Stamptown Comedy Night | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Stamptown Comedy Night

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

There are few better ways to end a Fringe – or even a night at the Fringe - than with the unhinged mayhem of Stamptown. 

The high-energy clown-burlesque-comedy mashup is part-cult, part-party as a parade of gloriously over-the-top performers deliver increasingly outlandish skits in a manic atmosphere of barely controlled chaos.

So packed is the bill that they can throw away Britain’s Got Talent winner Viggo Venn in a 15-second gag. Stand-up Daniel Sloss is reduced non-speaking extra, part of the stagehand crew dashing around the stage, often slipping over Three Stooges-style, to add more comic dynamism to the already manic proceedings. A bona fide Hollywood A-lister – Karen Gillan – makes an uncredited appearance, screaming in agony as she gives birth to Natalie Palmadies, who proceeds to deliver a stand-up routine as a minutes-old baby, still covered in blood, vernix and amniotic fluid.

Running jokes pervade the bedlam, overseen by Zack Zucker in the guise of his alter-ego Jack Tucker, a hacky New York comic who relies on gunshot sound effects and song bursts to sell his desperate jokes. He always appears on the verge of yielding control of the gig (and his own mental health) but Zucker’s too savvy a performer to lose his grip on the audience. Director Jonny Woolley, fingers hovering over the soundboard in the tech booth, is an unseen double-act partner, forever firing up cues to throw his pal off course.

Tucker is aided by Josh Glanc as Spanish Fuck Boi, a lisping wide-eyed naif in denim booty shorts, pint of milk always inexplicably in hand, who can’t help but dance when his beat kicks in. The audience join in too – as they do even more enthusiastically when Jason Derulo’s Ridin' Solo blares out, the theme tune for roller-skating bubble artist Dylan Woodley. Another recurring gag involves a vampire popping up to spook cast and audience members alike, completely dumb but an extra layer to the hullaballoo.

Stamptown – which is also a production company behind some of the more ambitiously creative shows of the Fringe – is something of a circus family, with a team of regulars all sharing a love of high-energy, high-skilled chaos.

Garry Starr gives us the life of Jesus in five gloriously sacrilegious, knob-baring minutes, including miming his path through the Blessed Virgin’s birth canal and the holy miracle of twatting a lettuce.

Michelle Brasier engages in some energetically awkward crowd work, inviting comments on a particular aspect of her appearance to which there are no right answers, before unleashing her phenomenal voice. 

Stupidly named sketch duo BriTANicK – Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher – fail to get their skit out amid all the interruptions; the idea that a tightly crafted piece of scripted comedy has any place in this insanity being the joke itself.

And kicking things off, Marshall Arkley performed a wild whipcracking burlesque, ending in some shadow-puppetry of the penis.

Martin Urbano occasionally interjects with live review of proceedings, though – as you may have gathered from this write-up, it’s hard to contextualise the evening beyond a list of increasingly insane incidents. Tongue-in-cheek he dismisses the show as all energy, no content – but even if that were true, the energy alone is irresistible. 

Stamptown is almost two hours of pure spectacle from insanely talented – or just plain insane – performers all committed to the outrageous, with a wild audience up for anything. It’s the past, present and future of live entertainment rolled into one magnificently anarchic package.

• The next Stamptown Comedy Night is at Leicester Square Theatre in London at 9.30pm on Friday. Tickets.

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Review date: 29 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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