Fringe Comedy Reviews: The Bare Necessities

Feature by Jenni Ajderian | 18 Aug 2015

Finding time for a bite to eat in between shows can be tricky for any comic, so George Egg: Anarchist Cook [★★★★☆] found his way around late-night sandwiches and ready-meals by using his hotel room as a kitchen. With a little creative thinking, a trouser press can become a sandwich toaster; a spare pillowcase can become a straining cloth for making cheese. This stand-up-turned-in-situ-chef cooks up three courses and invites us all to follow his lead in a show infused with themes of divergent thinking and imagination. The balance between TV chef and comedian is precarious, and Egg tips first one way, then the other, so that we can see and learn what he’s doing while still giggling along. This is a great concept, well executed, and the proof is in the pudding – that is, the perfect pancakes cooked on up-turned irons.

As concepts for shows go, attempting to enrol at Eton College for Boys as an adult woman certainly is an interesting one. Lou Sanders’ stand-up show Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on My Penis Again [★★★☆☆] tells the story of one woman’s quest to become unstoppably famous and powerful by attending the secondary school of the famous and powerful. With a slightly bumbling delivery, Sanders second-guesses and interrupts her own gags too often, so that we’re left with the impression she’s not entirely on board with her own set, and cites the Free Fringe as an excuse for whenever something doesn’t go to plan. Nevertheless, this is a show of good offhand one-liners, well set-up jokes and some really hilarious recordings of her calls to Eton’s HR department.

Over towards the performance art section of the comedy world is Lucie Pohl’s latest offering Cry Me A Liver [★★☆☆☆], an hour of character comedy that touches on the dark and the light but which still overwhelmingly pokes fun at the disadvantaged in society. We are introduced to a cast of characters who would probably be more recognisable to an all-American audience, and who provide easy jokes and uncomfortable segues. Pohl is a talented performer, presenting her characters with great physicality, but the comedy is not quite there. Her more surreal pieces are a saving grace, where a slightly shoddy costume allows us to use our imagination, or a normal character starts acting extraordinarily. But for the most part we see punch-down humour, and characters in an unfamiliar setting who are not particularly relatable.

But if the Fringe is about taking something important and sneaking it into the mainstream, about looking around you and seeing things a little differently to before, and crucially about having a good time too, then we’re getting close to perfect with The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos [★★★★★]. Deftly-worded and far better-researched than the average piece of science journalism, Baba Brinkman takes science communication to a whole new level, using the highly emotive medium of rap to discuss the impending environmental catastrophes wrapped up in climate change, how we might deal with them, and what various camps think. This is for anyone who loves their sick rhymes as much as their wind turbines, for anyone who cares about the planet, and for anyone who just wants to see an artist at the absolute top of their game.

George Egg: Anarchist Cook, Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug (various dates), 2:45pm, £8.50-9.50

Lou Sanders: Excuse Me, You're Sitting on My Penis Again, City Cafe, until 30 Aug (not 19), 5:30pm, free

Lucie Pohl: Cry Me a Liver, Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug, 4pm, £8-9

Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug (various dates), 7pm, £10-12