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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Mean Things I Did to My Sister (and Other Lessons I’ve Learned)

Amanda Kelleher / Free Festival

Genre: Stand-Up

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (Venue 272)


Low Down

"A high energy romp through Amanda’s psyche will produce songs such as Childhood: What a Load of Shit, Too Tall Blues and the VPL Blues. Join her and her live blues band for a trip down memory lane with a difference where comedy and live blues collide!"


“Let’s just go for it!” Amanda Kelleher bounds confidently onto the stage. From the word go there’s no doubting her confidence, naughtiness or charm. If you’ve got it flaunt it. When the madness of August is passed, when normality resumes, it’ll be a boast of mine that I constituted 100% of the audience when Kelleher popped her Fringe cherry.


The Free Fringe is an in and out affair. Freed from the tyranny of having paid for a ticket and wanting to squeeze the whole bang from every buck, audiences come and go. I came. I saw. I stayed. Kelleher’s set is a blues inspired journey into the anecdotes that make her, her.


Her personal narrative is a weave of sharply satirical anecdotes set against the transformation of Irish cultural life. Her own early childhood migration, from country to town, is potent metaphor for a national divesting itself of entrenched taboos – where the norm is becoming more normal.


Like a “mental Indiana Jones” Kelleher knows where her country’s tarnished sacred idols are located. She’s run the gauntlet of the disapproving looks (and worse) from the nuns who dragged her up. Mischievously delight floods her features as she snatches each aching belly laugh with both hands.


Her backing group are so youthful you wonder if she found them in the dumpster behind a Dublin abortion clinic. Kelleher treats them mean and keeps them keen. Teasing out two superb technical, but fluid, performances.


The sound levels in the Gothic Room (what a great name for a manky cellar) aren’t a perfect match for her belty blues style. A subtly elongated vocal range echoes bouncily, even jarringly. For a performer with a proud record of hard boozing, this early morning show could show more love to those of us nursing a terminal hangover.


The best, best, best thing about an uncurated festival (as the Fringe is) is that no smarty pants artistic director has insisted that the morning schedule be filled only with acts bright and chirpy. If Kelleher presented a good morning TV format, I’d definately get out of bed before 11 to locate the remote.


It’s great to watch grown up material before the first bowl of Frosties.