Best of the Fest

This comedy showcase features a rotating lineup that changes daily, and is available both during the day and at midnight. The performance I attended was a midnight show that runs longer than its daytime counterpart. Host John Robins ensured that from the offset this was a well-received show, where his lively persona complemented his ability to improvise with the audience and effortlessly adapt to his surroundings. If you have a masochistic desire for verbal onslaught then heckle at your own peril, as Robins takes none alive.

Best of The Fest exhibits and delivers what it promises, and ensures a range of both promising and reputable performers who do not disappoint.

Funmbi Omotayo was first on to provide the audience with jokes related to his heritage. It helps that he has an instantly attractive demeanour: easy, coy, suggestive but not intentional. His racial puns, blended with wisecracks on contemporary international politics, combined his knowledge of multicultural Britain with the distinctive sense of British humour, earning him the applause and recognition he deserved. Certainly his quip about Rangers FC demonstrates his awareness of his surroundings. Taking a bow, Omotayo was then promptly followed by Tats Nkonzo to continue the racial comedy. Soundchecking the ‘n word’ gave Nkonzo the opportunity to show off his pipes and bust some moves. The South African comic possesses the charisma and flair of a talented musician as he threads in rib-ticklers through song to unanimous applause.

Headliner Felicity Ward then took to the stage with a flimsical flick of the wrist as she dropped in punch lines pertaining to her lover’s testicles. Her segment ended with a challenge to the Barmy Army as she called upon the audience to join her in singing some Australian cricket songs, an Aussie pastime that, whilst amusing, was somewhat arcane if you’re not a fan of the Ashes.

The fourth act, Alun Cochrane, consolidated his first few minutes on stage that were met with only crickets, grimacing in the wake of an awkward silence; but this was before the audience began to comprehend Cochrane’s persona. The deadpan humour made a massive left turn from the previous enthusiasm on stage, replacing it with fifteen minutes of melancholy that was side-splitting. Though slow to begin with, Cochrane actually turns out to be one of the funniest acts of the evening. His bleakness, by far his most likeable quality, garnered some of the greatest laughs, where underlying his comedy is his lamentations at the poverty of imagination in a stagnant society now wrestling to find meaning.

The night concluded with the sardonic hocus pocus of Piff the Magic Dragon (John van der Put), a Barney the Dinosaur meets Dr. House comedic magician whose apathy gives the impression of a child entertainer who has long since died on the inside. Joining him on stage was his sidekick chihuahua Mr Piffles who wasn’t there just for cute appeal; his role became apparent when finding the volunteer’s chosen card. His magic felt somewhat out of place from the rest of the acts, but he was nonetheless entertaining by offering some variety, and was a firm crowd pleaser.

Best of The Fest exhibits and delivers what it promises, and ensures a range of both promising and reputable performers who do not disappoint.

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The biggest and best comedy line-ups in Edinburgh! This Festival favourite returns and maintains its status as the place to be at midnight. Stellar line-ups listed daily at www.assemblyfestival.com. Recent years featured the likes of Dylan Moran, Jimmy Carr, Adam Hills, Milton Jones, Katherine Ryan, Chris Ramsey, Carl Donnelly, Sara Pascoe, Andrew Maxwell, Josh Widdicombe, Daniel Sloss, Jason Byrne, Stephen K Amos, Seann Walsh and more.