Adelaide Fringe 2013

Best of British

0 Comments 04 March 2013

There’s a lot to be said for going out on a limb this Fringe to see a comedy act you’re not familiar with, and even more to be said for going to see a show when you’re not even sure who’s meant to be performing. As professionals in the comedy business could probably tell you, telling jokes is often a game of hit-and-miss. Sometimes you can strike a right note, but you might also fall flat.

Best of British, hosted by UK-born, now Melbourne-based comedian Dan Willis, somehow manages to hit all the right notes. Willis, who has a solo show of his own, proclaims Best of British to be the best value show at the Fringe: four acts in 60 minutes – five if you count the host. At only $20 a ticket, that works out to $4 per comedian. You can’t even get a beer that cheap.

The acts change from night to night, as comedians exit and enter the Fringe cycle. The only constant is the affable presence of Dan Willis, who takes advantage of the small crowd by going around and shaking hands with every audience member before the show begins.

Out on the balcony above P.J. O’Brien’s Bar, four comedians then prepare to do battle with the crowd, the elements and the noisy street below. As a fire engine roars down East Terrace, opening act Eddie Bannon declares: “That’s the worst heckle I’ve ever had!”

Following Bannon this particular night is English comedian Juliet Meyers, who is self-reportedly jetlagged, having just flown in from England, but delivers an animated and hilarious series of anecdotes nonetheless. After Meyers comes Neil Sinclair, with his seemingly neverending series of one-liner puns. Some jokes seem to fly over the heads of the audience, but all in all it makes for an entertaining and unique departure from the earlier comics.

One of the great things about a showcase night like Best of British is that, if one of the acts isn’t making you laugh, all you have to do is wait it out for 10 or 12 minutes and someone else will be up on stage. Although, with the line-ups Willis seems capable of pulling together, it’s probably more likely that instead of hating one of the acts, you might discover your new favourite comic. Short sets also force the comedians to condense their routines, pushing all of their best jokes together and cutting out any rambling filler. Willis really wasn’t kidding when he said this show was the best value show at the Fringe.

The headlining act (if you can call it headlining when no-one knows who’s on the bill) is ‘as seen on TV’ Adelaide comedian Mickey D – a last-minute replacement, Willis admits, for a mystery British comedian who had pulled out. It’s an oddly localised way end to a show entitled Best of British, but it’s all a light-hearted affair, and no-one walks away feeling like they haven’t had a good laugh. In the end, that is what we paid for, right?

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