Wow, it’s barely even April – am I really already writing a preview for the Fringe? That’s ladies and gents, Tickets have already gone on sale for August Festival shows taking place at the Stand – probably the première venue for comedy in the UK. Jumping the gun by quite a significant margin this year it seems only right to approach these shows now while the digital ink of their announcement is still fresh – and some of these shows are likely to be sold out soon, so well worth getting in there while you still can! Big Names As usual, The Stand will play host to some of the most well respected names in comedy. Top of the list this year, as with most, will be Stewart Lee’s “Much a-Stew About Nothing” which will be working on material for Series 3 of his Comedy Vehicle, while his former double-act partner Richard Herring will once again be hosting his daily podcast from the venue. Simon Munnery returns from his curious and genre defining show last year “Fylm-Maker” with what one can only assume is the more; last year’s attempts to use live video as part of his performance was a delightful experiment in a new medium which, although still genuinely brilliant, felt like a peek into a genius trying to work out what they can do with a new toy; like an alchemist carefully measuring comedy and art there might never be the guaranteed outcome, but it will always be worth being part of just in case. Alexei Sayle, who you should recognise as the landlord from the Young Ones if nothing else, is the act this year returning from years in the comedy wilderness with his first, and much anticipated, full length stand-up hour in 17 years. Tony Law too is now a big name among those in the know, and fast becoming a recognised face from bits of TV – and is easily deserving a position alongside these greats. Future Brilliance Local Acts Newer Names Katie Mulgrew and Tony Jameson both debut (I think) with shows this year, and are already regular hosts and acts at the Stand throughout the year – and important members of their recently launched Newcastle branch. Jameson’s premise this year, the equally agonising and joyous experience of Championship Manager, has already struck a chord with audiences, selling out at the Glasgow Comedy Festival, and is likely to perform equally well; I’ve not, but he is a very. Similarly, Mulgrew’s stage presence is always at home with audiences
For you today a very special gift, a Christmas episode of the Politigiggle podcast featuring Nanu-Nanu contributor Richard Hanrahan and some fresh comics faces from Edinburgh blindly chatting away for a bit. Join them in the new year for a new series, and more deliberate attempts at making funnies, by going to politigiggle.com/podcast and subscribing to the podcast!
Comedy in Edinburgh outside of the festival is currently undergoing some way of transformation.
One of the freshest and most exciting of these changes comes in the form of a new night at the Cameo hosted by Cry Baby Comedy. The idea of the night is to use the wonderful venue for live comedy, with performances provided by some of the best Scottish Talent emerging today, headlined by a classic movie of mirth, with both elements fused into an interactive experience to liven up the usual and, comparatively dreary, cinema experience.
I have a rule: when you are offered a life jacked and greeted by a nun playing a guitar, you know you are in for a good night. Cry Baby Comedy did not disappoint.
Guests on the bill for the debut Airplane special were magnificent, with well known names if you have been keeping your ear to the ground, including Chortle Student Finalists Hari Sriskantha – who effortlessly and intelligently juggles with expectation and race using some well written observations and one liners – and David Elms. Elms brought the house down with his subtle intonation and Basden beating guitar-scapades, has clearly grown in confidence with the festival, and will doubtless soon be a household name, mark my words.
The ladies themselves are developing their own sassy voice as part of the Edinburgh scene. Compère Cat Wade can”t help but enjoy herself as she manages to balance a genuine, edging on excessive, enthusiasm for life with a sharp wit and natural badinage with the audience that would be the envy of most professional compères.
One of the highlights of the night came in the form of another of the Cry Baby organisers Gemma Flynn, who has become a regular favourite at another comedy venture for Academic Performance the “Bright Club” – here she is performing with them at the BBC tent during the festival, with the same Gangster”s Paradigm routine that went down so well at the last Cry Baby Show:
Alongside this remarkably astute comedy, variety was provided with some poetry and sketches. Clearly inspired by acts like Dan Le Sac, poetry was a welcome incorporation, and although this didn”t quite match the standards set by the other acts (by his own admissions, he wasn”t a stand-up and hampered slightly by technical problems) one can see this going down well with a bit more polish and stage presence.
Similarly, although not all the sketches were as well received as could be, the Edinburgh Revue provided some welcome respite with a section of solid skits. Having clearly grown as a troupe from their well received Festival outing, all of the performers working together admirably, perhaps most exciting of all were glimpses of sharper writing suggested this group had plenty of potential yet to be fulfilled. Between these, Adam Todd, doubling as both sketch and stand-up, is another act who, like Elms, is growing into his character with remarkable ability – a surreal man child who chooses whimsy over hate – and I cannot wait to see how his unique way of thinking develops as more material and ideas inevitably drip-feed into his routine.
At most gigs, this would have been more than enough for an enjoyable evening, but to top it all off, the headline act just happened to be one of the funniest movies of all time – the always hilarious Airplane. Despite being broken up by some technical problems – the film stock almost inevitably falling apart being now thirty years old – nothing could hamper the enjoyment of a clearly buoyant audience that left.
This is what live comedy should be – everyone together, involved and enjoying the night for what it is, a whole heap of fun. If this is the new face of comedy, then you”d best get used to seeing smiles all round.
Follow @CryBabyComedy on twitter to find out about
their next outing.
I’m sorry you may be extremely funny, I just doubt you are funnier than Steve Martin. Watch this wild and crazy guy”s Happy feet.
See he’s funnier than you. His work in the seventies was revolutionary, he made deconstructing the scene, a scene. His work on Saturday Night Live was legendary; watching him face off against Bill Murray or John Belushi is the pinnacle of American comedy in an oversaturated market. But sadly, for the greater part of our generation we see Steve Martin as the sweet buffoon from Cheaper by the Dozen or Bringing Down the House. I’m not saying these are monstrosities or even particularly terrible, I’m just trying to communicate that Steve Martin is so much better.
LA Story is an incredibly personal film, about a man pushing against LA phonies despite being a phony himself. This same joke, this same thought process is shown in his stand-up performances throughout the ‘70s. I say this because while LA story, the Jerk and Planes Trains and Automobiles are easily accessible and popular with our generation, his years on TV are not. Martin left stand-up to pursue a career in film throughout the ‘80s and many of the early performances on SNL and other shows were left to nerds like me. This is a shame, because they were ludicrously funny.
It occurs to me that this is reading like an obituary, incidentally here is an obit Martin wrote for the New Yorker . Anyway, this is not Steve Martins obituary he is alive and well, more importantly he is releasing a collection, “Television stuff”, which compiles his early material across three DVDs. Arguably, the funniest and the most important period of his career, it will be wonderful to see on something other than YouTube.
Watch Steve Martin in Planes Trains and Automobiles and LA story and you see a wickedly funny but thoughtful performer. Read his many essays and articles and you get a feeling for his sharp intellect. Listen to his bluegrass and you hear him playing bluegrass. Most importantly watch this DVD and you will see he is funnier than you.
Steve Martin: Television Stuff has been released in America and is available to order on amazon.com. Sadly, there is no UK release date as of yet, but really what is the cost of a region free DVD player compared to the misery of not seeing this.