Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #16

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week Ian Wolf looks at too many Fringe performers and listens to something classical.

Edinburgh Comedy Fest

Having recently come back from the Fringe this week I thought to myself: “Do you know what I need? To watch some more stand-up comedy.”

BBC Three has been broadcasting a selection of Fringe programmes. One of these is Edinburgh Comedy Fest, hosted by Jon Richardson, featuring a selection of stand-up comedians and musical comedians performing at the Fringe.

Alongside Richardson were Josh Widdicombe, Neil Delamere, Abandoman, Seann Walsh, Mark Watson, Russell Kane, David O’Doherty, Andrew Lawrence, Ron Vaudey, Jimeoin, Tom Stade, Ed Byrne and Shappi Khorsandi. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems a bit too much.

This programme only lasted an hour, and there were 14 different acts. On average they performed less than 5 minutes each. Also, as far as I know, Vaudey isn’t even performing at the Fringe. What’s more, it was not exactly that diverse. Granted there were comedians from abroad (Canadian, Irish, Iranian), but there was only one woman performing and one non-white person performing – and that was the same person.

In this short format, some comedians did come across better than others. Widdicombe, Delamere and O’Doherty got the laughs, while Vaudey seemed to be a bit flat. I think it would’ve been a better show if there were more episodes that were of a shorter length. And more variety in terms of style of performers and their backgrounds would be nice, too.

The Comedy Prom

I must confess that classical music is not my forte, but a special prom hosted by Tim Minchin has made what is mostly an alien world watchable.

This TV version is an edited down version of the original that went out on BBC Radio 3. Seeing as how this was originally a radio programme some of the choice of acts may seem odd: The Boy with Tape on His Face, for example, as his comedy is almost entirely visual. It’s quite a shame, really, as he was one of the funniest acts on the night, with his mime versions of “Lady in Red” and the William Tell overture.

There are some other odd choices of performers, such as the puppets from Mongrels performing one of their songs from their TV show, “Middle Class is Magical”. This was definitely a highlight in the show, though – not only was the song pretty appropriate, but this must be the first time that BBC Three and Radio 3 have joined forces – which is slightly worrying. (I always thought that was a sign of the apocalypse.)

There were also other highlights, such as Doc Brown rapping about Sir David Attenborough; a battle between the conductor and the pianist about whether to play Greig or Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto; beat-boxer Beardyman performing some musical material you don’t associate with the Proms; and Kit and the Widow (Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Richard Sisson) with Sue Perkins and soprano Susan Bullock singing Flanders and Swann’s “Hippopotamus Song”.

Minchin did well as host – while performing some of his own hits – and was probably the most entertaining of the acts on offer. I for one hope that the Comedy Proms return next year.