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Edinburgh Fringe who's who #3: comedy in the face of disaster

Thursday, July 28 2011

Natural disasters, global recession, personal tragedy – not all is well with the world, as this year's batch of Edinburgh shows points out. And it's not just the topical comics who've noticed ...


David O'Doherty

Gareth Richards – It's Not the End of the World(8.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard
A comic full of gentle observation and whimsical songs takes on the might of the impending end of the world and decides that it's not going to happen at all. Hooray for measured optimism!

Sara Pascoe vs the Apocalypse (7pm, Pleasance Dome)
Versatile stand-up/actor Pascoe invents an apocalypse of her own and does precisely the right thing – throws silliness at it. Expect mini-plays, mini-musicals and the odd song and she performs her show about being the final person on earth.

David O'Doherty – Looking Up
A king of lo-fi, whimsical comedy, O'Doherty (above) is hardly known for his searing social commentary. So best go straight to the man himself. He says: "Originally this was going to be a really, really stupid show. I’ve been working on books of made up facts about animals for the last two years and writing for children and delivering lots of scientific-sounding non-information at tour shows.

"But over the winter a few things happened. I realized that quite a few of my friends are really struggling in the crappy Irish recession. I also got punched in the face by someone on the street for the second time in a year for no reason whatsoever.  So I’ve decided to try and talk about these things. It will still be mostly really stupid jokes, and songs played on a tiny keyboard, but also some things I think are quite important."

Tom Webb Fixes 2012 (5.30pm, Dragonfly on PBH's Free Fringe)
Politics. Crime. Environment. Olympics. Playful stand-up Webb finds that we are surrounded by impending disaster and tries to fix 2012 before it even starts with the aid of his audience/government. A fun and interactive show that may be one of the highlights of this year's Free Fringe.

Mick Ferry – Sod It (9.30pm, Gilded Balloon)
A veteran of the London comedy circuit, Ferry journeys up to Edinburgh with a show referencing the predictions that 2012 would see the end of the world. Instead of panicking, Ferry presents "a countdown to extinction, with prizes".


Jason John Whitehead

Andy Zaltzman – Armchair Revolutionary (various times, Stand Comedy Club III & IV)
Our premier satirist takes the still-rumbling-on Arab Spring as a starting point to investigate whether he would ever be capable of rising up against oppression to fight for freedom, and presumably comes up short. Zaltzman's form on the Bugle podcast (with John Oliver) suggests this should be another belting show.

Steve Pretty's Perfect Mixtape (1.25pm, Underbelly)
Can't give away too much about this one for fear of spoiling, but basically a few years back a global catastrophe left Pretty missing abroad and presumed dead. He returned to the UK and attended his own wake, and now owns the mixtape made by his friends for the occasion. Thus a show, incongruously but excitingly, about near-death experiences and compilations.

Jason John Whitehead – Letters From Mindy (10.25pm, Udderbelly's Pasture)
Another neat union of individual and global crises, from ace Canadian stand-up Whitehead (pictured), whose seemingly unbreakable five-year relationship was downed by the 2010 volcanic ash cloud, which left him stranded abroad. Dubbed a "breakdown of a breakdown", this is an introspective show from a non-nonsense comic.

Fiona O'Loughlin – Spirited (Tales From An Angel In a Bottle) (9pm, Gilded Balloon)
Candid Aussie stand-up O'Loughlin performs a show charting her very public battle with the booze. A few years ago, with her career at its peak and a starring role on Strictly Come Dancing, she threw herself off the wagon in spectacular style by collapsing onstage during a high-profile performance. This will be her first Edinburgh since taking on her alcoholism by giving up the booze, and her comedy hasn't suffered a jot.

Des Bishop – My Dad Was Nearly James Bond (9.10pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
A show tinged with tragedy, having been written by Bishop in the wake of his father's cancer diagnosis, and which returns to the Fringe following his father's death earlier this year. It's a show that expertly balances laughter with heartstring-tugging, and has become a hugely popular, critically acclaimed show. The title of the show, incidentally, is true.

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