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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Edinburgh Festivals' LiveJournal:

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Monday, August 8th, 2011
11:34 am
Mitch Benn (5/5)
Mitch Benn
Stand III, 15:00

A familiar voice to listeners of Radio 4's The Now Show, Mitch Benn has been described as "The country's leading musical satirist", and I have to agree with them. Back on the Fringe with a solo show for the first time in twelve years, he's got a guitar and an iPhone, and he's not afraid to use both.

Mitch is an unashamed geek, and he's happy to spend some of the show talking about Star Trek and Doctor Who alongside taking deadly aim at such topics as celebrity adoptions, weight loss, the Eurovision song contest, the need for people to have a "theme" in their Fringe shows, and the pretentious bastards who claim that Shakespeare would be writing Eastenders. Fans will already know where that last comment leads, but this version has a twist even for people who have seen Mitch touring with The Distractions: it's a one-man show, but it's still done live. And yes, the show climaxes with the absolutely fantastic Proud of the BBC. He's managed to avoid the pitfalls of the long-term comic—focusing on getting old or becoming a parent—though he's happy to use that as a preamble to a room-dividing gag that references James Bond and Total Recall.

His runs ends on the fourteenth, and tickets are selling fast. You've got a week to go see one of the funniest men to ever hold a guitar. You owe it to yourself to go, he's a master of his form.
Sunday, August 7th, 2011
10:20 pm
The Scat Pack - Lights! Camera Action!
Lights! Camera! Improvise! is an improv comedy show in which the cast act a film (straight to DVD, of course) based on a genre, title and location suggested by the audience.  There is a twist to this simple set-up; one of the troupe is not part of the film but takes the role of commentator/director/watcher.  He rewinds bits that weren't good enough, calls out extra challenges for the cast; and freezes the action at key moments to comment on the acting.  This combinations works well; an hour would be too long for a single improv piece without the commentator but with this addition there are opportunities for humour beyond the storyline.

The format makes a change from the usual improv sketch format and was just as funny.   When we saw them, the film was a gangster movie called "Steve and the Meat Products" that began in a library.  At one point we were asked to suggest an award that the film should be made to qualify for; the suggestion of "best tap dance" was chosen but the cast didn't manage to rise to that one.

I'm curious to know how much of the material they repeat in each performance, as there is clearly scope for keeping some of the jokes from night to night.

The show is on C Chambers St at 7.15.
Saturday, September 18th, 2010
1:44 pm
In case anyone hasn't guessed, the link on the entry before this one is from a spambot (which has also requested to join one community which I moderate). Member of 1080 communities, posting the same thing on all of them, pretending to be a movie when it's a link to something else - probably a virus-infested site or similar. Mods, please delete once this is dealt with?
Friday, August 20th, 2010
12:15 am
Reginald D Hunter - Trophy Nigga (4.5/5)
Reginald D Hunter - Trophy Nigga
Pleasance Grand, 20:00

Reginald D Hunter is a bit of an anomaly for British audiences: a black American comedian. Most people are used to black British comedians like Stephen K Amos, who bring their sociocultural experiences by way of the Caribbean, rather than the American South. Reginald D Hunter blows that wide open. His show obviously covers race—a topic close to his own heart—but goes off into politics, discrimination, privilege, the differences between Britain and America ("Britain is where white people come from. It's like Africa for white people."), and more besides.

His material, dealing as it does with areas of discrimination and privilege, isn't going to be a hit with everyone (though even the one Tory voter present in the audience when I was present laughed along with everyone else). As a whole, it felt closer to the bone than perhaps people would expect from the current crop of TV-staple comedians who fill the vacancies on Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You. But it's close to the bone because that's the only way to get across the underlying message of the show.

Some bits didn't hit home, and some bits hit too close—though for each audience, which bits in particular will differ—and that's enough to drop half a point but I still thoroughly enjoyed the evening and can recommend it unreservedly.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
11:57 pm
Frisky and Mannish: School of Pop (5/5)
Frisky and Mannish: School of Pop

I should preface this review by mentioning that you can't see the School of Pop. Frisky and Mannish brought out last year's show for one night only at the giant inflatable cow, and that's it—the final ever production. Is it fair to review something that nobody will see again? Fuckit, I don't see why not...

The School of Pop is the precursor to this year's The College Years, and this particular performance was noted to be a remedial class for those who needed a basic grounding in the underpinning theory of this year's masterpiece. Which is fair enough.

What was a solid 5/5 last year lose half a point this time around for a lack of focus. Much of what I said about The College Years still applies—as musical comedians, Frisky and Mannish are odd in that both are excellent singers and Mannish doesn't butcher the piano. But School of Pop is obviously the earlier show, because it spreads like double-ought buckshot through the whole realm of pop music used for comedy. Bits like the Sorting Hat of Pop don't hit with the same punch, because they don't really fit with what makes F&M truly great: their multi-layered understanding of pop music.

Is that enough to deduct even half a point? I don't think so. If it were ongoing, perhaps, but as a swansong to the GCSE-level studies in pop music it stands strong. And it features Noel Coward singing Lily Allen (and vice versa). No less than 5/5 is appropriate
11:31 pm
Toby Hadoke - Now I Know My BBC (5/5)
Toby Hadoke - Now I Know My BBC
Cowgate Underbelly, 18:55

Toby's last outing at the Festival was the glorious Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, in which he poured out his heart and soul, focused through the lens of his and my favourite television Doctor0. Now I Know My BBC covers similar ground, how someone who was never one of the "cool kids" still found solace in the output of the glorious British Broadcasting Corporating.

The story follows Toby's childhood, from watching Take Hart and Grange Hill as a boy, to the dawning realization of the double-entendre one evening watching Larry Grayson present the Generation Game, to his grandfather missing one episode of Newsnight and dying straight after. I am loathe to use the words "heart and soul" in the post X-factor years, but if ever a comic could be said pour those things into his performance Toby does.

At times, the show gets a bit political--but the BBC is a political animal, beset by Rupert Murdoch and his allies in the present government who want nothing more than to slash the great institution to ribbons in order to sell more advertising. At times, Toby's tangents about his childhood could arguably be said to linger just a little too long on bitterness before hitting a punchline. If you think that these things are criticisms, rather than the hallmarks of comedy drawn bleeding from the performer's heart, I have to wonder if you have a soul.

If you have ever watched Take Hart waiting for your drawing, ever written to Points of View, or simply loved a programme that didn't have adverts every quarter of an hour, you need to see this show.

0: Though as one of the two extant Sylvester McCoy fans1, I can't help but feel we got short-changed a little bit.
1: Hi, gominokouhai!
11:12 pm
Amateur Transplants - In Theatre (5/5)
Amateur Transplants - In Theatre
Negociants/Medina, 19:00 and 21:00

Let me be perfectly honest: I'm a big fan of the Amateur Transplants, have been since they cropped up in the b3ta newsletter back in 2005. They're pretty much the archetype of musical comedy, two guys who trained as doctors with a piano. This shows through in their sense of humour, influenced as it is by Tom Lehrer. As with Mr. Lehrer, Adam and Suman's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.

One moment, Adam's twisting Lady Gaga's Poker Face into a comedy song about making a cup of tea. The next, he's grabbed a trombone to back up Suman's description of his digestive discomfort when watching an Abba-themed film, then a sudden diversion into an audience-powered piss-take of Hallelujah. In addition to some fantastic new material, classics London Underground and Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin send the show off on a guaranteed high.

Some songs push the boundaries, though the two classic offenders--Northern Girls and The Beautiful Song--aren't on the playlist this time around. Most of the songs hinge on some combination of terrible puns, foul language, and what my wife informs me is properly termed 'toilet humour' (I was going to say 'knob gags'). I cannot say enough good things about the Amateur Transplants. Let go of your pretentions, let go of any sense of good taste or good sense, and go experience two master comedians making you laugh yourself sick.
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
12:54 pm
Joe Lycett and Andrew Ryan...
They're on the Free Fringe at the White Horse toards the bottom of the High street at 5.15 every day. One of the best things I've seen on the Free Fringe. Great atmosphere, lovely venue and very funny show for free.
6:35 am
Kevin Bridges tickets for sale
Two Kevin Bridges tickets for Thursday the 19th, the extra show at the Pleasance at 11:15 pm-- we rather brilliantly managed to double-book ourselves, alas. Selling at face value, which I believe is £14 each. Email twistedsoup [at] gmail [dot] com; you can comment here as well, but I may not be able to check until tonight.

Current Mood: hopeful
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
12:30 am
Frisky and Mannish: The College Years (5/5)

Frisky and Mannish: The College Years
Cowgate Underbelly, 21:00

I was an avid student of the Frisky and Mannish School of Pop last year, so the chance to further my education was one that I simply could not pass up. Naturally, as with any higher curriculum, this syllabus is a lot tighter in focus—Pop Dialetics, particularly the Collision Theory. What this boils down to is F&M reducing pop songs to their base elements and demonstrating which other songs have the same genetic structure, with often brilliant results.

In other words, it's a riot of pop music comedy featuring two very talented singers jumping madly between different songs. Unlike other acts of musical comedy, which generally twist a song into a joke, F&M tease humour from the interrelations between songs. Both their musical talent and their ability to find these comedic musical links is simply sublime.

Graduates of the School of Pop will be glad to know that the Lily Allen/Noel Coward pair return to take another stab at each others' songs (and mannerisms), though no knowledge of the earlier show is required in order to have a bloody good time.

Frisky and Mannish have taken the best bits of School of Pop, and refined the ideas in a way that is both genius (the Radiohead dance remix) and hilarious (the playground nature of the duet).

It's worth mentioning that the School of Pop returns for one night only to the Fringe on Thursday, though tickets are (understandably) going fast. If you've ever listened to pop music, and if you have a soul, you will love both of F&M's shows.

Monday, August 9th, 2010
4:58 pm
Hans Teeuwen / The Late Late Show / Bane
My first show of the year was a little disappointing. Hans Teeuwen had a lot of good reviews and I found a lot of his show reasonable funny. But nothing seemed to flow very well and somehow he never really seemed to build on a theme.

Somewhat disappointed I headed to the late late show with Paul Zenon and Mikelangelo. This a late night variety show and so is very dependant on the quality of the acts they get on the night. The night I was there was great, the wau wau sisters, Jav Jarquin - card ninja, Lynn Ruth Miller, tripod (and the dragon), simon munnery... All in all a very entertaining 2 hours. Paul Zenon and Miklangelo really play off of each other well and make the whole event move along most amusingly. The only downside to these type of events is they just add another few acts to the ever extending wish list, of shows I need to try to fit in.

Sunday early evening, I made my way to the GRV to see Bane on the FivePoundFringe. This was a sell out show last year that I managed to miss. I am very happy to have not missed it again this year. It was a thrilling hour. Joe Bone ably supported by a wonderful guitarist Ben Roe take us through the seedy world of film noire all parts and special effects played by Joe Bone. Bane is energetically and convincingly performed and the story is well paced and very very funny. I can't wait for the next instalment Bane 2.

Next up tonight Soap! and the Crack.
3:01 pm
Stephen K Amos - The Best Medicine (4/5)
Stephen K Amos - The Best Medicine
Pleasance Courtyard, 21:40

Stephen K Amos returns with a new show and some new ideas. While last year he strutted on accompanied by dancing girls and ended the show with a song from a plant in the audience, this year he's late to the stage—but he's got a note from his mum.

The show has a tighter focus: growing up, growing old, and the differences between childhood assumptions and reality. This is a mixed blessing, the show benefits from the more personal theme, but part of me was disappointed that the show trod familiar comedy ground. Every comic who turns 40 feels a need to talk about the differences between their childhood and the present. The jokes and delivery make up for a lot—and make it an enjoyable night—but I'm not sure that this is really him at his best. I was at a preview showing, which had issues (mostly to do with the show beforehand overrunning by far too long) but the final result looks to be good.

Well worth going to see a genuinely funny man.
2:15 pm
Eric's Tales of the Sea (3/5)

Eric's Tales of the Sea: A Submariner's Yarn
Just The Tonic at the Caves, Cowgate, 3.10pm

Eric the ex-submariner tells us of life in a small steel tube with a lot of other men, run-ashores in Malta, fistfights 60 feet underwater, sharks, and just what you have to do to get a beer as a sixteen-year-old trainee. A lot of the jokes take a fair amount of buildup while he explains necessary submariners' jargon. The payoff is usually worth it, but he spends the first ten minutes of the set apologizing for the pace it's going to go at. If he was a bit more confident in his own jokes the show would flow better.

Time Out gave the show four stars last year. I'm giving it three. The jokes are good, and the show is funny, but overall it's an amusing diversion rather than something to rave about.

I'm tempted to give his other show—Eric's Laws of the Land— a try, but I'm glad that I got the tickets for this one at half-price.

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
11:20 am
Fringe 2010 Early Birds

just to let you guys know that the Assembly Rooms and Stand have tickets on sale today (including promo and 2 for 1 nights) through their websites:

Monday, August 17th, 2009
2:19 pm
I've just been to see Nightfall a little play at the Edinburgh College of Art. It was just brilliant, really entertaining from start to finish. The actors were all amazingly talented, their timing and nuances just perfect. I've seen 5 shows this year so far, and this blows the rest out of the water. I can't recommend it enough.
1:32 pm
Home of the Wriggler
I just went to see a play called home of the wriggler.

It is a blend of snatches of peoples lives mixed in with the fortunes of the MG Rover car plant, with the lights powered only by human effort.

It was not entirety what I expected but I found myself delighted, amused and thoroughly drawn in by the wonderful performances of the 4 actors.

If you are free of at midday, any day you could do much worse than spend an hour in the belly button watching this enchanting performance.


Friday, August 14th, 2009
2:01 pm
Edinburgh's First Steampunk Night



A Steampunk Night
behind tePOOKa's
Big Red Door
8.30pm - 3am
Friday 21st of August
Call (0131) 229 1480 to reserve tickets!

Full details of a night packed with entertainment and wonder at: http://www.dreamsofsteam.co.uk/
[tePOOKa are running a paperless box office this year so your options are to either pay at their box office at the venue, or phone 0131 229 1480 to reserve a ticket that is paid for on the night.]
x-posted with apologies
Thursday, August 13th, 2009
9:40 am
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
12:56 pm
One man Lord of the Rings
I went to see this show on Monday night, with my book group, I'm a huge fan of the movies, but this show was so dull and disappointing. It's by the same man who got rave reviews last year for his one man Star Wars, but I wouldn't go an see anything he did again. I thought the show would be funnier, more spoof-like, but it was just dull and I thought the voice impressions un-impressive.

In the pub beforehand I had 2 raspberry beers, and quite honestly, I'd rather have spent my 7 pounds on another 2 beers than this show. Thank goodness I went on 1/2 price night.
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