edinburgh fringe 2022

Edinburgh Fringe reviews: Jayde Adams, Patti Harrison, Max Fosh, Aurie Styla, The Delightful Sausage

A guide to comedy at this year’s Fringe festival

Wednesday 17 August 2022 06:30 BST
<p>From Jayde Adams to The Delightful Sausage</p>

From Jayde Adams to The Delightful Sausage

Jayde Adams: Men, I Can Save You – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★☆

Jayde Adams has got a job to do, she tells us: men are in a pickle, but she’s the person to help them. She appears on stage, dressed in white, crosses hanging from her ears, and shakes the hands of front-row audience members. There’s a look of airy confidence on her face.

Adams may be dressed like a self-help guru, but Men, I Can Save You isn’t a show dragged down by concept. Sure, men are discussed, as Adams talks about privilege, her recent break-up, and the male obsession with Princess Leia. Or, as she puts it, “the simple fantasy of a bikini-clad woman attached to a dominant male slug”.

All white on the night: Jayde Adams

But really, it’s the kind of high-quality stand-up set that has had Fringe audiences flocking to see Adams for years. She’s charming but no-nonsense, joking about Gregg Wallace, celebrities in her DMs and the knock-on impact of Adele’s weight loss on Adele impersonators (Adams used to be one).

A mime/clown routine that I won’t spoil had me clutching my sides in laughter, but there’s poignancy among the comedy. When she speaks about her experiences of grief and loss, there’s barely a dry eye in the house. Then, boom! Into a conga line with the audience. That’s the thing about Adams – she never stops entertaining.

Patti Harrison: Patti Harrison – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★☆☆

Patti Harrison exists in her own space. Anyone who’s seen the I Think You Should Leave and Shrill star live, heard her on a podcast, or read her Instagram captions, will know this already. It’s a space where you can’t quite tell whether she’s joking or not. Her breakneck tonal shifts are part of her intrigue. One minute, she’s talking with deadpan sincerity, the next she’s cracking wise about bodily functions and gun violence in gory detail. If you let yourself believe the former for a minute, you’re the one being played.

US comic Patti Harrison plays with the audience

If there was a Fringe award for entrance to a show, then the US comic’s debut would sweep it. She scuttles on and hurls herself around the stage beneath flashing strobes, hair draped over her face like the girl from The Grudge. She then launches into an excruciatingly funny, clip-art-filled PowerPoint presentation about the potential trigger warnings in the show, ranging from paedophilia to elder abuse.

The constant sense of unease that Harrison bestows on a crowd is not for everyone. When the audience doesn’t enjoy those rug pulls, Harrison leans in harder, stretching out every silence and mumble to make us squirm. She’s clearly loving it, but it affects the pacing of the show, and leaves a laggy middle section and the show overrunning (a cardinal sin of the Fringe), frustrating the crowd further. Harrison ups the discomfort again – and the cycle continues.

Max Fosh: Zocial Butterfly – Underbelly Bristo Place ★★☆☆☆

Max Fosh is a big deal on the internet. He’s amassed millions of YouTube views with wacky challenges and by interviewing drunk, posh people outside nightclubs. For his first foray into live performance, half of the crowd are clearly fans of his online stuff. The other 50 per cent? The friends/partners/parents of fans who’ve been dragged along.

YouTuber sensation Max Fosh takes to the stage

The big question: how does internet fame translate into on-stage comedy? In Fosh’s case, it’s heavier on misses than hits. The video maker leans into the digital realm throughout the show, getting the audience to vote on this-or-that picture challenges and presenting a showreel of his videos in bitesize chunks. He zones in on a couple of videos in particular, but the challenge he keeps coming back to is fairly tedious.

In a routine about accidentally flashing the internet while making a video about nudist colony, Fosh is promising. But it’s derailed by incredibly obvious penis innuendos, such as: “It’s a bit of a sticky situation, but you’ve got to get a grasp on things.” On screen, he’s a charming, likeable presenter. The comedy chops needed for a Fringe show are still yet to appear.

Aurie Styla: Green – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★☆☆

This year’s Fringe acts are divided into two acts: those dedicating a large chunk of their material to the pandemic and those decidedly not talking about it. Aurie Styla’s Green falls firmly into the former category.

He presents the last two years from his own viewpoint and, while the material can occasionally feel generic, his performance is arresting enough to make it work. Still, I found myself pre-empting punchlines about Joe Wicks and the awkward moment the Netflix algorithm recommends you watch Contagion. Among a festival full of Covid jokes, it already feels dated.

Aurie Styla has swapped London for the countryside

When Styla links his personal stories to current events, he seems more at ease on stage and the set covers new ground. His Caribbean grandmother’s refusal to eat unseasoned hospital food and his decision to move from London to the English countryside are interesting topics. Of the latter, Styla incredulously jokes that “villages have grass that decided to grow itself”.

Styla really shines in sincere discussions about mental health that are never cheesy or cloying. His material on cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly strong, where he worries that he might be being “scammed” because he’s the one doing all the talking. He impersonates his therapist asking him: “How does that make you feeeeel?”, wringing every last drop of comic potential out of the word. Styla admits that he cried “big tears” in his first session, in a show that combines laughs with vulnerability to winning effect.

The Delightful Sausage: Nowt But Sea – Monkey Barrel Comedy ★★★★☆

Among a sea of classic stand-up, The Delightful Sausage are delivering one of the funniest comedy hours of the Fringe. Consisting of Amy Gledhill (whose solo show is also excellent) and Christopher Cantrill, this duo of “two mucky northern oiks” have made a show that’s part sketch, part multimedia, and all-round joy.

The duo’s name might be a bit twee, but The Delightful Sausage are nothing of the sort. “Boom boom boom, let me hear you say way-o,” Cantrill greets the crowd. We cheer back. “And way-o unto thee,” he replies, to audience cackles. In the first five minutes, they’ve already told us they’re “Yorkshire’s most available double act” and are the hosts of forthcoming reality TV show “Incest Island”.

Silly Sausage: Amy Gledhill and Christopher Cantrill

There is a plot – or something like it – within Nowt But Sea. The pair have been stranded on a desert island, as indicated by the clip-art seagull playing on a screen next to them. They row down the aisle of the audience in an inflatable dinghy, spraying the crowd with water guns. But really, the story is a backdrop for very silly jokes about Only Connect, babies with pubic hair and TV presenter Stephen Mulhern.

Gledhill and Cantrill crack up consistently at each other’s stupidity; some comedians hate the thought of breaking character on stage, but there’s something glorious about watching them do it. Their stifled giggles are contagious and we’re along for the dinghy ride.

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