The free fringe


In this our third and final piece of coverage from Edinburgh we look at a few shows presented by performers who give their shows, asking only for members of their audiences to put some money in a bucket to show their appreciation. Here are just a few of the many hundreds of shows free and available to see in so many rather unusual venues and performance spaces.

SAM SEE: Government Approved Sex

Reviewer: Mark Ritchie

2-stars- xx

The tiny auditorium was small and stiflingly hot, as the diminutive Sam See walked out to greet the assembled throng. This performer is originally from Singapore, a place I have only over flown in and out of when heading for Australia.

With homosexuality not quite legal in Singapore, young Mr See can speak more freely here than in his native land. Dating was a big topic and the tag-lines all landed safely, even if the ascent from the set-up occasionally lacked a little in the way of clarity.

If Sam See wants to world in general to see and enjoy his talents as a raconteur, then he is surely in the right place this year. I just wonder how or indeed if such an intimate mode of stand-up may translate when presented in a true comedy venue.


Reviewer: Mark Ritchie


I really should begin this review with one superlative. Wow! The Wow factor is not to be found everywhere. With so many comedy performers trying to cover such a broad spectrum of subjects with which to weave humour onto coherent comedy strands these days, it is just great to see and enjoy an engaging entertainer who truly knows her business.

Setting a trend with musical accompaniment is an effective tool, especially when performed in front of audience members of a certain age. The memories of dance trends from the past, which are most probably best forgotten and the joys of attracting fast love in a discotheque made me laugh out loud. 

In the case of Martha Mc Brier, I am quite surprised to discover she is still virtually unknown. I for one had never heard of her before last week, but I can promise that I would be one of the first in the queue right now if her tickets went on sale. 

I just don’t envisage anyone with this breadth of comedy talent coming a cropper in front of any kind of comedy audience. Along with the rest of the crowd, I hope to one day soon be shouting and spluttering my appreciation with my chosen superlative. Wow!


Reviewer: Mark Ritchie

2- stars xx

Eliott Simpson is apparently trying to join the queue in what seems to be a personal quest by so many performers these days, to explain their sexuality. The problem here is that some people, this reviewer included, couldn’t care less about how anyone gets their kicks in their own bedroom. 

What was funnier and more absorbing in my view here was when this performer began quickfire routines on the, on-the-face of it, decidedly unfunny subject of autism. It is surely a good thing to see a number of stand-up acts openly chattering, often to great comic effect, about the many or varied types of autism and it’s subsequent effects of life, sex and social intercourse.

Eliott was certainly getting the laughs, but his delivery suggested a comedian who could be rather overwhelming to an audience not fully prepared, primed and in on the joke before the start.


Reviewer:  Mark Ritchie

5- stars xxxxx

The joys of pet ownership in a small flat are examined in a delightfully carefree, unrestrained and most definitely un-pc fashion here.

Having seen and enjoyed Mr Chawner before, I happen to know that he hails from my paternal grandfather’s birthplace, Burton on Trent. I love his accent and the wordplay that comes with it.

Whether speaking about mental health, eating disorders or anything really, Mr Chawner goes wading in using a forthright and open stance. There is nothing terrible subtle here, no slow burn, no running gags, just a funny, funny man who seems to be striving to prove he is part of the gang. 

Perhaps looking for affirmation or simple acceptance by his peers, some of the lines are more like out of the blue observations. He certainly is likeable and funny and surely it these qualities which make Chawner both funny and engaging in pretty much equal measure.

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