“some clear standouts which promise a festival full of fun”
The Great Yorkshire Fringe runs from the 19th July – 29th July and boasts everything from comedy to dog shows. Tonight, at the Leicester Square Theatre we are treated to snapshots of some of the comics who will gracing the stages of York in the coming weeks.
Ian Smith is the evening’s compere, consistently energised and doling out funny doses of audience interaction between acts. He also has a show at the Fringe, ‘Craft’ which looks set to be great fun if tonight is anything to go by. Between acts we are also treated to short films created by ‘Sh!tfaced Shakespeare’ in which drunken actors explain the plot of a Shakespeare play in two minutes, a taster of the fun their full productions have in store.
There are some clear standout performances of the night. Rahul Kohli is a definite favourite, “a Geordie Indian man” by his definition. As he says, “I look like an ethnic but sound like a racist.” His humour is topical, vibrant and bitingly funny and he uses comedy to talk about racism in an accessible and witty way. Reginald D. Hunter is one of the festival’s headliners and it is obvious why. He’s American, for which he apologises, but he lives in England because at least English racists won’t shoot you, not before writing a bunch of letters anyway. Again, clever and topical, Hunter is warm, comfortable and personable onstage and his full show will definitely be a joy to watch. John Pendal’s act doesn’t pack quite the same impact but it is a charming and playful set that discusses queer relationships in an easily accessible way, and Pendal presents as deeply likeable. Dougie Walker’s comedy is narrative based or “art” depending on who you ask, clever and full of good impressions, I was left wanting to know more. Ben Pope (yes, that’s short for Benedict) also looks like one to watch out for. His humour is fast-paced and self-deprecating, and the combination is fantastic.
Harry and Chris
Musical comedy makes up a substantial part of the evening. Harry and Chris describe themselves as a “comedy-rap-jazz duo” and it’s certainly an effective combination. Witty and playful, the pair are a clear talent. This is a slick performance laced with clever wordplay that leaves me wanting more, certainly one to look out for at the Fringe. Charlotte Brooke is another talented musical comedian, who wittily discusses her favourite food group, gluten, and her decision to substitute running with Netflix. Relatable, warm and playful, she has a lovely presence onstage, and is again, one to watch out for. Mitch Benn opens the show with his musical comedy act. It’s a clumsy start, but his song about the epidemic of Ed Sheeran goes some way to making up for it.
Not every act shines tonight. The Thinking Drinkers’ show is a pub crawl through time, complete with a shot of Yorkshire gin for the audience. Their act is a mix of weak word play and technical tasting notes that doesn’t quite work in their ten minute slot. Perhaps across a longer slot their act will be showcased better and they are keen to remind us that you do get five drinks during their show! Paul Sinha is an openly gay Asian man, quizzer and comedian, and his comedy is well-observed and clever, although his delivery is not as sharp as some of the people he is sharing the stage with tonight. Craig Campbell and Alice Fraser are two acts who show clear potential and come armed with lovely energies and some strong material each but in their limited time slots both fail to stand out from the extensive line up of comics. Next up, comedy historian Robert Ross will be interviewing the legendary Tony Slattery during the Fringe, with the sole condition that Slattery is not at all prepared on what he will be asked. The result is initially a bit too rambling and directionless although a shirtless onstage fight finale is a strange but entertaining end to the set. Paul Foot’s set is equally bizarre, full of quirky musings that will make you rethink everything you think you know about what comedy is. As he says, “You’re laughing but you don’t know why.”
This is a varied night and there are some clear standouts which promise a festival full of fun that really has something for everyone.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
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