Fringe Comedy

Larry Dean

Assembly Checkpoint


Ahir Shah

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire


Gayle Anderson

SOME images are instantly hard-wired into your brain. The sight of Larry Dean channelling what can only be described as a randy crab is one of them. He was demonstrating why he reckons his penchant for shirtless men would be an effective deterrent against far-right rallies.

His new hour, Bampot will also stay in my memory as being one of the most honest, moving and incredibly funny sets I've seen in a very long time. Dean is in sublime story-telling form. Tales of sibling rivalry, his whale-voiced mum and his thug 'dug' are all delivered in that signature squinty-mouthed drawl.

A fortnight before the Fringe kicked off, Dean and his Australian boyfriend split up via Skype. This show was to have been a celebration of their long-distance relationship. Instead, it's been intelligently reworked into a touching tribute to love and to letting go. Belly laughs replace bitterness, there's banter instead of bitching. And that ending? It seems it is possible to laugh and cry simultaneously, who knew?

There's a smugness about Ahir Shah. He swaggers on stage with the air of a man who knows he's put together a searingly smart piece of writing and can't wait to show it off.

The opening gag about Renaissance artist, Raphael sets the scene for an hour of eloquent, erudite comedy. Duffer is the Hindi word for a fool or clown. It was the nickname given to Shah by his beloved grandmother who was deported from the UK to India when he was five years old.

Here, he describes their first meeting in 22 years. In a show that's both polemic and personal, he rages at the UK's immigration policy and talks candidly about racial stereotypes, mortality and mental health. He reveals a silly side too with a clever running gag on Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. There's no denying the quality of this performance but more heart and less hubris would make the self-congratulation all the more deserved.