Russell Brand: Messiah Complex (4*)

Ruth’s 4* review:

Russell Brand is well known for being over the top.  An ex drug addict and sex addict.  I’ve read his autobiography My Booky Wook.  Silly, grandiose, unreliable, a bit much.

These days Russell is reformed, and his public image appears to be all about the critical analysis of social issues.  He conducts himself with a bit of class and his writing is beautiful and lyrical and eloquent.  His articles and some of his media clips get shared on Facebook a lot, and usually to a positive reception.

I’ve wondered if he might be a genius.  But I wouldn’t say I’m a fan as such in that I haven’t particularly followed his comedy, but I do find him so so interesting as a man.

From what I’ve seen of Russell on TV – particularly his early work – he is a real disruptive game changer in the field of comedy.

And that’s why I wanted to go and see him perform live.  As a comedy fan I thought it would be a shame if I never saw that.  So we bought tickets on the day to see him at the Usher Hall.  God our seats were crap.  Anyhoo.

Russell was, as expected, creative and articulate and charismatic.  His set was extremely coherent and well crafted, and wonderfully delivered.  He’s a fast talker and used big words and big concepts, and is not shy to quote the great philosophers.  No dumbing down here.  I like that.  He was also self-deprecating (albeit in an attention seeking manner) which I found to be quite charming.

Russell’s show had a point, and the point was delivered through a variety of methods from the satirical to the sly to the silly to the downright crude.  Things started off pretty intelligent and built up to an extremely vulgar finale, but none of it was superfluous it all contributed to the narrative.

And it was funny.

Liked it.

Ian’s 4* Review

2013-10-12 Russell Brand_0005Russell Brand was pretty good. He’s charismatic and clever, and the show was really well written – it felt coherent. A solid 4*.

I will NOT be sitting in the upper circle in the Usher Hall again in a hurry. The seats are tiny, close packed and uncomfortable. I scarcely fit in the darned thing.

On another note, this show was NOT age appropriate for a 13-year old.  Russell did try pointing this out to the lad and his parents…

2013-10-12 Russell Brand_0004












Stewart Lee: Much A-Stew About Nothing (4*)

Ruth’s review:

You know those wanky music snobs who only go to small intimate gigs of up-and-coming bands?  Well I’m a wanky comedy snob who only goes to small intimate gigs of up-and-coming comedians.  Usually.  But today I went to a proper comedy show at a large theatre that I had to pay more than £20 for.  To be fair I got more than two hours of material from a single comedian, so that is decent value.

Stewart Lee.  I like him, I’ve known of him for many years and seen him a few times at the Fringe.  Didn’t get in quick enough for tickets this year, hence I had to go and see his tour.  Stewart’s stuff is really not for everyone.  He isn’t a mainstream comedian because his stuff is a bit – well, weird – but his career has had longevity and he has a loyal following.

In this show we got four half hour sets from Stewart, plus an encore.

Each went down well with the audience (largely comprised of men in their late thirties).  I laughed a lot.

There’s something about Stewart Lee’s style and delivery that is totally unique.  It is calm and prepared and coherent and yet strangely repetitive and sardonic and odd.

But it is clever, clever, clever stuff.  Carefully woven, impeccably timed, and deeply satirical.

I like his stuff, but I really do love him.  I think I wish he was my fun uncle.  Or maybe I am developing a more ‘romantic’ interest.

The Lastminute Comedy Club @ Whistlebinkies

2013-08-25 Fringe 0011Ian’s Review:

Compere Paul B Edwards (pictured) was an energetic host for an hour of high-quality standup.  Danny Ward kicked off and warmed the room up nicely  – his National Express story rather tickled me.  Alex Edelman’s material overlapped a little with when we saw him at Richard Herrings podcast, but he did some different stuff too – also very funny.  Christian Schulte-Loh may not be welcome in Israel after an unfortunate misunderstanding concerning the Holocaust, but he’s welcome here any time.  Matt Price finished the show, quickly turning a slightly strange audience interaction into a near hostage situation!  His prepared material was funny, and his banter even better.

If this is the standard of show Paul is putting together, I’ll be back next year!


Ruth’s review:

We went along to this compilation show because we had a free hour and it was nearby, and it was excellent!  Four really good acts and we laughed and laughed throughout.  It was nice to see Alex Edelman again and his material varied to a certain extent from his set at Richard Herring’s Edinburgh Fringe Podcast, so that was a bonus.  Matt Price entertained us with some high quality spontaneous audience participation.  Very good.

The Distraction Club – 2

Ruth’s review:

A second attendance at this music comedy compilation show. Brilliant. If I was rating this I would give every single act 4.5*, which is an unexpectedly high standard. I’m not sure how well the Nazi-based Frank Sinatra act (Frank Sinazi) went down with the crowd but I loved loved loved it. Loved Bob and Jim (particularly That’s Not My Gnome) and Johnny and the Baptists was a very funny, charismatic and talented act. Also liked Ria Lina, she’s a terrific singer and her songs are witty and intelligent. It was unfortunate that she singled me out for audience participation to say that I was too prissy and middle class to enjoy her stuff – and I just smiled and sucked it up. That pissed me off – I’d take on anyone in the room in a competition for ‘who likes the most edgy comedy’ and ‘who likes knob gags’ – and I think I’d win both. Ha. Plus we saw Jollyboat and Adam Kay who we have seen and enjoyed before. This is a very good value late night show, and it went on for two hours this time which was awesome.

The very lovely Kirsty Newton

The very lovely Kirsty Newton

Ian’s review:

Absolutely brilliant – really sad that it wasn’t full although I’m not objecting to being able to get half-price tickets.  The house band is brilliant, and I have to confess that the good looks, wit and musical talent of their leader Kirsty Newton is almost enough reason in itself for me to attend!  Each of the band did a number of their own, of a consistently very high standard.  As for the rest, it really was a superfluity of comic talent.  Bob and Jim nearly choked me to death with “That’s not my gnome” (click to watch), and it was great to see some songs from Adam Kay that weren’t in his full show when we saw it (Amateur Transplants: Adam Kay is going for a number 1 – 4.5*).  We got another helping of Jollyboat too – it turns out that their Pirate Pop Songs are still funny fifth time around (we’re not stalking them – they just seem to be at every cabaret we go to!).  Frank Sinazi pushed past the boundaries of good taste for his Sinatra-inspired song 3rd Reich – comic genius.  Rea Lina was also very good, and Johnny and the Baptists brought great energy to finish off the evening.  An absolutely cracking line-up.

There is a part of me that is a tiny bit sad this isn’t the last show of the fringe for us – it would have been great to go out on such a high.  We will DEFINITELY be looking out for this next year, and when we are in London.

Luke Toulson – I don’t know how I feel about my kids (4*)

Ruth’s 4* review:

We were drawn to come and see Luke because we liked his flyer which described him having to watch his kids in what he considered to be a totally racist amdram production of Miss Saigon. I thought this was a really good, solid hour of standup. It was varied and wide ranging in terms of material but at the same time well constructed and well delivered. Luke was likeable and consistently amusing.


2013-08-24 Fringe 0021Ian’s 4* review:

We saw a flyer for this show that was actually quite funny, so we decided to come along.  This is an enjoyable if fairly low-key autobiographical standup set.  It’s funny, clever, and in places painful – I don’t know if his schoolboy love letters were genuine or artfully recreated but in either case they were good fun!  Another name I’ll be looking out for next year.  If his kids haven’t lynched him by then!

Rosie Wilby – Is Monogamy Dead (4*)

Ruth’s 4* review:

Rosie Wilby explores the notion of monogamy and polygamy and everything in between, and poses the question ‘Is monogamy dead?’ This appealed to the sociologist in me, particularly as she’d done a survey to generate material of the show. Oooh I do love a survey. Rosie is charming, and interesting, and the set was coherent and confidently delivered with numerous witty and whimsical interludes. An extremely pleasant, interesting, engaging hour.

2013-08-24 Fringe 0019Ian’s 4* review:

I really enjoyed this show, loosely on based  the results of a survey on monogamy along with some observational humour based on Rosie’s life and a rather charming collection of whimsical diversions.  A very pleasant hour, I’ll be looking out for Rosie again next year.

(no photography in this show, so you get a picture of Ruth reading the flyer instead!)

Richard Herring’s Edinburgh Fringe Podcast (4.5*)

Ruth’s 4.5* review:

I’ve been working my way through Richard Herring’s podcasts, so was excited to go to the recording of one finally. I wished I’d done it sooner. This was fantastic. Two guests (Caroline Rhea and Barry from Watford) and a standup slot (Alex Edelman). Richard Herring just seems like a nice man, and I really like his interviewing style. What works well for me about these podcasts is that Richard sometimes takes the lead, the guests sometimes take the lead, and consequently the tone and approach can be quite varied. It doesn’t matter if you know the guests or not, you always find out something interesting about them. And I like his ‘emergency questions’ as it is nice to be able to compare what the different guests have to say about the same issues.

2013-08-24 Fringe 0003Ian’s 4.5* review:

I’ve always enjoyed Richard Herring’s main Fringe shows, and this year’s We’re all going to die was no exception.  It was easy for Ruth to persuade me to come and see the recording of his Fringe podcast.  His guest interviews were relaxed and funny, although I didn’t really know Caroline Rhea, and Barry from Watford was just downright weird.  The guest stand-up Alex Edelman was really very good – I wish I had time to look up his show but the Fringe is almost over!

I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this next year.