A compilation of comedic talent from across the Fringe, two shows a day, and all for free – the Laughing Horse Free Pick of the Fringe showcases some of the best comedic talent the festival has to offer. Five comedians take to the stage to promote their shows, giving audiences a taste of their style. As might be expected from a compilation show, the flavours of these comedians varied.
With a different line up for every show, and two shows a day, the Laughing Horse Free Pick of the Fringe is a show I would recommend to get a taste of the variety of comedy on offer.
The first comedian of the night was Steve N Allen, introducing the concept of his show (SomeNews: The Missstakes) by explaining that he used to work in commercial radio, and demonstrating his ‘radio voice’. Allen then used the audience as a jumping off point for the rest of his set, by discussing statistics such as the fact 91% of people would apparently choose their mobile phone over sex. Although this did lead to an off-colour joke about the recent Malaysian airline crash, Allen did explain that sexting gets rid of those annoying PPI texts; amusing but useful information, I’m sure.
The next comedian of the evening was Jay Handley (Free Comic: Volume Two), who used the fact he looks like Western depictions of Jesus for the opening portion of his set. Not all of Handley’s humour was based on his appearance, however, as his set also discussed buses and sex – the latter was a common theme among all but one of the show’s performers. Handley’s self deprecating style was endearing, although I’m sure the Jehovah’s Witnesses he mentioned might have something to say about it.
Following Handley was Aidan Killian (Holy Trinity of Whistleblowers), whose first joke involved him having a conversation with his privates, setting the tone for the rest of his set. Most of it was taken up with a long-winded explanation of a so-called Geriatric Jihad – you don’t want to blow yourself up when you’re young, but instead when you’re old and have nothing left to live for, or so his theory goes. Although this concept came as a shock, Killian’s impressions of the world leaders he would do harm to were impressive, especially the voices he used to portray a couple of Prime Ministers.
Claus Reiss, billed as the Danish Bagpipe Comedian (with his show aptly titled Return of the Danish Bagpipe Comedian), was next to the stage; quite a surprise after the previous three, but a welcome one. Dressed in a kilt, Reiss not only played some 80s pop tunes but did renditions of the Star Wars theme and My Heart Will Go On to great applause, as well as explaining the reason for his taking up the instrument; he has no friends, and wanted to keep it that way.
The final act of the night, Sam Gore (Sam Gore: The Cryptid Crossword), received the loudest applause, despite the fact he began with a story about how terribly he handled a heckler whose mother, unbeknownst to him, was dead. The reason for this was Gore’s reworking of The Gruffalo “for a drunk Edinburgh Fringe audience”, which was set in the Baltimore hood. It was dark and more than a little vulgar, but the contrast of the storybook rhyming couplets with the language used to write them proved incredibly amusing.
Although this same line-up will not be repeated these comedians, for the most part, did well in promoting their shows and, with a different line up for every show, and two shows a day, the Laughing Horse Free Pick of the Fringe is a show I would recommend to get a taste of the variety of comedy on offer.