Edinburgh Festival Fringe Comedy Reviews: Larry Dean | Alex Franklin | whiners | Sean McLoughlin | Kylie Brakeman Presents: Linda Hollywood’s Big Hollywood Night | Micky Overman
Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 3) (Location 515)
Rightly nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award, Larry Dean’s latest show is an hour of mature, ambitious storytelling that packs a punch of comedic and emotional punch and is likely to give Glasgow’s scallywag a good name. With his expressive face and willingness to be vulnerable, Dean appreciates that he gives off a mentally troubled look. And it’s part of Fudnut’s charm that although it’s hinted at in the throwaway lines at the top, it quickly becomes apparent that it barely scratches the surface of his problems.
Dean has the requisite checklist of fashionable mental health issues for the modern stand-up prototype, which makes him likable. But he also shares aspects of his sexuality that require more public selling and further discussion with his latest therapist. An early tour-de-force sequence finds him reeling off his darkest final moments over the danceable accompaniment of upbeat 1970s disco, a dollop of sugary silliness to briefly sum up his recent desolation, hinted at by his friend’s infallible comedic instincts and director Paul. Even more danger and the central anecdote of his show is that he was arrested at Abu Dhabi airport carrying cannabis-derived CBD oil and HIV prevention preparation pills, a mistake of considerable judgment in a state that sadly takes a dim view of drug use and homosexuality. Down low, whether he’s preparing for his full body search, confronting a homophobic audience member in a fight-or-flight rush, or being humiliated by his posh lawyer boyfriend, Dean smiles at through tears, inspired by Paul to try out for a daring comedy debut.
As a companion show to John Hastings’ directing on the same street, and indeed, Sarah Keyworth elsewhere at the Fringe, Fudnut is part of an impressive legacy that may change your perspective on the power of comedy.
Alex Franklin: Dinosauruse ***
Just the Tonic at The Caves (Just the Wee One) (Location 88)
Alex Franklin is a likeable livewire, unable to stop performing before his crowd has even taken their seats for a late-night medley of chaotic, absurd comedy. A zoology graduate with a strong anti-climate change agenda, he’s also trans, which he glosses over with an endearingly simple explanation, and has ADHD, which is clear from the remaining 99% of the show. Bouncing around his cave with mad, tiger-like energy, it’s impossible to keep up with every tangent he takes flight on. But it frames it around the Jurassic Park-style tale of a Triceratops resurrected in 2045 and blamed for being the hero saving the planet from destruction. Quite clumsy, but with an appealing resistance to polemical or preachy didacticism, and he surrounds it with songs, beatboxing and mathematical humor, as well as a formidable routine transposing the quirks of the Cluedo board game into a world of real consequences. Not everything lands. But he’s eclectic, daring and inventive, with the fact that he barely stops smiling throughout the hour a welcome bonus, the delight of a performer stretching himself rather than his material too far.
Pleasance Dome (10Dome) (Location 23)
With shades of ET, Midsommar and The Wicker Man among others, Crybabies’ wonderful follow-up to their Best Newcomer nomination debut establishes them as the heirs apparent to The League of Gentlemen. A multi-character, sketch-based narrative parody spanning sci-fi, horror and cursed romance, the trio of James Gault, Michael Clarke and Ed Jones throws so, so much into their outrageous cartoonish plot. Still, enough remains for it to be considered an unequivocal triumph.
Set on Slug Witch, a mysterious island full of eccentrics off the coast of England, former science teacher Chris Mystery (Clarke) dreams of being accepted into the Institute of Brilliant Scientists, a fraternal club of boffins. And when he stumbles upon a mysterious alien, the monosyllabic Bagbeard (Gault), it seems his life might finally change. Except there’s a sunglasses-wearing hitman, Agent Victor Valentine (Jones), wandering the woods. And his boss is making other plans for Bagbeard.
With a long, slender physique reminiscent of Nigel Planer in The Young Ones, Gault achieves an awful lot while remaining virtually expressionless and limited to a few words as another star. Meanwhile, Jones, as the square-jawed but emotionally suppressed Valentine, delivers a supremely enjoyable performance as a Man In Black/Matrix-style villain, resorting to slow-motion ultraviolence at the end of a match. Holding it all together, Clarke isn’t overshadowed by her fellow clowns, keeping the storyline twisty, spinning, and full of gags as the trio kick in and out of supporting characters and make a virtue of their few props. With so few sketch acts surviving the festival these days, let alone thriving, the Crybabies already seem to have the visual acumen and presence to make the transition to television.
Sean McLoughlin: So be it ****
Pleasance Court (Below) (Location 33)
One wonders what they think of this spectacle in the Chinese political office and the research labs of Silicon Valley. Because Sean McLoughlin bends his tall, clumsy angular frame into full-fledged tech paranoia, convinced the powers that be are listening. After all, if he has nothing to hide, what about all the full body searches he’s constantly being asked to participate in? Few comics portray the character of the wise fool as well as McLoughlin, lashing out at his peers at the start of his show for not talking about the true Covid-19 conspiracy. So determined to stay out of The Grid that he deposits fake breadcrumbs in his search engine history, and so resistant to The Man that he avoided his place’s overpriced offer. a chair in favor of a degrading little stool that he slipped from his lodging, he makes a pretty convincing impression of a man on the wire.
However, it turns out that McLoughlin once yearned for the power he fears, with a dark secret of youthful political ambition. Moreover, his concerns about the surveillance state are not completely unfounded. Married to a Canadian, they have to go through a bureaucratic nightmare of paperwork to convince the Ministry of the Interior to let her stay in this country. And there’s an Orwellian aspect to the levels of privacy they have to sacrifice.
The intricacy and level of detail in So Be It is remarkable in itself, with the self-deprecating, understated physical comic eliciting great laughs during his water breaks and supposed grade checks. Additionally, there’s a stunning entry into the garden path gag that exquisitely encapsulates the show, turning a charming moment of personal bliss into a looming nightmare hanging above it.
Kylie Brakeman Presents: Linda Hollywood’s Big Hollywood Night ***
Golden Balloon Creation House (Nip) (Location 33)
An idiot’s guide to the entertainment industry told by an idiot, there’s a lot to enjoy about Kylie Brakeman’s Fringe debut as farcical talent agent Linda Hollywood. For the most part, the satire of show business is broad to the point of being cartoonish in a parallel universe, with the Los Angeles-based comedian seemingly piecing together her biggest viral hits. However, the subject’s smashing virtual cuts only add to the demented energy of the production, especially since Brakeman also plays several Hollywood clients, from a very funny six-year-old divorced stand-up to a famous sex therapist. who, against all requirements to speak frankly, advises only in euphemisms. By the time audiences meet Hollywood, she’s already peaked, a leaked recording of an unguarded anti-feminist remark ensuring more of her high-profile clients leave her as the show progresses. . Interestingly though, it also emerges that she had an acting background herself, with a gratuitous nudity skit in schlock straight to DVD hilariously played to its logical conclusion, albeit with absurdly funny subversion. Targeting essentially every aspect of America’s dream factory, Linda Hollywood’s Big Hollywood Night is too superficial and dispersed to fully satisfy, but it’s a frenzied frenzy all the same.
Micky Overman: Little Deaths ***
Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Hive) (Hive2) (Location 313)
One of the most confessional and revealing stand-up hours of this festival, Small Deaths, has UK-based Dutch comedian Micky Overman as the backdrop for her silly goofiness. With instinctively low self-esteem, she was too easily impressed by confident people, bullied into doubting herself by everyone from her postman to the most toxic boyfriends she’s had. With the misfortune of being born to parents who are still together, depriving her of a trauma to react against, she tried to emulate her father’s solid foundation in classical music. Yet she couldn’t even master the most geeky of all instruments, the oboe. Closer to her mother, she nevertheless also lacks her innate confidence, a consequence of a particularly particular school scenario. Yet the inquisitive Overman, whose cultural analysis is deep and thoughtful, belatedly came to terms with the idea of not gaining validation from men. There’s a growing feminist trend right now, with Overman insightful into how the beauty industry and Hollywood manipulate women’s insecurities, even as she highlights her own as she reflects on one of the afflictions. most intimate and embarrassing imaginable.