Fringe Comedy

Jessica Fostekew

Monkey Barrel Comedy


Eleanor Tiernan

PBH's Free Fringe@ Banshee Labyrinth


Gayle Anderson

JESSICA Fostekew flexes her mental muscle to tackle the weighty issues of gender stereotyping and body image. It's a strong, super-funny set and the regular host of The Guilty Feminist podcast is feeling pumped from the off.

Previously insecure about her size, bodybuilding has given her a brawn-again self-confidence. She reflects on the relationship she's had with her physique over the years and scrutinises society's stifling expectations of what's feminine and what's not.

"Thank you for my compliment!" she roars whilst describing false flattery either from men down the gym or her floaty, slender mum. It becomes the mock-gratitude motif of the show.

There's a wonderful rhythm to her rage. The diet industry and her non-PC personal trainer are dismissed with consummate ease and a barrage of brilliant one-liners.

Some moments in shows become etched in your mind – ingrained in the membrane – and Fostekew's accurate and ridiculously-funny re-enactment of labour and hastily revised birth plans will stay with me for a long time.

If there was an award for the scariest primal scream in a Fringe show, she'd surely be in with a shout.

Until August 25

Some people just have funny bones. Eleanor Tiernan is one of them. The Irish comedian deadpans her way through her ninth Fringe show with a beautifully-perfected combination of gawkiness and guile.

The prima donna performer trope is turned on its head when she kicks off by thanking her audience and acknowledging that pounding the Edinburgh cobbles to sit through endless hours of comedy isn't an easy gig. They're buttered up better than the conveyor belt at the Kerrygold factory and soon completely under her spell as she shares her off-centre observations on everything from hand dryers to Cafe Nero rice cakes.

A curl of the lip here, a drop of an eyelid there, Tiernan has the comedic story-telling mastery of a modern-day Joyce Grenfell. There's pathos too, particularly in a running gag about not letting a lack of kids stop her from demonstrating her maternal qualities. When this combines with some private detective work, the true-crime aficionado creates a magnificently funny, uplifting and epic tale.

Until August 25.