Fringe Comedy

Phil Nicol

Heroes @ Monkey Barrel

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Four stars

Dominic Holland

The Voodoo Rooms

Four stars

Carmen Lynch

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

Three stars

Gayle Anderson

PHIL Nicol hasn't named his show "Your Wrong" to hack off the punctuation police and the folk who proof-read his flyers. It's to demonstrate that none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes from time to time. How many of us though, would be willing to stand on stage and share our cock-ups and their often catastrophic consequences with a roomful of strangers? It's challenging stuff. Luckily, the Cumbernauld-born Canadian is more than up to it. This is his most personal show to date and it's a masterful mea culpa. Underpinning the set is a revelation honest it'll stop you in your tracks. But this is a spoiler-free zone. It's Phil's confessional and he tells it incredibly well. There are also some signature sweaty, screamy rants as he describes recent run-ins with Flat Earthers and their keyboard armies. There are questions posed about faith and family. Nicol grew up in a hard-core Christian Brotherhood household, where denim was regarded as evil and buttons were banned. Unbuttoned might have been a perfect alternative title for this bare-all show.

Runs until August 27.

DOMINIC Holland's show, Eclipsed, is a full-on family affair. Wife, Nicky is helping out front of house and son, Sam is behind the sound desk. Then there's that other son, oh, what's he called? The one that's referenced heavily throughout this set. The one that's busy being Spiderman. If Mr Holland senior's show isn't a runaway winner in the irony sweepstakes then there should be a steward's enquiry. Here he is, playing the Free Fringe whilst his progeny, Tom is flying high as a Hollywood superhero. It's been over a decade since Dominic last appeared here, but it's a silky smooth return to work. Supremely relaxed and at ease on stage, his stories of family life and of growing older are well-observed and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. The running gag of father/son advice chats is a stand-out. There's something wonderfully attractive about a middle-aged man who understands the importance of a little light self-deprecation. His cautionary tale of what happens when you muck about on a child's micro-scooter is perfectly paced and would have undoubtedly been a YouTube sensation if he'd managed to film it.

Runs until August 27.

"DO YOU want to shut the window or do you want to live?" She may be one of Amy Schumer's favourite comedians, but for the month of August, New Yorker, Carmen Lynch is appearing in a blisteringly-hot attic – that could easily have a second career as a cupboard – as part of the Free Fringe. Lynched, her debut UK hour, has caused a buzz. It's standing-room or rather sitting-on-the-floor-room only, with the open window option and it has been for most of her run. There's a lot to smile about. Well there would be, except Carmen doesn't do smiling, she does deadpan. She warms up with a steady sneer of languid one-liners before conjuring up a disturbingly-erasable image involving a chicken and a hard-boiled egg. This woman is drier than an unbuttered water biscuit. She's deliciously dark at times too. Her morning-after pill routine causes a few sharp intakes of breath and a smattering of silent protest arm-folding. You can't read her poker face, but disappointingly, you often can't hear her either. She mumbles, she tapers off. She doesn't throwaway lines, she lobs them straight out of that open window. The writing is top-notch though and her list of ailments, including unfeasibly high knee caps, confirms that a hypochondriac's life is indeed a bed of neurosis.

Runs until August 27.

Gayle Anderson