What I Saw at The Fringe: Day One – By Hannah Becker

What I Saw at the Fringe: Day 1, August 5

For my first day at the Edinburgh Fringe, I wanted to take it slow and get a lay of the land. There are so many shows to see in a limited time, and I tend to be easily persuaded by a friendly flyerer. However, my plan to walk around looking at posters and taking notes on what to see in the coming days was quickly thwarted when frequent Barcelona visitor John Spillane (hosting the All Irish After Party every night) suggested I check out a show that was just around the corner.

I ducked into the Monkey Barrel just in time to see John-Luke Roberts: A World Just Like Our Own, But… J-LR is a Fringe staple who has put on a new show almost every year since 2010, and is one of the co-founders of the alt-comedy haven ACMS (Alternative Comedy Memorial Society). I didn’t really know what to expect from his new hour. The show begins with him emerging from a washing machine, which is apparently a portal to endless worlds, just like our own, but with something a little different. There’s one where Edith Piaf regrets 5 things, and one where there’s no word for sand. What seems like a silly gimmick to make quick one-liner jokes starts to turn introspective as we realize he’s visiting these worlds to escape from his personal life that’s falling apart. Is there a world just like our own where he’s happy? Is there a world where we can be kinder to ourselves? It’s a sweet, silly, and very meta show that will have you laughing, aww-ing, and empathizing with the sad clown J-LR. Fans of alt-comedy and comedy shows with heart should get their tickets ASAP!

My next stop was to see a friendly face performing a split hour with a comedian I’d been following since the 2019 Fringe. Kathryn Henson and Ollie Horn: Pure Filth is a split hour from two Fringe pros with a little twist: one comedian does a totally clean set, and the other does a totally dirty set, but the audience gets to decide who does what. Kathryn is known for her vulgar comedy (she is also hosting a compilation show called Filthy Funny Females this year) while Ollie, a frequent Barcelona visitor, is more comfortable in the PG comedy world (he, among other things, is hosting a family-friendly show, PG Hits!). As you can imagine, the audience overwhelmingly voted for Kathryn to open with a clean set, and Ollie to close with a dirty set. Despite being out of their comfort zones, it was fun to see these two amazing acts work a tough crowd in a tough room. A few minutes into Kathryn’s set, she said she already had 8 dirty thoughts she wanted to say, whereas Ollie kept interrupting his own dirty stories to remind people how much he dislikes doing this material. Even outside their wheelhouses, these two blended quick, expert crowd work with killer stand up bits. I highly recommend checking it out, but vote the other way to see these acts shine even brighter!

The last show I rushed over to was Anthony DeVito: My Dad Isn’t Danny DeVito which was a recommendation from Comedy Clubhouse favorite Michelle Wolf, and it did not disappoint! Anthony is a regular at the best clubs in NYC, tours extensively around the US, and has had TV appearances on CBS, Comedy Central, and more, but this is his first ever Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show is the perfect Edinburgh Fringe stand up show, because it tells a unique story with an effortless mix of expertly-crafted jokes that made the audience laugh so much that someone literally broke a chair, and serious moments that had our jaws on the floor. He starts the show by explaining that the audience will be frustrated by the story, and that it’s like comedy blue balls. But I think the more apt metaphor is that it’s comedy edging. He spread out the juicy information of who his father really was through the intertwined stories of his childhood, his family, and his romantic partners in a beautifully paced hour that was completely worth the release at the end. If you want to see a killer NYC comedian performing a compelling hour of stand up from a one-of-a-kind perspective, don’t miss this show!

If you have any recommendations of what we should check out at the Fringe, let us know on Instagram! 

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