What's The Time, Mr Lion? / Lucy Porter: Happiness /
Katy Brand: Celebrities Are Gods / Janey Godley Is Innocent
Various venues, Edinburgh
August, 2005

There are around 1500 shows (and 10,000 performances) on the Edinburgh Fringe each year, and comedy’s almost overtaken straight theatre as the biggest category.  Certainly, the most heeded of all the various Fringe gongs handed out is the Perrier Award for comedy. Speculation is always rife about possible new trends.  And this year I’m on the judging panel. So do I know the secrets? Do I hell. But I can tell you what I’ve liked so far.

Jeremy Lion is an alcoholic, incompetent children’s entertainer with father issues who is really comedian Justin Edwards.  His comedy isn’t just a matter of what’s technically known as “doing it crappily”, but also involves deliberately grotesque misjudgements such as the “educational model” of a cow that dismantles into a pop-eyed, flayed nightmare figure.  And much of that vast amount of drink he necks during the hour-long show is real!

Lucy Porter is small, bubbly, immensely likeable and often unspeakably filthy.  This year she’s spending an hour talking about what makes us happy... and hearing some of the stuff coming out of that big-eyed moppet face is like finding a Blue Peter presenter at it hammer and tongs.  Porter also works the audience skilfully, hitting the combination of friendliness and smut that Graham Norton excelled at before he overused it. A sheer delight.

Katy Brand does character comedy. Some of her characters are fictitious, like her show’s MC the Baroness; some are real, such as Charlotte Church and Kate Moss.  But that doesn’t mean she impersonates them. The comedy isn’t in her looking or sounding like them, but in getting to the heart of them and wildly exaggerating what it is about their characters and lives that keeps us fascinates by them.  She’s quite extreme, but it’s for laughs.

Janey Godley’s onstage character is her real one. She truly is the wife of a Glaswegian gangster with personality problems, and “like a chatty woman at a bus stop” she natters about her life.  These aren’t skilfully polished stories working up to big punchlines and a final combined effect: she just has that tough “Weegie” ability to find humour in even the darkest and most menacing things.  She’s naturally funny and magnetic.

Written for Teletext.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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