Yep, I called it correct. Brendon Burns has won the second If.comedy Award for his show So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now. If only there was a Monday performance I could catch him at… He’ll reprise it for one night only next year though, as all previous winners do. Tom Basen is the Best Newcomer with his show Won’t Say Anything where he doesn’t say a word (although he plays music and uses Powerpoint presentations etc to communicate). Likewise Tom also doesn’t have a (new) show lined up for Bank Holiday Monday, the last day of the Fringe. What a lost opportunity…
Well, you’ve seen my predictions, now here is what a group of strangers has come up with – and their selections couldn’t be any stranger to me! The official 2007 if.comeddies Awards will be decided from the following people:
Nominations for the top Award: Andrew Lawrence (dark comedy insulting others); Andrew Maxwell (story telling); Brendon Burns (offensive comedy designed to shock but with a big finale); Ivan Brackenbury’s Hospital Radio Roadshow (character comedy as a Radio DJ playing a lot of music); Pappy’s Fun Club (sketch comedy which is apparently eerily similar to last year’s nominees We Are Klang).
I’m stunned! No space for Lawrence Leung or Rhod Gilbert let alone Michael McIntyre – it’s unexplainable. All nominees have received mixed reviews from the press and public alike whereas the previous three gentlemen have earned nothing but stunning write-ups. The best Newcomer Nominations seem a little bit more sensible although somehow Nina Conti doesn’t get a mention? The line up is Jon Richardson; Micky Flanagan; Tom Basden; Zoe Lyons. Saturday night at midnight is decision time, if you don’t want to wait until then there can only really be one sane outcome … Brendon Burns to follow in Phil Nichol’s footsteps as the latest winner of the top award in Edinburgh.
Two thirds of the festival gone and we are only a few days from the official nominations for the second If.com Eddies Awards. I’m delighted to reveal my informed choices for who should be in contention: Outsiders for the main award are two of last year’s nominees David O’Doherty and Paul Sinha – both worthy of another nomination. Russell Howard drops out of the running as his show wasn’t up to last year’s standard. Two former Best Newcomer Nominees come storming into contention, firstly Michael McIntyre and more-so Rhod Gilbert who has been a stronger contender for the top award since I saw him on the very first day of the festival. The only person who can possibly beat Rhod to the crown is Lawrence Leung for his hysterical show about trying to be cool. This race is too close to call right now… As for the Best Newcomer Award well still the only candidate is Nina Conti and I think she deserves it too. Finally onto the best of the Festival so far, the ‘must-see’ list consists of Will Adamsdale, Jerry Sadowitz, Phil Nichol, Frank Skinner and of course Rhod Gilbert and Lawrence Leung.
Lawrence is an Australian of Chinese decent with a dodgy tracksuit, an excessive beard and diminutive stature and all he want to be is as cool as his elder brother who is a bass guitarist in a band. Being a master at a Rubik’s cube and Sudoku he’s some way off that goal. He makes a bet that he can be cool and sets himself four tasks which we get to judge whether he is cool or not. These areas are fashion, girls, attitude and dancing. The set up is excellent and the result is excellent – each segment is distinct, perfectly delivery and very funny. This all builds into a massive crescendo with him entering a breakdancing competition with genuinely hysterical results. Lawrence is a wonderful hybrid of Dave Gorman’s presentation mixed with Demetri Martin’s self-analysis. A new star is born – Five arm supports out of five! See him over and over again and give him the If.com Eddie Award!
Paul delivered a stunning show last year talking about his life as a gay Asian doctor obsessed with football (and Liverpool). How could he possibly match that award-nominated show? Well he has and it’s great. Paul has a strange style where he technically rants about things that bother him and delivers other anecdotes without seemingly telling any jokes but what comes is intelligent and amusing stories delivered in such an amiable way that just grabs your attention and admiration. This year he describes the times he has felt like ‘King of the World’, as well as those when he felt he was ‘Twat of the World’. The stories flow so exquisitely and they pack so much entertainment, social comment and amusement in them it’s really quite different from any other comic on the circuit. He deserves to be nominated again for the top award – four quiz shows out of five and a proud part of my must-see list for this year and next!
Is Frank the greatest British stand-up ever? Quite possibly, he does have the quickest comic mind as amply demonstrated this evening. He comes out into the intimate atmosphere of the Cabaret Bar with almost 200 people ready to hang off his every word (and two eager beavers sitting attentively in the front row). Straight off his mike is dead which he gives us a couple of minutes of great material, everything from disgruntled Scottish technicians to disabled microphone stands. After a short warm up with some good local gag Frank goes into his main act, appointing KT as the moral adjudicator to say if he crossed the line at any point (he didn’t, even when he said she had scabby knees from falling over 4 times a week pissed up alcopops). He chooses the world’s most impossible material to make funny, and does it without offending anyone:- paedophilia, being an old man (including his urine) and granny porn has never been so funny and probably never will. In short he still has all of his magic and skill in writing, delivery and speed of thought and keeps to the same style that has brought him such success since he won the Perrier Award sixteen years ago. Five spare mics out of five – a must see for everyone with an interest in comedy.
Russell Howard put in a great high energy show last year with a killer joke about the Queen (on of the best of the festival) and deserved his nomination for the If.com Eddie Award. With such expectation he returns to Edinburgh playing in the Cabaret Bar right after Frank Skinner, talk about pressure! Russell took about 20 minutes to really get going, to move from giggles to belly laughing. He talked about suicide, teasing his little brother, his experiences and ultimately looking for those special moments in life that make it all worthwhile. It’s a good hour of entertainment, similar to last year but without an exceptional gag. His positive delivery and energy is very reminiscent of Adam Hills, only with better material. He also succeeds in taking you back to your childhood (if you are of the same generation as him) with well placed 1980s references. All in all a good show – You won’t walk out blown away and he doesn’t pack a killer ending (which Adam Hills does) but you will have really enjoyed your hour. Four photos out of five but lacking that special moment to make it a must-see or award worthy.
Phil Nichol stars in a new play, the only one this year since he put in two great performances last year as the madcap host of Talk Radio and the quiet brother in True West. Sadly his role is not the lead and not really of great significance, giving the spotlight over to Tony Law as Killer Joe and Ed Weeks as the son Chris who both put in good, but not brilliant, performances. Lizzie Roper is strong as Phil’s new wife, especially give the physical aspect to the role whilst Charlotte Jo Hanbury comes across as innocent enough as the pure Dottie. The story is quite dark: a plotted murder using a hit-man that goes slightly awry when they can’t afford to pay him. There are some twists later on but the end seems a little bit silly even for a black comedy. I fear this show will gain attention for the full frontal nudity, male and female, as well as some sexual violence against Lizzie Roper. It’s not as good as either of Phil’s plays last year but there are some tense moments and the underlying story is good, even with the ending. The set is also very detail (possibly re-using the kitchen from True West) and they make good use of it, dragging us into their depressing trailer park life in Dallas. It just lacks that special something to push it beyond watchable. Three chicken drumsticks out of five.
I loved Punt and Dennis as a teenager, I thought their material was great and just the right level of satire. Needless to say I was happy to pay a large amount of money to see them live and in the flesh. After a good opening gag, Steven Punt walking out on stage by himself. He explains that Hugh has this superstition where he wants to come out on stage doing one of his legendary impersonations. With baited giggles we wait until a Hugh comes out doing an amazing Raptor impression. Painfully funny and it deserved to be reprised several times throughout the show! Their show is a collection of well linked observations about everything from politics and the Olympics (bad for Britain), to flat lazy teenagers and TV over the years (including a fleeting cameo of ‘Milky Milky’ to which half the audience erupted and the other half whispered to their laughing friends ‘what’s that?’). It was a hectic hour of continual satire and political comment delivered flawlessly by a perfectly balanced duo. An absolute treat to finally see them live – five clipboards out of five!
What more can be said about this institution of topical sketch comedy? Four stars for the past three years from me and oh, four stars again! As always an excellent blend of sketches, musical comedy and one liners. This year the team of four (plus pianist) take the mickey out of Brown, Bush, Britney, Beckhams, Terrorism, Life on Mars, the weather and so much more. All sketches get a minimum of three stars each and some even hit the highest five such as “row row row your boat through the streets of Hull”. If you haven’t seen Newsrevue go this year and you won’t be disappointed. And you know what? You be back to see them every year after just like me.