Keith Smith: Comic Cuts

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Our round-up of Fringe comedy.

IMAGINE all the terrible comedians you’ve ever seen, their worst traits picked apart, put back together again and somehow transformed into one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe, and you might just get close to imagining an evening with Paul Foot (Underbelly Cowgate, 7.30pm, until August 26, *****). Telling rambling non-jokes he oscillates wildly from manic to introverted, getting increasingly irate before delivering his “finale” – a barrage of jumbled, illogical phrases and word combinations, each directed at different audience members with increasing venom. On paper, it shouldn’t work, but it’s a cleverly nuanced performance, the tics and mannerisms carefully cultivated right down to the smallest detail. It’ll leave your sides sore and your face wet with tears without ever really fully appreciating why.

Another fabulous proponent of character comedy is Marcel Lucont (Underbelly Cowgate, 10.25pm, until August 2 ****). Boasting an ego the size of the Eiffel Tower, the faux Frenchman struts about the stage barefoot, delivering pithy one-liners, droll monologues and continually chastising the audience for being inferior. Part Serge Gainsbourg, part Pepe Le Pew, he alternates between reading extracts from his teenage diary, singing self-penned compositions and showcasing his love poetry, all the while reserving a particular disdain for the English way of life. The writing is excellent, with some great jokes and a talent for comic misdirection.

One more stand-up worthy of your attention is Tony Law (The Stand, 12.30pm, until August 27, ****). Expertly deconstructing familiar comedic conventions, he delivers an hour of superb absurdism covering everything from abortive pirate raids to imprisoned magical dragons and his ending – a 20-minute epic stemming from a reimagining of a “two elephants walk into a bar” gag – is nothing short of genius.