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twratings: 1 no go • 2 poor show • 3 good in its genre • 4 just damn good • 5 kill for a ticket

Don’t Be Needy, Be Succeedy!
Neil Mullarkey
By casting himself as an American self-help guru, Neil Mullarkey immediately sets himself up as the perfect comic archetype. He is shockingly spot-on with the character of pseudo-guru L Vaughn Spencer, whose empowering stay with the Native Red Indians earned him the name ‘Talking Bull’. Spencer is the shaman for the layman, the iconoclast who moves too fast, taking time out from his Watford Warrior Weekend seminars to help the helpless succeed. Mullarkey interacts beautifully with the audience, his oily charm overcoming any shyness, while his brilliant word-play and electric charm ensure there is never a slow moment or awkward silence. More than a one-trick show, Mullarkey parodies every American self-help cliche with chilling attention to detail: empowering muzak, pseudo-science techniques such as ‘letterology’ (only eat foods that begin with your first initial), and the successor to feng shui, namely ‘tong shui’(success through the correct hairstyle). In short, Mullarkey is ‘succeedy’ and off-the-charts wonderful.
Assembly Rooms, 2-26 Aug, 8.00pm (9.00pm), prices vary, fpp 43.

twrating: 4/5
[br] published: week three

Daniel Kitson - Something
Daniel Kitson
Adorable but filthy, Daniel Kitson is another one of the Fringe comedy darlings and for good reason. The fact that this year you will find him clean shaven with shirt and tie only serves to highlight how he is able to be completely inoffensive and so incredibly offensive at the same time. The great thing about Kitson is that he never underestimates his audience’s intelligence and is unfazed if they fail to understand his quirky, observational and often self-confessional humour. There is a lot of hype surrounding Kitson and understandably so. If you are easily offended or find that the slightly obscure often goes over your head, then he’s not really the comic for you, but for those who are a touch more open-minded you’re sure to love him; and for those of you who enjoy to heckle this is one show you should not miss.
Pleasance Over The Road, 11-26 Aug (except 20 Aug), 9.45pm(10.45pm), prices vary, fpp 24
twrating: 4/5
[jc] published: week two

Danny Bhoy
Karushi
A relaxed manner combined with a witty and pacey banter, this Bhoy certainly knows how to connect with his audience. Topical and observational, Danny Bhoy is as quick to joke about his own idiosyncrasies as he is about the George W or Ryanair and he does it extremely well. His humour is a touch on the obvious side and indeed poking fun at Scottish weather is hardly an original angle to start with, but Bhoy’s charming, confident manner is a winning formula in the intimate surroundings of the Pleasance Cabaret Bar. While there is no doubt that Bhoy is a funny and likeable guy, I craved for a touch more innovation and imagination, but it never came. If he wants the people to be truly ‘mad about the Bhoy’, I can’t help but think it’s time for one of Scotland’s more notorious comedians to step it up a gear.
Pleasance, 7-26 Aug, 8.00 pm (9.00 pm), prices vary, fpp18.
twrating: 3/5
[jc] published: week two

Danny Buckler and Mandy Muden are Two Funny Magicans
RBM comedy
This was a rather imbalanced comedy magic show, with one half of the duo being far funnier than the other. Sorry girls, but the endearing Danny stole the show for me with his excellent impersonations and chuckle earning technical improvisations. Mandy persisted in flirting with the male members of the audience to get her laughs and it didn’t always work; she should have had a different approach up her sleeve (and not just the cucumber that was peeping out from there for a good 15 minutes for all to see). That said, their joint grand finale was certainly amusing, and that, if nothing else, is guaranteed to make you laugh.
Assembly Rooms, 4 – 26 Aug (not 19), 9.15pm (10.15pm), prices vary, fpp 25.
twrating: 3/5
[nas] published: week three

Dara O’Briain
Off The Kerb
Celtic as bog, and Leprechaun, and other touristy stereotypes, O’Briain has the energy of a Cockney fruit-seller on speed and the delivery of a blitzkrieg. He’s also unstoppably funny. The laughs honestly never let up a tidal wave of laughs crashing over the audience without pause. He works the audience (even his soundman) with consummate professionalism. Though most of the jokes are the standard material (World Cup, Irish ethnicity and stereotypes) and some come at the expense of stock targets (London financiers, travelling on Eurostar, mobile phones and texting), the delivery is just wonderfully out of control and O’Briain’s charm is amazing for someone with a degree in theoretical physics. His tale of attending his grandmother’s military funeral provides laughs galore as amazing details of her life are revealed, and O’Briain smashes out the tale like a man possessed, leaving the audience on the floor. No smugness, no pretension and no crap jokes. A real craic commando.
Pleasance Courtyard and Over The Road, 60 The Pleasance, 31 Jul - 26 Aug (not 5 Aug), 9.20pm (10.20pm), prices vary, fpp. 44
twrating: 4/5
[br] published: week two

Dead Herring
Awkward Silence
Awkward silence indeed. As the one actor scrambles frantically around for a costume or prop for twentieth time, the joke starts to wear a little thin. Although all the characters are played with panache and bucket loads of energy, the show never quite comes to the crescendo of lunacy that I feel it deserved. The story is slightly too predictable, and the silent scene near the end really saps the energy. However, there are moments of genius, such as the fight between two characters represented by a jacket and a sweater both being played by the same man. One can only hope that as the show goes on, the creases are ironed out.
Details: Greyfriar's Kirk House, 5 - 18 Aug, 7.45 pm, (8.30 pm), 6.00 (4.00), fpp 26
twrating: 2/5
[tt] published: week two

Deaf in the Afternoon: Steve Day
Amused Moose Comedy
A self proclaimed “successful failure”, Steve Day has some pretty altruistic aims for a stand up: to simultaneously make you laugh and “be inspired” by his performance. Day’s autobiographical show is the effective hearing of the trials and tribulations of someone with 70% deafness. Blimey - clearly this is a very different type of comedy, something which Day seems particularly proud of and so he should be. This man’s warmth and wit instantly disables the audience, and then gives them an outlook on life without sound as something to take away. OK, it all sounds very worthy and yes, his work is hard to place in a traditional comedy genre (it’s more chuckles than belly laughs) but think Mark Thomas-esque ‘protest comedy’ and you’re on the right lines. A refreshing alternative for those times when you just can’t stretch to complete nonsense.
The Smirnoff Underbelly, 1-10 Aug, 12.45pm (1.40pm), prices vary, fpp 26.
twrating: 3/5
[sl] published: week one

Death By Sketches
The Hix Family Roobinstein
It’s not clever, it’s not grown-up, but it is quite funny. This fast-paced collection of sketches works because the sheer energy from the performers seems to will the audience into laughter. There is plenty of slapstick, Osama Bin Laden’s and Puns. In fact, you will never have experienced quite so many puns in one show. Enjoyable, but not intelligent.
Gilded Balloon Caves, 4-26 Aug, 7.30pm (8.30pm) 7.50 (6.50), fpp.26.
twrating: 3/5
[ps] published: week three

Deirdre O’Kane
Lisa Richards Limited
Holy Christ, can she talk. This was an unremitting hour of patter that seemed to pass in about three minutes, leaving the capacity audience to bay for more when she left. O’Kane is an instantly charismatic stage presence and her brand of day-to-day anarchism (‘sure, you see a ring on my finger, but that’s never going to last is it?’) stormed the place. This is a confident but winningly self-deprecating show, with her personal anecdotes uproarious in their consistent humour, rather than being an obvious embellishment to justify a punch line. Listening to her tales of passing out in hysterics in an Indian jungle and abusing American cab drivers is an exhausting but unmissable experience- if only she’d ended on that talking instead of a somewhat dated Irish pop spoof.
Pleasance Dome, 1-26 Aug (not 7, 16), 10.35pm (11.35pm), prices vary, fpp 27.
twrating: 5/5
[rm] published: week two

Des Bishop's Comical Warefare
It has to be said that it's incredibly refreshing to see a stand-up who doesn't use a microphone, and it allows Des Bishop full reign when performing; he rants, raps and, godammit, really enthuses about his material; there's no deadpan here! The first half of his show is very much the "American abroad" (Ireland in this case) but embraces bizarre topics such as immersion heater etiquette and the spot-on "Sinn Fein In The Brain" rap. The second half is more politically cynical, especially about America's role in the world. I'm no comedian, but you'll just have to take it from me that Des Bishop is not only immensely likable (ignore those posters) but also very, funny, his style reminiscent of the late, great Bill Hicks. If you're a fan of Hicks, go see Des Bishop. If you've never heard of Bill Hicks, go see Des Bishop anyway.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 2 - 26 Aug, 9.00pm (10.00pm), prices vary, fpp27
twrating: 4/5
[cjdm] published: week three

Des McClean - Five Stars
Amused Moose Comedy
There are occasions when Des seems to cross the line from comedian to bully - fast food workers can be simple and old people piss themselves, he says - so if you’re a bit soft then this Glasgow pub-style stand-up’s probably not for you. But whilst this sort of laddish schoolyard stuff occasionally crops up, the majority of McClean’s set is smart and articulate (despite his slight jitters on the night). Indeed he is at his best when he aggressively flips this boys stuff on its head, smartly wondering about the idolisation of gangsters, and when he lets flights of fancy take over - what would be a suitable collar for a ‘dole scum’ PDSA dog he asks. For fine Scottish stand-up you won’t find better on the Fringe, and if you, like me, boggle at the inanity of the Metro’s letters page, then you should check this show out.
The Smirnoff Underbelly, 1-24 Aug, 9.40pm (10.35pm), prices vary, fpp 27
twrating: 3/5
[rm] published: week two

Ding Dong
Oram and Meeten
Two men, their friend and a baby attempt to take us on a journey through the sparsely populated attics of their minds. Their overplayed supermarket obsession, (yes, we are baguettes, as the friend emphatically reminds us, er what?) is endearing at first, but soon becomes as exciting as a trip to Tescos. And talking of ham and cheese, it’s hard to know whether it’s the acting or the script that collects the least club points. In their own words, this sketch show is a roller coaster ride of emotions - from pain to boredom. How right they are.
Pleasance, 31 Jul- 26 Aug (not 7&12), 7.00pm (8.00pm), prices vary, fpp 45.
twrating: 2/5
[at] published: week two

Dunlop and Dowdeswell
Amused Moose Comedy
This show comprises two separate sets; one from Dowdeswell, followed by one from Dunlop. Dowdeswell’s style is a rambling, self-deprecating observational one that relies on a fair amount of audience interaction. Hailing from the West Country, you can expect a few pops at bumpkin mentality, along with a Samuel L Jackson impression that’s possibly better than the real thing. Dunlop’s delivery is more slick and charismatic, but his material is less original, mainly focussing on ridiculing the elderly. Although funny at first, it quickly becomes tired and it’s evident that Dunlop hasn’t prepared enough solid material for the show. Taken together, the show is a fairly enjoyable stand-up double bill, but nothing to get excited about.
Smirnoff Underbelly, 1-25 Aug, 7:10pm (8:05pm), 7.00 (6.00) (prices vary), fpp27.
twrating: 2/5
[dh] published: week one