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Calman is honest and spiky

Susan Calman, Lady Like

SCALING NEW HEIGHTS: Susan Calman has slogged her way through the circuits and now plays to a bigger, shinier venue. Picture: Gordon Terris
SCALING NEW HEIGHTS: Susan Calman has slogged her way through the circuits and now plays to a bigger, shinier venue. Picture: Gordon Terris

Susan Calman, Lady Like

Underbelly Topside

The broadcast credits on Susan Calman's poster show that she should probably have her own room at Radio 4 now, and as she looks out on her audience, this isn't lost on her.

She immediately identifies those who have purchased tickets as either those who have heard her on the wireless or lesbians.

It's a bigger, shinier venue for Calman than ever and she is honest about the effect that becoming better known has had on her - not always positive.

Calman has paid her dues. She has slogged through the circuits and MC spots over years, so now that she is getting that wider audience, she is an accomplished stand-up and always likeable, even when she's being spiky. Honesty will do that of course.

Even though the show charts some dark times recently, the future looks brighter, even though her main ambition is to be the first female Doctor Who. The Daleks should prepare themselves for a proper challenge.

Until August 24

Bridget Christie - An Ungrateful Woman

Stand One

So, following her award-winning A Bic For Her at last year's Fringe, Bridget Christie was asked what she'd be doing next, as if an hour of feminist comedy had wiped the slate clean and she could now tackle important issues like space hoppers and Spangles.

Thankfully in An Ungrateful Woman, Christie takes the issue further - much further.

In the hands of a less skilful writer and performer, bringing the campaign against female genital mutilation into an hour comedy wedged between breakfast and lunch could be a disaster.

However, she manages to frame the issue in the context of her own experiences of sexism and in the admission that while the public feminist stance is fairly recent, it's a full-time job, much to the irritation of her "fictional on-stage husband". The crowd knows this is Stewart Lee, and in his role as fictional on-stage husband, he does come in for a gentle pounding, leading to highly amusing mental pictures conjured up by this apparent peek into their everyday domesticity.

Although there are moments of fancy, Christie is a truth-teller. That she has managed to break through without compromising and in a comedy world still dominated by men is astonishing.

Until August 25

Rubberbandits, Continental Fistfight

Gilded Balloon Nightclub

Last year, it was a huge, marvellous surprise. In the past year, as a confirmed fan, it's been encouraging to see the genuinely sharp and funny pseudo-rap duo Rubberbandits becoming a little more high-profile, with some famous supporters giving tracks like Hey Mister and Fellas a right good share to their followers.

More than many others, they have been performers of the internet age. The downside is that we see the new tracks as they are released - so it's much of a gig atmosphere.

To balance that, however, the characters of Mr Chrome and Blind Boy Boater are becoming more developed with more traits of the traditional double act.

It's not for the faint-hearted but if your comedy chops can take a little hot sauce then Rubberbandits could be your Fringe surprise of this year.

Until August 25

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