Though it may not be the first place you think of when you hear that the Great Yorkshire Fringe is launching its latest programme, Leicester Square Theatre last night played host to some of the selection of comedians who will feature in this year’s 10-day-long event. The MC for the evening was Yorkshire’s own Ian Smith, who did an admirable job of getting acts on for their section as quickly as possible – but, the unpredictable beast that comedy is, that didn’t manage to prevent a late finish! The evening packed in a wealth of new and familiar faces, giving a great taste of what’s in store if you venture up to York this year.
A personal highlight (and something I’d been hoping for when I heard York Gin was involved) had to be the free gin taster that came quite early on, brought to us by the Thinking Drinkers. Gin and questionable puns: my favourite combination! Their show sounds like a lot of fun, as you get five drinks to taste while they take you through the history of various alcoholic beverages, alongside their own brand of humour.
The Great Yorkshire Fringe is another preview for artists’ Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows, though Mitch Benn sees it as one of the better warmups as it’s more of a simulator for Edinburgh; rather than just evenings, there are mid-afternoon shows and a lot packed into the 10 days. Last night’s gala wasn’t wholly representative of the whole fringe, as it does also include some musical acts, as well as theatrical and family-oriented shows – there are also a lot more female performers on the board than just the two who were at the gala. Rachel Parris is previewing her new tour, Georgie Morrell (star of Libby’s Eyes) performs her solo show ‘A Poke in the Eye’ – plus Charlotte Brooke will be bringing her own brand of musical stand-up to the bill. Her two songs, about “gluten wankers” & Netflix, went down a storm last night- so if her whole show is on the same lines then you’re in for a treat.
Having seen him on various panel shows in the past, I was intrigued to see what Paul Foot would be like when let loose on an audience – and that was quite literally the case, as he enacted his feeling of elation in the style of a marmoset that had to explore the front row… As you’ll guess from this alone, his is a surreal brand of humour which you find yourself in fits of giggles over due to its bizarre & outlandish nature. Rahul Kohli has two separate shows on at the York Fringe, and from his brief (but animated) stint last night I’d thoroughly recommend you try and see one or both of them.
Reginald D. Hunter was the gala’s headline act, and is due to be performing at the Grand Opera House during the fringe. Unfortunately, due to the England world cup match going to penalties, and the show overrunning, one of his stories got irretrievably bulldozed by screams from backstage (and constant updates from the audience – I know a comedy night is more informal than a theatre show, but surely that’s still quite rude?), but it was a memorable short set nonetheless. The analogy he created for Brexit in order to explain it to his 99-year-old father particularly sticks in the mind!
My favourite act of the evening, however, had to be the brilliant Harry and Chris, the “jazz rap” duo who featured a few times on The Russell Howard Hour last year. Their fast-paced songs are genuinely hilarious, one introducing themselves and the other giving us (& them) a bit of a pep talk: “you’re a 10”. With their unique attempts at audience interaction (get ready for a bit of a mouthful!) and interesting translations into German & French, the pair are an unforgettable & unstoppable comedy force.
So if you’re in the York area, or are able to take a trip there, then definitely do. It’s an extensive & varied programme that’s been put together – there really is something for everyone at one point or another!
The Great Yorkshire Fringe runs at various venues in York from 19-29 July 2018. Tickets are available online, over the phone (01904 500600) or from BOB the Box Office Bus.