Comedy – Work-in-Progress shows
Every year the Brighton Fringe benefits from its position several months shy of the biggest arts showcase in the world – the Edinburgh Fringe’s August – and stocks up on works in progress from the great and the good of comedy.
This is a chance to see the half-formed shows, a glimpse behind the magician’s curtain, gags that die a death never to be shown the light of day again, and stories tentatively stepping out on their first outing with an audience on their way to becoming showstopper classics.
All at a remarkably discounted ticket price (sometimes even for free – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop something into the bucket collection as you leave if you’ve enjoyed it). It is, after all, the sketch books of comedians that we are witnessing. Victoria Nangle selects half a dozen of her favourites from this year’s Brighton Fringe.
Junkyard Dogs: The Kennel, 8-11 May, 17:00, £5
Every year just gets better and better for Maisie Adams. In 2017 she won the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? Competition, 2018 saw her pick up not only the Amused Moose National New Comic gong but also a nomination for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards for her debut show, and this year her profile has risen such that her face just seems to be popping up on television comedy shows as if it’s the mot natural thing in the world. A hot ticket this one, and a local one – Adams even lives in Brighton.
The Warren: Theatre Box, 3-6 May, 16:00, £8
Last year Luke Rollason’s carefully constructed child-like awe and play with the natural world on his show Planet Earth 2 was a Brighton Fringe (and many other Fringe around the world) highlight. In it he played, mostly mutely, with overhead projectors, costumes, audience interaction and props to frame a delight at the natural world that was both different in its ingenuity with clowning and relatable in its underlying concern for ecological issues. He’s back again this year with Planet Earth 3, and also this playful take on the world’s addiction to technology.
Laughing Horse @ Caroline of Brunswick, 12, 18, 25 May + 1-2 June, 16:30 (25 May 14:00), Donations
Nick Elleray is the comic you should have heard of. His laid back delivery, dark and quirky perspective, sharp observations and just star quality shine through from the moment he steps onto the stage – giving you the chance to see someone objectively excellent at what he does in an intimate environment, and leaving with the buzz that you saw him ‘back when’ before he became too well known to play such small gigs. As we all know, discovery of talent is not always a given, but that magic you feel when you’ve seen it never goes away.
Sweet @ The Welly, 15-19 May, 19:00, £5 in advance or Pay What You Want on the door
Funny, sweet, surprising punchlines, and an unique perspective on the British way of life, Japanese comic Kotani sparkled and punchline-zapped her way to winning both the BBC New Comedy Award and the Brighton Comedy Festival Squawker Award in 2015. Since then she’s popped up on various bits of telly, but you get the feeling that the live performance is where she shines. Having collected new stories she shares these and her philosophies for a long weekend at the Brighton Fringe.
Artista Café & Gallery, 10-11 May + 31 May + 1 June, 20:00, £8
Consistently acclaimed shows have come from this young man, although the nerves have morphed into more of a pedantic streak akin to that mined so productively by Jon Richardson over the years. His social awkwardness has provided the backbone for the stories that hold each show together, from an unwanted road trip with the love of his life’s father to her wedding to another man, on to a summer away at camp and all that entailed. His eye for detail, hard work honing just the right language, and underlying believability in the most bizarre of circumstances come together to create a perfect storm of a show. Have a peek at the next one’s build up.
Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant, 11-14 May, 19:15, Donations
Warm, very funny, comedian, podcaster (The Hoovering and The Guilty Feminist) – Fostekew is a Tour de Force of intelligent and uplifting fun. Which fits in well with her new show, as Power Bungalow promises to be all about strength. Making it big, sexy and powerful, as well as sometimes embarrassing, this is a ride bound to tickle your mind matter as well as your funny bone, and leave you with plenty to ponder.
Other works in progress on my list to see include: George Egg: Moveable Feast; I, Tom Hayhew; Micky Overman: Presenting Miss Micky Overman; Pete Strong: Greenfinch; Sophie Dukes: Venus.
More from Vicky Nangle here.
More from Brighton Fringe here.
Victoria Nangle is a writer, freelance arts journalist, sometime performer, frequent dreamer. Her specialist genre is comedy, but she also covers theatre, art, music, and poetry… as well as anything else that looks interesting. Creative adventurer.