Fringe Comedy

Rhys Nicholson: Bona Fide

Underbelly Cowgate


Susie Youssef: Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef

Assembly George Square Studios


Steen Raskopoulos: You Know The Drill

Underbelly Cowgate


GAME show host chic is difficult to pull off, but Rhys Nicholson wears the black sequinned jacket with aplomb.

Wispily slender and all in black, if it wasn’t for pale skin and shockingly red hair he would blend into the black walls. He might look like a stiff breeze would break him in two, but there’s fortitude in his delivery that probably comes from being a pasty red-haired boy growing up gay in a tough Australian suburb.

His poise is astounding for 26, even though he’s being doing this since his late teens. More than the performance, however, it’s his world view that has a depth and clarity beyond his years. The usual topics are there - relationships, families, and the gay Holy Grail of Murder, She Wrote, but there’s an extra layer to each. Of course his perspective comes from being a young gay man (for that is what he is) but it’s personal rather than being a communal voice.

Nicholson has done TV in Australia, but it’s heartening to see him swerving that well-trodden path hosting celebrity-packed bitchy chat shows. He’s better than that.

Run ends August 28

WE CAN all be guilty of avoiding the support act and staying in the bar. Here, Susie Youssef is ably supported by Anya, a supremely confident young woman from “generic Eastern Europe”. So good is Anya in fact, that the main event has something to live up to, but Youssef brings back her Anya character later in a lovable hour of conventional confessional stand-up and sketches.

Maybe it’s the former producer in her, but the show has been constructed beautifully, feeling off-the-cuff but using additional audio and well-timed blackout to dramatic effect.

One of six sisters from Lebanese parents, the material ranges from family tales to audition stories and racism that’s so entrenched that to call it casual is a compliment.

There’s a little chat of anxiety problems, something that seems to be an underlying theme in recent years, but her take on it is the coping mechanisms that come from her wise dad rather than what’s in her bathroom cabinet.

Youssef has a skill seen in many good female stand-ups - using a softness and likeability to lull the audience into a false sense of security before delivering one-liners that seems to have arrived miraculously from the naughty girl’s show. An impressive Fringe debut.

Run ends August 28

ANYONE attending a comedy show knows that the likelihood of audience participation is high. Even Fringe virgins who wouldn’t be comfortable being asked their name, where they’re from, and what they do for a living know not to sit at the front.

However, those who became part of You Know The Drill by Steen Raskopoulos probably had little idea that they would be involved in such incredibly elaborate and even-handed participation.

The 29-year-old Australian doesn’t use the audience as props as many other comedians too. He treats them like fellow performers and encourages them to work with him.

The show is a cavalcade of his own characters, sections where the audience become involved in improvisation, and beautifully executed segues that allow the pace to slow from frenetic to simply breakneck for a minute.

From the little boy hoping that his mum will show up at the dance competition to an inventive take on internet trolls to a retired heart surgeon, the ideas are fresh and the acting powerful.

He’s a rangy guy and his presence fills this low-ceiling dark room with that triple threat of performance, material, and charisma. A flawless hour of comedy.

Run ends August 28

Lorraine Wilson