Fringe Comedy

Gayle Anderson

Tom Ward


Five stars

Johnny Cochrane


Four stars

Masud Milas

Underbelly Bristo Square

Three stars

ENIGMATIC, charismatic, systematic, hydromatic. Tom Ward is definitely two and possibly all of the above. His Fringe debut, Sex, Snails and Cassette Tapes is a wonderful, weird dream of a show. Totally at ease on - and at times off the stage - he welcomes his audience to what feels like a hipster house party. Topics are deliciously diverse. They include Tupperware therapy for beginners, Tom's top three types of silence and an unrivalled demonstration of household gadget mimicry. A sexy chrome kettle coming to the boil is a hard one to pull off, but boy, does he nail it. Raised by evangelical parents who banned Christmas for five years, pop music for three months and designer trainers forever, Tom has an eye for the absurd and the writing skills to then celebrate it. There are shoulder-shudderingly funny impersonations of Jools Holland and Cher and even a flying visit from his Cliff Richard -loving mum. It's a staggeringly impressive and refreshing debut. If you like your comedy smart and strange then don't miss this. He'll make you feel mighty surreal and you'll love it!

Until August 27

ESSEX boy and one-man charm offensive, Johnny Cochrane reckons he knows what it takes to create the perfect Fringe debut show. With the help of cue cards, a Powerpoint presentation and interaction from hapless members of the audience, he sets out to guide us through his own - more freaky, less geeky - theory of everything. What could possibly go wrong? Diversity is the current media buzzword and key to Johnny's plans for world domination. His stories of growing up as a mixed-race boy in a mainly white area are bang on the money and the Dulux colour chart and Grand Theft Auto references are brilliantly observed. This is a slick, smart and very ambitious debut hour. Video footage of his previous TV work in a Domino's Pizza advert and Crimewatch campaign draw the biggest laughs of the night and are accompanied by hysterical behind-the-scenes revelations and personal critiques of his performances. Jostling in a jam-packed programme of performers, Johnny has recognised the importance of standing out from the crowd. He's created a cleverly written show with more twists and turns than an episode of Game of Thrones. He who dares, definitely wins!

Until August 28

IT IS fair to say that Masud Milas has moved around a fair bit. His travel map must have more pins in it than a dress-maker's dummy. His debut show, Routes takes us on an emotional journey. Born in Hong Kong to a Kenyan mother and English father, this super-smiley, likeable guy has an American accent and grew up in New Zealand. Fitting in was always a problem and his act's a mellow meander through a distinctly dysfunctional childhood. Racism and bullying at school, a machete-wielding mum, an emotionally-stingy dad - all are liberally sprinkled into the multi-cultural mix. Masud takes the tourist route through his traumas though. In lieu of jokes, there are gentle anecdotes. In place of punchlines, he conjures up some visual imagery. It's a pleasant hour spent in very pleasant company but there's no denying it's not sidesplitter central. There are some cleverly constructed moments, though. Masud's dress-sense is a homage to 70's US cop shows. A mash-up of Starsky & Hutch and John Shaft complete with funky Afro. His regular references to his unusual look and the confusion it causes are fresh and funny. At the moment, though, the show is just a polite protest against less-than-perfect parenting. With some tightening up and an injection of passion it could be "Right on, right on."

Until August 28