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Pleasance Courtyard, until August 15 then from August 21 to 27

Though she gallops onto the stage in intense strobe lighting and flies around the room like a raging banshee, Patti Harrison is a slow burn. Asking for patience as she returns to stand-up after a period of focusing on her mental health and getting back on her feet with a show in the making, the American issues a warning about all the potential triggers for public sensitivity in the hour to come. . These are getting darker and more ridiculous, a really bold and long opening gambit.

There’s some sincerity there and it portends the games she plays with tension. But these barely give a real flavor of the mad and even violent murderous instincts in Harrison’s head, as she narcissistically indulges in a self-obsessed and healing psychobabble, her gentle journey back to well-being. be periodically interrupted by splenetic eruptions of spiraling fury or madness. Just a truly magnetic and phenomenally well-rounded performer, able to spin a premise on a dime, the laughs the comedian and actor elicit are carefully squeezed out.

But when they do arrive, they’re deep, memorable and sustained, his cute impression of distinctly-voiced singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom thrilled by Steve Bannon, the first of several sadly hilarious songs. The fact that Harrison explains only part of the American cultural specifics of a track in which Björk works in a supermarket after performing it perfectly matches its chaotic nature, but does not make it any less entertaining. And though she struggles to save Kate Bush from her Tory reputation, her villainous tribute has her cake and eats it by adhering to the mythos. Pointing out that she’s trans almost in passing, Harrison doesn’t need a minority license to attack anyone, including LGBTQI people, her troubled and overworked personality giving her full scope anyway. Once seen, Harrison is never forgotten. Jay Richardson

Mark Thomas: Black and White ****

The Stand’s New Town Theatre, until August 28

Patti Harrison

A long time ago, Mark Thomas changed my life. I still have the “Killer Coke” T-shirt to prove it. It’s an incalculable joy to see that even in 2022 – now famous, prosperous, diabetic and hard of hearing – he still retains the same political punch. And with such delight, such taste and, as he always had, such intelligence When Sun Tzu’s famous advice was to “know your enemy.” Mark Thomas could pretty much get a doctorate on any of his haters.

The kind of comic edifice of ideas and opinions and beautifully articulated angry humor you’ll get from a Robin Ince show (with less science, more socialism) rushes down a Niagara river of knowledge – c is the whitewater rafting of political comedy. It’s breathtaking (as well as illuminating, infuriating and very, very funny). Just when you think every possible insult has been exhausted, Thomas creates some excruciatingly funny new attacks on Raab, Sunak, Patel and, most hilarious of all, Liz Truss. I guarantee you’ll never watch her talk again without hearing the firefighters. Thomas’ genius takes on all the horror of sending refugees to Rwanda gets the kind of laugh that turns into a break of applause.

It takes the new protest legislation to its logical conclusion and suggests ways for women to take advantage of English heritage protection laws. Thomas even finds politics in his own type 2 diabetes. And there’s no counter argument, to be honest. From time to time, Mark calls us “jokes”, sometimes even as Les Dawson. We get all of that, plus Bernard Cribbins, Barry Cryer, and some vocals for The Boy I Love is Up In The Gallery. This is the kind of comic that a girl gives up drinking Lilt for. Kate Copstick

The delicious sausage: Nowt but Sea ****

Monkey Barrel Comedy, until August 28

Disaster struck Amy Gledhill and Chris Cantrill. The Yorkshire duo known as Delightful Sausage have been stranded on a desert island, surrounded by the sea. Gledhill and Cantrill, who both have their own shows at the Fringe this year, step in and out of character in this tale absurd and absurd. The pair have a wonderful rapport and are indeed lovely whether they’re arguing, advancing another silly plot twist, or trying not to laugh – which they often do.

Their crazy, out-of-context adventure involves a mysterious showbiz agent, a starvation segment in which they eat their own clothes, and a very niche perversion species in a weird corner of OnlyFans. The Delightful Sausage also uses projected animations to illustrate their story, allowing them to cross oceans and walk down long hallways mysteriously filled with hand sanitizer.

It’s all very lo-fi and wildly silly, whether Cantril and Gledhill smash through audiences in a hollowed-out boat, spray audiences with mist, or be spooked by moving eyes in a portrait of a showbiz legend. Guest performer Paul Dunphy does an absurdly spooky turn as the play’s villain – though his presence occasionally interrupts the rhythm of the double act. It is rare to see such a celebration of male/female friendship. Gledhill and Cantrill have a winning chemistry and revel in their shared sense of humor, which is one of the things that makes them so enjoyable to watch.

They revel in over-the-top characterization. Gledhill is extremely sexy with terrible judgement, Cantrill is prone to delusional dreams of showbiz fame. But we appreciate that they are best friends, who will always support each other no matter what crazy adventures life throws at them. Claire Smith

Laughing Horse at the Poirier, until August 28

I arrive at my show to be told that the comedian doesn’t want criticism until the world is a better place. Or something like that. But because it’s the Fringe, I go down and, through a curtain in a pub, I discover a world of happiness. A world with a laugh every moment. Except those who take us to the edge of tears. But Olaf keeps them until the end, which is, structurally, the best place. Fun, Olaf insists (with the help of a visual aid and an enthusiastic call-and-response), needs structure. STOAT has it all. It has a duck-covered insult hat, sausages thrown for blessings (Halle Berry!), a lizard in a power tool, and even a mind-reading mic stand that reveals our thoughts in the room. Amazingly, it turns out we’re all hilarious.

I thought I gave my inner child up for adoption years ago, but two minutes with Olaf Falafel and we laugh uncontrollably as we’re shown the original prototype of Spongebob Squarepants (much better) and strawberries levitating . And of course, we’re treated to a barrage of ridiculously silly one-liners and Olaf’s legendary Cheese of Truth makes a return to the screen in “Xtreme” form. Even the charismatic Falafel Daughters make appearances with Snake, the comical cat with musical paws and life lessons to teach. It’s a big, beautiful hug of a show. I won’t spoil the ending but a Neil Diamond Singalong makes everything better. These days, comedy is used to do a lot of things. Olaf Falafel is using it this afternoon to make my life a whole lot more fun. And for that I thank him. Halle Berry! Kate Copstick

Pleasance Courtyard, until August 28 (not August 17)

Sophie Duker has a weird stand-up style, which starts to feel forced after a while. Her natural voice is that of posh North London, but she intones her lyrics with the rhythm of an American beat poet. He’s a powerful person and a committed performer, but it all seems rather unspontaneous and overly rehearsed. Sophie is sick of talking about race so she centered this story around her deciding she was a lesbian while on a lesbian cruise – I say was, because apparently she has now come out as pansexual. There is also a story that she was sent back to Ghana in her youth to live with relatives. But it’s a rather unemotional tale, which leaves us unsure what she wants us to think about it. She certainly looks insanely cool, with a colorful little dress, lovely braided dreadlocks, and chunky tough boots, but Duker tends to resort to weak, cliched punchlines that rely on brand names and brand references. class. His interaction with the audience is forced and rather uncomfortable. And the idea that at the age of 32 she somehow qualified to be called an older woman – or witch – is misplaced, unenlightening and rather irritating. Claire Smith

Moni Zhang: Child of Wuhan ***

Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, until August 28 (not 17, 24)

It’s a strange thing to be in a tiny room with someone from Wuhan right at the end of a global outbreak. Moni Zhang could have benefited more from her proximity to the source of a significant event; instead, she introduces us to her hometown through her favorite food – some kind of crispy noodle. And she gives us amazing insight into her own youth, growing up with a disabled single mother who ran a sweatshop. Zhang now lives in Europe, in Berlin. But his account of a poor Chinese childhood is unforgettable. It’s a shame that she tries to make overt sexual references and awkward cultural stereotypes laugh because her storytelling is beautiful. You will never forget his account of the shame and humiliation of living in extreme poverty. The descriptions of food are particularly evocative, and his distaste for the foods eaten by Westerners – especially the Dutch – is amusing. She ends her hour with a truly transformative moment, which emotionally explains how she overcame her self-loathing. She has a long way to go as a comedian, but it’s a privilege to hear her story. Claire Smith

Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Just the Cask Room), until August 28

Good Kids won’t be the last Fringe comedy act to pitch the concept of a self-help speech, their matching navy vests and overconfident plating betraying that their success seminar may not be the proposition. revolutionary for which it is presented. Still, their shtick is certainly one of the best and loosest, Appetite For Success UK being just the thread of some pretty weird and wonderful tangents. Appearing both as themselves and as the American billionaires funding the UK branch of their operation, Kieran Ahern and Tom Dowling admit that in a past life they were a big pop group in Luxembourg. Crooning their hit I’m Addicted to the Chinese Chocolate Fountain, it’s a gloriously silly opening, referencing Roald Dahl, which is indicative of the stupidity they trade and the underlying desperation of their characters. With a subplot about pushing Tiger Blood, an energy drink presumably named after the selfish delusions of Charlie Sheen and Dowling’s descent into virtual reality-enabled sex, Appetite might more accurately be called Gluttony, the couple repeatedly retreating from the precipice each time. they are getting closer to touching bottom. The general, striking idiocy carries the weaker sections, as does their easy chemistry and furious willingness to entertain. Jay Richardson