Glenn Wool, Simon Munnery, Todd Womack, Yanni Agisilaou - Fringe Comedy Reviews 09 Part 1

Alex Skinner 15/09/2009

Fringe Reviews 2009 Part 1

This year was pretty manic I spent most of my time running around Edinburgh trying to fit as much creativity in as I possibly could. I used all my guile to see 10 shows and the Feature film Peacock Season in 5 days on the Fringe. I also managed to catch up with a few comedians, who helped in looking at some new comedy talent for the up and coming year. Between this and the reviews I shall assist in the direction of some of these artists.

As always, I enjoy to focus on more alternative acts or even predominantly unheard of comedians.

Yanni Agisilaou : MP3Some: A Love Triangle Set to Music.
The Tron, Downstairs

The first time I saw Yanni was in a comedy club in Cardiff shortly after I got dumped from my first agonising relationship. Generally knowing what to expect I always liked his style and easy going style that has potential.
A crowd gathered in a downstairs compartment of a small venue called the The Tron bar to witness Yanni's observational personal stories unfold. His preparation for the show is relationship failure. The show seems like open therapy for him.

He speaks of a girl who he got on well with, who was passionate, wordy, and enjoyed doing crosswords in together. Described beautifully as "Mentally she was my equal but equally she was mental." A great line.

The open therapy continues analysing love against being mental. In a whimsical way Yanni is saying love drives you insane.

These relationship stories are peppered with certain songs that flashed in to suit the mood of each story. It works well. Although the act is heavily made up of self depreciation and selfishness, it is all done in fine form through delivery.

Heartbreak is focused upon. The heartbreak that everyone has at some point or will be hurt by someone in the future. A pain that runs the gauntlet of having an Ipod on shuffle being out 'Ain't no sunshine when she goes'... song albeit music.
Love is at the spine of his act, even when mentioning his parents divorce. "Parents getting divorced at 60 years old is like watching a film until the last 5 minutes before switching it off". An bittersweet line that briefly lets you view his thought mechanics. Having both parents complain about each others traits: Then he notices these are the things he hates about himself.

This act is rounded off with the summary of what he is like/ what he has found out about himself. Again, a little too egotistical but, acceptable. I fear that he may have put a little too much emotion into the act. Otherwise this is a well rounded FREE show that Yanni put on, this is nothing to be sniffed at.

If he was to add some more universal themes with bittersweet material the act could be built upon more. Yanni has worked his little socks off as his free compare show was also on at the Free Fringe whereby he compares for 40mins introducing act each day.
Free Fringe I support you.

Simon Munnery's AGM 2009
The Stand Comedy Club

Unconventional to the core, Munnery graces an afternoon stage in The Stand comedy venue.

What you get from Simon is another avenue of thinking. This is shown even living in the country having a conversational duel having to say 'Good Day' from afar. His style is a joy to watch.

Most parts of the routine are hit and miss and the line "I have thought about committing suicide, But there is too much commitment" raised a few eyebrows but, got laughs from me. The one line that made me reel was when describing elderly homes being like being in 'a storage facility'. Absolute class, in the darkest sense.

Brief musical interludes break up the gig well and this is the case with the 'LONDON' song, which is sang ever so well as he becomes a London character, encapsulating the aggression. A winner that gains the crowds attention.

Sometimes it felt like Munnery is in your head to pluck out those deep dark thoughts you may have had. In particular the Oedipus Complex. Messing your head up as even if you think it doesn't affect you, that means you have still thought about it. If you follow me?! That's my personal favourite part of the set.

The set is also accompanied by short, quick films that all miss the mark. They all just fill time as are unimpressive. Even the chicken tickler sketch falls flat (video of a man tickling chickens).

After the brief interval there is a song about Sainsbury's where he indirectly says what the supermarket chain want you to think. Speaking from their image a grand battle between the 2 for 1 deal versus the 3 for 2 deal.

Darkness persists when discussing paedophilia. *"They say it is mostly the victims of paedophilia that become paedophiles, so I say, lets kill the victims". Brilliant!
*Just to be safe, this is a joke and not an actual viewpoint.

This afternoon show saw poor crowd participation that acted as a buzz kill and failed. Due to Munnery being unimpressive lack of invention when a suggestion is pulled out of the hat. He couldn't really be bothered.

Sparks of greatness but left with an anti-climactic finish. Sort of left with a bad taste on the pallet.
A legend of the alternative comedy scene.

Todd Womack: Amazing Adventures Of.
PBH'S Free Fringe, Caves

Risky business going into the land of the Free Fringe so early on. Madness I say! But you must learn to take educated risks to try and unearth some possible outsider talent.

The adventures are not very amazing but Todd Womack is a light-hearted comedian who's character easily pleases the audience straight away.

His show consists of sharing stories of his travels whereby he has visited South America to getting his laptop fixed over the phone from an Indian call centre.

You get honesty and pick up that he genuinely enjoys being onstage talking to people. That is great to see the love for stand up as it is a raw form of entertainment.

Most little observations were quite nice as people generally relate to them such as relationships being boring with having constant questioning. Todd is a free spirited guy who you can just go and talk to.

He speaks of issues that are a hassle like sex getting boring whilst with the same person "the lack of passion, turns to friction".

The crowd Participation works surprisingly well due to making it fun by getting reactions from pretending to be: A ghost getting a present, A bear mauling you before getting aroused and a chipmunk tickling you.

The universal theme of Love is heavily featured. He speaks of helping out a call centre operator in India with a guys love life, including dating advice.

The next story he tells is that of his travelling around South America and his experiences with meeting up with people there. When you leave then and go separate ways it feels like a break up.

Not very amazing adventures again but, these stories are a nice change of pace to listen from a man who will never stop believing in people.

Free Fringe, I salute you again.

Glenn Wool - Let Your Hands Go.
Underbelly, Hullabaloo venue

By far the strongest show I have seen this year. Glenn is energetic and immaculate.

Faith No More were in town this particular night as he mentions he was thinking of cancelling to go see them. Luckily, he was in the mood being greeted by an excitable crowd.

He ploughed straight into the great material with glee and took an amount of control that would have made Adolf Hitler jealous. Everyone was on his wavelength, making his performance even more magnetic.

Glenn has just the right mix of confidence and self loathing being played to perfection on this night which made things palpable. The key theme is based around awaiting a lady for a one night stand, waiting 45 minutes. Describing some one night stands being "like vacuum cleaners falling down stairs" this pin points human urges.

Call backs are used effortlessly throughout from the story of awaiting his lady of that night. Stumbling on things to do when excited and being horny waiting. Flicking skittles with it is probably the best use I have ever heard and must try.

My favourite observation is that of him mentioning that his stupidity of being unable to turn a TV on resulted in him reading a book. So stupid it made him learn. This is genius as I have done this before.

The 'Swan' sequence is a stand out piece of the set that can hold up whatever crowd. If you take this piece out of the routine alone it will get laughs a plenty. A wry smile, cheeky twinkle in his eye having clever word play on what is not said saying "It only says you are not allowed to kill swans...".

A sprinkling of observational with the topic of how many Heterosexuals are now in Canada? He overheard a conversation with two guys calling someone gay. How could you be gayer? Glenn before saying "He must have done something as gay as trying to swim in a pool of jizz..." Naughty Glenn is a lot of fun and the audience level is pulled to his own expertly.

What's great about Glenn is the amount of intricacies in his work. Like the surreal fantasy of perceiving Fate as a person who was "playing golf on a particular day, missing a putt put to go and tempt him". It's enjoyable to know how his mind works, although a brief insight.

His view of Islam is far from great, however this is a springboard into his next topic. If A Mexican boxer was to fight an Islamic boxer leading to...
...JESUS V MOHAMMAD - The biggest box office smash in history. I don't favour this part of his act as it seems to be hitting on some other cultures. I will forgive him.
This leads him in is the surreal ramblings of how he envisages the power of Jesus, who has disguised as a daredevil named 'Ricky' on each stunt does unearthly things. People push 'Ricky' to doing a greater miracle one after the other, evermore ridiculous as the last. This highlights his atheist side beautifully in his own way, as ever.

There after this rant he tags many of the things that annoy him. The study of the phrase "I'm not a racist but..." and how that phrase is ridiculous and in no way defending their view. He states to go "Eat your racist pie!"

This leads into football's 'Stop Racism' campaign, that is preachy and aggravating. Instead they should campaign "Stop footballers raping instead".

Glenn Wool will never change his morals and where he is from. Admirable and honest I have seen Glenn now for over 3 years and I am still in awe of his skill.
The attitude of the man is basically aim for the rich kids, this is brilliant in itself and reminds me of the opening scene featuring Bill Murray in the film Rushmore.
He plays the audience like a comedy flute, with majesty and grace.
Anti corporate rebel and always will be. A must see.


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