FRINGE REVIEW: “Big Brain Tumour Benefit”

ON TUESDAY evening, Underbelly brought together eight well-known comedians and raised more than £32,000 for its annual “Big Brain Tumour Benefit”.

Comedy variety shows can often be a hit or miss, leaving you with wanting more of some acts and less of others – like any art form, comedy is subjective, after all. However, stand-ups John Bishop, Maisie Adam, Rhys Nicholson, Michael Akadiri, Phil Wang, Jessica Fostekew, and Danny Bhoy – along with host Jason Byrne – took their turns making a packed audience in the grand McEwan Hall chortle with equal measure.

Each comedian brought their own flare of humour and unique delivery to their short sets, often tackling the world’s current favourite (or least favourite) topic: lockdown. Michael Akadiri, comedian and doctor, set the tone with his opening act featuring his honest-and-cheeky style anecdotes on the pros (queue skipping) and cons (daily applause as “payment”) of being an NHS worker during lockdown.

Jessica Fostekew delivered a dizzyingly funny set about dating, breakups, and Whatapp group chats, while Australian comic Rhys Nicholson lamented about his domestic role in a would-be-orgy. Maisie Williams decided to have us laugh with her rather than at her home haircut and shared a story about her engagement that was eerie similar to my own – Prague, awkward false starts and all.

With his typical Scottish humour, Danny Bhoy highlighted the absurdity of a man refusing to deliver a mattress into his house during lockdown but was willing to use his loo. Phil Wang dryly delivered a hard truth about white Brits fear of reheating rice – a joke I sniggered at as my husband wouldn’t eat reheated rice for years. John Bishop closed the show by demonstrating his sign language skills and joked about the differences between hearing and non-hearing people in showing their enjoyment.

This was a fabulously funny night put together for a good cause. If you couldn’t make it but would like to support Underbelly’s efforts by donating to The Brain Tumour Charity, you can do so via this link.

Underbelly director and co-founder Ed Bartlam created this charity comedy showcase after his son died of a brain tumour in 2019. So far, they have raised nearly £132,000 to support the cause and help researchers discover potentially life-saving treatment.

Get the full details about the show here.

Plus, read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.