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The North West at the Fringe: Part One

All the latest news from the North West’s contributions to the comedy circuit of the Edinburgh festival, from our Edinburgh correspondent Marissa…

Published on August 17th 2006.

The North West at the Fringe: Part One

After suffering an Edinburgh bound train stuffed full of performers - juggling in the buffet car and handing out flyers for their shows in the aisles - myself, several comedians and a Men and Motors film crew moved into our festival abode.

Such a combination living in the same flat could well be a recipe for disaster, but so far there have been no mishaps. Our first week in Edinburgh has seen the apartment throbbing to the sound of trainers pacing up and down laminate flooring, as five comics tweaked their shows while men, motors and Manchester Confidential looked on.

The first drama came from Manchester comic and XSMalarkey resident compere Toby Hadoke, when he discovered to his horror that he had not one but three reviewers in on the opening night - and had sold just one ticket.

Flatmates, fellow comics and even Manchester Confidential - promising not to review it of course - were rounded up to pad out the crowd. Luckily Manchester Confidential managed to smuggle a notepad in to the show to record that Hadoke had little to worry about.

Despite being visibly nervous for the first fifteen minutes, he soon hit his stride. At XSMalarkey Hadoke is known as a shouty individual who will rant about the lack of loo roll in the ladies’ lav if you ask him nicely enough. In his debut Edinburgh show Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, he channels that angry energy to rail against prejudice, bullying and the BNP.

Using his lifelong love and almost autistic knowledge of Doctor Who as a backdrop, Toby tells of his childhood growing up without a father, being different at school and how the programme helped him bond with his son. It was enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened critic and indeed garnered a four out of five star review from one of the reviewers in that night.

Embarrassingly, Manchester Confidential found the eyes moistening for the second time this week when visiting Manchester based spoof German synth duo Die Clatterschenkenfietermaus at the Café Royal fringe venue.

Die Clatter have preceded their act with new characters Malcolm and Mirriam, a couple who exist on the peripheries of society and are the kind of people that children throw buns at in the street without really knowing why they’re doing it.

With her huge Deirdre Barlow glasses and his medicated stare they celebrate their unlikely love through the medium of dance and a VDU. The show tells their story from courtship at the bus stop to their honeymoon spent sleeping in the spare room and concludes with a surprisingly poignant message against prejudice and a consequent lump in the throat.

Any compassion raised by Malcolm and Mirriam is soon blasted out by Die Clatterschenkenfietermaus with the bitter Karl Gunter and his Teutonic bitch Karl Karl. In between spitting sublime insults back and forth at each other they manage a song or two including ‘We’re German’ sung to the tune of Bob Marley’s ‘Jammin.’

Liverpuddlian character act Keith Carter is also at the Café Royal, where he’s performing a darkly comic play. Centred on the last day of trading for a department store, Fall of the House of Fraser consists of monologues by three characters; but it’s hard to work out who’s the most nuts.

Several pickled eggs short of a fish and chip supper are: Romeo Solomon who is camped outside awaiting the final sale, security guard Richard Warchawski, and the suicidal owner Mr Fraser. In the series of funny and engaging pieces a whodunnit is unravelled, with black humour running throughout.

Meanwhile the Slaughterhouse Live fellows have exchanged their residency at the Comedy Store for a month at the Festival’s Pleasance Courtyard, where they’ve been scaring adults as if they’re small children with their unique brand of riotous humour. There’s wrongness aplenty; all notion of being PC is thrown from the room by the scruff of its corduroy coat, and in comes a disabled clarinettist without his clarinet, dodgy humour from a crumbling variety act and innuendoes from a Lancashire folk band. The trio get away with it simply because it’s all done with a healthy dollop of good natured humour; nevertheless it is somewhat disappointing if no one walks out offended.

And so ends the first week at the festival for the North West contingent. In the next two anything could happen. Bring it on…

M arissa Burgess

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