Fringe Comedy

Andrew Maxwell

Assembly George Square Theatre

five stars

Kinsey Sicks

Gilded Balloon at the Museum

four stars

Eshaan Akbar

Gilded Balloon Teviot

three stars

Gayle Anderson

PERFORMING your show with script notes on the table is lazy. It's unexpected. It's a bit like a stripper coming onstage carrying her heels in her hands. Those aren't my comments – they're Andrew Maxwell's and he's reprimanding himself. This is the likeable, Lego-haired Irishman's 22nd Fringe set and it's a belter. Written reminders aside (and I suspect they were only there to set up the stripper gag), Showtime is a master-class in mirth. Sublime timing, relaxed delivery style, killer punch-lines: the holy trinity of stand-up are all present and correct. Two minutes in and the audience are cheering wildly as Andrew announces there will be no more Trump talk. Instead, he offers his take on the tabloids, Brexit and what it's like living in the residential flagpole heartland of deepest Kent. (Union Jack-tastic, by all accounts).Theresa May and Alex Salmon receive a right good kicking before he turns his attention to terrorism. Just when things appear to be getting very grown up and serious, Maxwell pulls the sincerity rug from right under your feet with some questionable suggestions on how the Royal Family could help raise morale. Go watch a comedic craftsman at work. But word to the wise, don't be a litter lout.

Runs until August 27.

IF YOU like your political commentary delivered in four-part harmony, then you'll love the Kinsey Sicks. The San Francisco-based group market themselves as, "America's favourite dragapella beautyshop quartet." Fringe favourites, they've been entertaining audiences worldwide for over 24 years. But don't let the glitter, glamour and fabulous Fifties frocks fool you. These girls fight dirty. In Things You Shouldn't Say they're putting the "rage" into outrageous with a show that explores racism, Trumpism and homophobia. It's powerful, brave and at times incredibly moving. All four characters receive their moment in the spotlight to share their story. Rachel's measured, dignified account of the friends, colleagues and lovers she lost in the darkest days of the 1980's Aids crisis receives a standing ovation. Their message is loud and very clear Speak up. Speak out. Help change history. Help make history. There's plenty of humour too as audience members become jittery fair game for these prowling, cougars. Bee-hived they may be, but well-behaved they ain't. But it's the clever song parodies that are the cherry on top. As ever, their lyrics are as sharp as Bette Davis's tongue. Who knew Mama Mia could become a haunting paean to a form of STD?

Runs until August 13.

GREAT back story, check. Surprisingly nifty Bollywood dance moves, check. Engaging personality, check. East Londoner, Eshaan Akbar appears to be ticking a lot of boxes in his debut hour, Not For Prophet. The privately-educated son of a pushy Thatcherite Bangladeshi mother and a Labourite Pakistani father, he admits that the first racism he encountered was exhibited by his parents towards one another. It's the first in a series of clever concealed and unexpected punchlines. The former investment manager to the rich and famous is at his best when testing the audience's cultural assumptions. Deftly demonstrating how easy it is for us all to indulge in a spot of subconscious stereotyping. His visual turban joke is edgy and inspired. But just when you want to hear more about his life living between cultures and his reasons for lapsing from his Islamic faith, he chooses to take a gentle stroll down memory lane. There are tales of assault by Findus Crispy Pancakes and pre-internet TV porn. These raise a gentle smile but it was far better when he was raising eyebrows.

Run until August 27.