2022 Edinburgh Fringe

Fern Brady, Sarah Keyworth, Catherine Bohart, Lauren Pattison - Mark Muldoon's Fringe Diary

Lauren Pattison. Copyright: Andy Hollingworth

The Fringe has a bit of recent tradition when it comes to hearing both sides of a break-up. In 2017, Sara Pascoe and John Robins were both doing separate shows about the end of their relationship. The following year, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and James Meehan discussed their (far more acrimonious) split.

This year, it's Catherine Bohart and Sarah Keyworth, whose five-year relationship ended mid-pandemic.

Catherine Bohart's hour is called This Isn't For You, which doesn't appear to relate to the content of the show, and - as titles go - you do wonder if it's affecting tour sales. Still, very good show. She's not trying to push any emotional buttons here and the hour is better for keeping the focus on fun storytelling, detailing the cons, and unexpected pros, of this particular break-up.

Sarah Keyworth's show, to be fair to them, barely actually mentions the break-up, focusing more on the death of their director (Fringe legend Paul Byrne) in February of this year. Following a slightly flat 2019 show Pacific, Keyworth made excellent debuts on both Live At The Apollo and Mock The Week last year. This continues that run of form - it's a slightly richer show than Bohart's, threaded with superb jokes. It should have been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award. But it's well worth seeing both excellent hours. There are easter eggs to be had if you see both, too: look out for the great, similarly-themed 'ghosting' jokes in each show.

Lauren Pattison's 2022 hour is high-quality, if not quite as thoroughly recommendable. Taking us through her break-up and covid-related return to Newcastle to work in a branch of Morrisons, an eventful three years has given this storyteller plenty of good material to draw on.

Seann Walsh

Seann Walsh - of Strictly Come Dancing infamy - has a decent enough show at this year's Fringe. His ex-partner has, however, alleged a degree of emotional abuse in their relationship, so feel free to also take that into consideration when deciding whether to see him live or not.

Fern Brady only did three (big) performances of her show Autisic Bikini Queen at the Fringe this year. There's an extra pleasure to seeing her in Scotland, knocking around regional jokes with a predominantly local audience. It's always lovely to hear the contents of her head though - her world view tends to lead to original, hilarious conclusions.

It's quite fun seeing shows the day after they get nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award. Receiving a nod for Best Newcomer, Vittorio Angelone opens with "don't know if you've heard, I got nominated for a thing. All that means is that I am really hungover. This is going to be terrible." No chance of that: Angelone is a revelation and this is a five star show. Largely discussing his Irish nationality and life in Belfast, he's also great halfway through the show when a male audience member's alarm goes off: "you don't even have the excuse of a birth control pill! Do you wake up at 2:30pm every day? I'm trying to win an award here!" The hour never stops being amazing - it's even better than four of the Best Show nominees.

Martha McBrier. Copyright: Steve Ullathorne

Martha McBrier's show, in a way, encapsulates the unique appeal of the Fringe. An older, very Scottish woman telling stories from her poor upbringing in the 1970s ("eight people in the house and only two towels" poor, she states at one point) in a terrible room where bar staff keep walking past the stage. There's only ten of us seeing her, despite receiving a prized five star review from The Scotsman. The stories are bracing at times - making for an hour that's more of a lightly amusing theatre show than a comedy one - but it succeeds on those terms.

Helen Bauer is concerned that overconfidence is her problem, stating it meant she was bullied at school but never even noticed. Her full-throated energy is always a joy to watch and it doesn't let up throughout her show.

The meta-commentary on proceedings is half the fun at sketch duo Britney's impressive show.

There's maybe 40 minutes of high quality clowning in Zach Zucker's hour. If it lags a little at other points, what's otherwise on show is typically creative.

Finally, congratulations to Sam Campbell and Lara Ricote, who won Edinburgh Comedy Awards yesterday. Both were surprise winners I'd say, but definitely worthy: you're excited about where they may take their careers, and how many more people, as a result, are about to discover their new favourite comedian. Congratulations are also due to Best in Class, another collective doing great work to help working class acts bring shows to the Fringe.

Read the other editions in this series. Mark Muldoon is also available on Instagram and Twitter, if you like.

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