Sarah Kendall - War, Gilded Balloon II<br/>Mark Little, Scotsman Assembly, Assembly Rooms

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The Independent Culture

"War, war is stupid", as one of the 20th century's great thinkers (Boy George) once pointed out, scoring a Top 5 hit in the process.

"War, war is stupid", as one of the 20th century's great thinkers (Boy George) once pointed out, scoring a Top 5 hit in the process. So, aware of the commercial appeal of pointing out the bleeding obvious, the Aussie stand-up Sarah Kendall is here to share with us some peculiar, if not conventionally amusing, facts about world conflict gleaned from poring over a few history books on the long flight to Europe.

It may seem pedantic to point out the dubious accuracy of her material (for instance, the use of a photo of Russian and German soldiers fraternising at Christmas 1917 loses its resonance when one is aware that the two nations had signed a truce on 3 December), but such eternal vigilance is the historian's responsibility. Will there be a more fatuous assertion at the Fringe than Kendall's observation that the Gestapo (she means the SS) fancied they resembled Darth Vader while dressing for work? Doh! One decent sight gag showing Hitler's oratory being interrupted by a mobile phone does not make a 45-minute show. This is like a history lesson taken by the drama teacher.

Venue 14 (0131-650 4403) to 27 Aug, 7.45pm (8.45)

In one hour, Mark Little attempts "to tear down society". As if that isn't industrious enough, he interweaves the history of his convict forefathers with his own story, taking a rabid pop at Neighbours and his former character, Joe Mangle, along the way. But, while Little's heart is in the right place, he comes across as an over-excited student Marxist with too much to cram into an essay; coherence suffers at the expense of the Message.

And what is the message? Take your pick from a deranged diatribe of anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-small-mindist rants. He belittles himself by pointing out "the arrogance of the spotlight", then basks in it; he asks us to consider cultural stereotyping, then has a go at Americans. His poem "Bugger Me Gently", however, involving pretty much nothing but the word in its various forms, is puerile genius, pointing to what he does best – raw, off-the-wall stand-up.

But post-Laurence Olivier Award, it seems that Little thinks himself more an actor. The result is amiably ambitious but abstruse.

Venue 3, 0131-226 2428, to 27 August (not Mondays), 10.30pm (ends 11.30)

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