tue 21/05/2024

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Ciaran Dowd/ Tom Parry/ Suzi Ruffell, Pleasance Courtyard | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Ciaran Dowd/ Tom Parry/ Suzi Ruffell, Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Ciaran Dowd/ Tom Parry/ Suzi Ruffell, Pleasance Courtyard

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Ciaran Dowd won best newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2018Idil Sukan


Ciaran Dowd ***

At the Fringe last year, Ciaran Dowd won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for best newcomer for his show Don Rodolfo. Now he’s back with the follow-up, Padre Rodolfo. In this tall tale Don Rodolfo has stopped being the guy who puts “ass” into “assassin” and has found God. Rodolfo, using storytelling, mime and song, tells us how he has reached this point, how the Pope called him to Rome to attend a seminary. It was big change in his life, he says: “A lot more reading, a lot less rimming.”

He was sorely tested by a nun who was sent to teach him the ways of the cloth. All this celibacy has left him almost volcanic with frustration, which is the cue for some filthy jokes by Dowd. Along the way, there are cultural references strewn around; there’s a really rubbish message owl that Harry Potter would be embarrassed by, for instance, and any number of films come to mind as Padre Rodolfo's outlandish saga unfolds.

As with his work when he was part of sketch group BEASTS, Dowd’s  joke count is high – and some set-ups are just to justify a delicious pun – but this show does feel like a case of diminishing returns. Having said that, it’s daft and silly, and good fun.

  • Until 25 August

Tom Parry ****

There seems to be a trend at this year’s Fringe for comics – mostly male ones, it has to be said – doing conversational, feelgood shows that avoid politics, failed relationships and, most noticeably, Brexit. And Tom Parry’s delightful, silly even, new show leads that trend.

Parry has always been a glass-overflowing kind of guy, as his membership of Pappy’s madcap sketch group, of which he was one third, proved. And even now, when he’s 38 and newly married, his boyish enthusiasm for life is undiminished, and he still loves whipping his top off when the moment takes him.

Parryoke! is more high-energy stuff to follow Yellow T-shirt, Parry’s excellent solo debut in 2015, for which he was nominated for best newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. 

Some may have worried that without straight foils (Pappy’s colleagues Matthew Crosby and Ben Clark)  to play off, the group’s  loose cannon may have misfired going solo; he didn’t and this show confirms that he commands the stage – an exuberant, sweaty, giggling presence who manages, with no coercion, to get the audience singing along to his fiendishly difficult foreign-language karaoke tunes within minutes of Parryoke! starting.

It’s not a musical show, although music is a big part of it as it’s loosely themed around Parry’s love of karaoke and his family’s love of wedding rituals, in which Rod Stewart’s music features prominently. The show was prompted by the fact that Parry attended 10 weddings last year – outnumbering for the first time the number of music festivals he attended in a 12-month period – and at one was called upon to make a speech because, as a guest introduced him, “he sometimes does comedy”.

He gives some sound advice for those who may have to give a wedding speech; prepare some amusing pictures of the bride and groom (cue embarrassing pictures of Parry, with cracking stories to explain them); have a celebrity attend if you can -– step forward Shane Richie, who apparently likes nothing better than making random appearance at weddings and theme parks run by Parry’s mate; and make sure you wear Lynx Africa (a very good running gag in the hour).

Parry wraps up the show by telling us he wanted to do something nice about weddings and love because the political discourse in the past three years has been increasingly rancorous and about a divorce of a kind. It’s a nice touch, heartfelt yet simply put, and achieves its purpose as the audience file out smiling and humming his last karaoke tune. Job done.

  • Until 26 August 

Suzi Ruffell ***

Suzi Ruffell is happy. Very happy – which is great for her but could be bad for us, she tells us. Everyone knows that misery makes great comedy, and hearing someone describe their misery, with added jokes, is what audiences enjoy most, right? That’s a risky start to a comedy show.

Actually Ruffell’s explanation  of why she is happy in Dance Like Everyone’s Watching jollies us along too as it’s a heartwarming tale. Impending marriage and motherhood with her girlfriend covers most of it, but Ruffell, a talented storyteller, takes us the long way round with byways and sideways about events leading up to and following their engagement.

We hear how her mother let the cat out of the bag about the impending proposal (it involved too much Bailey’s), the pain of house-hunting, residual homophobia even in people who think they’re cool with the gay thing, and why Ruffell is obsessed with her Nutribullet.

This is a very well put-together show and Ruffell’s material about going for a smear test – with a very inventive use of a microphone stand as a prop – is priceless. Good fun.

  • Until 25 August

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