Review of 2012: Comedy


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The Independent Culture


Andrew Lawrence

After a couple of less-than-impressive years, Andrew Lawrence came back with a rather splendid show. The ginger misanthrope's spleen machine was set at full throttle, and his guffaws-to-the-gallon rate was restored after the lanky comic freed himself of the constricting rhythms that had begun to entrap him.

Mike Birbiglia

An easy, gentle mix of stand-up and storytelling, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend was American Mike Birbiglia's UK debut. Tales of Birbiglia's romantic life circled and built into a powerful denouement that surprised and delighted. A few months later, Birbiglia's feature film Sleepwalk with Me came out, cementing his US following and his growing fanbase over here.

Rob Delaney

Another Stateside visitor came, saw and conquered. Living up to his preceding hype and his Twitter fame, Delaney delivered a more ruminative and less gauche set than some of his tweets would suggest. However, there was still room to muse on the best way to cook your baby – out of love, of course.

Doctor Brown

Brown rode the crest of this year's “mime wave” at the Fringe and his silent capers crept up and stole this year's comedy award. The persona of American Phil Burgers, Brown is a believer in audience participation, even if he has to clamber over punters to get it. Fortunately, his brand of goofery is more clubbable than it sounds.

Greg Davies

The Inbetweeners' star's first solo show was a smash hit and his follow up, The Back of My Mum's Head, proved to be another entertaining hour full of trademark self-deprecation and scenes of moderate crudity. Moody teenagers, randy pensioners and flummoxed cabbies featured in Davies's jovial romp.

Turkey of the year: The Establishment

This relaunch of Peter Cook's Sixties satire club used a recipe of Keith Allen with a pinch of George Galloway to serve up something best forgotten. None of the other acts on the bill suggested that they could storm the barricades and, after the aforementioned duo's tête-à-tête set piece, it was hard to blame them for their muted approach.

Discovery of the year: Sam Fletcher

It is now taken for granted that the Free Fringe in Edinburgh will throw up a pleasant surprise. This year, it was the turn of Sam Fletcher, with his gentle, enchanting show that took in Heath Robinsonesque illustrations of whimsical inventions and corny visual and verbal gags.