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Edinburgh 2005 Sep 08

So, votes counted and one vote each for Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery, Richard Herring, David Benson, Jay Aston, and Kiki & Herb. Bad luck to Bella, Pam and Ursula.

Lee and Herring were both funny, although their styles held no surprises: very much stand-up done technically well (especially Stew) with humour familiar to anyone who’s seen them before. Rich’s show, Someone Likes Yoghurt was less yoghurt-focussed than the title might imply. He kept the audience laughing throughout, even if, as he admitted, saying that Rudyard Kipling is a silly name isn’t exactly biting topical satire. Stewart Lee meanwhile took great pleasure in being as vulgar and blasphemous as possible, while still building a genuinely funny act (and reusing the old Lee & Herring “That’s for other people to say” gag). He probably had the edge with a more uncomfortable show, and because as it neared the end I was wondering “How on Earth can he get a good punchline from this?” – and then he did.

As Alan Parker: Urban Warrior, Simon Munnery headlined the first comedy gig I went to. I’ve seen him in various shows since and I always find him very funny. This year’s AGM was a bit more structured than in 2004 – there was even an agenda. Boothby Graffoe joined him for a crucifixion sketch that was all the more amusing for wondering off the script. Other highlights included a spoof Sherlock Holmes memoir and the business of the meeting: the annual motions. He, we and about fifteen other audience members went to the pub afterwards where he kept us entertained for a further hour-and-a-half going through the motions there weren’t time for – excellent value for money.

Jay Astons (image from Guardian Unlimited)I had caught a great short preview in London of A Night of a Thousand Jay Astons – a lip-synched cabaret (with more than a little Cupid Stunt) telling the sad story of Miss Jay Aston, “the allegedly slutty one from Bucks Fizz” – and the full show lived up to that. Unfortunately the preceding play heavily overran and we had to leave less than halfway through to get the last train. I expect the rest was more of the same, though: three men and a woman all dressed as Jay Aston prancing around to Bucks Fizz songs. So if you like that sort of thing…

Kiki & Herb CD coverKiki & Herb were great – best show I saw. They purport to be aging, boozy entertainers, born in the Depression, and they are, at least, entertainers. Darkly funny, accomplished and very enjoyable – and probably the only place you’ll see a Belle & Sebastian song tunefully screeched by a New York drag act. Unlike the previous time I’d seen them perform, the sound system was well calibrated and Kiki’s tuneful caterwauling was complemented, rather than drowned out, by Herb’s stomping piano and shouted lyrics. As it was the last night, we also got an encore, and then bought a copy of their CD on the way out.

David Benson (soon to appear in Little Britain) sang and talked about conspiracy theories, interwoven with interesting autobiographical pieces. The show was a little less focussed than last year’s (Haunted Stage) and one or two songs were a bit flat (courtesy of James Blunt’s rhyming dictionary) but still fun. Benson is sufficiently enthusiastic and charismatic to carry the show where necessary and it was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. We benefited again from an end of term encore, and he finished off with a cheery rendition of The Physician by Cole Porter.

We didn’t see any real duffers, which I put down to our lack of theatrical risk-taking. Given the average fringe show price, we made an effort to see things we thought we’d enjoy. Maybe next year I should pick some shows at random from the listings and take the chance that I might end up in an audience of three watching a two-hour student ballet version of Marat/Sade. Or maybe not.

(Update on update: Image problem in IE now fixed!)

One Response

  1. Yes, I am getting white space.