REVIEW: Best in Class

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SHOW:  Best in Class

VENUE:  264 Laughing Horse @ Harry’s Southside

TIME:  1200

DATES:   Until 26th August

A comedy showcase with a focus on working class performers, delivering a pearl of a show and laughs aplenty……

Presented by Sian Davies, Best in Class provides a platform on the Fringe for comedians from working class backgrounds.  The premise is based upon the fact that whilst the Fringe may be an uncurated Festival, this does not mean it is open to all.  Issues around finance, time and networks can make it almost impossible for a seam of artists to gain a toe hold in the biggest arts festival in the world.  The stated intention of this crowd funded and profit sharing show is to tackle this…….

Laughing Horse @ Harry’s Southside is an intimate venue for comedy and the two acts I saw on a wet Sunday lunchtime managed the space and the proximity to the audience deftly.  Comedy at lunchtime can be a hard sell but the perfectly pitched compering of Sian Davies enabled the audience to swiftly suspend any concerns and settle in before the two acts took to the stage.   

Sian Davies engaged the audience confidently from the outset, utilising the close venue to  create a friendly atmosphere and warm the crowd up.   Her humour was sharp and focussed, connecting to the wider aims of the showcase.  The skill on display was understated and well crafted, going way beyond simple compering and transitioning into well polished and observed material before introducing Nena Edwards.

Nena Edwards is a South London comedian, with a self reflective set switching from involving the audience and well worked set pieces.   Edwards showed amazing control by getting the audience on side quickly, gauging how the room was responding to particular gags and pitching how to involve individuals.  These may be cornerstones of comedy and Edwards achieved them seamlessly with perfect comic timing.  The set involved some self deprecation and this was handled with grace and whilst the subject material was most definitely for an adult audience, it didn’t become coarse.   

Jamie Hutchinson, former XS Manchester Comedian of the Year,  delivered a set with pace, nuances and depth.   With strong one liners and well structured longer form gags, Hutchinson demonstrated an impressive range of material with a range of delivery styles – sometimes laconic, sometimes sharp but always perfectly timed.   Stand outs from the set were his ability to pause with comedic effect, coupled with an accuracy of language – demonstrating both the strength of his writing as well as his stage craft.

The comedians highlighted by this outstanding showcase rotate regularly, reflecting the inclusive ethos of the Best in Class concept to provide a space for performers who may not be able to afford the time or money for a full Fringe run.  The  whole show is curated by Sian Davies – who, as well as having a fantastic ability as a comedian and compere, has a clear eye for talent.     First and foremost this was a great comedy show but the model it proposes is one that could and should be replicated elsewhere in the Fringe.   

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