The Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards newcomer nominations list is the longest in the history of the award, but sadly not long enough for Doc Brown and Nick Helm, who both had good cases to be included.
Imran Yusuf's show (Laughing Horse @ Espionage ) is an hour of cheek and charm that takes us briskly through the Asian comic's early life at an American school where his peers treated him as if he was in Mary Poppins ("Can you imagine me in that film? Well, maybe as a chimney sweep") through to his life in Britain as a Muslim.
Australian Asher Treleaven (Pleasance Courtyard ) has an abundance of charm. He's also responsible for one of the niftier audience put-downs this Fringe: "You lost me at hello". Intriguing, frustrating, and most certainly dapper in an all-white suit and silver tie, Treleaven cobbles together a number of set-pieces, loosely bound by the theme of masculinity as seen through the eyes of a camp dandy.
Kiwi comic Sam Wills' show, The Boy with Tape on His Face (Gilded Balloon ), is a very slick show and for that reason a strong contender. An hour of mime that largely relies on audience participation, it was a consistently light tickle on the funny bone without being an all-out smash.
Much less emotive for me than a man who doesn't speak were the travails of Gareth Richards (Pleasance Courtyard ) who has a number of decent ideas, but no satisfying persona in which to house them. Watching a man in a suit in a hot room is uncomfortable enough, but if he can't sell his talent to you, the situation becomes even more sticky. Despite this, there were some good lines in the show including his description of staying back a year in school: "They say that 'Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It' but that's true of other subjects too."
All hail Late Night Gimp Fight (Pleasance Courtyard ); finally, a sketch troupe I could get my teeth into. With an unselfconscious sense of fun and an endless capacity to bury their pride and egos under puerility and mild homoeroticism, this all-male troupe create, among other things, a depraved Sleeping Beauty and a Psycho in which an apologetic gimp (in full regalia) meekly intrudes on Janet Leigh's shower scene.
Finally, Roisin Conaty (Pleasance Dome ) has a pleasing solo debut, but she tries to cram in too much at the end of the show, paying the price for her "support act", mime and poet character Jackie Hump. Conaty has both brazen honesty and breeziness. Savvy and sassy (she describes being asked to speak at her old school as "spitting truth bullets at youth monkeys"), Conaty is certainly one to watch.
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