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…