So You Think You're Funny Final 2021, Gilded Balloon

So You Think You're Funny Final 2021, Gilded Balloon

First up, total respect to the Gilded Balloon for putting on a real live So You Think You're Funny final in the final week of the strangest, quietest, most chilled out, Edinburgh Fringe I've ever attended.

And secondly, total respect to the ten finalists. Over 450 acts entered and this time heats had to take place via Zoom. So when it came to stepping onto the stage after MC Mark Watson's warm introductions they were doing it with minimal stage time under their belts.

The tricky opening spot went to Phil Marzouk, but it was a good call. Marzouk, who is also a journalist, had plenty of energy, striding around and gaining confidence as his seven minute set went on. Marzouk explained that he was a journalist so it was no surprise he could string a sentence together, talking at length about his Egyptian background and how he can pass for an Arab or a white man depending on what the situation demands. It was easy and enjoyable with a hint of politics and a belly dance that, as Omid Djalili will tell you, is always a crowdpleaser.

It might have been a tougher start if Rae Brogan had opened the show. Her set was tighter and better written with more jokes but had a downbeat, deadpan quality to it. Brogan described herself as a "recovering heterosexual" and had some great lines about relationships revenge porn and nicknames. It was not the punchiest of stage performances but the writing was effective enough to bag Brogan first runner-up spot.

Lottie Field picked up the feminist baton and ran with it, with some top rate riffs about how long it took for women to go into space. It could hardly be that complicated she noted – a chimp did it before a woman went into orbit. While Field's lack of performing experience showed at times, there were plenty of ideas in her set, which touched on subjects as diverse as the menopause and dance lessons. Intellectually ambitious but also accessible, there were echoes of Bridget Christie and Sara Pascoe here in a good way,

Farhan Solo was another stand-up from the school of deadpan humour. Perhaps the lack of stage time was the reason he was so immobile, but if you got past the static style there was some decent depth here in his material about Priti Patel, muslim relationships, rappers and racism. It did not always land, but when it did it more than justified his place in the final.  

Kathy Manuira was the first act on the bill who was not a straight stand-up. Instead she came up with fully formed characters, most notably an over competitive cyclist. Without props or costume Manuira skilfully conjured up the tunnel vision determination of a lycra-clad racer. It was a really strong performance that genuinely did something different.

Review continues here.

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