Fringe Comedy Reviews: Look of the Irish

Feature by John Stansfield | 26 Aug 2015

Starting the day with Northern Irish comic Elaine Malcolmson, she’d be the first to admit she’s perhaps not the ideal stand-up for a sunny afternoon show. With Arrangements [★★★☆☆] she reads through the story of Julie, who has to make the appropriate arrangements for the death of her father and the continuation of her own life. Throughout, Malcolmson adds footnotes and addendums to each paragraph as if reading through someone else’s works. These flights of fancy on the idea of death and living with depression sew nicely together for an understandably bleak afternoon of storytelling. Malcolmson is low key to the point of absence but when her jokes land they land very, very hard and showcase a great writer of both drama and comedy. It can be a tough old slog, but it’s worth it for a crushing ending and for her eye-opening views on the terrible business of floristry.

Chris Kent is a deadpan comic from Cork who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Chief on his list of irksome folk are certain aspects of American culture: chiefly that of tipping. In case you were wondering, he’s not a fan. In Stop Stalling [★★★☆☆] he regales the crowd with how he popped the question to his girlfriend of ten years. We then follow his journey through the forthcoming proposal, wedding and honeymoon. A tightly written, easily accessible and breezily relatable comedy, Kent is an everyman character – you understand the minute problems he faces. His material about how his stand-up life bleeds into his home life is good with his wife proving to be worse than Cheggers when it comes to joke theft.

Whereas Kent is languid in his anecdotal delivery, Andrew Ryan's Perfectly Inadequate [★★☆☆☆] is the opposite end of the spectrum with rapid fire set-ups and punchlines. An ex-pat plying his trade in England, splitting his time between one bed flats in London and Manchester, he goes through the difficulties of keeping relationships alive when you can’t keep wet towels off the bed. Going through some tired comedy tropes of men and women and the differences therein, it feels like Ryan doesn’t have anything too fresh to offer to the comedy table. His material is well delivered and consistent, a comic you’d never shrug at if he was on the bill. It’s only when he strays into the territory of mental health and his own struggles with low self esteem and paranoia that things get interesting. Unfortunately Ryan wastes this soul-searching with simple gags that leave the whole thing feeling a little hollow.

Elaine Malcolmson: Arrangements, The Stand Comedy Club III & IV, until 30 Aug, 2.30pm, £7-8
Chris Kent: Stop Stalling, Assembly George Square Studios, 6.35pm, until 31 Aug, £7.50-9.50
Andrew Ryan, Assembly George Square Studios, until 30 Aug, 7.50pm, £8-11