A Comedy Show on Top of Arthur’s Seat

By Ron Bingham

This is the tenth year that Barry Fearns has hosted a comedy show on a sort of flat bit just down from the top of Arthur’s Seat. He has to persuade comics to make the trek and also carry the audio equipment up (twice this year, as the initial amp failed to work). One of the comics cancelled at the last minute but Barry managed to talk Matt Price into doing the show and it turned out to be as much fun as it always is.

Along with Matt Price, we were treated to a song and some chat from comedians Jon Long (a delightful song about working in a London waste recycling facility, with one vital word changed due to all the youngsters at the show) and Masud Milas, who’s material was about growing up in Hong Kong with a mother from Kenya and a father from Peterborough. All excellent stuff, despite the wind and occasional dust flurries. The misty rain held off this year until just after the show had finished, and even had some sunshine.

Between acts, Barry introducted a new sport called TML and players were selected from the audience by the time honoured method of rock, paper, scissors. The aim of the game was to see how long you could extend a metal tape measure out away from you before it collapsed.

All great fun and the crowd of 300 hardy souls were very happy by the end of the 90 minute show. Heartily recommended if you are in Edinburgh and not too knackered by this stage of the Fringe to climb up a bloody great hill.

A Comedy Show on Top of Arthur’s Seat was on the peak of Arthur’s Seat

Charmian Hughes – Bra Trek

By Ron Bingham

Charmian Hughes is hosting her show in a tiny room (it IS called the attic), which can get quite hot, but she does provide a jug of water for anyone who may need it. Bra Trek (directed by Jessica Fostekew) is based around the problem of finding the right bra, which is then extrapolated out to fitting into society’s expectations and finding one’s place.

We hear comical tales of Charmian’s childhood, school friends and her family. There are also a couple of fairy tales, including Cinderella, which are amusingly analysed and then retold for a more modern time. There is also a bit about how nobody likes girls with big boobs (according to her sister when she was 12) and the horrors of getting one’s first bra. The set is brightly decorated with paper cut-outs of bras festooned across the backdrop. This suits the show’s bright and cheery tone.

I will admit sections of the show were hard for me to relate to, not being a girl with boobs, but Charmian is an engaging and experienced story teller and on the whole Bra Trek was a fun and entertaining 50 minutes.

Bra Trek is on at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House until August 26

Croft & Pearce – Double Take

By Ron Bingham

After taking the 2017 Fringe off (for reasons they explain at the end of the show), Hannah Croft and Fiona Pearce are back with the continuing saga of Jean and June, the ultimate middle class ladies, and their families.

Set in a village that could produce a David Cameron or Theresa May, Hannah and Fiona introduce the audience to the trials and tribulations of these two characters. From the horrors of missing out on picking up the right marmalading oranges from Waitrose to not managing to book the village hall for the local craft fair due to a distressing faux pas with one’s grammar. Along with Jean and June, we also meet their children and some of the local village folk.

There are many scene changes but the pair never lose us, by expertly bringing us into their world, all without the need of props. Seemingly disconnected sequences gradually resolve into a seamless whole by show’s end. This pair have been a team for so long now that they work effortlessly together and always seem to be having as much fun performing the sketches as the audience does in watching them.

There are a few expletives and a tiny bit of chatting to the audience, but nothing too offensive or threatening. A pleasant afternoon’s entertainment from an engaging and accomplished comic duo.

Double Take is on at Underbelly, Bristo Square until August 26

Godley’s Cream – 20 Years and Counting

By Ron Bingham

It’s funny the difference between mother and daughter. I saw Ashley Storrie in this room two weeks ago and she never mentioned her mum, except as “mum” in some of her stories, and failed to mention that her mum had a show in the same room (probably not wishing to ride on her legendary coat tails). Mum, or Janey Godley, on the other hand, was obviously very proud of her daughter by mentioning her comedy career a number of times and recommending her at the end.

A much loved mainstay of the Glasgow comedy scene, Janey has been performing stand-up comedy for 20 years and she’s here to share the wisdom of her experience. We’re given a couple of her favourite stories from years past as well as some new material. We hear about a battle with a local Tory councillor who threatened to come and spoil the show, some Twitter wars with demented Rangers’ fans and Janey’s battle against Donald Trump (Here’s her Blog where you can enjoy her “subtle” protesting skills). On the night I was there we heard her tell of her slightly autistic husband, ways to irritate people in first class on trains, the difference between growing up now and in the old days where you were chucked out of the house at the start of summer and left to fend for yourself and encounters with the dark side of Glasgow.

Janey is such a charming delight to spend an hour with, this is one of the must-see shows of the Fringe and of course packing it out. A very outspoken woman, her performance is not recommended for staunch Tory voters or Trump supporters. Oh, and Janey explains at length why the C word is not offensive in Scotland. So lots and lots of swearing. Brilliant!

Godley’s Cream is on at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House until August 26

Vulvarine: A New Musical

By Ron Bingham

I was intrigued by the posters for this show and I’m glad I succumbed to my curiosity as to how they could make a musical about a superhero called Vulvarine. Funny and a lot of fun, with a bright and vivacious cast.

The show starts in the town of High Wycombe, a very posh but boring town just north of London, where we meet Bryony (Allie Munro) and her friends who work in the local tax office. Bryony is a single girl with an apparently hopeless crush on the office IT expert Orson, who is accidently given a file which appears to show the Tampon Tax is being siphoned to a secret account. At the same time an evil professor is using that very money to create an independence sapping potion to subdue all womankind. Bryony receives a dose of the potion but thanks to a fortuitous lightning strike (as happens in these sorts of Superhero Origin stories) is transformed into Vulvarine, defender of all women. The evil scientist, realising he has created a formidable enemy, changes his name to the Mansplainer and comes up with a cunning plan to rob Bryony of her powers.

Along the way we are treated to a number of peppy songs, a talking cat ( Robyn Grant), a little cross dressing, a lot of very hammy acting, a multitude of laughs and a thrilling story.  The venue is a large lecture theatre with a table in front of the seats, it takes away somewhat from the sexy alt cabaret vibe, but at least there’s somewhere to rest a drink during the show.

The audience at my showing seemed to be having a great time and were really getting into the action. I enjoyed this one too. Silly, nerdy, feminist fun with a message of empowerment.

Just be warned that the show run’s over by five to ten minutes.

Vulvarine is on at Assembly George Square Studios until August 26

Robin Ince – Chaos of Delight

By Ron Bingham

Imagine if you will, a man whose mind works like a roulette wheel which lands on a different number every minute. Each number corresponds to an idea, thought, interesting story or fact which are all totally unrelated to each other. That is how Robin Ince’s amazing show manifests itself before a delighted and mesmerised audience.

We started late due to a technical problem and the person organising the queue caused chaos by trying to move everyone about (we weren’t delighted). This may have been disaster for another kind of show. Robin came out while we were shuffling about, apologised, chatted to various people and wandered round until everything was ready. Then, as the audience was getting seated Robin started showing slides of interesting things and people while repeatedly explaining to the new arrivals that this was not the actual show yet. The irony of the show’s title became so amusing, that you could occasionally wonder if it was all planned.

It turned out that the actual show was indistinguishable from the walk-in chat, as Robin reminisced about working with Brian Cox, opened up about getting older and his father and mouse problems,  discussed marshmallow tests, fascinating mathematicians, knitting paintings, the worries that his wife had when he announced he was having a year off from comedy, going into psychotherapy, walking on the moon and, *breath*, so much more.

As Robin explained, every show is different as he randomly chooses slides and stories for each performance. Chaos of Delight wasn’t all hilarious but it was all entertaining. When I saw it the Audience were riveted. If your idea of fun is a massive amount of random facts and stories about the world and its inhabitants, this is a must see show. As Brian Cox would say: Brilliant!

Chaos of Delight is on at Gilded Balloon at the Museum until August 26