Rhod Gilbert, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Shappi Khorsandi, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Daniel Rigby, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Pappy's Fun Club, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Marcus Brigstocke, Assembly, Edinburgh

Rhod Gilbert tells one shaggy dog story too many, but Pappy's Fun Club prefer their gags at 200 sketches an hour

Professional misery-guts Rhod Gilbert has vaulted to a new level of popularity since his tour de force at last year's Fringe.

Despite specialising in glowering exasperation mixed with surreal flights of fancy, he was a hit at the 2008 Royal Variety Performance, and is now in the unlikely position of being the face of the Welsh Tourist Board. Luckily for us, none of this success has cheered him up. He even tramples over his new ambassadorship by lamenting how ineffective it's been, and informing one Welshman in the crowd that his home town is a "desperate shithole, devoid of any hope".

His new show doesn't quite match last year's, though. Gilbert is on barnstorming form when he's spluttering at the pointless range of controls on washing machines and vacuum cleaners: why, he asks, would you ever use your Hoover's minimum setting unless you wanted to suck up the top layer of dust and leave the rest for later? But when he veers off on to a shaggy dog story about how his life is falling apart, it's neither credible enough to be resonant nor strange enough to entertain as a fantasy. All the same, the sheer coronary-threatening fury of Gilbert's performance guarantees that he's still one of the best comedians around.

Shappi Khorsandi has also become a lot more famous in the past year, but with all due respect for her Victoria Wood-like jauntiness, and the obvious affection in which she's held by the sell-out crowd, it's a bitty, underwhelming show for someone with a profile as high as hers. She isn't helped by the venue's boiling heat, which keeps distracting her, nor by her habit of shouting at us as if she doesn't know the microphone's working, but in general her anecdotes are meandering, short of punchlines, and often unconvincing. (You thought a spanner was a lesbian sex toy, Shappi? Really?) There are some well-turned phrases that would pass muster in a memoir, a newspaper column, or a Radio 4 panel game, but on stage Khorsandi tends to laugh at her own jokes more than the audience does.

Daniel Rigby deserves to rise up the comedy rankings in the next year or two. He's a young Ewan McGregor lookalike who runs through an hour of sketches and songs with his sidekick, Julian Stolzenberg, in one of Edinburgh's smallest, sweatiest venues. Early on, there are some weak concepts: a parody of a Jack Daniel's advert is, well, a parody of a Jack Daniel's advert, and one skit is almost identical to Baddiel & Newman's "History Today". But as the show progresses it mutates into something much more promising and unique. A Rada graduate, Rigby has a gift for balletic physical comedy and bizarre voices that marks him out from his peers, and his weird, abrupt comic timing lights up even the most conventional sketch with a flicker of genius. Besides, unlike Khorsandi, he turns his horror at the venue's sauna-like conditions into some of the funniest lines in the show.

The concept of the latest Pappy's Fun Club show is that the team is attempting to break a world record by ticking off 200 sketches in an hour. It's an attempt that's doomed to failure, but if there were a record for Most Enjoyment Had By Men Performing Comedy, they'd definitely be in with a shout. Four pals who bound around the stage, brandishing cardboard props and sporting joke-shop costumes, the Clubbers grin at each other's ad-libs and scoff at each other's wonky accents as if they're rehearsing in front of a few of their closest friends. The end-of-term high jinks would be irritating if the Fun Club didn't have the material to underpin them, but beneath the larking about there's a painstakingly constructed hour of quickfire gags, recurring characters, and snappy songs. By the end of it, the crowd is as elated as the performers, and that's saying something.

This year's show is by far the Fun Club's best. Like Reeves & Mortimer without the dark undercurrents, they trade in old-fashioned music-hall japery with an absurdist twist. There are sketches about a fork and a knife on a crime spree, a dinosaur's pathetic failure to juggle, and a trip back in time to an era when people believed that they heard through their mouths and not their ears. A special mention should be made of the mnemonic for determining whether or not to mock a religion: "If they're brown and they shout,/Turn it down, leave it out./If they're white and they're quiet/It's all right, you should try it."

It's a rhyme that's ignored by Marcus Brigstocke in his stand-up show about being a reluctant atheist. Most British comics hide behind the excuse that they don't know enough about Muslim culture to satirise it, so Brigstocke's willingness to lay into Islam as heartily as he slags off every other religion is commendably brave, and potentially dangerous (or at least it would be if his audience wasn't made up of white middle-class fans of The Now Show).

Not all of his arguments are so bold or acute, mind you. I always appreciate a bit of Bible-basher-bashing, and Brigstocke makes plenty of salient points which I've found myself quoting ever since I heard them, so it's disappointing when he lazily equates religion with compassion and atheism with cold, comfortless intellectualism. And, bearing in mind his own manner, he's probably the last comedian who should be chastising Richard Dawkins for being snootily sure of himself.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor