Agonise, the Comedy Problem Page - Free

In their free hour, Steve N Allen and Ria Lina read extracts from Agony Aunt pages and attempt to provide better advice using songs along with suggestions from the audience.The pair vary their format, which keeps things moving. The double act rove between comments on columns, personal reminiscences and a multiple choice quiz. Unfortunately, even the slick pace and style doesn't win over the audience. Much of the show’s variety lay in the way they acknowledged the low-level response which they received. It is to their credit that they did not allow the quiet audience to drain their energy or humour.But energy cannot change the fact that their different sections are limp. Allen’s commentary is reminiscent of Harry Hill and is similarly entertaining. On a couple of occasions he reveals a good character voice and some nice bits of acting that make one think that he should be doing sketch comedy. Unfortunately, there is not enough of this and the material does not showcase his abilities.Lina’s songs, the highlights of the show, are cleverly and amusingly written. She is blessed with a fine singing voice. The lyrics contain some of the best jokes of the hour, although her patter descends into cheap racial stereotyping of her parents. This includes some dated and unhelpful references to Nazism, which in the twenty-first century are quite uncomfortable to listen to.The rest of the show is made up of occasionally witty, endearing but mostly pedestrian jokes about marital conflict, dry spells and paedophilia. The latter is admittedly not safe material, but at the Fringe it seems almost par for the course. They do win some laughs but throughout they seem to suffer from failure to get their audience on-side. For a show for which journalists have written a percentage of the material, this is disappointing.

The Blurb

Why go to an agony aunt when an agony comedian would do? Steve and Ria demonstrate why they're better qualified to answer problems. 'Incisive off-the-cuff observations' (Sunday Times), 'Apollo-quality live comedy' **** (ThreeWeeks).