Comedy Reviews

RICHARD PULSFORD: A BIT MORE RICH - Mirth of Forth productions

This was the first time I'd seen Richard on stage since 2019, and like most of us there were physical signs of the ravages of Covid and lockdown - chiefly that his hair was much longer and those walks hadn't used up all the extra calories. That said, it certainly looked as though his joke ratio had remained undiminished!

A Bit More Rich is just that, more Rich than we had before, and what we had before was a rapid-fire joke-fest of puns and one-liners. There was the occasional graphic, but they didn't slow the rate down as they had more jokes....

The show was well supported by the audience including a heckler from the Kingdom of Fife, whose surname was a breed of dog, and who had children. All of these were part of the show, spooky or what? We'll probably never hear of Mr Pointer ever again, but we'll certainly hear more from Richard in future Fringes!

Ian Parker Heath

WITH ALL JEW RESPECT - Henry Churniavsky

This show's about fallout from family life and religion. As we all know, a major aspect of these two things is guilt. That and comedy. What Henry brought us was his experience of both mixed with the trials and tribulations of modern life.

Henry gave a good account of himself as a family survivor and kept the audience, which seemed to be of a certain age, entertained. They clearly liked Henry and his stories and were happy to join in once they saw they could keep Henry on his toes.

There was a serious side to the show as Henry has written a book about men's mental health & suicide and proceeds/donations all go to charity.

Whilst there have been many Jewish comedians over the years, Henry adds his own particular twist to this cultural heritage, and the audience went home duly rewarded and happy.

Ian Parker Heath

LAUGH 4 LIFE COMEDY: COMPILATION SHOW FOR MENTAL HEALTH - Henry and Friends

Tonight's one-off performance at the Green Man Gallery was exactly what it said on the tin - a diverse compilation of comedy in aid of raising awareness and money for Mental Health Charities: YoungMings and Jami UK.

The compère for the evening was Henry Churniavsky, who I had first met at the Fringe booklet launch party when he did a stand-up performance there. He has a brilliant stage presence and encouraged light hearted audience participation!

The first comedian to perform was Hitul Unadkat, who made us all laugh with his stories and experiences of being British Indian, especially with the phrases his parents say!

The second act was Kat Molinari, the self-professed 'homosexual queen of the North'. She spoke about her battles with mental health and really made us feel at ease in her company through her experiences.

The final performer was Richard Pulsford! His set was filled with silly puns and quips that made me realise life doesn't always have to be taken so seriously!

I enjoyed how each comedian linked their jokes to mental health, proving that we are not alone with our struggles, and although it doesn't fix it, laughing can make us feel better about things when we are finding things hard.

Alice Featherstone

AN A TO Z OF FISH & CHIPS - Jimmy Judges

Ever wanted to know more about what is surely our national dish? Well, this show is the plaice to find out. Did you see what I did there? From the creator of a firm Fringe favourite, Accident Avoidance Training For Cutlery Users, comes a show that delves into the history and culture of Fish and Chips, as well as uncovering a possible Da Vinci Code-style Vatican cover-up of the true role of fish and chips in one of the bible’s most famous miracles.

Jimmy Judges from the Fish and Chip Fryers Association announces that this year’s letter is V. How lucky! Vinegar, Veg (including mushy peas) and Violence in Fish and Chip shops. We get to chat about the chippies around Buxton, everybody has their favourite, though one fares less well in the Google star ratings.

There’s a bit of science with the molecular structure of Vinegar, amazingly it looks like fish and chips. Jimmy Judges starts to see coincidences everywhere. There’s history, with references to fish and chips in Dickens, and the death of Richard the II, there’s a chippy near where that happened - The Batter of Bosworth. Now we’re off into the punny business, 100s of Codfellas and Codfathers, A Salt and Battery, and even Frying Nemo.

There are songs interspersed with the talk, as Jimmy tells us that the only thing stopping this making the west end is a million pounds and a theatre that will take it on. The songs are fun, but I’m not sure it entirely fits with the comic trade association style tone of the rest of the show.

Jimmy Judges is a great host, and the show strikes just the right tone for the material. It’s a fine follow up to Accident Avoidance Training For Cutlery Users, and you don’t even need a knife and fork for fish and chips!

Stephen Walker

AIDAN GOATLEY: TENACIOUS - Sweet Productions

Aidan Goatley describes himself as a repressed Englishman currently in full blown midlife crisis complete with motorcycle, deteriorating eyesight, and a story about his prosthetic testicle. His stories, which he promises are all completely true, are well told and take the audience along on his journey from comedy obscurity to fulfilling his dream of performing at The Apollo. His time as Manager of Poundland in Brighton is comedy gold dust, and the experience of having to live with his audience on a cruise ship for nearly a fortnight brings a whole new meaning to ‘worst gig ever’. He interacts with the audience who clearly enjoyed his anecdotes and twists of fate, although the nervous swearing was perhaps not wholly appropriate for an afternoon gig. The one hour show prompted plenty of laughter and a couple of belly laughs. He finished with a moment of compassion for a character from the cruise ship, leaving us with a soft and squashy moment. This was his first and only show in Buxton, Aidan is on his way to Edinburgh Fringe, not for the first time, and clearly enjoying his brave mid-life career change. We may see him on our TV screens or hear him on the radio as he continues to tenaciously pursue his dream and passion for stand up.

Jean Ball, 23 July 2022

OUTSIDE THE LABCOAT - Dr Helen

Fresh from her triumph at the University of Cambridge in mastering both PhD life and DNA in one go, Dr Helen returned to Buxton for a one-off show which pretty much filled the Rotunda Theatre.

In a reverse from her previous show here, there was more focus on life outside the lab and the eponymous coat of the title. Although one thing that did make the move was the curious case of the positioning of the lab entry card reader. You'd have thought a world-class institution staffed by some of the brightest minds around would have figured that one out!

Last night there was rather more of post-doc life and attempts at love, bugging the algorithms that plague us and more. Of course, these days having a PhD isn't always the gateway to a job in academia as Dr Helen's new career path attests, but this hasn't got her down. Her show is a window into her world, some of it is common to us all, and what's not she makes gentle fun of. Those academics do and say foolish things too. Intelligence it seems does not provide immunity.

She could have gone on longer but time was her enemy, and we'll have to wait for another Fringe to get more from Dr Helen. I wonder what she'll get up to?

Ian Parker Heath

90S BOY: BLAIR, THE LOVEGUN & ME - Phil Green

Three cheers for the 90s! Well, at least after this show you'll remember some of the things worth cheering, as well as some less so. Dedicated as it is to the aforementioned decade it might not suit those of a younger disposition, but it might help them understand a few things.

Take pop music for example, particularly follow-ups to hits, you know, those difficult second singles. Well it turns out Phil is something of an expert, even down to how long it took them to drop out of the charts. Being a neurodiverse kid back then, even an undiagnosed one, had some charm. This, added to a quirky, undiagnosed neurodiverse dad and mental health worker mum who missed these aspects, fed into the imagination of Phil Green and eventually surfaced in the form of this show.

There are nice graphics and you can see just who is judged to be focused/distracted on his scale. You can wonder at Jeffery from Rainbow being a role and see the competition he's up against. Remember, this show is not political or about mental health despite what you see and hear.

Sadly for Buxton this was his only show here, but you can catch him at that Scottish Fringe.

Ian Parker Heath

IMAGINARY PORNO CHARADES - Sweet Productions

Imaginary Porno Charades has acquired somewhat legendary status in Fringe circles, and we have heard tales from afar of this mythic beast (with two backs, in mime). We are fairly innocent here in Buxton, but we have just got used to Rob Rouse’s Dirty Scrabble, so perhaps we are ready for this.

The evening is hosted by Aidan Goatley who seems much too respectable for this. He introduces the first team captain Heather Andrews (known to us from her One Woman Jekyll & Hyde), apparently if she wins, she may get a shot at the world title, and she is taking this very seriously.

The second captain is announced as UV’s own Tom Crawshaw, but what’s this? He doesn’t make a move, and we get an actual proper boxing entrance. Dramatic music, and unexpectedly strutting to the stage in hooded gown and carrying his world championship belt is Ian David Norris, the reigning champion. Gosh, this is exciting; here and now we are seeing a world title decider. They really do take this seriously - Norris has driven five and a half hours from Dundee for this.

The captains are joined by comedians and actors from around the Fringe and off we go. The concept is simple. Take a well-known film, TV show or book, rearrange it’s name pornographically, and play charades. The first round is straightforward as each member performs to their team: Line of Booty, The Italian Knob. There is an awful lot of below-the-waist gesticulation. Goatley mentions he has a degree.

The subsequent rounds are variations on the theme. In Three Way, the team members work together. You’ll Never Wank Alone, I Shagged the Sheriff. In Peep Show, volunteers from the audience perform the same charade to the different teams. All that Jizz. Goatley got a good degree, a 2:1.

Meat Show descends into farce as the team members manipulate their captain who has to guess what they’re doing. They’re not very good, but it’s funny. Don’t wank so close to me. Goatley could have been an accountant. The denouement is a tie-breaker! Oh, the drama… they really do take this seriously. And that’s what makes it, the more they commit, the better it is.

It’s filthy and funny and hopefully here to stay, do come back for the rematch. This reviewer is an innocent soul, and learnt some new things. He doubts they’ll be useful.

Stephen Walker

CHARMIAN HUGHES: SHE! IMMORTAL HORROR QUEEN'S GUIDE TO LIFE - Charmian Hughes

Where would the Fringe be without Charmian? A firm favourite here with gentle tales of this, that and the other. This year she delved into the psyche of her youth and the very slight matter of first love and more.

The role of She! (Who Must Be Obeyed if you didn't already know) stems from an illicit cinema trip with her elder sister, and is, we're told, responsible for changing her life in so many ways. Such is the the impact that, well Charmian will tell you the rest.

This is a gentle stroll through some of the cultural high-spots of the 60s and 70s. Some will be known to you, others not. Neat observation of what it was like to tackle new-fangled bedding from far-off shores to why Peter Cushing did what he did.

Charmian is back tonight (22nd) at Underground Venues.

Ian Parker Heath

LUKE ROLLASON: BOWERBIRD - Luke Rollason

Well, the description in the programme didn't give much away in terms of what to expect, and so into the lion's den it was!

Have to say straight away that this is a show full of ideas and most of them work. A lot of them are simple, as the best ones usually are, and it is clear Luke has put a lot of effort into the show and audiences gain the benefits.

There's a good helping of physical comedy, from simple gestures to struggles with those covers you put suits in. Pretty sure they have a name, but it eludes me. Anyway, Luke pulls it off with aplomb and takes the audience with him on a madcap tour through his world. There are jokes - he owned up to writing two - both visual and verbal which will tickle you and keep you engaged in the caper.

There are domestic appliances aplenty; you'll believe corkscrews CAN swim and dance and never will you look at a sieve in the same way again! It's all great fun and full of inventiveness and audience participation.

This is one of those show that is pure Fringe and you'd be foolish to miss it. It is on again tomorrow night (23rd) at Underground Venues. Go!

Ian Parker Heath

DO IT THISSEN! - I'll Have What She's Having

Is it really a year since last I saw this band of happy women? Seems so; but a lot can happen in a year, and we were reminded of this when it was announced that one of the group had tested positive. No need to ask what for. They, and the audience, were happy to have a team member read lines of the missing member.

This show is a follow-on from last year's 'Wine, women & thong' which proved popular then, and tonight's show was very nearly a sell-out too. Like last year, the show is a collection of sketches, vignettes and well, almost poetry. Their tales range from the gym to the supermarket and the demise of in-person banking, dipping into modern life and and its castaways.

The troupe formed in 2014 and have certainly honed their act. Each ‘episode’ - there are 16 in the show - takes you in a different direction, and everyone involved was on the ball. Special mention for going above and beyond must be made of Annie Swale who donned a fur coat and a hat for one scene (see the picture), which can't have been much fun! There’s nothing not to like about this show. The audience agreed with me, giving all concerned a great, well-earned ovation at the end.

They are on again tonight (Tues 19th) and Sat (23rd) at the Green Man Gallery.

Ian Parker Heath

ROBYN PERKINS: MILLION DOLLAR MAYBE (PREVIEW) - Robyn Perkins

Robyn Perkins discovered she was bisexual in her mid-thirties. By her own admission, it was a bit late and you’d have thought she’d have seen the signs. But the attitude of many who refuse to accept her sexuality exists surprises her - if you’re dating a woman, you must be a lesbian now. Robyn sets out to explore why there is so much misunderstanding around bisexuality through personal stories, with a scientific twist.

Perkins is an American, she says the kind of American we British think is “too much”. You can see why, she is a loud and powerful presence commanding the attention of the room, but she’s definitely funny.

Her personal stories cover her conservative New Hampshire upbringing with her competitive ex-military dad and scrapbooker mum, where sex wasn’t likely to be talked about never mind bisexuality. Perkins is excited by her new found discovery and her revelations are perhaps not for the faint-hearted, but we’re all grown-ups here (well, almost) and she handily gives us a warning as to when the dirtiness will peak before levelling off, though she is never anything other than frank.

Perkins is most bothered about the “Pick a side” attitude of many to her bisexuality, and it is understandable. It must be so frustrating to have a core element of your being doubted. She sets out to tackle misinformation, and takes on a scientific survey into bisexuality. That may sound dry but there’s much humour in seeing just how far she’ll go to satisfy her curiosity, and it is fascinating how much someone so enamoured of science can be disconcerted by scientific investigation of something that she finds obvious.

There are lots of laughs, the pop cultural references are spot on, and Perkins’ mix of self-confidence and self-deprecation is appealing, but the show needs a little more light and shade. Her energy steamrollers the would-be heckler in front of me to the point I’m not sure she even notices him anymore, but it can feel a bit relentless, and shifts in tone would allow space for that energy to shine more. That being said, this show was billed as a preview, but it’s pretty much ready. Go and enjoy an hour of Robyn Perkins telling you what’s what.

Stephen Walker

KEVIN, KING OF EGYPT - Rob Gee

Rob Gee, who wrote and performs this show, is a man of many parts - writer, performer, poet, mental health practitioner, comic, and it seems that one of his day jobs - along with colleagues - is to use comedy as a kind of therapy for those with mental health issues. For the general public, he's also a whiz at creating scripts where the storyline twists and develops unexpectedly.

This show is one of those: it's a fine combination of theatre, comedy and spoken word with a clear underpinning of social concern and humanity.

The plot starts off simply. Kevin is in a mental health hospital, utterly convinced that he shouldn't be, and trying hard to be released - the early scene where he bottles up (or doesn't!) his disdain for the Panel reviewing his case gives us a scene which is wonderfully vivid and very funny. As time goes on, he escapes, and on his way to Egypt, going by way of the local Tesco as you might well do, he comes across 6-year old Millie who has been lost by her alcoholic father. And so the adventure begins, parts of which I could almost imagine as a Buster Keaton film,

Gee's performance gives us all these characters and many more as the story develops, It's a very funny show which is at the same time very human and very moving.

Michael Quine

KATE BUTCH: WUTHERING SHITES - Kate Butch

Look out Buxton, Kate Butch is back.

In a packed and sweaty Old Club House Kate strutted her stuff and had the audience whooping and cheering as she worked her way musically through the life of her heroine, and gave us a premier performance of “Bush! The Musical”.

This, she insisted was not just the wailing of ‘a sad homosexual having a very public breakdown’ but a celebration of her favourite singer.

Amongst other scenes the re-enactment of Kate’s wedding, using audience members, was inspired and there were many volunteers for stage roles in other parts of Kate’s story. The pace of the show varied as the highs and lows of Kate Bush’s recording career were covered but the best parts of the show were when Kate interacted and ad-libbed with the volunteers, even persuading one to sing her part with a Yorkshire accent.

Behind all this Kate Butch reveals a decent singing voice, if not quite reaching the register of Kate Bush. A good night was had by all which can only be described as ‘Sproingy’.

Brian Kirman

THE DEPRESSION CURE SHOW - Jonathan Winfield

Jonathan Winfield grew up with a mother who suffered from depression (in later years she was diagnosed as bipolar), and perhaps unsurprisingly has had his own complicated relationship with mental health. Not perhaps, the obvious springboard to comedy, but he has managed to turn the subject into a gently comedic – as well as informative – show.

Through a series of 12 bars (Winfield is a keen guitarist, so he’s channeling 12-bar blues), he takes us through different observations on his experience with mental health, especially his issues with relationships that have now led him to try out online dating in his 50s.

The show is interspersed with Play School-style video interludes, explaining mental health terminology with the help of puppet friends.

His material is personal and heartfelt, and he has a good ear for a groan-some pun. Perhaps it didn’t need the Royal and political jokes at the beginning and end of the show – as his own experience is interesting enough without this addition. Winfield has an easy charm which warmed the audience on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Robbie Carnegie

BBC RADIO DERBY COMEDY SHOWCASE - BBC Radio Derby

An evening of comedy at the Rotunda on a Saturday was hosted by by Radio Derby and featured both talent and guests from the station. Our host was Wesley Mallin who oversaw events with the appropriate levels of vim and vigour, beginning by enjoining the audience to cheer latecomers, well there were a few.

Our compere kept the show moving briskly along including his recently acquired skills and insights into how some rock classics came about. Also taking part were 'local' (as in they were from Derbyshire) acts, comedian Lyra May and poet/comedian Dan Webber who were engaging and entertaining, carrying the audience along with them. The final act was presenter Radio Derby's Andy Twigge who regaled us with tales, a central feature of which was his arms which he thought were abnormally long. Could be his back is short, we'll never know...

This was the only show they'll be dong at this years Fringe but you'll be pleased to know that all proceeds from ticket sales - some £400 - are going to Comic Relief.

Ian Parker Heath

VOICES IN MY HEAD - Something Wicked Theatre Company

Catherine Pugh is the Creative Director of Something Wicked Theatre Company. With a diverse career in radio, stage and screen, combined with a coaching role at the Academy of Performing Arts School in Greater Manchester, her passion and skill for entertaining an audience shines through.

Penned and performed by Catherine, 'Voices in My Head' is a breakneck speed, one-woman comedy show, which is packed to brim with multiple characters who will have you laughing and dancing throughout, all within the fantastic Green Man Gallery venue (be sure to check out their art collection post-show).

Hang onto your seats as you are firstly introduced to lovable Essex hip-hop-ercise (aka ‘hip-down-a-size’) instructor Ellie, who has been drafted in at the last minute to cover Tracy’s exercise class. Ellie grapevines and squats her way through the session with plenty of motivational one-liners including “Hear that ladies…. that’s your fat crying”! But has she misjudged her audience?

Moving swiftly on to Scottish saucepot pensioner, Sheila, and her W.I. flower arranging class. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the quilted gilet, there are plenty of ‘innocent’ double entendres about ‘front gardens’ and ‘organ playing’. But by the end, she really does have the most wonderful floral display.

Then we meet opera singer, Sonia in the midst of her Radio 3 interview. I defy you not to laugh along as she reaches the crescendo of the Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute.

Finally Mika, a flame-haired scouse cabaret entertainer with tales of her new bathroom, a trip to the dentist, ex husbands, and the obligatory mother-in-law joke (great).

At the end of the show we see the real Catherine as she sheds all traces of her characters with a moving rendition of ‘Hand in My Pocket’ by Alanis Morissette.

It’s impossible not to sit through this show without a big smile on your face as Catherine draws you in from the get go. Her multi-character performance and clever use of costume changes is sassy, warm, witty, with spot on accents, and oh did I mention a fabulous singing voice too? Surely she is destined for bigger things.

It’s the perfect show to see with a group of girlfriends or anybody up for a good belly laugh and some adult one-liners. I loved it!

Next Performance(s): 16 Jul 6pm to 7pm, 20, 21 Jul 8pm to 9pm, 22 Jul 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Karen Wain-Pimlott

A SHEDFUL OF PLAYS - Toffee-Nosed Theatre and The Writing Shed

You are treated to a trio of plays for the price of one here as Toffee-Nosed Theatre, penned by The Writing Shed, entertain you with three short plays. Each has a different theme, and all are performed within the quirky intimate venue of Scrivener's Bookshop (more events here in the future please).

In 'Just about Managing' we meet childhood friends, sorted Emma and jobless Julia, who are settling in for a slow day at Stockport Car Boot trying to boost Julia’s funds by selling nicknacks at questionable prices. Tales of ‘Bakewell Pete’ and his park run tattoo, an amorous Security Guard, and a stint in Car Boot Jail add some excitement to their day, but will the girls come out on top?

Everything starts well as ‘Janette North' takes us on a trip to the beauty salon to get her brows done for a first date with Mick, a ‘surfer meets Swedish God’ from... Oldham. Does anybody else have a bad feeling about this one? We are rooting for this vegan go-getter, but her plans start to unravel quickly when a ‘snip chat’ dashes her dreams and she finds out Mick might not be her type after all.

Finally, Jodie and Lena are 'Occupied' in the works ladies loo. Office Trainee, Lena, is ever the optimist and all about the positive vibes, but even she can’t manifest her way out of her letchy boss’s clutches. Can Jodie and Lena hatch a successful abduction plan? Will strategically planted laxatives work? Or would it be better to shop him to Jean with a ‘J’ from Human Resources?

This is clever and funny writing all performed with great comic timing. Not to be missed.

Next Performance: 16 Jul 6pm to 7pm, 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Karen Wain-Pimlott

JODY KAMALI: IRONING BOARD MAN - Jody Kamali

Bonkers.

Daft, ridiculous, absurd and very funny. A perfect Fringe event.

I asked some audience members just before the show, what they were expecting, “Haven’t got a clue”. they said. Isn’t this just the right attitude for a fringe audience? When I met them later they told me they really enjoyed it but didn’t know why.

Jody Kamali’s presentation of his life (as Jeremy Irons, living in the town of Crease) told through, ahem..., ironing boards was helped along with movie soundtracks and popular songs. Jody’s energetic performance was absorbing, while remaining carefully synchronised with the soundtrack – even when things went wrong. I never imagined I would feel sorry about the ‘death’ of an ironing board (apologies about the spoiler here).

This is imaginative physical comedy. Its risky and energetic. Jody pulls it off convincingly and it is exactly right for the fringe.

Another performance on 16th July.

Brian Kirman

DESPITE EVERYTHING... - Naomi Paul

Naomi Paul brings her quietly spoken poke at the soft underbelly of post-Covid Britain, which is of course somewhat changed since her last show here three years ago.

Hers is a gentle humour, appropriate you might think to the venue.

This is an updated form of her show with some nice new material in it for you. Naomi takes satirical aim at lots of things - from the new central Birmingham library, or more correctly Library of Birmingham or LOB, to ‘Prevent’ training, job evaluation and all points in between, rarely missing her targets. Including the B word of course. Some are obvious if you think about it, but that doesn’t stop the poke being funny. There’s even a chance for a sing-a-long. All this and you get biscuits too, delivered this time in a Covid-safe manner, what’s not to love?

The show is infused with a nod to her Jewish/ South Wales/ North London/ Birmingham heritage and performed in a relaxed, gentle style. The audience loved it and so did I. A big thank you to Green Man for bringing Naomi to town, and you can catch the show again on the 16th and 17th at the same venue. Don’t miss it!

Ian Parker Heath

DRAG QUEENS VS ZOMBIES - Haus of Dench

Local drag superstar Kate Butch enters the stage looking incredibly glamorous in a beautiful dress and full on-point make-up singing ‘I Will Survive’. You start thinking, ‘Well, maybe this is going to be a traditional drag show’. Then enter stage right the co-star Crudi Dench, a less tradional-looking drag artist than Kate – well, slightly shorter and with facial hair. They fight for attention over the mic and then the audience interaction starts.

Then the drag show moves into a more play-like situation, showcasing that they are both great actors as well as drag performers.

As the news comes in that the zombies are descending on us, fights ensure, food gets thrown (don’t worry, its vegan), audience members are invited on to the stage and we learn the important information of how to survive a zombie invasion.

Does it end well? Do they sing more songs? Do they pick on more people in the audience? Yes, yes yes! Does Kate still looks amazing in more casual attire? Yes, yes, yes, yes! Do they survive? Well, they finish on the same song they started!

We know it’s hot, but these drag queens are hotter. This is a joy to behold, which could also help you in the event of a zombie attack! If you like song, glamour, laughter and more you will love it. The weather may be hot, but they’re hotter!

You can catch it for two more performances at Underground on the 16th and 17th July.

Robert Harrison

ANNIE AND ANGELA'S DISCO DIVORCE PARTY - Annie and Angela

We’re welcomed to a special occasion by the vivacious, fun-loving Annie, as she has a special surprise for her friend Mrs Angela Bra – a party to celebrate Angela’s divorce. This party is a key for us to be taken on a journey/ pub crawl to various nightspots which illustrate colourful episodes in their life.

In their conversation, Annie and Angela are a nice comic partnership, Angela a mistress of the withering putdown alongside Annie’s boundless enthusiasm. However, it is when they illustrate their journey with song that the show comes to life. We are treated to a series of 90s-dancefloor pastiches, covering subjects such as a disastrous holiday in Ibiza (leading to Angela’s ill-fated marriage) and a particularly humorous and bizarre episode when Annie is possessed by the spirit of a dodgy old-school DJ.

The show ends with the audience encouraged to join in with an upbeat number celebrating being content in your own skin, a positive note on which to send the audience, still humming the tune, on their way.

Robbie Carnegie

JULIET MEYERS' PASSPORT FACE - Juliet Meyers

When confronted by a camera, the performer within us will naturally smile. Well, that is exactly not the thing to do on a passport photograph. Essentially, Julia tells a long and complicated version of that bit of essential advice. Learn how to produce your very own 'Passport Face!'

Setting off on her own "who do you think you are" expedition across India with a friend who refers to herself variously as a 'psychic, sex therapist and yoga teacher' permits a number of funny stories to develop. And they do!

Giggles abound when the audience is introduced to the similarities and differences between Izal (the toilet paper) and iPads (the palm-held computer).

The search for indigenous identity leads Juliet to some strange places and an understanding of the Hindi word 'pagal,' which will forever govern her personal philosophy on comedy.

A comfortable hour spent travelling the Indian sub-continent in the company of an affable storyteller and, in the greatest tradition of yarn-spinning, there were many shaggy dog stories and local connections.

David Carlisle

MICHAEL AKADIRI: NO SCRUBS (WORK IN PROGRESS) - Michael Akadiri

A junior doctor and rising comic who was in the finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards last year, Michael Akadiri is already an assured stand up who has an easy rapport with the audience and insightful material on life in the NHS.

An appreciative audience at The Old Clubhouse on Thursday was lucky enough to be seeing his only show at Buxton Fringe, a work-in-progress performance bound for Edinburgh. With no notes and no fluffing, he quickly owned the stage and most of his jokes really landed as he reminded us that seeing him on stage was the quickest way to get a doctor’s appointment and that though 'people say that laughter is the best medicine, no-one wants to find out…'

We got to hear about the perks of his profession from jumping the queue at supermarkets in lockdown (great until you realise you have forgotten your ID) and 'ash cash' - the money paid to doctors to sign cremation forms, but we also heard about dreaded situations such as having to defend yourself in court or hearing the phrase 'Is there a doctor in the house?' whilst on a plane.

As the son of Nigerian immigrants, Michael also touched on race relations - 'I can still do CPR in a hoodie' - and his fertility superpower: 'I’m Nigerian - I could look at a post-menopausal woman and get her pregnant…'

There were plenty more anecdotes and gags to enjoy in a show that proved both funny and thought-provoking. Michael Akadiri is definitely one to watch and I hope he comes back to Buxton next year.

Stephanie Billen

FULL FRONTAL NEWSITY - Steve Vertigo

If you have heard the BBC radio 4 ‘ Newsquiz’ or any other of their 6:30 Friday night satirical programmes then you will slip familiarly into Steve Vertigo’s 'Full Frontal Newsity'.

Its hard not to feel some sympathy for Steve because, as he said, he had his show sewn up a week ago thinking nothing more would happen. Since then of course we have a disgraced Prime Minister promising to resign and the rush of ‘‘pigs to the trough’’ of MP’s vying for his job.

Steve gives his version of events through video clips of actual political statements and other clips with a superimposed dialogue.

The overall effect is dry humour rather than falling-off-the-chair-laughing. Just like a BBC radio 4 comedy.

He mocks the Russian leader in a fake phone call when he tells Vladimir to wear a Ra Ra razskirt so that he could become 'Ra Ra Raz Putin'. A bit contrived but you get the idea. He had a nice line on the PPE scandal, and another mash up with Priti Patel singing ‘Good Neighbours’ .

For a late night comedy not requiring too much effort Full Frontal Newsity fits the bill.

Brian Kirman

ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING: NEVERMORE - Alasdair Beckett-King

The ginger one is back!

Alasdair Beckett-King’s hair makes a welcome return to Buxton with a show that is brand new (other regulars please take note). He makes a lot of the hair - is it natural? It's wasted on a boy.

Previously he has built his shows around elaborate scenarios of fabricated plots: notably his ‘Alzheimer Murder Mystery’ of a few years ago. This time round it’s pure stand – up, performed to a sweaty, enthusiastic, packed Old Club House.

Alasdair took us back to his roots in County Durham (North east by birth; Scottish by appearance) and his first job on the pier helping with the ‘Ride of Life’ (only one or two deaths per year; not a bad percentage). We had reminiscences of his childhood and his efforts to avoid swimming in the grey North Sea.

The dreaded phrase ‘work in progress’ was attached to his show, called for some reason ‘Nevermore’. Performers, presumably, add this tag so as to lower expectations - which is often justified but AB-K had no need; it was fun from start to finish. There were one or two glitches with the audio visual support but these were handled well and could even have been a deliberate set-up.

A further performance 13th July.

Brian Kirman

ROB ROUSE: NO REFUNDS 2022! - Rob Rouse

The well known fringe regular, Rob Rouse returns to Buxton with his show ‘No Refunds’. Rob can always be relied upon to give an energetic performance, which was necessary on the first night to engage the audience in a hot and stuffy Old Club House. Rob has a stage presence which the audience picked up on and responded enthusiastically as he interacted with them. His show was aided by audio visual content and he had a range of props to support many of his gags. Previously Rob has shown great skill in emasculating hecklers but this wasn't necessary on his first night because we all sat politely and obediently.

Not fresh writing but much enjoyed by those for whom it was new.

There will be three further performances on 11th 12th and 14th July.

Brian Kirman

ZOE BURY: NO SUCH THING AS NORMAL (WORK IN PROGRESS) - Zoe Bury

Zoe Bury made her Fringe debut last year and she’s back with more as she mulls over her pursuit of normality, and discovers that there may be no such thing.

Zoe takes us through a potted history of the roots of her craving for normality, starting with that name, not that common in 1970s working class Liverpool, and a terrible haircut. There’s some great material on her family’s Catholicism, the taste of communion wafers and a saint for every occasion.

Last year, Zoe was an inexperienced performer but her show showed so much promise, and this time around behind the slightly shy persona, she is rock solid and in command of her material, as she moves on to her own family life, posh friends and non-alcoholic beer. There are some great references - I loved the Mr Men line!

In her understated style she skewers the pretensions of others, but mainly gently mocks her own perceived inadequacies - and those of her pet dogs with their contrasting personalities. The confessional observational material makes for a relaxed hour and lots of laughs from an audience who are clearly enjoying her company. Zoe is from the Peak District, here’s hoping she becomes a Fringe regular.

Stephen Walker

DARREN WALSH: WORK IN PROGRESS - Darren Walsh

We were there to have Pun Pun Pun! We were warned and yet still we turned up!

This was one of those shows you know is going to have something for everyone, including some Dad-jokes it must be said! There was audience participation, groans, props and laughs aplenty as Darren regaled us with puns and one-liners. Darren it seems can make a pun out of almost any subject or situation. Even his height, of which there's a lot.

There was the very occasional flat spot, but that's to be expected and Darren did tell us, but these were very minor points in what was overall a good show. It isn't sophisticated comedy but it is fun, full of jokes and the audience had a great time. What more do you need from a comedy show?

This was Darren's only show this year, but I for one will keep an eye out for him at future Fringes!

Ian Parker Heath

A POLITICAL BREAKFAST - Jesters Ireland

With A Political Breakfast, Jesters have hit upon a popular concept for the Buxton audience, attracting a full house upstairs in the Green Man Gallery. With four comedians and a coffee included with your ticket, what’s not to like?

Where else to start but with the demise of Boris Johnson? It was certainly a gift of a topic, and the panel were able to run through the whole gamut of questions: Will Boris actually go? Who wants the job? Who’ll get it? And would any of them be any good?

As you’d probably expect at a comedy show, the panel and audience was mainly left of centre, caught between enjoying the schadenfreude of the fall, and despair at the likelihood of what they’d see as political improvement any time soon. But happily there was a mixed range of opinion, with one Conservative supporting gent pragmatically accepting that politicians lie, but with Boris, it had somewhat got out of hand. Many were comfortable with expressing opinions, and some of the best lines came from the audience.

Alex Kealy, who’s probably sick of the sight of this reviewer popping up in his audience, filled in for the expected host and was organised and knowledgeable. He chipped in with his own contributions, but I suspect he would have enjoyed being a guest and having a freer rein.

Longhu, who I’d seen doing a great set at AComedyTapas the evening before, was confident and able to pick up the lulls in the conversation by taking us in slightly odd directions. Along with Louise Atkinson (her show, Mates, is on at the Green Man Gallery), who was best suited to this format with her forthright opinions and satirical eye, they opened up a slightly off-topic but entertaining thread about what Carnival Day in Buxton was all about. While Nathan Virica contributed his sardonic barbed jibes at all and sundry.

Billed as a panel show for those with an interest in politics, a bit like Mock The Week blended with Question Time, it was in truth a bit closer to the latter, but it was an interesting hour including a range of opinions with nobody falling out, we had a few laughs and got things off our chest. It would be good to see the concept reprised in future Fringes.

Stephen Walker

NOT DONE YET! - A LIFE IN PROGRESS SHOW - Stewart Gamble

Stewart Graham is something of a rarity. I know he won't mind me saying this - he's older than your average comedian. But that's the point. The clue is in the title.

Stewart's show is both a memory and reminder that life is indeed the story of progress. Not necessarily in in a linear, achievement-oriented way; rather in the way experiences are garnered and lessons learned/ not learned. That said, this wasn't a dour 'this is my life, wasn't it awful' kind of show. No, more of a dipping in an out of the life and times. The times are important too, for they added context to Stewart's tales. Believe me, life was very different in the 70s!

Tickling testicles and the joy of having a teenage son as you enter your retirement sit side by side in this show without any jarring. It is gentle humour, delivered in a soft timbre, and you even get some self-penned songs from the multi-instrumentalist (loved the trumpet by the way).

Sadly, this was Stewart's only performance at this year's Fringe, but I'm sure he'll be back.

Ian Parker Heath

NATHAN CASSIDY: HOT TUB GOD - Nathan Cassidy

Ah, the Nathan Cassidy show arrives at the Fringe after so much Twitter action. So what can the good people of Buxton (and their visitors of course!) expect?

Well, like all the shows we've seen over last 72 years of his visits here (it's what he claimed in last year's review) you'll get a piece of work that deftly weaves together a number of seemingly disparate themes and subject before revealing in a final denouement (thank you Barry Norman) a punch line that you didn't really see coming.

Now of course I don't want to give the game away, but there are some obvious jokes in there. As well as Michael Gove. Nathan muses on the nature of hot tubs, truth, marriage and more as he leads you by the hand through a series of scenes, some of which don't bear much scrutiny. Why would anyone call their daughter Baye? The answer will be revealed.

There was even a spot of controversy which added an edge to proceedings. God, the character of the divine, best-man speeches and relationship issues all make an appearance here, and I'm sure that you'll love it as much as last night's audience.

There's another chance to catch Hot Tub God today (10th) at 4pm. Do yourself a favour and go and see this show.

Ian Parker Heath

ACOMEDYTAPAS - Jesters Dublin

AComedyTapas features a range of comics, some with their own shows at the Fringe, giving us a taste of their material over the course of an hour. Will Preston (Will Preston Can’t Face Reality) stood in for an unfortunately indisposed MC, and did a sterling job as our convivial host.

First up was Longhu, resplendent in a fabulous jacket, his remarkable heels had his 6ft 2in frame towering over us as he regaled us with tales of being a gay man teaching in China, it may be repressive but at least the kids do as they’re told. He finished his set singing about the perils of eating Szechuan food in a rich baritone. Well worth catching him again.

Nathan Virica, with his moody early 70s Bob Dylan look, was a downbeat contrast to what went before with a look back at his career as a failed musician and an amusingly dark misanthropic view of the world.

Angela Bra is a bit of a favourite around these parts and she started with a great riff on the artwork in the room, before explaining her social media success and a sample of one of her cooking songs as we all waved our arms in a paean to the microwave.

The always excellent Alex Kealy wrapped up the proceedings with a snippet of his more political material including drugs policy in the Conservative Party. One last show for Alex at Underground today.

Stephen Walker

IMPROMPTU SHAKESPEARE - Impromptu Shakespeare Improv Company

A triumph, and hugely enjoyed and appreciated by the audience. This is a very special show: sharp, witty, lively, and very very funny. It also gave us three performers at the top of their game, teasing each other and us the audience.

As we go in, we are given ping-pong balls which have key words on them - maybe 'king', 'sea', 'twins' and a whole host more. After a gentle light-hearted introduction we are asked to throw them onto the stage: some are collected and the words written up on a board to indicate the core elements of the 'play' they will create. They call for another word or two from the audience - jokers, you might say. This is where I came to believe it wasn't a fix, since the wild card that came up was so much off the wall. My goodness, they made that work well.

In front of us they develop and act out a story line and the invented characters, referencing Shakespeare's story lines and characters. This evening, twins separated in early life, shipwreck, a cave, isolation, revenge, accidental stabbing and death, and more - you get the point.

Of course we are not getting anything like Shakespeare, though we do get some of the dialogue we know in amongst the (mostly verbal) mayhem.

They are very clever, they work wonders with a piece which develops as it goes along, they make us laugh - and each other too, though it doesn't quite go so far as full-on corpsing: after all they have to reach the end of their tale within the allotted time.

They carried the audience all the way and deserved a standing ovation though I suspect that just doesn't happen at this Fringe.

Michael Quine

LATE NIGHT DIRTY SCRABBLE - WITH ROB ROUSE & FRIENDS - Rob Rouse

I thought it sounded familiar this Dirty Scrabble lark, but went along anyway. Me and a full house of punters eager to be pleased. Turns out Rob and his new friends and fellow Fringe acts Alice Winter, Dylan Howells and Tom Tockley were able to oblige.

It is what it says on the tin. The board game beloved by millions around the world and available in 30 languages met its match last night when a 31st was added. The premise is simple, use the same equipment, just use dirty words and if you don't have the right letters - bugger it!

With three more or less willing companions, who became more willing as the show went on, Rob Rouse acted as MC and competitor in a challenge everyone knew intimately. Oh, the exposure of naughty words known by participants and audience was saucy and revealing.

As you might expect the language was 'fruity' but the audience loved the show, and with much participation to be had everybody had a good time. The folks around me barely stopped laughing. Praise enough really. The show returns on the 13th.

Ian Parker Heath

BARREL OF LAUGHS - Underground

How do we feel about hecklers?

In a packed Old Club House the host, Tom, faced (encouraged?) audience participation. Witty heckling is entertaining and with a skilled comedian can be turned to advantage (Peter Kay, Jimmy Carr for example). A mindless shout or ROOOOOOOAR is quite different.

So on with the first act – The Impromptu Shakespeare Company. As the name suggests they depend on audience contributions and one suggested subject ‘Cheese’ stood out in particular. Do you remember any reference to cheese in Shakespeare? Neither did the company but they but they made it a prominent part of their improv. ROOOOOOOOOAR (You see how distracting this can be). Anyway the audience enjoyed the clever and witty scenes the pair developed from the audience suggestions.

On next was ‘Black Liver’ – a couple who entertained (ROOOOOOOAR) with comic songs and jokes. All good fun (ROOOOOOOAR) and then there was a break – to get drinks and a bit of fresh air. Many of us hoped that the ROOOOAR-er would leave at this point, but no such luck.

Stand-up Alex Kealy was on after the break and showed great potential with his material but after a few ROOOOOOARs we saw he was a little distracted and had to re-group his thoughts. He was clearly developing his show – it is called ‘Work in Progress’ after all. What we got from him, in these less than ideal conditions, was sharp observational comedy.

The final set was fringe regular, Rob Rouse, who on the first ROOOOOOAR turned on the offender and took him on. It was the old bully syndrome where when confronted the bully backs down. We didn’t hear any ROOOOARs after that. A masterclass in how to control the audience.

Rob covered many subjects including lock-downs, middle class Buxtonians and pubic hair. He concluded with a song “Little Horse” which he didn’t just sing, he performed – great physical theatre.

All the performers were excellent and without exception they will have gained audiences for their individual shows.

Further performances on 15th and 22nd July but each one will be different.

Brian Kirman

EDY HURST'S COMEDY VERSION OF JEFF WAYNE'S MUSI... - Edy Hurst

What a wonderful, funny, slightly madcap performance!

We started the show by passing a long sign around the audience describing the show, which was all about The War of the Worlds (HG Wells' book, plus the musical and the film - it was all touched upon).

The visuals playing throughout which did not always go right but Edy went with the flow and made it all part of his madcap performance.

The star of the show was not actually Edy but an alien character who appeared on stage on a number of occasions. You may think Underground Venues can get a bit warm - try performing a one-man show in a homemade alien costume!

It's all very good fun and enjoyable if you like the book the musical or the film. Even if you don't, Edy's performance includes song, film and alien impression - what's not to like? Part-comedy analysis of all the formats of the books, part-re-enactment and always an excellent performance.

There is one more performance of this show, so get yourself a ticket - you will not be disappointed!

Robert Harrison

ANGELA BRA: LIFE LESSONS - Angela Bra

“Pronounced like candelabra and just as classy”, Miss Angela Bra knows how to give an audience a good time taking well-known pop hits and imaginatively tweaking the lyrics to reflect her journey from singer-songwriter and primary school music teacher to online sensation in the making.

It is a career path that requires plenty of audience participation as we discover when waving along to her microwave tribute (all part of her TikTok cookery video experiment) or singing the two-word chorus to her impassioned Meal Deal anthem. A healthy lifestyle is all part of her transformation, a sandwich with the filling on the outside representing nothing less than a “total roll reversal”.

With disco lights and a cracking dancefloor outfit (once she removes the TikTok cookery video pinny), Miss Bra proves a nifty dancer who even manages to stay groovy when busily grating cheese all over the Green Man stage for her best number “I want to grate cheese” a la Freddie Mercury’s I Want to Break Free. We even get to see her doing a bit of hip hop complete with hip hop accessories (if you are wondering about the slice of bread round her neck, well she never promised us a w/rap).

That Angela is so likeable is probably down to her easy repartee with the crowd and her positive life message. Her brother may be the “sensible sibling” who “talks about the hops in real ale”, but Angela is gloriously doing her own thing in the only way she knows how. As she points out, with her alter ego Andy Quirk no doubt cheering from the wings: “You can only be you - or more than one person in my case…”

Angela performs again on 9th July and also with friend Annie Sup for a drag-infused bar crawl in Annie and Angela’s Disco Divorce Party at the Green Man on 15th and 16th July.

Stephanie Billen

ALEX KEALY: WINNER TAKES ALL (WORK IN PROGRESS) - Alex Kealy

Alex Kealy has been on the Underground stage a few times before and the following he has attracted here and his growing reputation on the comedy circuit has a good audience staying up late on a school night for his latest material based around Silicon Valley tech giants, advertising, addiction and monopolies, interspersed with more personal material on a relationship breakup.

Kealy is a confident performer behind the anxious persona, self aware and able to adapt to his audience as he tries out new material, and there is plenty of good stuff there. His deliberately tortured metaphors bring plenty of laughs, the material on big-tech is accessible and very funny in his hands, and his normal guy attitude to edgier material was refreshing, and more resonant than the usual cooler-than-thou approach.

Winner Takes All is billed as a work in progress so don’t expect anything else, but when a comedian as self-aware as Kealy comments on his material and your reaction to it, there can be an added enjoyment from a peek into the nuts and bolts of putting a show together.

Kealy is a very smart guy and his material is clever, sometimes taking a split-second for us to catch up, and perhaps he could have more belief that we will. That monogamy joke was really rather good.

Stephen Walker

WILL PRESTON CAN'T FACE REALITY - Will Preston

Will Preston is a self-confessed geek and gaming addict and as a thirty-something he hits a demographic sweet spot between those who remember Star Wars the first time around - possibly the birth of geek culture - and the young gamers and Marvel kids of today.

It’s safe to say Will was an indoors kid, and identifies with those for whom being sent to their room was a joy rather than a punishment. He is funny on the absurdities of gaming, playing as a mythic hero who sounds like he comes from Barnsley, or how the obsessional nature of gamers isn’t that different from football fans, and his riffing on cosplay was great fun.

Will is a charming host, self-deprecating and funny, we’re rooting for him, so when he takes a darker, more personal turn, we’re onside. He paces his material nicely and brings us out into a happier ending just when we were ready for it.

The material on geek culture and gaming is particularly strong, and there is probably a more common understanding of it than he thinks, those of us older ones are well aware of Marvel and have kids in our families who are obsessed with gaming. These days even the sporty kids and the outdoorsy people have their nerdy gaming and movie franchise side, so Will can be more confident that this material will resonate.

Stephen Walker

THE POETRY TEACHER-ADVANCED CLASS - Andy Gilbert

Andy Gilbert is the Pam Ayers for the dirty minded. His poems are accessible, fun and entertaining. But filthy.

His witty poems cover many subjects including: menopause, life from the point of view of a toilet seat, anal sex, S&M, death, weddings and funerals to name just a few.

He proposes a dating site, ‘Partners in Ryme’ where his own entry runs along the lines, “a farting, burping, beer slurping man, come and get me while you can”. You get the idea.

There is some audience interaction - ‘examples of how to include “bastard” in poetry’ for example and a discussion on whether animals or even objects can be classified as bastards. The evening finished with a US Marine Corps call and response – suitably coarse.

An entertaining hour of smut, word play and not-so-subtle innuendo.

As the phrase goes, ‘If you are easily offended this may not be for you’.

Great fun.

Two more shows at the Green Man Gallery: 8th and 9th July, and best of all FREE.

Brian Kirman