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Warning: May Contain Jokes
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World-class wrestlers meet world-class comedians in a late night, heart-pounding, edge-of-your seat spectacular. For one night only the Fringe will be turned upside-down as punchlines meet clotheslines in an epic and extraordinary battle of Good versus Evil. rules will be broken. Blood may be spilt. Explosions will definitely happen. Join a galaxy of fearsome fighters and dazzling comedy favourites to witness a night of once-in-a-lifetime Fringe madness.
Only in Edinburgh.
Max Olesker, of sketch duo Max and Ivan, decided he wanted to stage a real night of wrestling, in which genuine hardmen, built like brick shithouses, would share the ring with comedians, built like Wendy houses. And, in his words, ‘Somehow this has been allowed to happen.’
It was an audacious plan with every possibility of being a chaotic disaster – both metaphorically and physically – with 15 comedy acts joining wrestlers with names like Dan ‘The Hammer’ Head and Johnny Moss ‘245lbs of invincible muscle’, despite having little time to prepare. Never has the Fringe’s ‘let’s do this thing’ spirit been so sorely tested – and come up so triumphantly.
Most of the comics were, sensibly, used as managers, valets, ring announcers and the like in this battle of good versus evil – but that didn’t mean they escaped being in harm’s way.
On the side of the good, led by Bible-bashing Russell Kane, we had Mark Watson, Patrick Monahan dressed like Freddie Mercury, Abandoman rapping the entrance for wrestler Mark Haskins and Colin Hoult as The Mighty Thwor, God Of Thunder – or was it just a nutter from Leeds?
On the side of evil, led by Adam Riches, was Humphrey Ker, a Nazi bruiser nicknamed the Vinyl Solution; Tom ‘Explosenthal’ Rosenthal, dressed as a gimp; Jessica Ransom as a brilliantly deranged Russian mother, and a rather underused Rich Fulcher, boasting he had ‘more money than Jesus’s cock’.
Nick Helm was the perfect choice as the rasping, brusque MC; Matthew Crosby the roving reporter, bringing witty pre-match excitement from the lengthy queues outside as well as in the room itself; and Frisky & Mannish providing first-rate halftime entertainment, with a stirring version of Eye Of The Tiger given their own genre-bending twist.
Key to getting the atmosphere going were Andrew Maxwell and Brendon Burns commentating ringside on the side of good and evil respectively. If there’s a rabble to be roused, you couldn’t do much better than these two. Being a comedy crowd, the instinct was to go with the heels, but Maxwell, spouting delightfully pious aphorisms, rallied the sold-out 770-strong crowd with the unlikely chant: ‘Fair play and decency!’ and we swung on to the righteous path.
To a person, the mob brought into the idea; and for a shade under two hours yelled their support, booed the bad guys and aaa-hed every bone-crunching move. It’s impossible to describe the pumped-up atmosphere, but there’s not been a febrile, feral blood lust like this since the old Late And Live – but this time the threat of death was less metaphorical.
The wrestlers didn’t hold back, and the comics threw themselves into it as much as their puny frames would let them. The sight of Rosenthal in tight all-over rubber, gnawing away like a gerbil at his opponent is one that will haunt my dreams for weeks.
Attention-whore Monahan, who couldn’t bear not being the centre of attention, seemed to genuinely annoy one of the men-mountain, who started throwing chairs with apparently real disregard for audience safety, and chased the Geordie comic through the crowd. If the comedy doesn’t work out, Monahan will always have a career as a rodeo clown waiting for him. And his grandstanding antics thoroughly earned him that piledriver. Oh yes, this shit got very real.
Star of the show, though, was Max himself. He was once the youngest professional wrestler in the UK, and although now retired, he proved he’s still got the skills, taking a good old beating, only to make a remarkable comeback in a later bout with a jaw-dropping display of acrobatic talent. He won the day for the side of good (what are the odds?) but not without sacrifice. He ended up in A&E with what’s thought to be a fractured ankle.
But it wasn’t just wrestling, the comedy element lived up to the anticipation, too. With so many competitive, quick-witted performers in the room, the banter sparkled, with ad-libbed hilarious lines being thrown about like… well, like a wimpy comedian in a wrestling ring.
The result was a unforgettable night of guffaws, drama and a genuine fear for the safety of others. Edinburgh has not seen its like before – and when you consider what has happened in this city over the years, that’s quite an achievement. A truly awesome event.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 16th Aug, '11|
Review by Steve Bennett
This year was my first ever fringe. And i'd seen lots of great comedy (Notable mentions go to Alex Horne, James Acaster, Josie Long, Tim Key and Adam Riches). BUT.....the thing that had me weeping with laughter is the wrestling! Patrick Monahan climbing over me to escape a wrestling oaf, then said wrestler standing on me to shout abuse at the baying crowd......Andrew Maxwell & Brendan Burns banter....Matthew Crosby (The Pacifist) antagonising whoever he interviewed......it was BRILLIANT!!! :)
An incredible show, best thing I've seen in the Fringe since the days of the Doug Anthony All-Stars! Even the commentators had no idea what was going to happen next, as comedians and wrestlers (plus chairs!) got hurled around and into the audience with total abandon. Only one injury!? Very impressive that it was so low!
Brendon Burns: All My Love, All My Rage
Brendon Burns Under Educated tour
Edinburgh And Beyond 2007
AmusedMoose Laugh Off 06 final
Andrew Maxwell: Round Twilight
Brendon Burns: Sober Not Clean
Maxwell's Full Mooners
Andrew Maxwell: This Is My Hour
Brendon Burns: Burnsy vs Brendon
Brendon Burns: Not For Everyone
Brendon Burns: Thinking Man's Idiot
Carlsberg Comedy Carnival 2009
Secret Policeman's Ball 2006
Andrew Maxwell: Waxin'
Brendon Burns: So I Suppose THIS Is Offensive Now
Edinburgh and Beyond 
Maxwell's Full Mooners [2007 Fringe]
Andrew Maxwell: Supernatural
Brendon Burns: Fuck You I'm Brendon Fucking Burns Part VI (Again)
Stand Up For Freedom 
Brendon Burns: So I Suppose THIS Is Offensive Now [Montreal]
Late Nite Down Under 2008
Aaaaaaaaaarrghh! It's Bollock Relief
Andrew Maxwell: The Lamp
Brendon Burns: Comedy Good Yeah Silly Side C*nt
Stand Up For Freedom 
Brendon Burns Returns
Andrew Maxwell: Five Nights Only
Brendon Burns: Y'know Love n God n Metaphysics n Shit
Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On
Maxwell's Fullmooners 2011
Andrew Maxwell: That's The Spirit
Brendon Burns: Home Stretch Baby!
Andrew Maxwell: Banana Kingdom
Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana
Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either
The Wrestling II