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Fringe Comedy: Reviews

Elaine C Smith:

Still Standing... Just

Assembly Rooms

GAINING exposure most recently for her appearance on the BBC's I Belong To Glasgow and for her Scottish independence campaigning, Elaine (Constance) Smith is also appearing at two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. In one she's a banshee and in her short stand-up stint she was, well, a highly spirited woman.

Some of her material, such as a little bit of Glasgow-bashing ("You all thought they'd muck up the Games, didn't you?") was current, but my jaw dropped at her segment on the Glasgow Airport attacks, which can surely only be explained by a seven-year itch being scratched in her quest for comedic material.

There were really warm moments, however, and Smith has made a long career out of being accessible and likeable. Switching between gallus Glasgow and drama teacher diction (she taught in Oxgangs in the 1980s) the grandmother of 10 weeks also succeeded in selling out the largest Assembly Rooms venue. Dressed in Ghost and with gaudily sparkly shoes from Moda in Pele, she discloses these details so the women can concentrate. And in the next breath, feigns feminism. Her closing ditty, however, is a masterful attack on misogyny and youthful yearning, even if the song is a little long in the tooth too.

Run ended

Fred MacAulay: The Frederendum

Assembly Rooms

IT'S not often you can say you've seen Edinburgh material before, as most comedians bring their freshest show to the Fringe rather than re-hashing previous ones. Upon seeing the same "Fred" pop-up stands (in the style of an American motor vehicle company) I worried that I'd be getting sloppy seconds from his Glasgow International Comedy Festival performance earlier this year. However, although there were a few of the same gags, there was enough new material - including insider stories about the BBC's Concert at the Castle and his involvement in the Commonwealth Games - to keep proceedings lively.

The "Frederendum" angle was best portrayed through his bird analogy of blackbirds versus magpies, and he highlighted the corporation tightrope he has to walk for the sake of balance. MacAulay got away with remaining neutral while provoking reactions from the crowd.

His best gag was that JK Rowling was a pastime in Glasgow (think about it), while his interaction at the newly re-tarred bridge in Inverness proved humorously memorable.

The crowd, made up of chummy radio listeners, lapped up his stories about the Rugby 7s catering - and his subsequent inflammatory tweeting - and his idea for the perfect defence for an independent Scotland should be brought up with Mr Salmond himself.

Runs to August 24

Andrew Maxwell: Hubble Bubble

Assembly Rooms

IRISHMAN Andrew Maxwell entered and my first thought was that he had scrubbed up well for his Saturday night audience. Looking freshly laundered and with a bounce in his hair, he had obviously tempted fate calling his show Hubble Bubble as trouble was approaching. Apparently, a grudge match (from an ill-advised quip at his T in the Park gig) had been created for an irate audience member who appeared to be exiting the Ballroom but instead threw a whole pint of ale over the unsuspecting comic.

After a few moments of disbelief, and some retaliation from the affronted front row, Maxwell composed himself and then delivered the rest of his set without his T-shirt. If the gig had been in Glasgow, the strapline would have been Taps Aff. All credit to his Dunkirk spirit, as he admitted nothing like that had ever happened to him before in his 20 years on the circuit.

Having become more political over the years, Maxwell did not shy away from the question on everyone's lips; his stance was clear although he also poked fun at the Better Together marketing slogan, if not much else. In a pretty much hijacked gig, he toiled and triumphed.

Run ends today

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