There was a comment made in an article in the Edinburgh Evening News just before the Fringe began about how, after the amount of time comedians have had to prepare for the 2021 Fringe, paying for a work-in-progress show was “an anathema”. I would challenge the writer of that article to attend Amy Matthews’ and Krystal Evans’ work-in-progress show and not think it’s worth double the price of admission.
First up is Amy Matthews, whose natural stage presence is apparent from the start. She’s so professional, you’d think she’d be doing this for decades. She covers lots of things in her 30-minute set, from goat yoga, to her own privilege, to the difficulties of being a 90s kid (or ‘generation anxiety’ as she calls it). As a 90s kid myself, I really connected to the material and much of her sharp observations were absolutely spot on. The set included a couple of absolute gems worthy of an applause break (my favourite being a joke about the downfall of the aubergine emoji). The only slight disappointment was in the first few minutes when I felt the audience was a bit flat. Not a fault of Matthews of course, but it was a shame that some of her strong material was being greeting by only a few giggles when it deserved more. After her outstanding set, it gave me a real hope her future career. No doubt we’ll be seeing more from Amy Matthews, more likely than not in bigger venues and on more panel shows.
Krystal Evans’ set was equally as strong. Since this was my first time seeing Evans, I didn’t know what to expect. The audience instantly fell in love with her charming persona and mischievous grin. As she began, she mentioned that her set was “humour with heart”, something that the audience really got on board with. The set mostly spoke about the spectrum of anxiety in Evans’ life, whether that was social anxiety, anxiety as a parent or in her general relationships. Evans was willing to admit these were pretty heavy topics for comedy and was happy to occasionally “throw out some filth” to make us feel better, moments that had everyone chortling. The delivery of the set was just perfect. The audience was told early on that we’d notice a “resting sarcastic voice” coming from Evans. I saw it more of a quiet confidence, similar to that of Dina Hashem. That confidence drew the audience in and we were hooked on what Evans would come up with next.
Something I really respected about Evans’ set was that she wasn’t afraid to look at her notes and, especially, admit when a joke didn’t land properly. This only happened maybe twice throughout the 30 minutes, a testament to the strength of her set, but it shows a sense of professionalism which I very much admired.
For both Amy Matthews and Krystal Evans, it’s clear that lockdown has given them time to come up with some solid material for this work-in-progress show. They are both laugh-out-loud funny and have a bright future ahead of them. In a way, I’m glad they haven’t rushed into a full hour show just yet. Working on and perfecting their material in these types of shows will only help strengthen themselves as comedians. When they finally do unleash full shows to the Fringe, the comedy world won’t know what’s hit it.