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Andy Holloway and Friends
The Canal Café
1st August 2014


Publicity image for Andy Holloway and Friends

Photography provided by Andy Holloway

Given we're among friends, let me let you into a secret. The "fat bridesmaids" school of thought isn't something Hollywood made up. All us girls know the theory and on occasion, horrible as it is, we buy into it. Comedian Andy Holloway clearly also subscribes to this school of thought. You know, where you get your less attractive/successful mates to stand beside you with the sole purpose of making yourself look better. Or, if you don't have any mates who fit that brief exactly, you at least put them in a salmon taffeta number. No one looks good in that.

After a brief introduction in which very few jokes land, Holloway wheels out Stu Turner. There's no hint of salmon, but there's no hint of an audience going wild either. Now, Turner is performing in another Camden Fringe show and here he reproduces the exact same act, minus one joke. He's a perfectly likeable guy, but he's not really a magician (see fringey Sean Turner or pro Jerry Sadowitz for a real close-up magic show) and whilst his chat is well-rehearsed, his gags don't all hold up to a second viewing. Without even trying, this time I spotted how he had pulled off all the tricks I hadn't quite figured out the first time round.

Turner's facts about himself need to be cut, they neither make us laugh nor encourage a bit of underdog love, but his grand prize joke really tickled me yet again, even though I knew verbatim what he was going to say before he said it. Bringing a slightly darker edge into the rest of his comedy would invigorate his style - he's generally a bit trad and the Camden Fringe demands more of a hook.

Following on from Turner, angry poet Ethan Lawrence took us through some of his writing, with the funniest example being Alice, a poem allegedly about his ex-girlfriend. I've seen angry comedians done better (Oh Standfast, Sam Berkson, the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Nick Helm). However, as a short support act, Lawrence plays his part. He also manages to turn on and off emotions as required, which takes some doing.

When Holloway comes back on stage and his night kicks off properly, things take a dramatic turn for the better. Holloway, as he admits himself, isn't a one-line comedian. He needs a bit more time to tell a story, set the tone and he is certainly at his funniest when he's at his keyboard, singing a comedy number. Cold or no cold, the man can hold a tune and pen an entertaining ditty.

With Andy Holloway and Friends being the comedian's first foray into the quite often, frankly scary world of the Camden Fringe, I can appreciate why he felt the need to take a couple of wingmen with him. However, next time, if he does an hour by himself and writes some more musical material, I think this is something I could quite get into. He doesn't have the glam of Frisky and Mannish or the bonkers commitment of Fortuna Burke, but there's something quite endearing about a slightly dishevelled looking bloke with glazed over eyes, singing about "sexy cousins" and a crush on a well-known celebrity.

Holloway is quite funny when he gets into his element. When he relaxes, his timing and delivery are spot on, and his songs are witty. His show may have got off to a somewhat ropey start, but by the end of it, I was thoroughly entertained and so were the rest of the audience. It's quite impressive win a failing room back, often when the energy drops, that's it, you've lost all hope of raucous applause, the moment is over. And yet, things ended on a definite high. If Holloway tries flying solo more often, he'll soar - he just needs to ditch the taffeta.

Andy Holloway and Friends ran on 1st August 2014 at the Canal Café, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo)

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