Home > Blog > Best of the Fest: EdFringe 2011 Comedy

Best of the Fest: EdFringe 2011 Comedy

Here are some of the finest comedy shows that Edinburgh offered up this year.

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place (Fosters Comedy Award Nominee 2011)

Josie Long has been bringing quality stand-up to the Fringe for the last three or four years, winning the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer for her 2006 show, ‘Kindness and Exuberance’. Her performances are generally marked by these gentler attributes, making her stand out from the usual vitriolic comedians that marks a lot of the newcomers to the Fringe comedy circuit. This year, however, Long has continued the trend she flirted with last year and brings us into her innermost political thoughts. Having embraced the work of anti-cuts activists, UK Uncut, Long described how she has come to get to grips with the politics of the day. The programme for the show is a photocopied zine which includes a “Tories’ Fun Page” and Long directs much of her ire at the new coalition government.

She charts a year in which she made contact with Kenny Zulu Whitmore, a member of the Black Panther Party who is still in prison, performed a gig in a branch of Barclay’s and found herself flying into a greenhouse in Wales. Not all of it is directed at the Tories, there is a brief interlude featuring the Bronte Sisters, but The Future Is Another Place is undeniably a foray into serious political comedy. Good news then, that Long’s character still comes through all the material and the experience remains as much of a treat as always. I suspect she would do well to commit to some of the ideas she is raising with a bit more determination but I’m sure that will come in time. As a manifesto for a new wave of left-wing comedy, Long has made a fair bash and it’s worth an hour of your time.

Richard Herring: What is Love Anyway?

From Ferrero Roche to sexual excrement, Richard Herring tries to answer the ultimate dilemma (according to him) of 1981: what is love? This is a much softer show than those who have seen Herring before will perhaps be used to, but it is no less polished.

He charts a virginal youth, replete with dreadful poetry and pent-up feelings of chivalry, while explaining to us the various dimensions of life as a forty-four year old finding love. His journey includes a mortifying anecdoteabout Julia Sawalha, his then girlfriend, and a Fist of Fun episode involving a creepy shrine to the actress whom he had yet to meet.

Stewart Lee is not Richard Herring

At its heart this is a love story to Herring’s current girlfriend, wrapped in a smartly-paced package it never fails to impress. If you are looking for something as acerbic as Stewart Lee (whom Herring does a spot-on impersonation of) then this might fall slightly short.

If you want to take your significant other out for some quality comedy though, Herring has put together a considered and charming little show that would certainly suit.

Michael Winslow: The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects

Familiar to anyone who has ever seen the Police Academy movies, Michael Winslow’s run at this year’s Fringe proved to be a huge success.

It was the first time the stand-up had brought a show to Edinburgh and his dexterous vocal talents seem to have fit in rather well.

Winslow, who voiced one of The Gremlins and made an appearance in Spaceballs, is a man who comes across as deliriously happy to be doing what he does.

That enthusiasm is infectious, and whether he is explaining the mechanics of AM radio or taking us through the TIE fighter dogfight from Star Wars: A New Hope, he does it with such a sense of mischievous pride that you can’t help applaud the sketches.

Some of the observational comedy which ties the ‘funny noises’ together is under-cooked and often hampered the pacing of the show. So too the attempts to engage with the ‘British’ sense of humour. It seems rather unnecessary to include it, but kudos to Winslow for trying to give shape to what otherwise would be a rather manic sixty minutes.

At the end of the day the sound effects speak for themselves and that’s what people have come to hear.

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