A Dave Cohen Show: Music Was My First Love
Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, 24 to 28 August
Something of a veteran at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Perrier Award-nominated Dave Cohen presents his 15th show, Music Was My First Love. The 57-year-old funny man, who is originally from Leeds, says he was inspired by the original American stand-up Lenny Bruce, and “the appallingly bad taste movie flop The Producers”.
As a student he met Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, and became interested in the new alternative comedy scene. Over the years, Cohen, who co-founded the Comedy Store Players, has written for a number of television shows including Spitting Image, My Family, Have I Got News For You and Horrible Histories.
Comedian Phill Jupitus has said of Cohen’s show: “The complexities of Jewish family life, the Middle-Eastern geopolitical situation and the Bristol punk scene all deftly handled by Dave in his bitter-sweet and very funny magnum opus”.
Amy Howerska: Smashcat
Gilded Balloon’s Counting House Venue, until 29 August
Fresh from scribbling on Radio 4’s Now Show and NewsJack as well as popping up on Channel 4, Amy Howerska first appeared on the stand-up circuit eight years ago.
Howerska, who is of Welsh, Jewish, Polish and Irish descent, says: “There is no greater feeling than making people laugh. I get the same feelings of joy making a group of friends laugh at dinner as I do playing a big club.” She quips that audiences should come and see her show, “because I am one of God’s chosen people”.
Candy Gigi: If I Had A Rich Man
Heroes @ The Hive, until 28 August
Award-winning performer Candy Gigi Markham puts her own spin on Fiddler on the Roof in her first hour-long show at Edinburgh Fringe, as she talks and sings through the pressures of being brought up as an Orthodox Jew, and the lengths she’s gone to to hunt down a nice Jewish man. Markham, who was a recipient of the Malcolm Hardee Award in 2014, grew up in South Woodford and attended King Solomon High School. The 27-year-old trained as a musical theatre performer, but “much preferred clowning around” and pursued comedy instead. She says: “What I like most about comedy is having the ability to dictate the emotion and atmosphere of a room. It’s a very empowering feeling to know you can make a room full of strangers laugh, squirm, scream and cry.”
Joe Jacobs: Orthodox Joe
Frankenstein Pub, until 29 August
In his debut, hour-long solo show, Orthodox Joe, aka Joe Jacobs, charts his attempts at rap stardom. Jacobs says: “Comedy is a great coping mechanism for life, assuming it goes well. My comedy is inspired by ritual humiliation and petty vindication, among other things.” With a show billing promising to include “plenty of stand-up comedy, live hip hop and Vanessa Feltz”, Jacobs is sure to be a hit with audiences at this year’s Fringe.
Assembly Roxy, until 28 August
Written by Gareth Armstrong and starring Olivier Award winning actor Guy Masterson, Shylock explores the life of Shakespeare’s infamous Jewish character from The Merchant of Venice and seeks to answer whether he is a villain or victim. Masterson, whose maternal uncle is actor Richard Burton, has toured with the show since 2011. He says: “It’s a commentary on Judaism in theatre, and shows how Shylock and Jews were treated in the 19th century, and how times progressed and Jews became more enlightened and accepted into British society.”
Bubbe Schmeisis: Nick Cassenbaum
Summerhall, until 28 August
Writer and storyteller Nick Cassenbaum is getting a little hot under the collar for his Fringe show, Bubbe Schmeises, set in the Canning Town Schvitz, East London’s last authentic bath house. Cassenbaum, a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme and co-artistic director of Slap Haddock, says: “I’ve been performing ever since my nan used to teach me dirty Yiddish jokes when I was five. “She would make me stand on a table and tell them to her mates as they smoked fags and ate bagels. “The show is about my journey around the North Circular with my foul mouthed grandad on the way to the schvitz to get my first schmeiss (wash).” Expect plenty of Yiddish-sprinkled humour, schvitzing, shlepping and conversations about Spurs.
Penelope Solomon: I Was A Penis At The Royal Festival Hall
The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6, from 16 to 28 August
Nine years ago, Penelope Solomon made her fringe debut as a sheep, sponsored by Pringle. Now, three babies later, she returns to Edinburgh dressed as a penis, with her new solo show, which the Jewish comedienne describes as “naughty, irreverent and silly”. Solomon, a trained actress who starred in BBC’s Goodnight Sweetheart, felt her career was going well, but then she ended up “auditioning for the X Factor with a Yiddish song”. Her autobiographical romp blends stand-up, character comedy and a sprinkling of her own songs. Solomon explains: “Through some of the characters, such as Eileen Schwartzberg OBE who is a Yiddish language teacher, I am openly and brazenly Jewish, celebrating the food, language, culture and music of our heritage. “My aim is to reach both a Jewish and a non-Jewish audience. Laughter breaks down barriers and unites people. In the current political climate it is more vital than ever to get out there and crack a few jokes.”
Price (Still) Includes Biscuits
TheSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 27 August
Satirical and deadpan, Brummie performer Naomi Paul returns to the Fringe with her comment on the latest political issues, catchy songs, personal stories — and complimentary biscuits. Paul says: “My Jewish background threads through the show via its deadpan humour and especially when I talk about upbringing, identity and migration. People should come and see the show for surprising angles on the everyday – both personal and political.” Expect a comedic smorgasbord of everything from lingerie to libraries and Birmingham to the Balkans.