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Tuesday in Edinburgh: David, Barry, Ronnie, Jonny, Joe and Tina C Aug 20

Tuesday’s show started well and got progressively better through the day.

“More poofery”

Like Richard Herring, Stewart Lee and Simon Munnery, David Benson is an act I see every year if he’s on. His shows tend to be gentle but entertaining, well-suited for mid-afternoon in a rainy Edinburgh, and he has a charismatic, conversational style that lends itself to whatever subject he chooses to cover.

David Benson Sings Noël Coward is this year’s show and it was the subject matter rather than Benson’s performance that let me down a little. He was more entertaining between songs than some of the songs themselves, although there were a few gems mixed in, particularly a “lost” song about the middle classes and an extra verse to Mad About the Boy.

“We’re the hip-op generation”

I didn’t realise when booking to see Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden that it would be another song-based show, and I wondered in passing whether Coward, if around now, would also be penning songs about the Freedom Pass. (Probably not.)

73-year-old Barry Cryer is a national institution and trotted out various funny anecdotes between songs. He shared the stage with his 60-year-old junior Ronnie Golden, whose varied guitar playing, mimicry skills and huge vocal range were very impressive.

I’m always a little dismissive of comedy songs on the basis that you can get away with being less funny in song than in straight standup, and Barry Cryer’s stories were sometimes funnier than the songs either side. One slightly mean-spirited song didn’t impress me at all, but it was offset by the highlight, a particularly funny flamenco number. Overall, there were more hits than misses.

“Why is he on a unicycle?”

The Jonny and Joe Show, featuring Jonny Sweet and Joe Thomas, is at the anarchic end of the sketch show spectrum. Oxbridge graduates (would you believe it?) like Tommy and the Weeks (excuse for a plug: I saw their very good Edinburgh preview in London – go see) and with a similarly strong dynamic, their surreal show is a fast mix of fun sketches that come out of nowhere and are abruptly discarded as soon as they’re finished with.

While not often hysterical, the sketches were always amusing, the whole thing performed with marvellous precision and a consistently fun and flowery use of the English language. Jonny Sweet in particular seems blessed with the ability to make any physical action or line of dialogue funny just by his performance, while Joe Thomas’s stiller, slightly harsher character provides a good counterpoint. Despite being scarily young, both have made their TV comedy debuts and, based on this show, will go far.

You can watch some of their videos from last year on Project V.

“McCain’s not Able”

The last show of the day was Tina C., Christopher Green’s country singer creation, in Tick My Box, a rally for her campaign to be President of the US of A.

Green’s been playing Tina C. so long, it’s a polished performance, maintaining the character even when ad libbing (my question about sub-prime lending and the global economic crisis during the audience Q&A got a quick and funny response).

Complete with line dancing troupe The Tumbleweeds and mixing character standup with comic songs (including a duet with fellow country music spoofer Wilson Dixon) and obligatory audience participation (it’s a rally, after all), Tina C. makes for a fun end to an evening at the Festival.

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