The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2017 – Abigail’s Party – Comedy Cabaret, 20th August 2017

Abigail's Party 17Back to the usual Fringe fare with some late-night comedy cabaret courtesy of Abigail and Dave with Abigail’s Party – Comedy Cabaret, at Underbelly Med Quad (Daisy) at 21:50 on Sunday 20th. This is what it says on the website: “Comedy Cabaret hosted by ‘supremely talented comic’ (Time Out) Abigail Burdess and her glamorous assistant Dave! Abigail wrote for the BAFTA-winning That Mitchell and Webb Look and Tracey Ullman’s Show! Dave can’t read! Abigail and Dave invite you to a fabulous comedy shindig of songs, characters and competitions. Jokes! Games! Exclamation marks! Let your inner party animal off the leash! With special guest stars – off the telly – every night! ‘Crazy fun’ (Sara Pascoe). ‘A shitload of fun’ (Robert Webb). ‘The best party I’ve been to in years’ (Lucy Porter).”

Dave TozerAbigail’s Party has been a regular event every month at the North London Tavern, Kilburn, and we went to see it in April. It is of course nothing to do with Mike Leigh’s famous play, but one of those uniquely Fringey comic shindigs where anything can happen. Dave (Abigail’s glamorous assistant) went to my school and owes me lunch. Check back around 11.15pm to see who were the guests and how much fun we had. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

That was enormous fun. Abigail and Dave know how to throw a great party and they’ve got loads of funny material up their collective sleeves. Abigail’s Malania Trump is a work of comedy genius. Guest artiste was the hilarious Sindhu Vee, who had brilliant “Indian family routines” material. An excellent pot pourri of fringey fun. Highly recommended!

Review – Abigail’s Party May Day Eve, Upstairs at the North London Tavern, Kilburn, 30th April 2017

Abigail BurdessThis was our third comedy night out in four days, so don’t try and tell me we’re not funny. A different venue and venture for us this time; Abigail Burdess and Dave Tozer co-hosting an evening of comedy with three acts nestling around one decent interval and one emergency pause. The venue and the event as a whole has a real fringey feel to it that I find instantly appealing. As far as I can make out, the roles within the structure of the show are: 1) Abigail is the host and boss, welcoming us with some jokes and the ground rules, putting us at ease and inviting us to poke fun at 2) Dave, who is the butt of all jokes – and sound engineer. During the intervals we could either dance around Dave’s pole, or write on his forehead. I couldn’t possibly do either; after all, we went to the same school. Also I was sitting behind his mum, and I don’t think she would have been impressed.

Dave TozerAs it was May Day Eve, Abigail and Dave were in full Morris Dancing rig up, complete with fertility rite hankies, although Dave was in ballet tights which I have to say I can’t quite recall from the days I used to follow the Oxford Morris Men… but that’s another story. Abigail and Dave did have some terrific material which they shared during the course of the evening, including what constitutes acceptable heckling, what is the old name for crowdfunding, and how did you meet people for casual sex before the days of the Internet. Having been around in those days I can authoritatively confirm for anyone who is in doubt, that it simply never happened. At all; by anyone.

Ben CloverOur first act was Ben Clover, with whom you can instantly sympathise, as he used to get some horrible nicknames at school; thus he decided to re-enact his coping strategies with the aid of members of the audience. I felt his pain having suffered similar embarrassment myself as a kid. Mr Clover is a naturally very funny man with a sunny disposition that comes from having met his partner through Guardian Soulmates. We loved his calculation that the more tolerant you are of minorities in society, the disadvantaged or those seeking refuge, the less likely you are to be tolerant of lactose, gluten, dairy and so on. It’s 100% a proven fact. He carried us along with his terrific humorous observations and the time just flew by. An easy and delightful way to spend half an hour or more.

Omar and LeeNext up came Omar and Lee, a likeable pair of likely lads who ooze confidence and charisma and use it to their best advantage. Their opening section – where Lee is training Omar in the ways of how to be sexy – was occasionally hit and miss for me; some great ideas but something about it just didn’t quite connect. Obviously I am already sufficiently sexy not to have to take note, or I am so far off the mark that I would have to start with remedial classes. Others were guffawing madly all around, so I accept it was me who was off-kilter. However, once they got into their night-out mime routine I thought they were completely hysterical; beautifully inventive, skilfully choreographed and pinpoint accurately executed. I could watch that again and again. The act then moved on to Omar being visited by The Sacred Feminine but then taking it slightly more to heart than intended – which was really funny – and ended up with some pre-election advice with which I can only fully concur. We’ve not seen these two guys before but I was really impressed and look forward to seeing what else they can do.

Pippa EvansOur final act and – as advertised, as seen on the telly – was Pippa Evans, a member of the Showstoppers team (whom we haven’t seen) but we had seen Pippa six years ago at a Screaming Blue Murder in her alter ego of Loretta Maine, when she absolutely aced it – and in fact she was runner-up for the Screaming Blue Murder Chrisparkle Award that year; so high praise indeed. Pippa is just a natural performer – she’s so comfortable at drifting into comedy songs that, when you look at her, you really do believe that life genuinely could be like a musical. She’s gifted with the accents too, so she can create some great moments of humour by descending into Australian or Geordie at the drop of a pint of Fosters. I loved her resting face charity material and also the two roles (just the two) with which she’s successful at auditions. A really fantastic routine and we were all left wanting more.

Abigail'sPartyAnd more will come on the last Sunday of the month. Don’t think we’ll be able to make it, but if you’re in the area this is a bargain of an enjoyable Sunday night’s comedy. Great stuff!

P. S. I would like to add a personal note of thanks to whoever put together the background music at the start and during the intervals: how wonderful to hear Spike Milligan’s Q theme again.

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2016 – Me, Myself and ISIS, 21st August 2016

Me Myself IsisLooking at the shows we could have chosen to end our Sunday, there were a few options but in the end I plumped for Me, Myself and ISIS, performed by the Banana Collective, at T-Bar, Cowgate, at 23:00 on Sunday 21st. Here’s the website blurb: “American cop Frank Law lost his partner two days before retirement. British sketch group Banana Collective lost the plot two days before Edinburgh. But what connects the homoerotic adventures of a 1980s detective with the mental breakdown of bunch of pretentious wannabes? ISIS. Banana Collective may have written an insightful play about the battle between western neoconservatism and religious fundamentalism… or they could be just another sketch group courting controversy with an inflammatory show title. Either way it’s free, so it’s worth a punt, right? Expect themes of solipsism, alcoholism and magnetism.”

Banana CollectiveBanana Collective are Stoph Demetriou, Daniel Mimms, Dave Tozer and Timmie Blunt – we saw their Who Shot Hitler? a couple of years ago and laughed a lot, so we’re giving them another crack of the whip, so to speak. They promise to take a look at modern culture through their decidedly distorted lens, providing a fresh insight into reality via the medium of total nonsense. If nothing else, they promise free biscuits. Check back shortly after midnight to see if our lenses were aligned and by then the preview blog for our first show on Monday should be available to read too.

Post-show update:

It’s a totally hare-brained hour of surrealist nonsense but it absolutely works! Alongside another ropey episode of Law of the Land (I remember those late night 70s TV series, no cop was ever as good as Frank Law) the Banana lads come together to meet Stoph’s Artistic Vision including Mid-Point Low and Catharsis. I really love how they don’t care how stupid they look on stage (nice thong, Stoph) and running gags like the polite builder and the racist bassist just keep the adrenaline on high. If you saw Who Shot Hitler…. this is funnier! Normally when you see a sketch show at least one of the sketches doesn’t work at all – not in this show. We really loved it all the way through. Free biscuits is a con, mind.