Fringe Comedy

Tez Ilyas

Pleasance Courtyard

Four stars

Eleanor Tiernan

Laughing Horse@The White Horse

Four stars

Sofie Hagen

The Liquid Rooms and George Next Door

Four stars

Gayle Anderson

Great things were expected of newcomer, Tez Ilyas and great things were delivered. His is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished debuts at this year's Fringe. Warm and engaging, he's found a unique and highly-effective way of explaining how it feels to be a British Muslim. In TEZ Talks, the audience find themselves completing the last module of a 'Conversion to Islam' course. We new Muslims - or Muslims 2.0 - are talked through the Tez Commandments of how to become fully-integrated citizens. This is smart, subversive comedy with pin-sharp observations. There are some thought-provoking one-liners. OMA!- his Muslim alternative to OMG! - deserves to be a new inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary. From his tee-totaller take on a stag weekend in Benidorm to grammatical grievances concerning racist graffiti, the material is even sharper than his suit. The set's a perfect example of multi-tasking. The audience are thinking and laughing at the same time. There's a poignant punch as Tez describes the constant battle against bigotry and struggle for identity that British Muslims face. It's raw and real and will stay with you for a long time. An explosion of party poppers signals our graduation. Tez has been preaching to the converted.

Until August 30

Stripped back, with no gimmicks or twiddly bits, Eleanor Tiernan's Free Fringe show is the comedic equivalent of an acoustic set. Her odd, off-beat observations illustrate how life's often unexpected boots up the backside help shape our identity. Like a female Chic Murray (Chick Murray maybe?) she deadpans her way through some deliciously droll anecdotes about her Catholic childhood. A school over-achiever, her best swotty efforts went largely ignored by a social worker mum who cared more about children with real issues. Complaints were slapped down with, "Tell me, have you ever been taken hostage as security on a drug deal?" Eleanor tells us she's recently experienced derision at home. Her crime? Coming from the only county in Ireland to vote against same sex marriage. "They tried to vote the gay away," she says with perfect irony. "But you can't give a county no Wi-Fi connection then complain when it's not the San Francisco of Ireland." There're wonderfully weighted tales concerning Filipino bike gangs and daytime TV shows. Both beautifully tied up at the end with accompanying film footage. Cliche free and completely unconventional, Eleanor seems genuinely surprised each time a joke is well received. On this evidence, she'd better get used to it.

Until August 30

Sofie Hagen's first full-length show, Bubblewrap is bursting with fresh ideas. It's all about Westlife - and yet, it's not really about Westlife at all. The Copenhagen born comic weaves a wonderful tale of what it was like to be the Irish boy band's biggest fan and what happens to her when she loses that identity. The Free Fringe crowd immediately warm to her wry, understated style as she takes them on a tour of her troubled teenage years, filled with anxiety, body-shaming and self harm. Examples of her obsessive and highly-competitive character draw the biggest belly laughs. Her four months spent calling random numbers in the Dublin phone book in the hope of tracking down a friend of the band is perfectly pitched as is a running gag concerning a shower cubicle. As she herself says, "Lock the doors for this one!" Using archive material can quite often feel a little safe and a whole lot lazy, but reading out excruciatingly bad fan fiction written as a thirteen-year-old is inspired and incredibly funny. The true message of this show is forget about the body fascists and just be yourself, oh, and be very, very careful what you post online as a teenager.

Until August 31