Richard Herring, Matt Kirshen, Nick Doody, Pete Firman, Alun Cochrane - Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Review Part 2

Alex Skinner 28/09/2009

Alun Cochrane - Is A Daydreamer (at night)
The Stand Comedy Club

Two words sum up Alun Cochrane:

1. Crowd
2. Pleaser

Alun is an everyman with a difference. He walks the line of acceptable comedy that everyone can relate to immaculately. No cutting agenda, no politics, just happy-go-lucky observational humour with the odd call back. He cannot fail, as he is an utter professional who has mastered joke execution.

You get the impression that Alun is a sound guy who hasn't changed his way of life: holding a positive outlook from the birth of his child. The set is littered with many, many stories of his baby's short life, and his family's extremely happy outlook on life. He finds much humour with from kids unique take on life and can relate to it himself, as he still refuses to grow up.

He has probably had a child for material purposes as year after year Alun can get new material as it grows up. By the end of the set, you understand his joy hand rearing a child into this manic world.

Cochrane's strength is in the pull of his brilliantly subtle observations; these strike a chord throughout the audience. It could be having his favourite 'hob' on the stove (back left) or watching his child make a phone call with a wedge of parmesan cheese (not in the shaky tin). Genius.

He entertains the masses and at some points I thought it was Peter Kay seeping out. He is a rock solid performer who is unable to offend any crowd, very safe comedy.
A safe all-round bet.


Richard Herring - Hitler Moustache

Richard Herring asks many questions in his show as he is sporting his own toothbrush moustache.

Why a Hitler moustache? Herring lays the foundations to reclaim the tash from the clutches of the Nazi stereotype. The show is mostly cantered around the subject of political apathy and race relations in this country.

With 'Hitler Moustache' Herring has drawn people in brilliantly with his provocatively styled Hitler poster, which drummed up the most attention around the Fringe. This show had a sell out run because of the great attention from not only the posters, but also the horrible 'New offenders' term that was thrown around. The image looks exactly like Adolf it is frightening.

It takes a certain skilled comedian to talk about why racists are less racist than you for any amount of time, and Herring achieves it. The show takes a cutting stance in analysing voting, the B.N.P, non voting and there term 'Political Correctness'. Spinning the phrase once again from 'P.C gone mad' and in turn, to 'P.C is protection' for people, making everyone equal.

When his attention is brought onto voting/ or non voting. Herring maims anyone who didn't vote, mentioning that people have fought and died for that right, and non-voting is a disgrace. This attacking mentality is to be admired considerably.

A drunk woman then interrupts the show. At first he was an utter professional and dealt with the issue in hand. Then, after a few minutes patience were tested as he offered her 30 from his own wallet to leave! This was rejected and Herring released a barrage of abuse at her before storming away. Some things were out of order but overall he dealt with the situation well. It was mental.

Personally I enjoyed it when he argues with his own subconscious mind for around 5 minutes that shows part of his dark style before telling a Maddie McCann joke to perfection. The crowd loved this.

A professional of his comic trade he breezes through hard-hitting topics, leaving you to re-assess the state of things around you. The racial observations were in plentiful array with uniquely turning the focus on the crowd, without them noticing.
Post-modern/ Ironic/ sarcastic. Whatever your opinion Herring produces a way to go for the jugular of racism with his own manic delivery and references thrown in.

You must remember, it takes such skill to bring a topic like racism into a set and make people think, as well as laugh.
An interesting show and one that you will see well into 2010 I predict.


Nick Doody - Schizo.
Pleasance Courtyard, upstairs.

A clever show, one that needed more credit.
Nick Doody is a fantastically dark comedy writer whose show this year is more emotional. There is always a fear of putting too much emotion into a stand up routine in case the artist gets too involved. He used this experience of his mothers death in his show.
Bored of always sitting on the fence, finding positives and negatives he decided to try and change by seeing things in black and white only. One way or the other: without any opinions or variables in between.

The show is called Schizo and is in two parts like having a multiple personality. One side is filled with hate with all that annoys him in the first half.

He angrily wades through all those things that annoy him in this country like the state of transport, politics, BMP, Royal Family (Prince Phillip), Britain's Got Talent, Suzanne Boyle: "A yeti in a dress", Tranquilizers, British Press, Having children, Wife after childbirth having "A vagina like a punched lasagne", Religion, US Politics, Catholicism "Farther McFingers", News night, Sachsgate and that phrase "Jokes don't matter". That line confused me at first.

The second half of the show is filled of a more positive outlook on many of the things mentioned that was in the first half of the act. He is much more positive in his assessment of muti-cultural Britain "like the bar scene in Star Wars" when sat on a bus, Immigration, Suzanne Boyle, choice and freedom of multiculturalism, all with having purposeful contradictions thrown in for good measure. With this we see two sides.

He creates something interesting is filled with emotional stories of inhabited by some of his large family. Before all these stories he states the phrase "I just tell jokes" and "Jokes can't do anything". At first, these phrases annoyed me as I don't think that way. Only to be lulled into the last line of the show where he explains that his mother tells a dark anecdote about pretending to be dead when his aunties visited.

He leave on the line "So don't tell me they are only jokes", meaning that jokes mean so much and can break even the toughest moods. After the powerful line, Doody exits the show leaving the audience before the lights go up.


Ginger and Black - The Extraordinary Life And Times Of Harold Pleasance Yard

This show is a loose bag of ideas based around a story of what a boy did when Adolf Hitler was around. I cannot state that this is a loose story, aided along by the use of funny props (cornflakes for confetti) and steely confidence to carry the show along.

Running a short time of 45mins, the comedy double act fly through a story that doesn't make much sense at all. The fun value and this redeems the show in all their glory. Being a fan of them, I would happily watch them perform anything in their dark, laize faire delivery as they have impeccable timing for the one liners. This is a unique gift as they never change their winning comedy equation. A story + Dark comedy (x=acting-mime)= Ginger and Black.

The style of the show is neither here nor there as Dan and Eri morph in and out of character, mixing in crowd participation that works well. This sis due to cheekiness on their part as they gently mock the crowds and play off their silence.

All silly, but an enjoyable show that does what it is supposed to do. Entertain.

Pete Firman's Magic Show
Underbelly, Garden

Expect to see a lot more from Pete Firman in the near future. An absolute entertainer in the field of work he can only get bigger. Over the last couple of years Pete has gained recognition from doing some mad stunts, like hammering a nail into his nose. Now he has made the show friendlier, with his own brand of humour layered on top.

The first thing you notice about the show is that magic is ahead. He busts through some quick fire magic that gets the cynical crowd fired up first of all. The execution is excellent and little by little, gets the crowd to get on the entertainment train. Chooo chooo.

Bits like your standard coat hanger untangle trick that goes down very well. The crowd participation is funny for numerous reasons. The first reason is that Pete can play off his comedy side whilst interacting, the second is the well-performed trick itself involving money counting and slight of hand. The third and final reason is the crowd members who are chosen. Pete keeps a firm eye on the talent in the crowd, which I enjoyed. By choosing very smart female members to woo it not only keeps the audience watching, but keeps him focused as well.
The most impressive centrepiece of the act is Pete's grand ability to mind read. He asks a man for a place close to him and builds the crowd up over 5 minutes before revealing the actual place he was thinking of. Not only is this impressive, he also tags the number the gentleman was thinking also. This blew the crowd away and impressed.

By the end of the show, everyone is fully entertained and realise that this is a professional act that has been polished and ready for better things. I was expecting more nailed being hammered into his head though.


Matt Kirshen - Shorter Than Napoleon

Before the show I ran into Matt whilst he was at an Oyster bar. He was chatting to a friend dressed as a pirate, trying to convince him to go to his show.

Matt seemed like a humble character who is a complete introvert until he performs. He professionally comes alive in the spotlight no matter what mood he is in.

You get the sense that Matt is an introverted extravert who is honest in his approach of dealing with people day to day. He gauges this level of honesty in his stand up "the first 8 months being a stand-up is shaky but after 8 years it is a job."
He takes to the stage, as humble as ever beholding the average crowd for the evening. Just coming to life from the shy looking gentleman before the show.

He warms to the crowd in in first 5 minute saying what a lovely crowd is in, over again. Offering sanction that he's had some horrid stag/hen parties recently so it was some major crowd love.

He speaks of his time at the Fringe and some odd things he has experienced. Like witnessing a rap battle with wannabe rappers as one of them forgets his lyrics and repeats "I came here to piss you off..."

Matt explains that all of his stories are real and not changed for comical effect and has a catalogue of observational titbits thrown in. On his list were; radio show phone in people, the phrase 'Stranger than fiction', people with no imagination, Trying to explain being British to Americans and then Napoleon.

The show is built loosely around the fact that Napoleon was an ample height back in his day, signifying the term Napoleon complex is unfair and that's about it really. Titles for shows are mostly a front just to get something eye-catching on the poster. They are usually loose terms/ phrases in order to go with whatever material is in the show.

His set then veers towards his own experiences being in America (Last Comic Standing) and some things that bothered him. Steven Hawkins's American accent, people who get annoyed about gay marriage and the sex offenders list being unfair.

The media are an issue when discussing the G9 Summit reports. Explaining that the sheer amount of media in attendance outnumbered the 'rioting' that was present, as he only witnessed a lot of jugglers.
Kirshen's crowd control on this particular night was mediocre and seemed to come back to bite him in an attempt to build up the last joke. The friend he invited along had an coughing fit and had to leave, disrupting Matt's final joke.
The lyrics "I came here to piss you off..." are played when the crowd leaves.

Suggestions and extra ramblings.

Kim Noble was a show that I'm kicking myself I missed. Dark, detailed and different suicide show gained the highest recognition from the sternest critics alike. I will do my utmost to see Kim perform, although a rarity.

Tiernan Douieb has also had a tremendous year and is set to be a high flyer. A lovely guy too! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWdUWERlIZE
Carl Donnelly will be a name you will hear more and more so keep and eye out for him.

Pete Johansson had terrific crowds this year and I thought he would scoop best newcomer, he must have just missed it.

Jonny Sweet scooped the best newcomer award, and the winner of the major award this year was Tim Key.

Hey, the festival isn't about winning awards. It is what you make it and by doing some research into some fantastic talents out there you can be one step ahead.

Cardiff Dates to schedule:
22nd October - Simon Amstel at St David's Hall.
2nd November - Daniel Kitson at The Sherman Theatre.
5th November - Milton Jones at The Glee Club