The Camden Fringe is back!
While most of the comedy scene goes mental over Edinburgh, let us not forget that London has its own established Fringe, up there on the northern line in that haven for mohicans and chaps pretending to whistle like birds, Camden.
And what a return! The fifth Camden Fringe is getting bigger with every year with more than 207 acts performing this time round, and comedy very much to the fore. Props to organisers Michelle Flower and Zena Barrie (above) for that, as summer time in England is largely based around digesting sporting disappointment and bemoaning the lack/ferocity of the sunshine.
Across the Fringe's eight venues, you can find comedy at five – Etcetera Theatre, the Camden Head, the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Sheephaven Bay and the Roundhouse. And there is some quality comedy to be found. Robin Ince, Scott Capurro, Hal Cruttenden and LiF favourite Andrew O'Neill (below), anyone?
Best way to think of the Camden Fringe is one of those lovely niche festivals like Secret Garden Party or Green Man, to the Glastonbury of Edinburgh. Ie, there's some good shit, and it's a darn sight less hassle (and money) than its big bro.
The tickets to all shows are a massively convenient £7.50 across the board, showing you can put a price on convenience after all. Etcetera (above the Oxford Arms) and the Camden Head will host the lion's share of the Fringe's comedy, so they will be fun and fascinating places to hang out this August.
So here are London is Funny's top ten comedy shows to see at the 2010 Camden Fringe:
• "Comedian, writer, metalhead, occultist and tranny" Andrew O'Neill is a fantastically inventive and lively comedian who deserves your attendance for his two shows. Even if you find that description off-putting, you'll enjoy it anyway. Go on, try it out, see what happens. Bet you enjoy it. August 10 and 11, by the way. Details here.
• Hal Cruttenden is an actor and comedian (chiefly the latter), whose name on the bill denotes guaranteed laughs. He's bold, charismatic, unashamedly middle-class and very funny. Funny enough to get on the Royal Variety Performance last year. Check him out from August 16-19.
• You want summertime rioting? You got it. Probably the best-read and most angry (correlated?) comic on the circuit Robin Ince is joined by notorious blogger and Chortle Award winner Michael Legge to discuss the very nature of anger. August 3 and 5. Ince also has a solo show on August 23-24, 26-27.
• Helen Keen charmed the space suit of audiences last year in Edinburgh with her tale her great, great, grandfather's incredible survival after getting stranded in the Arctic. This year she turns her attention to science with It Is Rocket Science. August 3 and 4.
• Nathan Penlington has turned an obsession into a show – often a good way of going about things. His is Uri Geller; not just his spoon-bothering, but the brand, the self-publicity, the merchandise. Everything about Uri. Should be a fascinating show ... August 12-14.
• If shocking, outspoken comedy is your thing, then you must try waspish and charming San Franciscan Scott Capurro – a Camden Fringe stalwart – who performs his new show for five nights. August 13-15, 28-29.
• Not one to do things the orthodox way, Gerry Howell will have been expected to continue his rise up the stand-up trajectory. Instead, the BBC College of Comedy graduate and wonderfully rambling, surreal comic has has channeled his talents into a comedy monologue about a struggling novelist and amateur private dick who gets tragically embroiled in his own imaginary world of fiction. That, ladies and gents, is The Fantastic Reality of Frederick Goodge. August 5-11.
• Cole Parker is a superb stand-up comedian with a darkly insightful sense of humour, check him out if you can. His show Jinx, examines his own life and asks questions such as "what does a lifetime of comedy do to a man?" and "is being blessed really a curse?"
• Having made her highly promising Edinburgh debut last year, brainbox comedian Iszi Lawrence brings her latest show, Science Friction, to Camden for five nights. Best of all, Iszi is a stand-up with something to say and she does show with zeal and energy. Go submit! August 19-23
• Steve Gribbin has done more gigs than you've had hot dinners. And boy does that arm him with some cracking anecdotes. Gribbin has been on the circuit since near its inception and his show Laugh at First Sight is an ode to the circuit, peppered with wonderfully told true stories. He's a Comedy Store regular you know ... August 25-26.