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Rob Oldham: Worm’s Lament review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Rob Oldham makes a solid start in his first hour-long show, showing a sharp eye for observational comedy.

For a first hour-long Edinburgh show, this is an assured effort from Rob Oldham.  Although never quite hitting the heights you suspect he may be capable of in time, he delivers a well-structured show – frequently commentated on during fourth wall-breaking moments – that’s heavy on parody and neat one-liners.

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Category: Comedy
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Rob Oldham: Worm’s Lament, Edinburgh preview

In our third Edinburgh preview, Ian Cater speaks to up-and-coming comedian Rob Oldham about Worm’s Lament – his debut full-length Fringe show, already tipped for the Best Newcomer Award.

Not bad, is it?  To be one year out of university and putting on your first hour-long show at Pleasance Courtyard.  To be performing work directed by one of the best contemporary creative minds around.  To be described as having a ‘unique comedic voice’ by the age of 23.  To be, in short, Rob Oldham.

“I realise how lucky I am,” he says, examining each word with deliberation before placing it before him.  And he does, you sense, truly feel that fortune.  But equally, Oldham would be forgiven for finding success routine.  Getting into Cambridge was soon eclipsed by the award of a Double First and a place on the prestigious Footlights sketch troupe touring the United States.  Shortly afterwards, he was handpicked to provide tour support for John Kearns and Abandoman.  And even his football team, Fulham FC, got promoted last season.

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Category: Comedy
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Jordan Brookes: Bleed, Edinburgh preview

In the second of our Edinburgh previews, Ian Cater speaks to unconventional stand-up Jordan Brookes about Bleed, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated show at this year’s Fringe.

Few comedians have as big a buzz around them right now as Jordan Brookes.  The 32-year-old heads north on the wave of a soaring reputation amongst critics and fellow comics, evidenced by last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination and Chortle gong for the 2018 Comedian’s Comedian.  As a further mark of progress, Brookes has gone from beginning his last run at a remote Free Fringe venue to a primetime slot at Pleasance Courtyard – still perceived as the Edinburgh gold standard.

The plaudits and upgrades stem from the unfeigned, unflinching and unconventional style of comedy that stands him apart.  “Oh Christ,” Brookes groans.  “Why the hell did you have to say that?  Now they’ll expect too much.”

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Category: Comedy
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Jon Pointing: Act Natural review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Jon Pointing’s debut solo show is an excruciating masterpiece of character comedy.

If you ever see better character comedy than Jon Pointing‘s Act Natural, you’ve struck gold.  Because Pointing’s debut, in which he plays hilariously flawed acting coach Cayden Hunter, is a delicately crafted and wonderfully acted masterpiece.

The conceit is that audience members are attending Hunter’s acting workshop, a set-up nimbly explained as he enters and pretends not to want attention while he readies himself for the session.  Of course, Hunter wants the opposite, made clear when he slowly changes his top onstage, breathing in and tensing his muscles.  From that moment, the stage is set for a perfect demonstration of vulnerable self-importance, a traditional and deep well for character comedy.

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Category: Comedy
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Rhys James: Wiseboy review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

A sharply written tongue-in-cheek take on white privilege from the young master of pithy comedy.

Anyone following Rhys James on Twitter will attest that few comedians package their observational comedy quite so pithily.  While some complain how social media’s devalued the profession, opening the door for the world and its dog to dabble in satire, the Mock The Week occasional uses it to hone his retorts on big news items and day-to-day occurrences – essential panel show practice.  These skills translate to his live material, with 2016 show Forgives being one the tightest-written around.  And in Wiseboy, the son of Harpenden delivers another densely-packed show ironically bemoaning his comfortable, privileged existence.

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Category: Comedy
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Gein’s Family Giftshop: Volume 3 review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Gein’s Family Giftshop continue to push boundaries with a hilarious set of darkly puerile perfection.

With many sketch show rivals absent from this year’s Fringe, this was a great opportunity for Gein’s Family Giftshop to consolidate their place at the top table of their genre.  And despite missing a third of their performers due to a last-minute drop-out, Kath Hughes, Edward Easton and director Kiri Pritchard-McLean seized the chance with all six hands, delivering in Volume 3 a dark, chaotic and hilarious show that fuses the clever and puerile to perfection.

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Category: Comedy
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Birthday Girls: Sh*t Hot Party Legends review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable time at the Fringe than an hour of Birthday Girls’ raucously funny sketches.

From the second you enter the room to find the performers handing out shots, dancing wildly and decorating the audience with glittery makeup, you know that fun’s the aim of the game for the next hour.  Birthday Girls – Rose Johnson, Beattie Edmondson and Camille Ucan – hijack the crowd on their Saturday night out, the basis from which their hilarious sketches spill.  In between, the trio perform amazingly choreographed and suggestive dances – the kind of segues used on TV sketch shows, where they’re surely destined to be.

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Category: Comedy
© Matt Crockett
© Matt Crockett

Rhys James: Forgives review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

James delivers a very impressively written show full of great jokes, call-backs and over-privileged angst.

Rhys James’ show is a well-crafted hour of entertainment, setting forth his views on the world as a 90s kid and self-confessed ‘prankster’.  Forgives refers to the fact that although his generation seems perpetually angry, his only struggles are to get by as a young, middle class, white, straight male and to master modern technology.

James knows what makes an audience tick.  He keeps his stories short and punchlines snappy.  He varies his jokes, directing plenty his own way – including one in which a “stupid, dumb parrot” reveals his girlfriend’s infidelity, and a later contention that “I’m not as vegan as I look”.

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Category: Comedy