Edinburgh 2008 - Reviews, and Reviews of Reviews, Part 4

2 September 2008

And so we continue with part four of my reviews of the shows I saw at the Edinburgh festival. It’s getting quite tiring this. Not too many more to do now though. Here are links to part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Glenn Wool: Goodbye Scars at Underbelly

We went to see this as he’d been recommended independently by several people, and I’d never heard of him, so it seemed worth a shot. He’s a Canadian “rock and roll” type comedian, with material about sex and drugs and that. Not usually my cup of tea, to be honest - but there was enough intelligence here that even I could enjoy the jokes about chlamydia.

My rating: 7/10

The Late Show at Underbelly.

Michael Legge was the excellent MC for this. It’s quite hard to find the right words to describe a compere as good - I want to say that he warmed everyone up well, without overshadowing the acts, but that just makes him sounds like a bit of a failure, which he wasn’t by any means. A good MC can really make or break a comedy evening, and Legge’s banter hit the spot.

The acts were:

Andrew Lawrence: I’d not seen Andrew Lawrence before, and I was expecting good, if warped, things. He certainly was very strange. I could imagine Andrew Lawrence being one of Jim Davidson’s heavily mutated great-great-grandchildren after some kind of nuclear holocaust. By which I mean, he’s a fucking strange bloke but I’m not sure I really liked him that much, hence my rating: 4/10.

Janey Godley is a scary Glasweigan who terrified most of the front couple of rows. She was very entertaining and certainly not someone I would want to mess with, so my rating is 7/10.

Rob Deering was the final act, and this was the same day that we’d seen him do his Boobs 2008 show, which I reviewed in part 3. I was worried we would pretty much be seeing the same show again, but fortunately he did what was essentially his show from last year instead. So it was more songs with the guitar and the funky record-a-few-bars-so-you-can-accompany-yourself gizmo - and it was much better than earlier. A drunker audience and a better venue made it an excellent end to the evening, so my rating is a big fat 10/10.

The Mid 90s La La La (Free) at Espionage

This was one of the few free shows we went to. It was Friday, and we’d been in Edinburgh for six days by this point and we’d barely seen any free shows at all, so in the afternoon we decided to go to the nearest one.

Patrick Lappin and John Osborne presented some silly poems about the years 1994-1997. It was apparently directed by Luke Wright, though you have to wonder how much direction goes into two blokes standing up and reading some poems. The material was decent enough for a free show, I suppose, but they could really have done with interacting with the audience a bit more.

My rating: 4/10

John Gordillo: Divide and Conga at Pleasance Dome

We went to see this because it got a five-star review in Chortle. It was in quite a small venue which was packed, and Gordillo opened by trying to revise our expectations down a bit - he was surprised by the number of good reviews he’d got. It was a show all about his staunchly Marxist Spanish father, and I can’t really describe it any better than the Chortle review. I thought it was pretty good, but for me it fell a bit short of the five-star goodness I was expecting.

Here’s a three star review from the Guardian for some balance.

My rating: 8/10

Carnival des Phenomenes at Gilded Balloon

This bizarre late-night show was very cabaret-ish, like the sort of thing you would stumble across in Lost Vagueness at Glastonbury. It opened with some DJing from a man wearing an enormous gorilla head. It was that kind of evening.

Rob Broderick was the MC, and the acts were:

Frisky and Mannish: Fantastic musical comedy duo who did various songs and medleys, including a brilliantly sinister rendition of Eternal Flame by The Bangles. Check out their website - they’ve got various dates coming up in London. My rating: 9/10

Some disco guy: I’ve no idea who this guy was. He was just some disco guy with a massive wig. He taught us some silly disco moves. My rating: PG

X Files Improv: A guy who apparently used to be in the X Files, doing some improv. He was quite a minor character in the X Files. He apparently does a full show where he takes suggestions from the audience and turns it into a “hilarious” X Files episode. We thankfully got only a small taster of his tedious brand of oh-my-god-I’ve-seen-this-all-before improvised comedy. The disco guy was doing sound effects to the scene and he was by far the funniest, because he seemed to have no respect for the man whatsoever. My rating: 1/10

Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds: He appears on stage wearing only his pants and a lot of makeup, and plays a collection of broken 80’s Casio keyboards and guitars. You couldn’t make it up. Only he obviously has. My rating: £2.88/10

Rick Shapiro: I have a theory that people only like Russell Brand because he used to be a bit of a druggie, and people think that’s so cool it means he doesn’t actually need to be as clever or as funny as he thinks he is. Anyway, this isn’t a review of Russell Brand, it’s a review of Rick Shapiro, and my point is that Rick Shapiro would eat Russell Brand for breakfast. Actually that’s a bit tame. Rick Shapiro would anally rape Russell Brand at a family breakfast in front of his grandmother, pounding harder and harder until Russell Brand’s anus is gaping and weeping blood all over his boiled egg and weeping relatives. Then he would eat him and shit him back out into his grandmother’s eyes. I’d love to extend the metaphor even further, but I think you pretty much get the picture. Also, I’ve just remembered that Rachel’s mum reads this blog. Anyway. Rick Shapiro was a drug-addict rent boy, and is clearly screwed-up in real life almost as much as his comedy is. It was a shoutly, rambling, incoherent mess of a comedy set, which apparently is par for the course for him. Frankly I thought it was absolute crap, and left after enduring it for way too long, as it seemed it might never finish. So, Rick Shapiro wins the honour of my first zero rating: 0/10.

The Guardian has a review of a show that he did back in March, which sums him up pretty well.

That’s all for part four. Only 3 shows left to review…