Pat Cahill – The Fisherman
Any show that contains a segment dedicated to a character only known as “the dog of instant gratification” is instantly worth a watch. It’s also relieving then that Pat Cahill’s discourse (mostly) into the world of course fishing is fantastic outside of these non sequiturs. There’s a brief plot in the form of the thoughts encountered by Cahill as he sat by the riverside, although he does admit some of these may be more imaginative than others. But, these are mostly just ways for him to lead into the show’s real strength. The musical numbers. Now, musical comedy is very hard to get right, but Cahill demonstrates a love for the music he parodies. From a Nick Cave ballad to a dead fish and even an 80s style rap near the end, all are well considered and don’t outstay their welcome. There is a joke introduced early on as one with a later payoff, but this sadly never really comes together in a satisfying way. This is the only real dud though, and when I’ve been asked about comedians to recommend this Fringe, Cahill has always been the first name mentioned so far.
Darren Harriott – Defiant
Taking on topics such as religion, race and gender identity in your first fringe show is a brave move, and making it genuinely funny a high task. However, not only does Darren Harriott achieve this, he does so with impressive ease. His eagerness to dispel his life’s story to the small attic venue is endearing, and makes the hard-hitting nature of the stories somewhat more accessible. There’s a brief stint toward the end which focuses on the US/UK political climate that feels tired compared to the outlandish and interesting takes on the other issues tackled. It sadly also takes you out of the comedic flow which has obviously been meticulously planned by Harriott, making for a very fluid strong debut.
Muriel – Bad Master
There’s something very endearing about these comediennes, they’ve got fantastic charm and stage presence that really supports Bad Master through its weaker material. It’s a barrage of characters and jokes, featuring a miserably poor improv troupe, overeager brownies and some perfect celeb impressions. When it works, it’s incredible with each joke flowing seamlessly (helped by set ups delivered on a background screen during costume changes). However, as is the nature of sketch comedy not every attempt can be killer, and sadly the filler of Bad Master is easily identifiable as so. There’s a particularly long dance number at the start of one sketch that dilutes the impact of the following jokes. Muriel: Bad Master is still worth your time for the highly quotable lines in the hits and joyous nature of the performers, if you’re willing to accept the good with the bad.
★★★ and a half