Frank Lavender: Be Funny | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review half star review blank star review blank star

Frank Lavender: Be Funny

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

You can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Frank Lavender. What’s a show built on crowd work when you haven’t got much of a crowd?

The audience number in the teens, but La Belle Angele seats 180. Every time the door at the back of the room opens, his hopes rise that more punters are arriving. They never do. And this is a busy performance – one day last week, he had just two in. Such is the heartbreak of the Edinburgh Fringe.

There are several flashes of fast-thinking gems as he engages with those  scattered about, which should come as no surprise as the character comes from Gareth Joyner, creator of the acid-tongued Myra Dubios. Such banter in full force would probably be quite something. But without it, the many limitations of this act are brutally exposed. 

Lavender – who bills himself as ’the only straight man in showbusiness’ – is an old-school club comic in sparkly zebra-print waistcoat and sideburns you could carpet a caravan with. His wife, making an entrance with a fan dance, takes her position behind the drums, ready for the ‘badoom-tish’ rim shots that will indicate a joke.

Such dinosaurs on the lowest rungs of the entertainment ladder have long been parodied, and it’s not quite clear what Lavender’s contribution to that pantheon is. He engages a bit with the ‘culture wars’ that you suppose would be threatening his livelihood, but without quite declaring what side he’s on. He half-heartedly adopts what he’d consider ‘wokeness’ and seems OK with it. Yet he has a ventriloquist’s dummy called PC Noah Fence – the face of the comedy police with that double meaning of PC, apparently ready to come down on any transgression.

There’s some sort of premise that he’s using this Edinburgh run as a bid to get on to TV – such a well-worn format – but the act comprises a few truly bad puns that might shame a Christmas cracker. What a does a Yorkshireman say when he drops his cheese? ’E damn. 

It feels like Lavender is so much better than this thrown-together hour, but there was little chance of finding out, given that the scant audience proved such hard work. Joyner’s an absolute trooper for trying so hard to get blood out of this stone, but it wasn’t happening. And the Plan B – rely on the actual show – was just not up to the job.

Thanks for reading. If you find Chortle’s coverage of the comedy scene useful or interesting, please consider supporting us with a monthly or one-off ko-fi donation.
Any money you contribute will directly fund more reviews, interviews and features – the sort of in-depth coverage that is increasingly difficult to fund from ever-squeezed advertising income, but which we think the UK’s vibrant comedy scene deserves.

Review date: 9 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at La Belle Angele

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.