hilarious hour of goofiness about nature (with a serious message hidden inside the chocolatey comedy coating). The room seats about 60 people (very cosily) and was jammed full on day two of the Fringe.

The show opens with a rather scary scene (well, it terrified one little boy down the back of the room), where Luke plays an angler fish. From there we are led into the world of David Attenborough (or a close approximation) and the world of animals both tiny and huge. The audience is asked before the show to write the name of their favourite animal on a Post-It Note, which Luke may use during the show in a sketch. There is also a little audience interaction, but nothing too scary or demanding.

If you’re a fan of nature documentaries or cute fluffy animals (like an eight legged friend that appears at one point – a warning for the arachnophobes out there), or you just love comedy with lots of energy, props, jokes and a message, then you will love this show. The packed audience at the show I saw certainly had a great time. See it and save the world.

Luke Rollason’s Planet Earth is on at Monkey Barrel until August 26

Anya Anastasia – The Executioners

By Ron Bingham

After wowing everyone at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, South Australian cabaret artiste Anya Anastasia is here to conquor Edinburgh. I can best describe Anya’s character as a mix of Kate Miller-Heidke and Tim Minchin. Her excellent yet quirky vocals combined with cutting, satirical lyrics punctures the arrogance and self-obsession of the modern world. Aided by musician Gareth Chin, Anya arrives dressed in a shining white outfit with glowing headgear to teach us how to save the world with your social media platform of choice.

The audience is taken on a journey through politics and global warming to reach the inevitable conclusion that we’re all doomed unless we put down the phone, get out there and protest, vote and actually engage with the real world. There’s more to this show than just her wonderful songs with sword fights and kung fu incorporated into this physical performance.

If your idea of a good night out is witnessing some impressive action choreography combined with witty, pertinant and catchy songs about the state of the world, sung by a very talented and engaging performer, then you must see this show.

The Executioners is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot until August 26

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

Adele Cliff – Sheep

By Ron Bingham

Up and coming comedian Adele Cliff is the oldest of three girls, from Cambridge, extremely competitive, hugely talented and was once compared to a sheep (Aha!).

Sheep details significant moments in Adele’s life, why she is the best in her family despite not being the highest achiever, but mostly why she is (or is not) like a sheep. Adele’s comedy is witty, smart and engaging, and includes a significant number of puns (which means it’s brilliant or terrible, depending on how you feel about this art form).

Adele talks about her biology degree and how she was a regional champion at diving (until her younger sisters came along and went one better), how the primary school playground can be a battlefield where the ones left behind often become traitors, and that herding one sheep is easy, but five…..

This was an absolute delight of a show, with Adele being a pleasant, friendly and smart comedian, with a lateral twist for some truly appalling puns. She has clearly been working her butt off at stand up and has put together an impressive, tight hour of laughs. The room may be a little whiffy (it IS in a cave despite the pretty curtains and fairy lights), but the show is a delight from start to finish. You have the option of buying a ticket or adding a donation at the end of the show.

Sheep is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves until August 26

A Comedy Brunch 2

By Ron Bingham

This is a pleasant and relaxing morning show, featuring two distinct stand-up comedians. In the first half we have self-confessed nerd Neil Harris, who teaches the audience a little bit of physics along with amusing stories about his life. He recently had an embarrassing accident involving a bicycle and some teeth, which I will leave to him try to explain / justify. I’m still trying to work out if he was doing a little too much work at his nerdy appearance, or whether it was just the way he is. One for the nerds and nerd friendly.

The second half of the show is taken up by a different kind of nerd; Julie Grady Thomas, who comes on dressed as Barbie. Very pink! Julie amusingly explains a childhood obsession withe plastic princess and deconstructs the doll and accessories (is Ken considered an accessory?). We also laugh about the horrors of her recent home purchase, and how it isn’t quite her “dream house”. While there isn’t as much in the way of physics jokes, this was still a very engaging 30 minutes of comedy. Especially for those people who like (or even hate) Barbie, and people considering buying a home.

Not much I can recall in the way of material that would offend youngsters, and there was vitrually no audience interaction, so you’re safe to come along and just relax, letting the comics wake you up for a hard day’s Festivaling.

A Comedy Brunch 2 is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves until August 26