Fringe Comedy

Jonny Pelham

Just The Tonic at The Caves.

Five stars

'Strap yourselves in,' is one of the most over-used openers in Fringe comedy. Everyone using it deserves an on-the-spot fine. Everyone that is, except Jonny Pelham. It turns out that the buckle-up advice in the Bradford comic's confessional hour, Off Limits is fair warning.

You're accompanying him on a remarkable emotional journey and he's taking the most direct route. Five minutes in and it's so far, so inner city mugging, before Jonny changes gear completely. He confides that, at the age of eight, he was sexually abused by a friend of his parents. The long-term effects of that abuse and the psychological and emotional work that he's been required to put in ever since are the subject matter for the rest of this show. It's a testament to his considerable comedic talent that he's crafted an intensely moving and consistently funny set. Don't ever call this man brave. Do call him a magnificent, middle-ranking pirate.

Until August 25.

Ahir Shah

Monkey Barrel Comedy

Four stars

I've heard a lot of Tinder references already this Fringe but I'm confident none of them will be as carefully-constructed as Ahir Shah's religious ceremony call-back. It's fair to say that it's matchless. There's still a swagger and inherent smugness about last year's award-nominee. This is a man who can bandy around the word 'opine' without sounding ridiculously Dickensian.

But In this year's offering, Dots, Shah has lost that early idealism. He confesses to being certain of only two things – that he doesn't have all the answers and that we should never trust anyone who says that they do.

As usual, it's a carefully-crafted hour crammed with an eclectic range of subjects. Millennial angst suits a man who admits that his internal monologue is set to caps lock and who now sucks air from a USB stick. Expect a whole lot of personal alongside the polemic.

Until August 25.

Gayle Anderson