Comedians Jan Ravens and Andrew Maxwell both took to the stage at the largest arts festival in the world.
Jan Ravens – Difficult Woman – Gilded Balloon – Dining Room 19.00
Best known from her work on Dead Ringers, this is Jan’s first Edinburgh show and it is an absolute, bring-the-house-down triumph.
Basing the show around her perfect impression of Theresa May, complete with rictus grin and strange walk, this is an hour which isn’t just a litany of voices, it is a little more than that. It is, in a way, a tribute to and a celebration of middle-age and growing older. At a Fringe so dominated by the 20 and 30-somethings, this in itself, is refreshing and original.
Perhaps naturally she attracted an older audience, which may have gone some way to explain why her anti-Brexit material was the only section not received by the whole room with loud laughter. Even in Scotland, the Leave vote was far larger amongst such over 55’s. But it was noticeable the contempt Jan held the Brexit vote in, perhaps not even questioning that many in the audience might feel different, or not even caring – which is very much how it should be.
That aside she was on safer ground with Radio 4-themed humour and with her superb and rather moving tribute song to Victoria Wood, perfectly performed in the great woman’s style.
This one of those wonderful shows where you emerge from it feeling happier than when you went in. And even more importantly, it is one where you will laugh and laugh and laugh again.
Andrew Maxwell – Showtime – Assembly George Square Theatre – 21.00
A Fringe veteran and a consummate performer, Andrew Maxwell has long been one of the most reliable comedians to pay money to see. Year after year after year, he’s just very consistently entertaining and has always delivered his hour with some degree of charm.
This year is no exception to that. His material touches a lot of the political contemporary bases you might expect but while he is always funny, there was a notable lack of edge to this year’s show. There were times previously when he’s been an excoriating, visceral, emotionally driven comedian, but this was not one of them. His Brexit material was funny but needed to draw a little more blood. But then, as he’d just had a baby five days ago, maybe he’s not in the right mood for vitriol.
Also, it has to be said that this large theatre venue is not the best or most conducive to comedy. It’s such a big space that it is hard to quickly manufacture an atmosphere and any energy you do create in the room can quickly be dissipated. A less top-notch comedian would find it hard to handle. Over the years, he’s set such high standards for himself that even when he doesn’t quite match them, he’s still streets ahead of many of his contemporaries and as such, is always a must-see. A fine hour of funny entertainment.