Stand-Up Tragedy

Stand up tragedy is a relation of stand up comedy. The performer speaks directly to a live audience, however the aim is to use personal, truthful stories in order to take listeners through a range of emotions. It aims to make the audience both laugh and cry. It is a subjective form, depending upon the performer’s personal take on tragedy.

A slightly odd, quirky variety show featuring a real range of characters and talents that aims to bring out the tragicomedy in everyday existence.

Some tell harrowing, disturbing tales: some showcase comedy with a dark edge; some may blend the tragic with the ridiculous, giving a tragicomic take on life. As a result the entertainment is very varied, feeling something like a cabaret or variety show, as it can involve storytelling, monologue, music and comedy. The show did not always hit the spot, but had some real performance highlights. A free fringe show that is slightly off the beaten track, and definitely worth an hour of a festival-goer’s time.

The compère announced that he was about to do some ‘sadmin’ just before the show started. He explained what stand up tragedy was about and went on to introduce the first performer. John Hastings took to the stage, and told a tepid story about losing his phone, made tragic because his grandmother had died hours earlier. This monologue had neither the desired effect of making the audience laugh or cry and fell rather flat.

The next performer absolutely stole the show with a beautiful, heartrending harp recital. Josie Rose Duncan, a young Scotswoman, announced shyly that she was going to play a traditional folk song for us. Her incorporation of dialect in the lyrics was particularly charming. She then played a song that she had written called Typewriter about an old lady who lives alone in a dusty kitchen writing letters. Her blend of song and storytelling was beautifully executed and poignant.

Next, a return to storytelling. Another bland tale of woe about nearly getting mugged but not quite, the point of the monologue being that it was almost tragic but in fact not. The general trend of the show was that it required much stronger storytellers with more interesting material. However the young harpist was so talented that it made the hour entirely worth it just to hear the resounding notes of her instrument. A slightly odd, quirky variety show featuring a real range of characters and talents that aims to bring out the tragicomedy in everyday existence. Definitely worth a look for anyone looking for an interesting take on stand up entertainment.

Reviews by Sarah Grice

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The Blurb

Had it up to here with hilarity? Fed up with the feel good factor? Well commiserations, because the Stand-Up Tragedy team are here to wipe that smile off your face! Cry until you laugh and laugh until you cry as Sony Award nominated Dave Pickering's ‘entertaining bunch of melancholic oddballs’ ( offer a new breed of variety night – music, storytelling, stand-up and more, dedicated to the fine art of bringing you down. The show will feature a rolling roster of the best tragic acts from across this year's Fringe and literary festivals.