Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Reviews: Fran Moulds; Shirley and Shirley; Tom Deacon

Fringe comedy reviews


By Mark Brown


Fran Moulds

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Until August 26


Fran Moulds is a character comedian, actor and storyteller by profession. This, her debut comedy show, certainly gives full vent to her versatile talents. In six comic monologues (performed over an hour), she takes us from a politically embittered guide in a South Wales “mine experience” heritage attraction to a self-loathing pop culture columnist on a broadsheet newspaper.

As a first attempt at creating her own comedy show, Moulds’ piece is extremely promising. Some of her characterisations have a disquietingly hilarious ring of truth about them. Not least her postmodern academic, who offers a trendy, “new” twist on Christian theology which is no more than a justification for his own wildly inappropriate sexual behaviour.

However, for every moment of good writing, there is at least another of weaker, more obvious material. A hapless Australian extreme sports athlete, who, predictably, arses up his attempt to get sponsorship for his base-jumping DVD, is a case in point.

Variety is certainly the spice of Moulds’ show, but, for now, the quality of her material is a little too variable.


Shirley And Shirley

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Until August 27


Character comedians Shirley And Shirley are like a cross between The Fast Show and Little Britain. However, as the double act change quickly between one pair of ludicrous caricatures and another, their work lacks the intelligence and the underlying satire which often characterised those TV shows.

The Shirleys’ procession of absurd characters includes Kate and Pippa Middleton, who are reinvented, preposterously, as warring sisters with African-Caribbean accents. Then there’s the sexually desperate, Italian TV presenters “the Gay Brothers”, who turn – as the Shirleys often do – to a comedy of audience embarrassment, to say nothing of a pair of drunken posh girls, or the Scouser-hating “Mancie Girls” (whose pride in their native Manchester is accompanied by a string of obscenities).

For sure, Shirley And Shirley are fast and furious; indeed, the format of their show looks suspiciously tailored for TV. Their material may be disappointingly shallow and riddled with single-entendres, but given the show’s focus upon celebrity culture and “reality” TV, they might just find that their brand of comedy finds a niche in some corner of the televisual firmament.


Tom Deacon

Pleasance Dome

Until August 26


Tom Deacon seems like a very nice young man. The kind of guy a twentysomething young woman could safely take home to meet her parents, if only he’d stop talking about masturbating onto biscuits.

Deacon, who also DJs on Radio One, has recently hit the not-very-significant milestone of 26 years of age. This has plunged him into an existential crisis, which has been exacerbated by his girlfriend calling him a “boy man”.

Rather than challenge this accusation, he has decided to compound it with a set which is largely about his quest to exorcise the ghosts he acquired when he failed to complete the 1995 English football sticker album, by filling the album for the 2010 World Cup. Add to that his crippling Xbox addiction, and the impression of a shambolic, perpetual undergraduate male is complete.

Deacon has a certain stage charm for sure, and the abundant insignificance of his subject matter is, without a doubt, its very point. However, one can’t help but feel that his, at best mildly amusing, laddish ramblings are evidence of a tiredness in confessional comedy.


These reviews were originally published in the Sunday Herald on July 5, 2012

© Mark Brown

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