WThis year’s Edinburgh Fringe is more than halfway through and with more than 3,000 shows taking place at this year’s festival, choosing what to see doesn’t get any easier. But while the 20,000-step days and the constant pints might catch up with viewers, the artists are gearing up for another 10 days of the show, all in hopes of becoming the next big thing.
Below are reviews of four new comedy talents looking to impress. Check back next week for more comedy and theater reviews.
Greta Titelman’s Exquisite Lies – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★☆☆
Greta Titelman’s stand-up show is called exquisite lies, Most compelling, however, is the New York comedian’s stunning honesty. Titelman began lying as a child, she tells us, to impress her bullies. Yet as she takes us through her life from the age of ten to her early twenties, it becomes clear that she is the star of HBO comedy Los Espookys has lived a dark and fascinating life that can entertain us with the truth.
On the stage of her debut Fringe Hour, Titelman is a natural storyteller. She speaks (and sings) in a mix of old Hollywood and millennial baby voice, bringing a playful charm to the more absurd, chaotic parts of her life.
She describes how she found out about her father’s affair by reading his PalmPilot (a tablet-like piece of 90’s technology that she has to explain to the mainly Gen Z audience) and then laments that she never wore the Hervé Léger dress that she had blackmailed him into buying. We hear about the cool older girl at boarding school who Titelman became obsessed with until she convinced her to take OxyContin in her dorm room. “I was really, really good at dealing with drugs from a young age,” she proudly explains.
Titelman is at her best in these Laser-specific moments; When she dives into more obvious, hackneyed topics about dating or life in New York, the pace slows. Titelman has a strong singing voice, but the original songs, which are dotted throughout the show, never quite worked out. She has interesting stories to tell and a speaking voice that would be a shame to waste.
Lorna Rose Tree: Skin Pigeon – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★★
The debut show from Lorna Rose Treen, the reigning winner of the prestigious comedy award Funny Women, is packed with outlandish characters, bizarre costumes and ridiculous gags. It’s a wild experience, but also one of the funniest at this year’s Fringe. The result is usually part laughter, part moan – but utter pleasure.
For over an hour, Treen introduces us to a variety of characters, each more bizarre than the last. There’s raspy-voiced nine-year-old Brownie Guide, proudly showing off her badges (she can’t be a Sixer because she “can’t call the shots because of the things I do”), a dolphin looking at herself in the water Spiegel and Sally Rooney introduce their new interactive children’s book about a pair of chain-smoking babies. An unabashed silliness ties the material together, a proud stupidity and an unwillingness to take oneself seriously, with lines like: “I took the midnight train to nowhere, but the train was canceled so I had to go somewhere on the replacement bus and I’m closed.” walked.” ”
But while Skin Pigeon is filled to the brim with jokes, it’s the design that makes Treen’s show stand out. A mentee to the creators of the Oddball Doll show on Channel 4 Don’t hug me, I’m scaredTreen lends the same childishly bizarre touches to her costumes and props, donning a grotesque, worm-like tail and flapping large dove wings in the show’s final moments.
Ever since Treen won the Funny Women award last year, her show in Edinburgh has been highly anticipated. Debuts followed by such feverish excitement don’t always live up to the hype – but Treen’s does, and then some.
Urooj Ashfaq: Oh no! – Assembly George Square ★★☆☆☆
In India, Urooj Ashfaq is considered an “edgy” comedian. She admits she feels “quite lame” compared to many comedians in Edinburgh, but the Mumbai comedian has the guts and the ability to disarm with a sweet smile before shocking us with a controversial joke. While there is strong material here, Ashfaq is thrown off course by a quieter audience and the rest of the show falters. It’s hard to watch her fight.
Things start off promising: The footage of her parents’ divorce isn’t nearly as culturally shocking in the UK as it is back home, Ashfaq tells us, but it allows her to quickly set the tone and interact with the crowd. At its darkest and funniest, it involves discussing her own Muslim identity and mental health, and a gag about presenting hypothetical scenarios to her therapist on behalf of her friends who can’t afford to go there , contains gold nuggets.
Sure, audiences might not be overly responsive, and some of the observations about so many men having podcasts are a little obvious, but Ashfaq’s jokes make for laughs. However, she is not convinced and complains about the bad scrum. That also triggers laughter. But instead of pushing the force, the comedian gives up. She tells us the show moves quickly as she flips through her footage. Then, she assures us in a halfhearted callback, she’ll talk to her therapist about it.
When Ashfaq loses confidence in himself, so does the audience. Without the swift performance she had at the beginning, the sections in which she lists one-liners from notecards and reads from her teenage journals fall flat. Comedians are allowed to have bad days or make audiences tricky, but watching them give up (especially when it wasn’t necessary) is a difficult task.
Paddy Young: Hungry, Horny, Scared – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★☆
From the second he introduces himself as a man “northern enough to know this show is going to be depressing,” Paddy Young marks his territory as one of British comedy’s most intriguing new voices. However, when the piano-accented emotional climax of his show focuses on the tragic loss of his AirPods, you can tell he’s never really trying to be taken seriously.
Young’s show revolves around two key elements: his identity as a man from Scarborough – a town best known in recent years for a masturbating walrus (it’s true, google it if you dare) – and his experiences with it cruel London rental market. For the former, he portrays his family as stereotypes from a motivational northern sports film, while at the same time describing his childhood as a bedwetter – or, as he puts it, “a little boy who pisses his pants”. In it, he describes the horrors of living in a shared apartment with a passive-aggressive jongleur and using his 2012 Lenovo laptop for heat to keep heating bills down.
There’s strong material throughout, but the best part is the odder set pieces at the end of his hour, which largely deviate from the central themes. His discussion of the fact that Hitler appeared to be addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine leads to a brilliant glimpse of the fascist on the road to decline, before warning that we’re headed for the “sad part of the show” as tragic piano chords swell. The sound and lighting elements are expertly used here – I really wish they had been used more throughout – Young laments his lost Airpods: “Careless? Perhaps. Wireless. Absolutely,” with a constantly raised eyebrow. It’s an appropriately goofy end to a confident, breezy debut.