There has always been a strong contingent of political faces and comedians at the Fringe and this year has been no exception. ‘Alex Salmond… Unleashed’ has seen the former first minister selling out all his dates at 350-seater venue, The Assembly Rooms. Contrary to the show’s title, i’s Chris Green suspects that Salmond is holding something back so as not to burn bridges for future work in politics. He gives the show three stars commenting “For Salmond’s fans this makes for a hugely enjoyable pantomime; for his detractors a more painful hour could barely be imagined.” The Telegraph‘s Dominic Cavendish wasn’t a fan; “He said fairwell after raising few laughs but at least a few bob for a leukemia charity, via a last-minute auction.”
Special advisor to three labour leaders, Ayesha Hazarika has bought her show ‘State of The Nation’ to the Fringe. She draws inspiration from her political existential crisis opening the show by confessing to a record of political failure. In his interview with Ayesha The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone observes that the extremes of today’s political climate make it a real challenge to succeed as an extremist political comedian. This has meant that there’s room for the likes of Ayesha and her right leaning peer Geoff Norcott (‘Right Leaning But Well Meaning‘) to flourish as comedians in the centre ground of the political spectrum.
At the Fringe politics isn’t just for adults; this year The Stand Comedy Club is playing host to ‘Kidocracy’, a children’s call and response show in which kids are encouraged to imagine their own utopia. The children are told that they’re picking up the pieces from an island destroyed by adults. The show’s creator Keith Farnan – a former Lawyer- was inspired by a strong conviction that politics, economics and law should be accessible to anyone, not just the elite.
‘I, Daniel Blake’ star Dave Johns has been impressing the critics with his show ‘I, Fillum Star’. As he says, the moral of his uplifting story about being plucked from relative obscurity in his sixties is “if I can do it, so can you”. The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone says of his performance “Nearly every other poltical act I have seen has moved me or made me laugh with their pessimism. Johns has done both with his optimism. Thanks Dave – you really are a star.” David Pollock of the Independent writes “As a rags-to-riches story it’s compelling and as an hour of stand-up it’s fun.” Whilst noting that he thinks he performs better to a more intimate crowd, The Scotsman‘s Rory Ford commends Johns’ ‘innate likability’.
Elsewhere in comedy Dominic Holland has been impressing critics with his show ‘Eclipsed’. For The Spectator‘s Lloyd Evans “Holland offers a smart and witty guide to the pitfalls of having a superstar in the family.” That superstar is Spiderman actor Tom Holland, hence the title of his show. Self-deprecating Dominic recounts his Best Newcomer triumph at the 1993 Fringe quickly noting that at this year’s outing to the festival he’s putting on a free show (but donations are welcome!) Evening Standard gives him four stars summarising “Maybe not cutting edge but he deserves a second act. No TV producer can say he is past it. He is younger than John Bishop and Micky Flanagan. And as funny.”
As you might expect, ‘Brexit The Musical’ has proved very popular at the Fringe. It’s running for the entirety of the festival and sees Politicians including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson singing about the Brexit process. Its writer Chris Bryant spoke to Reuters calling the show “an escape from the dreary reality of where we are.” British Theatre Guide write “This is a fun-filled show that lampoons our politicians with such a wicked zest and no matter which way you voted it’s a joyous romp that the capacity audience absolutely loved.” Voice Magazine called it “stomach-achingly hilarious”.