Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

We round-up some of the shows from around the free venues of the Fringe…

Joz Norris: Hey Guys
@ Heroes @ The Hive, until Mon 31 Aug 2015 @ 14:00

Bowie’s Laughing Gnome is an appropriate choice of intro/exit music for Norris’s show – both are giddy, fanciful, and you sense their authors could do something less whimsical if they wanted to. Going about his business with the puppyish enthusiasm and perverse logic of Jez from Peepshow, Norris’s energy never flags, but the set seems like a patchwork of abstract unconnected thoughts; you wish he’d linger longer on things. When he does, it’s good. A sandwich shop worker melodramatically mourning a leaving colleague is well done, and miming an out-of-sync Bruce Springsteen video is creative and funny. But there’s not enough like that and his “I’m trying to make this my catchphrase” routine has often been done before.

Mel Moon: Sick Girl
@ Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, until Sun 30 Aug 2015 @ 12:05

Mel has been diagnosed with a rare, incurable illness and could die at any moment. This isn’t a joke. It’s a sad truth. She’s clearly very funny, and early material about her family and hometown of Burnley, together with flirty banter with the young men in the front row, show she’s great with a pub/club crowd. But that’s not why she’s here. She has been ill to the point of seeking euthanasia, then turned back, and the story she tells is one to hear. It gets heavy in the middle, and even though she’s aware of that, and plays for laughs, there’s little that could or should be done to lighten the mood. At the end, she brings the audience together with some clever manipulation that makes her point well. With her having put her heart and soul into it – who knows how long she has? – this is a very honest and real take on confessional comedy.

A Ward Winning Storey
@ Cowgatehead, until Mon 31 Aug 2015 @ 21:30

Two guys with different approaches to grooming – Andy Storey (preposterous beard), Tom Ward (Emo Philips/Richard Ashcroft hair mash-up) – but the same solid grip on stand-up. Storey’s material is childhood stuff – pushing kids down stairs, graffitiing textbooks – and some funny, fairly standard tales about his sex life. Confident working an audience, he spends a little too long on it tonight, but it’s obviously a forte. Ward’s more lugubrious. He deadpans off the audience into flights of fancy, with distinctive style. His imaginings of doing phone sex with 80s tech is particularly good, and he’s marginally the more inspired of the two tonight, but both put in very good turns.

Adam Blampied: I Am Mr Childrenman
@ Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, until Sun 30 Aug 2015 @ 22:45

A struggling children’s book writer does not seem fertile ground for character comedy; at least, not how Blampied has drawn him – slightly bitter, and existentially troubled, but well within the bounds of normal. But from unpromising source material, he does pretty well. A choose-your-own-adventure sequence is clever and quite compelling; less so, the farmyard animal tale that holds it all together, which is more surreal than funny. But with some of Mr Childrenman’s characteristics sharpened and heightened, there’s mileage in him.

Joby Mageean: Billy No Immune System
@ Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom, until Fri 21 Aug 2015 @ 19:30

Geordie Joby Mageean has a disease, an auto-immune disease. But this show is no pity party. It’s upbeat, bubbly. His topics are bullying and illness, but he’s such a chirpy chap, it feels like he’s talking shopping or sitting in the park. This isn’t a great evening to see him, though. His laptop dies, silencing his singing gnomes and thus rendering half of quite an elaborate set completely redundant. There’s also too many songs, on an increasingly excruciatingly out-of-tune ukulele, although one mocking Sainsbury’s pompous war advert is excellent.

Love Hate Relationship
@ Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, until Sat 15 Aug 2015 @ 23:00

Working as a couple is asking for trouble, but Carmen Ali and Jake Pickford seem together enough to get away with it. They’re novicey – both, but especially Ali, seem incredibly unsure of themselves, despite some strong material, and Ali’s delivery often drifts into question intonation: will you laugh at this? But despite being way out of tune, the rap/song battles are a nice touch (when they’re not too personally and specifically sexual – too much information, guys!) and the one-liners mostly score laughs. It’s also a smart pretext for sharing an hour. You root for them, despite the greenness.

Newcastle Brown Male
@ New Waverley Arches, until Mon 31 Aug 2015 @ 21:30

The title of this show’s a gimme for a Geordie comedian specialising in his experience as a British Indian. Rahul Kohli’s a likeable guy, with a good presence on stage, but this early gig at New Waverley Arches has teething problems – dodgy mic, loud Hare Krishna-like procession passing through earshot from the launch party next door. While his Indian v Pakistani race hate material is original and strong, there’s a lot of routine stuff – being mistaken for a bomber, corner shop gags – and he’s a little pleading with an audience that is actually doing alright for him, despite the interruptions. His personality carries him through, though, and he’ll have better gigs.

Some Like It Thea-Skot
@ Cowgatehead, until Sat 29 Aug 2015 @ 20:45

Alison Thea-Skot’s character comedy gets stronger as it goes along. The strangulated Celine Dion that opens is grating, but the noirish German exchange routine kicks it up a notch and by the time you reach the twenties Hollywood starlet and a wonderfully embarrassing film recreation sequence at the end, she’s in full flow. The show also has the most persistent, and funny, audience member victimisation of the Fringe so far. Be careful where you sit, although on this night it was a beery, standing room only crowd, so you may not have a choice.