From Edinburgh to Hollywood (via the Home Counties): 10 comedic talents blowing up big
Hugh Montgomery profiles the faces to watch, from the sitcom star to the surrealist
Sunday 04 August 2013
The comedy musicians
Jonny & the Baptists
This uproarious trio describe themselves as the "world's first comedy blues band", and duly provide lots of rock'n'ROFLing. Though that's not all there is to their shtick: comprised of roaring frontman Jonny Donahoe (a Home Counties, flat-capped Jack Black), violinist Amy Butterworth and guitarist Paddy Gervers, they balance silliness with topicality, taking on subjects such as library closures and the ban on gay men donating blood in exuberantly irreverent style. And, crucially, the melodies are as good as the punchlines. They are now embarking on their second Edinburgh show, while those staying south of the border can buy the accompanying album at jonnyandthebaptists.co.uk.
'Bigger than Judas' is at the Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh, at 9.40pm to 26 August
The sketch artist
As Messrs Horne and Corden could tell you, TV sketch shows are a perilous endeavour. Which is why we watched Lloyd's recent effort The Cariad Show with such excitement: considerably more hit than miss, it was the strongest of BBC3's latest crop of online-only comedy pilots. But then the character-comedian has form: she was nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Best Newcomer award in 2011 and has been compared to Catherine Tate. We'd be very surprised if the Beeb didn't pick up The Cariad Show for a full season, but why not force their hand by adding to its ratings on iPlayer? Not least so we can get more of brilliant manic-pixie Zooey Deschanel send-up Joey Bechamel.
'The Cariad Show' pilot can be found at bbc.co.uk/iplayer
The Hollywood talent
A proper star-in-the-making in a world of samey starlets, 27-year-old Wilson is every bit as bold a screen presence as her name would suggest. Hailing from Sydney, she first came to the fore as Kristen Wiig's feckless flatmate in 2011's Bridesmaids before tearing up the screen as a raucous choir singer in last year's Glee-style musical comedy Pitch Perfect. In a couple of weeks, you can see her playing against type as a vulnerable bride-to-be in indie-comedy Bachelorette. But her greatest test yet will come in September with prime-time US sitcom Super Fun Night, for which she is star, writer and executive producer.
'Bachelorette' (15) is released on 16 August
The mime artists
From a place more Spinal Tap than Marcel Marceau come this riotous French "air band". A ragbag sextet of spoof musicians, ranging from a Freddie Mercury-style showman to a blinged-up female rapper, they have toured the world since starting out in 2008. And now they're staging a full-on faux-musical for their English-language debut, We Will Dub You, which sees them lip-sync to films and songs while cunningly weaving the lines together in such a way as to tell the "almost-true" story of the group's tumultuous history. Expect them to join recent mime successes The Boy with Tape on his Face and Doctor Brown in proving that silence is golden.
'We Will Dub You' is at the Underbelly Cowbarn, Edinburgh, at 8.50pm to 26 August
The sitcom star
This towering 6ft 8in funnyman is by no means a new comic on the block, though he is, certainly, a late bloomer: a 45-year-old former teacher, he moved into comedy aged 33 and first came to prominence in the late noughties as part of sketch trio We Are Klang. But over the past few years he has come into solo focus: on stage, with delightfully puerile stand-up show Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog, and on television, with a scene-stealing supporting role in The Inbetweeners and an acclaimed starring one as an uptight suburban father in last year's BBC3 sitcom Cuckoo. And now comes his own, self-penned vehicle proper, Man Down, in which he draws on his former career to play a miscreant educator.
'Man Down' begins on Channel 4 in September
It's difficult to believe that Trent recently gave up a career in primary-school teaching. Which is to say that the fortysomething stand-up is not one to mince his words: imagine a cross between Charlie Brooker and Johnny Vegas and you'll have some idea of his bilious style. Pitched somewhere between comedy and psychodrama, his 2012 Edinburgh debut saw him ridicule various video ephemera, from surreal public-information films to X Factor contestant interviews, while seemingly undergoing a nervous breakdown. This year, he's back with This is All I Have, the title's faux-desperation belying the fact that he should be a good bet for awards recognition.
'This is All I Have' is at the Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh, at 10.45pm to 25 August
The activist comic
It's oft-lamented that political stand-up has gone the way of Ben Elton but really it's just a case of looking beyond the giant arenas. Take this endearing and erudite campaigner-cum-stand-up, who was a highlight of last year's Free Fringe and is returning once more to ply his trade with a money hat. A member of protest collective UK Uncut, he is gratifyingly unafraid to sermonise, but cuts his righteous anger with more than enough charm, wit and well-judged anecdotes to make it fly within a cider-y context. "If you love the NHS, libraries, feminism and fighting bad guys, then this is the show for you," he has said of his new one. Which will certainly do for us.
'Compassion is Subversive' is at the Globe Bar, Edinburgh, at 3.30pm to 24 August
Handsome, witty and well-connected, this 29-year-old New Yorker is copper-bottomed proof of life's unfairness. To be more specific, the son of revered political columnist Frank Rich landed a book deal while still at Harvard, became a Saturday Night Live writer at 22 and has since published five books. His latest, short story anthology, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, shows off his special talent for finding emotional truth in surreal premises: an affecting story of a teenage boy's coming-of-age told from the perspective of an unused condom in his wallet, for example. And his next challenge? To reinvigorate the stuttering Pixar brand: he's currently writing a screenplay for the CGI animation house.
'The Last Girlfriend on Earth' is out now (£9.99, Serpent's Tail)
The Twitter comic
Being funny in 140 characters to an instantly accessible global audience can be just the thing to send a comedy career into orbit. Just ask Amram, an LA-based writer who, as Wikipedia would have it, gained such "notoriety" via social media that she was picked up to work on both the Oscars and hit sitcom Parks and Recreation. Not that this has distracted her from her Twitter responsibilities: @meganamram remains a reliable drip-feed of hilarity to more than 370,000 followers, with such observations as: "There's no way to prove that all murders aren't just time travelers killing future Hitlers."
It has been pointed out that there is much of a one-man Monty Python about Franken, such is his manic energy, absurdist perspective and repertoire of silly voices. The Missouri-born maverick made waves at last year's Edinburgh with his debut show Things We Did Before Reality, in which he covered Jack the Ripper, the homophobic quilt-makers of America and almost everyone in between. This year, he is back with Concert to Benefit the Victims of My Father, which looks, gratifyingly, to be no less hectic: he is promising "the laziest drag queen in the world" and David Bowie as the face of Arthritis Weekly, among other things. And what with Franken living in London and doing a consummate Michael Caine, we are justified in laying claim to him as one of our own.
'Concert to Benefit the Victims of My Father' is at the Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh, at 5.40pm to 26 August 1
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