Greg Proops- Assembly Garden
Greg Proops is just so angry! He’s very angry and he’s dressed very nicely!
That’s one of my favourite combinations in a comic.
Proops’ stand-up show at the Assembly is an hour-long bitching session in which I was mesmerised. Mesmerised because it is like he looked inside my head, seized my thoughts and vocalised them in such a better and more bitchy way. It is a masterclass. Where was he when I was 13 and needed to take down my bullies Kirsty and Gwen at the school cafeteria lunch table?
As a fellow American who has worked in the UK for a long time, I have a special fondness for comics who do the same, thereby making their opinions on both places both unique and valid. And Proops is all about that in this show. Special targets including a lengthy diatribe on the American version of the Olympics in London vs. the British version. The Brits kicked arse in the coverage, and in the heartbreaking/inspiring stories of triumph (he’s just as surprised as us about this).
He doesn’t just stick to the Olympics- he bemoans the state of the education of American kids. He wonders where the hell parental discipline has gone (I think we are all with you on that one, Greg). He waves his cane in the air and shouts for the kids to get off his lawn, only to be further enraged that the kids are 1. too fat to run and 2. didn’t hear him barking at them in the first place as they are on their smartphones.
What makes the show work the most is that he really makes an effort to connect with the audience in let’s-all-hate-the-world-together. Even if you disagree with his politics, or his social commentary, or his love of jazz, you can embrace the snark. And if I am being honest, you just like him anyway for that awesome voice and the fact that he’s made you laugh on Whose Line Is It Anyway for so many years.
I’d also add that you can check out his podcasts (filmed at the Gilded Balloon) under the series title ‘The Smartest Man in the World’ if you want a little piece of what he's doing in Edinburgh.
So if you need the snark, if you like to sneer, and like to admire a bloody good suit, go see his show.
Al Pitcher- Gilded Balloon
I’ve seen Al Pitcher’s show ‘Tiny Triumphs’ twice already this week and will be seeing him again once more tonight. Does that let you know how funny he is?
Given how many international awards he’s won in the past couple of years, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of him before. But damn, I won’t forget him now.
If I said his show was all centred around slice-of-life photos he’s taken of Edinburgh- photos that show what the city and the festival are all about- you’d probably be like really???. But believe me, this man knows how to find the funny in the things you and I would saunter right past. And I’m really glad he’s looking out for us. He peppers the show with charming and excellent stories from his life, but the strongest bits of the show remain these photos where Pitcher stealthily draws out the least obvious jokes. He tells us what to see. That isn’t a tourist looking at a map- that’s a tourist looking at a map of the completely wrong city. Any of us could take a photo of the entrance to National Museum of Scotland, but we would have missed that fresh piss stain all over the ground. That isn’t a disabled parking sign- that’s a monkey on a wheelchair. A monkey...on a wheelchair! (hands down the audience favourite).
He also finishes by taking photos of the audience, then putting them up on the projector, and analyzes what’s going on with us too. Again, another source of serious amusement for the audience (see photo of us).
The thing about Pitcher is that he’s just, well, so....awesome. Arrgh- I wish I could figure out a better description, but that sums it up in one word. He’s really good with the crowd, and has them laughing deep belly laughs from the first 5 minutes or so. Then he turns it up a notch and he’s a machine gun - boom boom boom boom boom and everyone is killing themselves laughing. The woman behind me couldn’t breathe she was laughing so hard. I judged her, until I got to the point (I think it was indeed the monkey on the wheelchair) where I was gasping for air. Very unprofessional, but completely beyond my control.
Go see him, but only if you want to die of laughter.
Shappi Khorsandi - Pleasance Courtyard
You know when you are hanging out with a bunch of mates and one of them leans forward and says ‘Oh my god, you guys, wait till you hear this’ and you all get super excited, and you know it’s gonna be a juicy bit of something, and there’s a charge in the air, and the anticipation is just so delicious?
Well that’s what Shappi Khorsandi’s show ‘Dirty Looks and Hopscotch’ is like. For an awesome hour.
I like my women irreverent and dirty. And apparently so did Shappi’s ex, an unnamed (unnamed by Shappi, not by his parents) rock star who was big in the 90s. He’s the nucleus around which the show is built. The cocky, double-life living, smelly, inappropriately-attired nucleus.
Shappi has a bit of a stream-of-consciousness structure to the show, winning big laughs with her old school project on Iran (written as a 9-year-old) and her bits on her family, including the marvelous revelation that two of her female relatives (I want to say aunt and Grandmother?) used to flash their boobs to drivers depending on the colours of their cars. No wonder her family had to flee the Revolution in Iran in the 70s.
She is hilarious at her most personal and vulnerable. We all understand what it is like to be in a bad relationship, and finding yourself willing to do things you would have never thought yourself capable of doing. By this I mean sex. She did not hold back on any of her sexual experiences. It was her TMI moments that got the biggest laughs. Most of them I can’t share here without Enty first having to check local obscenity laws, but two I can tell you are 1. as a girl she got caught doing ‘whore’s business’ (her mother’s euphemism for sex) with her teddy bear and 2. she’s dressed as a schoolgirl in her promotional poster to satisfy her now-ex rock star boyfriend’s fetish.
Go see her. But be warned: although she had the audience (and this was a huge audience, both men and women of all ages) in the palm of her hand the entire show, I’m confident that every single one of them was a little bit distracted trying to figure out the identity of the rock star. But, at the end of it all, does it really matter who he is?
YES!! Yes, it does! Tell us! Who is he Shappi? Who is he? GAHHHH!!!!