Edinburgh Fringe Picks – Part the Second

The number of theatre shows has stayed broadly flat since last year’s fringe, but there’s once again been a sharp increase in the number of comics, with a staggering 775 acts performing this year. My thoughts below.

Rhod Gilbert at Pleasance Courtyard

The superbly funny Welshman is making the transition to the big time at the moment – slightly awkwardly, seeming a bit much for TV and repeating material from 2007 which feels a wee bit stale. But he’s back at the Fringe this year, back on [adopted] home turf and with an all new show. Hard to bet against, and one not to miss.

All his Saturday shows at The Pleasance are sold out, save for one ticket on the 28th! Sadly I wouldn’t be forgiven if I went alone, but if you don’t any friends then at least go along solo and have a laugh about it.

Update: Most of Rhod’s shows are now sold out, but there’s a new batch of tickets available for two late shows on the last two Saturdays of the festival. Get ’em while they’re hot.

Reginald D Hunter at Udderbelly’s Pasture

Now officially big time (Have I Got News For You and everything) RDH is a sure fire bet for any Fringe visit. Ever since he wowed the world (and shocked London Underground) back in 2006 with Price and Prejudice and Niggas, he’s always been top of any list of comics to guarantee a funny evening.

He’s back at the Fringe in 2009, with The Only Apple in the Garden of Eden and Niggas (spot a theme?). Tickets are still available at edfringe.com or from the Pleasance.

WitTank at Just the Tonic @ The Caves

University revue shows tend to have a delicate nature about them, like a fine wine. Groups can be superb for a couple of years while a few talented undergraduates pass through, before disappearing from view when the key members move on, or fall out, or fail to nurture the right talent below them. The Durham Revue were on undeniable top form between 2002 and 2004. The Leeds Revue had a glorious renaissance around 2005 or so. The Cambridge Footlights are generally pretty solid most of the time but their best recent vintage was 2002 and 2003. Oxford have been a bit hit-and-miss for the last few years, so they’re probably due a bounce back soon.

All are worth a look in, but one not to miss is WitTank. Hailing from Durham, the group was founded a few years ago as a response to the official revue which had become a little stale and complacent following a very successful run. Difficult to tell how any of them will perform in any given year, but this lot are probably reaching perfect drinking age right now.

Also recommended: Cambridge Footlights, Durham Revue, Oxford Revue.

Nick Mohammed at Pleasance Courtyard

You won’t see him on Live at the Apollo, so all the more reason to put this show into your Edinburgh calendar. Very funny bloke, has been consistently for years. Not much more to say.