Comedy reviews: Benet Brandreth: A Hero For Our Time | Gyles Brandreth: Break A Leg!

Like father, like son, Gyles and Benet Brandreth are hot tickets. Picture: Greg Macvean
Like father, like son, Gyles and Benet Brandreth are hot tickets. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Were it possible to harness the amount of oomph that is, in a day, poured out across a stage by the Brandreth family, you could almost certainly power a small village. Even at 11:15am Benet Brandreth seems to go beyond merely entertaining us with another allegedly autobiographical epic tale of love and loss.

Benet Brandreth: A Hero For Our Time, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) ****

Gyles Brandreth: Break A Leg! Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) ****

He offers it up wrapped in a sort of luxuriant comedy that pours at you like molten chocolate from the depths of a hot Gü pudding (Gü puddings, FYI, very much pertinent to the show) and you get a combination of ridiculously funny and breathtakingly erudite. Brandreth Jnr is a natural wit and raconteur, raised, by an obscenely expensive education, to extraordinary heights of erudition. However he is not above making absolutely the best/most awful Scrabble-related pun in history.

Oh yes, his tale takes us to the dark side of the game of tiles, swipes us across Tinder, sweeps us up in the Men’s Rights Movement and, along the way shares with us Chekov, Byron and the correct pronounciation of Kierkegaard. Brandreth Jnr is, in both ways, a different class of comedian. How many men in the comedy section have had their love lives blighted by misuse of a samovar? This is glorious, pointless, hilarious stuff.

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Over at the Pleasance Courtyard, a packed audience enjoys a quality hour in the company of Gyles Brandreth. He fills the place with nostalgia, laughter and applause and by the time he leaves the stage he is thigh-deep in the pile of names that he not so much drops, as lowers gently on a silver platter.

This year Brandreth Snr is celebrating the magic of live theatre, to which end he sweeps us up in his own delightful decameron of stage and screen. The thespians who star in this joyous hour of posh celebrity gossip have, frequently, gone to the Great Green Room in the sky, but they live again in Brandreth’s marvellous memoir (available after the show).

Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier, John Geilgud and Sybil Thorndyke are all there in hilarious narrative. If you think you have laughed enough at the late Roger Moore’s eyebrows, wait till you hear what the man himself had to say. Other famous names are still with us and everyone from Lionel Blair to Dame Judi Dench become the plums in Brandreth’s comedy pie. His finale is something of a coup de théâtre and it might be wise to have a hanky ready.

Edinburgh is the better for being Brandrethed.

• Benet Brandreth: A Hero For Our Time, until 27 August, 11:15am. Gyles Brandreth: Break A Leg!, until 26 August, 4:30pm.