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Olga Koch: Fight

at Monkey Barrel

* * * * -

Assured and hilarious debut hour from Comedy Award nominee Koch

Image of Olga Koch: Fight

Russian comedian Olga Koch brings her hilarious debut hour of comedy back to Edinburgh following a triumphant Fringe run and nomination for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Koch is an engaging performer, who opens the set by taking the piss out of her surname and its frequent mispronunciation (for the record, it’s pronounced “coke” not “cock”). When a male audience member shouts “cock” during the bit, Koch quickly retorts: “Is that my last name or a just a preference?” and the audience erupts into laughter. Koch’s confidence in the face of heckling belies her newcomer status and immediately endears her to the crowd.

Fight tells the story of Koch’s upbringing, the transformation of her homeland from communism to capitalism and we hear the extraordinary tale of her father Alfred’s career trajectory from janitor to deputy prime minister of Russia to game show host. It’s part history lesson, part family drama, part mystery; and it’s all hysterically entertaining. It’s a story that needs to be heard to be believed and you can’t help but wonder if someone could take Alfred Koch’s surreal story to the big screen.

Through slides, storytelling and video clips Koch tells the story of the personal and political events which led to the night of 15 June 2014 – when her father was questioned by authorities while boarding a flight, seemingly related to the painting he was carrying. We are treated to home videos from the 90s, a Russian Pizza Hut advert featuring Mikhail Gorbachev and given an insight into how Alfred accidentally facilitated privatisation in the former USSR, creating a small number of oligarchs. We discover the reasons Alfred Koch later sought exile in Germany and the subject of the painting he was carrying in his luggage.

Some may be deterred by the concept of a comedy show rooted in a particular period of Russian history but this isn’t a TED Talk masquerading as comedy. It’s a funny and intriguing hour which will make you think about bigger themes of truth, power and wealth. Koch says early on in the show: “If you’re not laughing, you’re learning,” but in Fight, the comedian proves you can do both at the same time.