My favourite shows of the Fringe

I got a message from Luke this morning…

“I think BBC News might be illustrating their story on the Comedy Awards with your photo of James Acaster holding some bread…”

And so they were!

…So I guess one of us got something from the Awards, then!

I’m still deflated from returning to the South, but I’m glad I got to see some great stuff while in Edinburgh this year.

Here’s a list of shows I loved this year!

Josie Long – Cara Josephine

So technically I saw this in preview – essentially an extended version of Josie’s stand-up show about former lovers, becoming an auntie and the discovery that it’s possible to be in a relationship with someone who treats you like a friend (something I rediscovered recently too!). It’s effortlessly funny, full of quality quotable lines you wouldn’t find on a ‘Dave’s Best Joke’ list, and all the better for it; who’s got the keys to my motor?

Nish Kumar – Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity

If Nish had entered the very first Edinburgh Comedy Poster Awards, he surely would have been a shoo-in. A show that examines racial identity with devastatingly funny results, I’d expected a Fosters nod for Nish – but maybe next year? Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

James Acaster – Recognise

I saw this previewed on the same evening as Nish’s effort and marvelled at Acaster’s (it feels odd to call him by his first name) structuring, laid-back approach and ingenious imagination. Even then I would have placed at least £1.20 on him taking the Comedy Award this year. As it’s his third nomination in a row, it may be his last shot at the top prize. Whatever happens, don’t miss your chance to see this technically excellent show once the show comes to London (or potentially tours).

John Kearns – Shtick

Today it was revealed that Kearns is to appear in BBC Three cop comedy Top Coppers; he’s come a long way since winning the newcomer award and praising the merits of the Free Fringe. It’s notable that his show wasn’t flyered this year – and the only artwork he’s had created for the show appears in a dodgy frame onstage with him. The show lightly touches on his vocation becoming a full-time role and I wanted even more – but it’s part of Kearns’ nature to leave you hanging. The interaction with three audience members on the night I saw him was beautifully judged – as was the recycling of a prop (I’ll try not to spoil it too much).

What is notable is that Kearns is one of three of last year’s newcomer shortlist competing for the top prize (alongside Romesh Ranganathan and Liam Williams). The only two shows from this year’s wildly successful Free Fringe programs are Kearns’ and Williams’ – acts already associated with the awards. Eight nominees in both categories are hosted at the Pleasance, one at the Assembly and the others at the Underbelly. With so much on the ‘bucket list’, I was expecting to see a couple more nominated.

Pippa Evans: Don’t Worry, I Don’t Know Who I Am Either

From the opening homage to her hero, Brian Connelly, Pippa had unleashed my most embarrassing laughing style – the uncontrollable swan ‘ha’ that I get ripped for. With a mixture of songs, stand-up and characters, and fearless audience interaction, this was possibly my most enjoyable hour spent at the Fringe. (I did ruin the chain of Disney songs game though… Sorry about that!) Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

Danielle Ward – Dani Frankenstein

Danielle appeared for just a week at the Fringe, bringing an alluring pink wig and skeleton bodysuit with her – winning my hypothetical ‘best costume of the Fringe’ award. With a mixture of her pop star character Dani’s tour diary, a moody extended story and some rather genius sexy raps, I’m looking forward to seeing more – and there has to be a music video for set highlight, the anti-rape anthem ‘Don’t Put Your Dick in Me’!

Lou Sanders – Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again

I saw Lou talk to her vagina, take a song lyric very literally and bestow her left field approach to erotic short stories back in June, but it was still hilarious even then – the Soho would be mad not to programme it back in London. If you like your comedy bizarre, energetic and laugh-out-loud funny, make a date with Lou. Or just see her show. Watch our Touchcast interview here.

Hatty Ashdown – Hurry Up Hatty

Hatty was the first comic I saw upon arriving in Edinburgh (aside from a quirky afternoon ACMS) and it was a warm welcome to the Fringe! This was Hatty’s first full hour, laden with stories from her slightly conventional childhood, as a self-described ‘nan-child’. I’m really keen to see what Hatty comes up with next – perhaps a full hour about performing in the problematic Wee Pub!? (Who were difficult hosts – avoid next year.) Watch our Touchcast interview here.

Lazy Susan – Extreme Humans

I saw this promising sketch duo preview before the Fringe (watch our Fringe Focus video here) and could not be more thrilled  to see them awarded with a Best Newcomer Fosters Award. They combine properly funny sketches with likeable performances – no gurning, overacting or one-upmanship. The final show has a different ending to the one I saw (which made me lose my breath laughing) so I’m really keen to see it again in London. Do. Not. Miss.

The Beta Males – Happenstance

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the sketch four-piece – but I was rewarded with a breathlessly entertaining sketch romp, with a network of sketches, that interwove – at first without you realising – and then suddenly becoming ever clearer until you had your own personal eureka moments. It was possible to look back on Happenstance and go ‘oh yeah – how did I not notice that?’ Perhaps I was thrown by the ‘What a Farce!’ sketch at the top of the show, which wasn’t a recurring runner and wasn’t as vital to the central plot of the piece – which, if intentional, is rather clever in itself. There’s genuinely something for everyone in this show – and the performers deserve recognition for their chemistry and quick-witted reactions to some unexpected moments during the performance.

Sarah Campbell – Don’t Worry It’s Sarah Campbell

Sarah’s always wicked company, especially when she’s onstage performing a ‘reverse William Tell’, sharing her experiences of Dalston Tesco Metro and digesting the Guardian’s Weekend Supplement (‘Just do something!!!’) Sarah gets to panic, so the rest of us don’t have to! 

John-Luke Roberts: Stnad-Up’

Hey, there’s clearly a conflict of interest presented by me writing about this show, but then again, it might seem like it wasn’t one of my favourite shows if I don’t write about it either. Luke’s total and utter commitment to his performance in this show, from the ‘teeth-on-a-stick’ aided entrance, to the (literally) ‘bitter’ representation of the moment of breaking up with his ex-girlfriend and the recurring use of a single audience member, made for a unique Fringe show this year. Some might not have got it (leading to a hilarious two star review and a Jimmy Carr comparison in The Skinny), but others were totally taken in. Fingers crossed it gets a spot at the Soho later in the year… Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

You can find out more about the shows I appeared in – Grainne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done for Me? and Knightmare Live here.

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Frankie’s Fringe Invasion

I’m currently sat at my desk, getting through my lunch break by repeatedly refreshing Chortle and wondering when the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominees are announced.

My body, having finally got used to the 2am-10am Fringe sleeping patterns I adopted last week, is annoyed that I am not still in Edinburgh trying to track down a ticket to see Adam Riches or Bridget Christie. I am consoling it with images of cake from tonight’s episode of The Great British Bake Off (perk of the day job). I’m one of those Edinburgh Comedy Widows you see, and my boyfriend’s show was rather good this year (my words, not his) – I’ve got my fingers crossed for him and some of his friends.

(Oh, apparently Wittank are getting an E4 pilot, or so my most recent Chortle refresh tells me. Good for them.)

I was really lucky to have the opportunity to do a few quick interviews at the Fringe this year – I’d decided to do a ‘stage invasion’ and try and appear in some shows a month or so ago. I was truly, properly, utterly perplexed and thrilled to be invited onto Grainne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done For Me? and the cult hit Knightmare Live (catch it when it tours soon if you’re not in Edinburgh) and had an amazing time. I don’t know if I can say the same for the audience members, but I’m sure they’ll get over it soon enough…

Here’s the extended version of my post-show chat with Grainne (all two mins of it!)

At Grainne’s show, I had to argue that my chosen news story of the week was more relevant than the other panelists’. Sadly my argument that selfies with works of art would lead to the social media neglect – and therefore subsequent death – of cats, did not convince the audience, although they did enjoy the shameless promotion of my boyfriend’s show (“It’s my boyfriend’s show about his breakup with his ex-girlfriend! John-Luke Roberts: Stnad-Up! Go see it! 6pm, Voodoo Rooms, Free Fringe!!!”)

I had some sound issues during filming, but you can see my three minute guide to the Fringe, Frankie’s Edinburgh Expose, below:

I had some very good sports in Paul Flannery and Tom Bell from Knightmare Live, who appear at the end of the vid (about 1 min 30 secs in) and improvised around my very stupid questions. The voiceover was recorded in my boyfriend Luke’s very small bedroom while he was semi-asleep. Therefore it’s a bit whispery. (Essentially, it’s not the best quality video in the world, but I had fun making it.)

During my time at the Fringe, I also spoke to Alex the Mind Reader and Christian Talbot about the audiences they enjoy talking to and how they deal with tricky crowds.

Alex reads my mind after a minute and a bit…

Christian’s daughter has been nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Stunt Award for her unique approach to flyering…

I have just refreshed the Chortle page. Nothing so far. In my next post I’ll talk about my favourite acts from the Fringe this year – hopefully they’ll be performing in London and various other places in the next few months.

Good luck to you all…

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Stuart Laws and John-Luke Roberts

Now previews are done and the Edinburgh Fringe has kicked off, it’s time for me to present the last two episodes of my interactive video series, Frankie’s Fringe Focus

First up, it’s Stuart Laws

Stuart is a kinder eggs obsessive stand-up, whose show this year, ‘When’s This Gonna Stop?‘ will reveal his penchant for German Christmas cookies and a hatred for spiders

He runs his own production company, Turtle Canyon Comedy, and has recently been making short comedy films (so I don’t know what he made of my makeshift iPad filming setup!) He’ll also be doing a Comedy Roast with fellow Fringe Focus guest Matt Winning – find out more on his website.

Watch the Fringe Focus with Stuart Laws on Touchcast

John-Luke Roberts

I’m definitely trying too hard to be a ‘too-cool-for-school’ T4-style host in my interview with Luke – but it’s quite surreal interviewing someone you know so well.

I’ve not actually seen Stand-Up’, Luke’s show this year, but I’m planning to see it in Edinburgh – I’ve seen various bits of pieces at new material nights and even donated self-raising flour to his cause. But, if anything to go by last year’s show, it’s going to be awesome (and I’ll be very proud). It will also feature a talking dinosaur…

Luke also co-hosts the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society with Thom Tuck and will be presenting different acts four nights a week during the Fringe. Being the Fringe, it’s only allowed to be two hours long – I’ve never been to such a short ACMS, so I’m quite intrigued by the prospect!

Watch the Fringe Focus with John-Luke Roberts

So that’s it for my first interactive series! You can find a full list of featured acts here and do Tweet me your Fringe tips @getfrank. It’s been a while since I’ve properly gone out and interviewed people outside of work (and kept my voice/face in the mix) and I’ve enjoyed it so much – and that down to the lovely comics, the nice folks at Touchcast who have repeatedly given me more space on their server and everyone who has watched, tweeted or let me know they’ve been watching. You’re the best.

Hopefully I’ll get to host some new stuff in future, and I’m keen to work with others, so do get in touch with ideas!

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Jay Foreman and Nish Kumar

To celebrate the start of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I’ll be publishing a new episode of Fringe Focus every day!

The series will finally conclude on Saturday – and on Sunday, I shall rest. And probably bake a three tier cake for the office, but that’s a different kind of effort, right?

So I’m not bombarding your inbox, I’ll keep the Fringe Focus posts to every other day – hence featuring two comics at a time. And here they are…

Jay Foreman

Jay Foreman is most likely the successor to Mitch Benn‘s topical musical comedy crown. He can often be seen collaborating with fellow Fringe Focus guest Bec Hill on YouTube, with Bec’s paper puppetry perfectly complimenting Jay’s witty tunes.

This year Jay’s doing a kids’ show at the Pleasance, Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children (and Other Funny Stories) and I was lucky enough to be treated to a one-on-one performance of one of his quirky acoustic numbers from the show – watch my slightly awkward bobbing to the music (and much, much more) over on Touchcast now.

Nish Kumar

Make no mistake – Nish Kumar is a lovely, lovely man, and a genuinely brilliant stand-up. He’ll be returning to the Fringe with his third full length effort, Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity.

I’ve seen a preview and it’s a great show – with some lovely callbacks and a hilarious story about Nish’s trip to the Isle of Wight with fellow comic Romesh Ranganathan. But obviously, don’t just take my word for it – go see it! And before you do, make sure you watch the Touchcast (even if just to see Nish get very excited about making interactive things appear onscreen)!

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Jake Lambert

This week, I’m catching up with one-liner comic, poet and storyteller Jake Lambert.

I met Jake through the BBC New Comedy Award and he impressed me with his natural onstage personality and his sharp, witty one-liners. He’s got a great, broad appeal (and he’s thoroughly lovely too).

While we were filming my Dad decided to interrupt us by calling me to enquire about a certain iconic sketch group… You can see what happened below in this exclusive ‘uncut’ clip.

You can catch Jake performing his free show (shared with Dom Lister) at Dropkick Murphys at the Fringe this August. Click here for more details. He’ll also be performing at Comedy Cow: Prime Cut at the start of the festival too.

Click here to watch Jake guesting on Frankie’s Fringe Focus on Touchcast now! 

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Lazy Susan

Ladies and gents, this week I’m thrilled to bring you one of the acts who’ll surely be taking the Edinburgh Fringe by storm this summer.

If there’s any justice, the sketch show that will be on everyone’s must-see list this August will be Extreme Humans by Lazy Susan. I’ve seen a preview, and even in its earlier stages, it was breathlessly funny.

In our Fringe Focus episode, the duo dress me up in a variety of their props and telling me about the characters they belong to, effectively turning me into a ‘human buckaroo’ in the process. But did I buck? Well you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Catch Freya and Celeste (aka Lazy Susan) performing Extreme Humans at the Pleasance Courtyard at 7pm from July 30th – August 25th (excluding August 12th, when most of the performers have a well-earned rest!)

Watch Frankie’s Fringe Focus with Lazy Susan on Touchcast!

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Bec Hill & Darren Walsh

Howdy Fringe-goers! I’ve got two Fringe Focuses for the price of one today (basically because I was rubbish and didn’t post this last week)

First up is the extraordinarily creative Bec Hill, whose signature performance style is ‘paper puppetry’. If you want to know what that means, watch the video with future Fringe Focus guest, the musical comic Jay Foreman, below…

She’s a busy woman indeed – aside from her paper puppetry creations on YouTube, taking control of Londoners’ social media profiles (to hilarious effect) on London Live’s CTRL Freaks and running the hugely popular Pun Run, Bec is responsible for a whopping three shows in Edinburgh this August. Catch a special charity edition of Pun Run, her kids’ show with Tom Goodliffe, Bec and Tom’s Awesome Laundry, and her own solo effort, Bec Hill in… Ellipsis, at the Guilded Balloon.

Watch Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Bec Hill on Touchcast

Next, it’s puntastic stand-up Darren Walsh, who first wowed me with his extra creative one-liners and sound-effects back at the BBC Radio New Comedy Award in 2012.

Darren’s definitely in the running for ‘best Fringe show title’ in 2014, with the imaginatively titled ‘Chicken Meow’ (watch the touchcast to find out why) which you can catch daily at the Heroes @ The Hive for whatever you’re prepared to pay at the end.

And do make sure you check out this amazing video of Darren at the O’Henry Pun-Off World Championships in Texas from earlier this year – what a hit rate!

Watch Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Darren Walsh

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Hatty Ashdown

This week’s episode of Frankie’s Fringe Focus is with the marvellous comic, actor, presenter and writer Hatty Ashdown.

Not only is Hatty (a proper Kent girl like myself) a ‘quadruple threat’, she’s also thoroughly good company and has a unique personal style to be envied. Happily, she brought along a spare one of her signature headscarfs to help me get the ‘Hatty look’!

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Unfortunately I had to cut down the interview as Touchcast only lets me upload up to five minutes of footage so I had to lose a fair bit – including the titbit that Hatty’s attitude towards her audience is to try and ‘feel like a friend’, a bit like her aunties who she grew up with and were ‘the life and soul of parties’. Her first full-hour Edinburgh show, titled Hurry Up Hatty (after the Sham 65 song Hurry Up Harry), will showcase some of her strongest material and promises some ‘showbizzy bits’ along with observations about her ‘lazy family’. After Edinburgh she’ll be ‘putting it to bed’ so she can start performing ‘new stuff’.

You can catch Hatty performing throughout the Fringe at the Wee Pub at 15:45 – and it’s free! Watch the video here.

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Phil Wang

Oh hi guys, I did another one of those Fringe Focus videos, didn’t I?

This one is with the super duper awesome Phil Wang, who delighted me by saying yes when I proposed shoving my iPad in his face and asking about his now legendary ability to craft ‘intellectual dick jokes’.

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See, here we are having a right laugh about them. Or at least I am. (It was my joke. Apparently I should stick to asking questions and sporting orange lipstick. Although even the latter is questionable.)

If you’d like to watch me getting interactive with Phil about his Fringe show, Mellow Yellow, simply go to my Touchcast Channel and watch it! (Give it a try, it won’t bite…)

Find out more about Phil Wang on his website.