Poker Party (Bill & Andrea Bondage Adventures)


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Come the carnal vaudeville eruptions of the New York Times -lauded Stripparaoke sessions, overeager women are more the rule. Abandon all pretense ye who enter here. Video poker, pool, pinball, karaoke. For many Portlanders, Dig a Pony will never be a song by the Beatles. It will be dimly lit mahogany-and-leather booths surrounding a horseshoe bar in a Southeast Portland bar where wood-paneled walls are hung with vintage portraiture and an ironic houseplant that keeps the Instagramming doorman company. It's a familiar enough city-dwellers' bar with an old-timey feel and a Tumblr presence.

Germain, lemon and lavender. Like a mountain-cabin coke den, the Doug Fir Lounge is all exposed logs and mirrors. A steady stream of quality bands, local and otherwise, keep its basement venue crowded most nights, while the ambrosial bacon and other generally tasty grub have the upstairs dining room consistently hopping as well. The sleek-as-hell back patio feels about as L. Live music of the indie, hip-hop, straight-ahead rock, folk, singer-songwriter and generally listenable variety. Fire on the Mountain. The menu at Fire on the Mountain's huge Fremont restaurant and brewery is like the ultimate special-edition disc of your favorite flick: Yes, it's great to have the thing you originally loved—Portland's best fried chicken wings in a variety of rich sauces—but it's those Easter eggs that make you want to finally go Blu-ray.

Fried Oreos and maple bacon knots for dessert? At least one nutty bastard apparently drinks Pernod Absinthe with buffalo wings. Did you know that Pabst Blue Ribbon comes in light form? The obscure B-side of the chart-topping brew gets a little play at St. Johns' Fixin' To, where a long shuffleboard table runs parallel to the bar and one of the city's best pizza carts, Pizza Contadino, bakes pies out on the large front patio.

In this place, it can be appreciated both ironically and not. This is the sort of place where a regular insists you take the hot toddy made for him and a basketball game no one cares about gets folks talking about the weekend they spent in Reno. Patio, TV, occasional live music. There is no reason the Foggy Notion should be as awesome as it is.

In a ramshackle-looking building on Lombard Street, this poorly marked pub opens up on tables and counters collaged with rock-album covers and strange pop-culture cutouts. It would be easy for it to go full-on dive, but instead owner Mel Brandy—whose shouts can always be heard above whatever's on the jukebox—has an impressive array of house-infused and top-shelf liquors.

A citrus juicer on the counter makes The Lolita, with tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, St. And it pays to get there early in the week. When it's gone, it's gone. There's also Tatt2for1 Tuesdays: Live music, pinball, Skee-Ball, live music, DJs, karaoke, trivia, patio. Under the watchful eyes of Abraham Lincoln in two slightly creepy paintings on the walls of Free House, a dozen or so drinkers maintain a vibe of laid-back camaraderie.

Reopening a couple of months ago under the joint ownership of Victory Bar chef Eric Moore and Olympic Provisions co-owner Martin Schwartz, the revamped Free House now boasts the best influences of both, with better-than-average bar food banh mi, anyone? I had a Tusken Raider pisco, lemon, pineapple gomme and Prosecco , which I assume you're supposed to drink one at a time so as to conceal your numbers. A partially covered patio is one of the bar's new features and offers plenty of space for summertime drinking.

Although it probably never gets too rowdy at Free House—after all, Honest Abe is watching. A buck off whatever A room full of clown paintings—from thoughtful oils to black velvets and a Christ-like Ronald McDonald—would be enough to give anyone nightmares. But the "clown room" at Funhouse Lounge serves as part of the entertainment, alongside a stack of board games and a Wii. The menu features mostly hot sandwiches and appetizers, and the bar has a concession-stand feel, with no draft beers—just cheap shots, mixed drinks, bottles, wine and soft drinks. It's probably best to go on the night of a performance or event, such as the Sunday Funhouse game show.

You wouldn't want it to just be you and the clowns. Wii, TV, live comedy, theater, live music, DJs. The blinking lights of arcade games and excited chatter of twentysomethings reliving their teenage glory while sipping beer can be a sensory overload when you first enter Ground Kontrol. Nerds, douchebags and gamers flock to this barcade for that nostalgic arcade experience, most too young to have lived through its golden age.

There are also relics like the pinball machine upstairs for the mostly forgotten mid-'90s film adaptation of The Shadow to bring you back to that bygone era. But now alcohol is involved. Next drink's on the loser. Arcade, pinball, Rock Band karaoke on Tuesday. Hair of the Dog. When Alan Sprints opened his brewery in , Americans simply didn't make barrel-aged or bottle-conditioned beers. Sprints found inspiration on a trip to Belgium. The brewery reserves special releases for its taproom, and Sprints is now a local legend and the type of guy who gets flown down to L.

Almost everything Hair of the Dog makes is impressive, even if it's not as unique as it once was. Comparing different vintages of the same beer. Its Oregon City locale keeps the iconic Highland Stillhouse well off the radar of most Portland locals. The Stillhouse has, quite simply, the most extensive Scotch selection that you are likely to experience anywhere, including most places in Scotland. We recommend an early day weekend ride on the 33 or 35 bus, as you are not likely to imbibe lightly. Order some Scotch you've never heard of, and while some blowhard at the other table explains that Scotch is all about the water, you will be looking out at the fine waters of the Willamette from the patio.

The voluminous beer list has plenty of rare imports from the British isles, but seriously: Stick to the Islay. There are 54 bottles of it to try before you even make it the Lowlands or the Speyside. Food specials Tuesday-Friday pm. Live music, TV, reading the whisky list over and over to yourself in a thick accent. Horse Brass is the classic Portland beer bar, created in the image of a British pub by guys who'd never seen a British pub. They did a remarkable job, and the Brass remains vital even after the passing of legendary proprietor Don Younger.

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English Premier League soccer, occasional live music, darts. Open nightly for events beneath the Rialto poolroom. After walking through a brightly lit hall of middle-aged men playing pool and watching UFC, it's vaguely disconcerting to descend a staircase and suddenly find yourself in a dim room full of effete art-school kids selling zines, spinning glam rock on vinyl and doing spoken-word performances before a backdrop of crudely drawn penises.

Somehow, the Jack London Bar, in a resurrected basement lounge below the dingy Rialto, has established itself as the new downtown darling of Portland's alt-lit crowd, quietly playing host to lectures, readings and art shows while scary dudes with big bellies play video poker upstairs.

Dark, grungy and graffitied, the bar suggests an edgier scene, but the Instagramming audience sipping box wine says otherwise. Still, something about the Jack London feels slightly illicit, like the folks upstairs might suddenly appear, brandishing their pool cues, to chase everyone back across Burnside. Same as Rialto's, pm daily. Live music loud enough to enjoy yet quiet enough to allow you to hold a conversation with your dinner date will never go out of style.

Jimmy Mak's has that in spades. The dimly lit jazz lounge and restaurant is famous for the weekly sets by legendary Portland drummer Mel Brown, but it also features a wide variety of acts on weekends. A mix of well-to-do baby boomers, older couples and well-dressed by Portland standards tweeners fill out the crowd.

The Greek food menu feels overpriced, and the refusal to serve beer in something other than ounce "pints" is disappointing, but the music and ambience more than make up for it. Jimmy Mak's is not a dance club. Each page of Kask's menu concludes with a quote. Scott Fitzgerald, on the page devoted to grain and grape spirits: It's fitting, too, to find a quote from that quintessential American playboy: With undersized tables and stools, a mammoth walnut bar and bison sketched on giant chalkboards, Kask is cozy and just a tad quaint.

Unused motorcycle parking spots sit out front while vintage motorcycles are suspended from the ceiling. A dark lounge is tucked in the very back of the bar. An eclectic selection of local bands plays in a side room off the main bar throughout the week. Kelly's Olympian's namesake, Olympia Beer, is mercifully left off the 20 beers on tap. Regulars, college kids and the occasional whiny person all seem to find themselves at Kelly's for one reason or another.

Only blocks from the heavily announced Noble Rot, Amalie Roberts' tiny wine den has become a mainstay for the small number of people who are able to find it, tucked a mere block away from the din of East Burnside's sardine-packed bar scene. From the looks on a recent Friday, this seems to describe mostly arts patrons and artists over 30, enjoying carefully selected, mostly European bottles with an emphasis on Italians from malvasia to rose-sweet lambrusco.

Don't be surprised to find yourself staring cross-eyed at an unfamiliar selection: It's a friendly, cozy little world where the enthusiastic server is happy to act as wine whisperer. Daily competition for the scarce patio seats. A few years ago, musician Jonathan Richman walked into the Know and fell in love. He was in town to play the Aladdin Theater but promised to return and perform on the bar's shin-high stage, which he's done multiple times now.

A lot of his punk-era peers would probably have the same reaction. More than just another dive, the Know has the battered aura of a classic rock club: Its bathroom stalls are lovingly defaced, the floors are sticky, the PBR practically flows from the faucets. Even though it's only been open eight years, it feels like it's been around forever. Maybe it's more like a neighborhood basement venue with a liquor license. And maybe that makes it even cooler. Live music, karaoke, pinball, jukebox, TV, Blazers games. If the Landmark Saloon were any more authentic, you'd need a concealed carry permit.

Inside, you'll find that high, lonesome sound played live by bands like the Rocky Butte Wranglers while men in denim jackets and women with hair buns drink ounce PBR taller boys and pints of Double Mountain. The bar took over a converted home with wood floors and cozy rooms, but the spacious street-side patio is the best part of the place. Grab a seat next to a fire pit that's nice this time of year or grab bags for the cornhole boards. Patio, live music, cornhole. Portland's other Big Pink, Liberty Glass, crams off-kilter rusticity into a building the color of a preteen girl's diary.

An antiquated two-story house standing a block away from where the "new Mississippi" begins, the bar replaced beloved restaurant Lovely Hula Hands in , then became an institution itself by dodging the trendy hand of progress sweeping through the rest of the neighborhood. Disembodied antlers decorate the walls, water is served in tin cups and the craft beers in Mason jars, nobody's bothered to remove the claw-foot tub from the restroom, and the most rhapsodized item on the menu is the Triscuit nachos.

It maintains a vague literary feel—author Patrick deWitt based a three-legged dog in his award-winning novel, The Sisters Brothers , on the house pooch, Otis—while resembling a backwoods dollhouse, which is about as Portlandian as it gets. No longtime Portlander is surprised to hear there's great stuff in the outer reaches of Southeast 82nd Avenue.

Even so, the Lion's Eye Tavern comes as a bit of a shock. Turns out that one of Portland's coolest bars—one with pool tables, pinball machines, a top-tier patio and a well-curated supply of about three dozen bottled beers and eight fine, cheap pints on tap, including the slightly fruity Lion's Eye Bock—is spitting distance from Cobbler Bill's footwear and Monique Salon. The rejuvenated Mount Scott dive shows Timbers games and hosts trivia nights, but it's the little things—the nut-filled quarter machines built into the '70s-wood-paneling bar, the stack of board games—that make this pint-sized spot feel warm and cozy.

The housemade soups and sweet bartenders help, too. And all the sirens? You get used to them. TVs, much pool, pinball, board games, trivia, Timbers, patio. Whether you're lookin' to twerk while taking tequila shots or are an amateur hoping to get sexy at strip night, the colorful, queer-friendly Local Lounge—better known as Shantay—is your huckleberry. Located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, well away from more traditional queer-centered nightlife, the lounge draws in crowds from all walks of life. TV, Blazers games, pool, video lottery, karaoke, DJs, drag shows, queer strip night, dancing.

Luc Lac likes to sweeten the pot. The place, indeed, is beautiful. Surrounding a bar island at the room's center, one wall is covered in metallic Victorian wallpaper, while the other includes a colossal ironized mural of a dragon. The Vietnamese bar cuisine is also a bit sweet, possibly even timid. It's a place of mild-mannered culinary pleasantry and Asian-inflected cocktail dreams, garbed in colonial chic. Word to the wise, though: Go cheap and boozy.

Drinkers take priority if they're smart. Skip the stupid food line and pony at the bar. Insanely cheap food specials pm Monday-Saturday. Six-decade-old neighborhood saloons don't always survive the change of ownership, but this newly sleekened tavern-—bought by Crow Bar vets three years ago—somehow shows its age more than ever before. The Lutz retrovation approximates the effect of a gearhead restoring a Fleetmaster chassis and seat covers while tearing out the engine to ensure modern performance.

Memorabilia advertising defunct breweries decorates the walls, the phone booth has been repurposed as an ATM and a partially enclosed back patio welcomes smokers. Early evening, the well-heeled demographic orders from a menu including the deadlier fringes of diner cuisine. The flat-billed hordes from parts east, who overwhelm the bar afterward, may have noticed only the availability of Jaeger.

Pool, pinball, patio, TV. M Bar is the Mill Ends Park of bars. An itty-bitty, candelit establishment, it's like a tiny Victorian parlor, rid of all excessive frippery and staffed by a singularly friendly bartender. Since Sterling Coffee moved in last June it's a cafe during the day and undergoes a costume change for the evening , M Bar has been updated with tastefully striped wallpaper, but the atmosphere is convivial as ever. It had better be: The spot is so small that, while sipping your glass of viognier or your 10 Barrel ISA no liquor here , you'll probably end up swapping stories with your neighbors.

On a recent weekend evening, I discussed the Italian mob with the publisher of this very newspaper. It's cash only, and want a receipt? The bartender—dressed like those at Teardrop but without an ounce of the pretension—will have to handwrite it for you. Friendly people, attractive wallpaper. The phrase "strip club" conjures up the image of fake-breasted blondes moving up and down poles while desperate men slip dollar bills into their G-strings and sip overpriced drinks.

Magic Garden is exactly none of those things. It's a dive bar that just happens to also have naked women dancing. A gruff, cagey old woman named Patty has tended the bar since time immemorial, and she doesn't forget who the good tippers are. Two dancers rotate between the small dance floor—where they also DJ—and help out around the bar. There is no stripper pole. The dancers' song choices veer toward indie and garage rock, a welcome accompaniment to the duo shooting pool in the back and crowd hanging out at the bar.

The stripping is more on the peripheries here. Setting foot inside Mary's Club is stepping into a slice of Portland unstuck in time. Antique fliers for the litany of performers who have graced Portland's oldest strip club line the walls. The colorful mural of historic women painted along the back wall dates back to the '50s. The cash register looks twice as old. A heavily tattooed dancer slides up and down the pole to the sultry chords of Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" in front of a surprisingly gender-balanced crowd.

There are 10 beers on tap, but I always find myself gravitating toward the one with a stripper handle at the end: It's a fitting accompaniment as one takes in the wide range of women dancing at Mary's, which at one point included Portland's favorite daughter, Courtney Love. Mary's Club is a strip club in that low-key, dive-y Portland kind of way.

If the Most Interesting Man in the World held a punk-tinged lounge equivalent, this dimly lit jewel of West Burnside, long the spiritual link between uptown and the rock blocks, wouldn't be a poor blueprint. The men's restroom boasts carnation-colored, heart-shaped sink basins opposite a urinal perhaps reclaimed from the Titanic. Friendly bartenders do not tolerate fools, whether slumming debs or aspirational homeless or Timbers faithful spilling forth from nearby Jeld-Wen Field. The Scrabble tournaments on Super Bowl Sunday epitomize a somewhat conflicted relationship with sports yet shown on the flat screens.

Rockers hoping to grab a cheap beer and hobnob with their fave DJ may be absorbed into a bachelorette party as quickly as IT wizards enjoying a higher-end tipple find their non-prescription eyeglasses blown clean off by the first chords of garage up-and-comers set up by the pool table.

While recent Southeast settlement Conquistador seamlessly serves the rarefied tastes of the condo set at twilight and touring tastemakers 'round last call, the Matador doesn't quite cater to any one vision of what a bar should be—save, after a fashion, the former owner and provocateur-in-chief whose portrait in black velvet hangs near the entrance—and effectively demands the patrons to submit to the peculiar momentum of the moment. Pool, pinball, jukebox, video poker, video games, TV, DJs, photo booth.

The charms of Matchbox Lounge are time-dependent. The art is nice, the beer selection, which leans toward Double Mountain and Breakside, is solid and the bartender manages a dozen customers split between the bar, the two-top tables and one big booth as well as any one man could. The burger is just as good at 7: Maui's greets you with the olfactory wave of damp air and warm beer that screams dive. There are murals of frolicking dolphins on the cinder-block walls, but this is not a dive into pristine waters.

It is a grown-up skater boy's pool lounge, painted like an aquarium, with skateboards, snowboards and electric guitars suspended from the ceiling. Drinks that are stiff enough to spike the ocean fuel Blazers-clad throngs and alterna-culture posses through epic pingpong games on the patio. Maybe PBR tastes better with a killer whale hanging overhead? Pool, TV, pinball, darts. Moloko ain't subtle with the symbolism.

The giant fish tanks on either side of the bar are a welcome invitation to drink like an aquatic invertebrate. But after at least the better part of a decade open on Mississippi, Moloko is a relative granddaddy on the block.

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With a cocktail list so expansive that the 'tender has to look up the more obscure items, we appreciate this joint's willingness to play with taste-bud-challenging ingredients, including absinthe its trademark mixer , Campari and house-infused liquors. The bar's covered back patio with heat lamps—a friend to all smokers and friends of smokers—makes it a necessary stop on any Mississippi crawl.

Big-ass fish tanks, DJs. While newish slogan "Putting Neighbor Back in the 'Hood" doesn't really speak to any grand design guiding the bar's continual improvements—a degree wood-fired oven and glassed-in sun room—there's a warm welcome redolent of the spacious saloon's ever-more-inviting upper Foster environs. The rotating taps still feature Hamm's alongside modestly expanding craft-brew selections, while gluten-free bottled brews nestle comfortably beside Rainier tall boys below the sprawling collection of porcelain decanters.

Their pizza still compares favorably to Sizzle Pie's, at considerably less cost. Nobody would have dared predict that a makeshift stage this far from the river could regularly attract top local bands or their devoted throngs, but on lovingly curated bills most Saturday nights, they clear away the pool tables and introduce hoodies to the neighbors. TV, pinball, pool, trivia night, foosball. Pix's Cheryl Wakerhauser's new, somewhat fussy tapas-bar concept, Bar Vivant, also shares this space. The liquors and beers are housed on one side of a massive ovoid bar; the tapas are on the other.

Amid dampened swells of soft jazz and quiet huddles of seated patrons, the mood at Bar Vivant can be a bit church-like. One almost feels the need to whisper while eating its rich, low-cost Spanish tortillas, bacon-wrapped dates in maple syrup or lovely butterflied mackerel. Make sure to show up for the bar's occasional gastronomical trivia tasting contests. You'll lose, embarrassingly, but will be too fat and drunk to care. Wine discounts and one free tapas plate per drink pm daily. Chrome exhaust pipes flank an entryway lined with country stars' head shots, an apt welcome for this truck-stop wonderland near the Washington border.

Jubitz is possibly the biggest gas station ever, a haven for tired truckers that draws hordes of country-lovin' folk for weekend shows and dancing. Eating areas, dance floors and Keno machines stretch endlessly from the bar. But the real treat is drunkenly wandering the rest of Jubitz's center with Keith Urban ringing in your ears. Past a restaurant of the apple pie and fried mozzarella stick variety, a museum of wheelers leads to pinball machines, massage chairs, a hair salon and two-screen theater.

Dancing lessons at the Ponderosa Lounge are just the beginning of this fall down a countrified rabbit hole. Live music, dancing, pool, darts, lottery, arcade games, TV. Pope House Bourbon Lounge. Fewer afternoons lend themselves to greater pleasure than a few hours whiled away with a delectable glass of neat bourbon and a sunny place to take in the sights.

With one of the city's most impressive brown-liquor lists and a big ol' patio out front, the Pope House is a go-to spot to build a buzz as the city keeps on spinning. It's a Nob Hill spot, so more people show up in gym wear than I prefer to see when exercising my liver, but they fade to the background in the face of well-crafted cocktails and an epic selection of bourbon, Scotch and whiskey.

Patio, Blazers games, Sunday night trivia. I wish I'd seen Produce Row before they fancied it up. This old-time Eastside Industrial bar was refurbished in and now is polished, with sparse but tasteful furnishings and fine food and drink. In the old days, it was a gritty rocker bar where Pete Krebs hung out and early Oregon craft brews from Widmer and Deschutes found their first taps. These days, handsome wood tables display cauliflower panzanella and grilled polenta just down from the similarly decorated Olympic Provisions charcuterie shop. It's all very nice—the beer list is just as edgy, with plenty of serious offerings—but it's hard to compare it to the charm of its legend.

Board games, TV, live music, massive back patio. What's better than 2 liters of delicious, imported German beer? Not feeling the beer scene? Amid the rustic wood walls, old-timey family photos and ceramic novelty mugs, there is one novelty on offer at a point well past grim familiarity: After consuming a mere 1, drinks on your punch card, you can own your own barstool here. Blazers games, MLS and Timbers games, darts, patio. Redwood's small gastropub menu includes a solid selection of the Southern-fried Northwest larder that has, for better or worse, come to dominate Portland's food scene.

This place won't prompt westsiders to find their way to the backside of the volcano—Tanuki covers that base—but it's a good addition to the neighborhood, and worth a try before catching a movie across the street. The desserts and cocktails are nothing special, however. This fantastically ramshackle tavern has mastered the recipe for a perfect dive bar. The ingredients are simple: This is a joint that lets the drunken soul run amuck, with colored chalk handy for scrawling inspired messages on the wallboards and rafters our favorite reading: Given its outsized reputation among Oregon saloon lore over seven decades of operation, infrequent visitors to Multnomah Village, Southwest Portland's lone civilized stretch, always forget a central tenet of Renner's Grill: The bar is teensy.

A decent birthday party could overfill the Suburban Room, Renner's elevated lounge-within-a-lounge, not to mention disturb the early evening array of well-turned-out couples finishing their dinner, just-off-work locals starting their drunk and the still-imposing pensioners staring down the Blazers game. But the interiors are less cramped than finely proportioned, and there's an easy bonhomie across age and collar that has all but vanished in Portland proper.

The generous pours and cozy environs help, of course, but sometimes it takes a village. Contrary to popular belief, Roadside Attraction was never a Chinese restaurant. You could be easily fooled, though, by the crimson walls and the serpentine golden dragons framing the arch into the back poolroom. Then again, other curios recall a tiki lounge, summer camp or your Burner cousin's overgrown backyard, so you'd also be forgiven for assigning this inner-Southeast pub a different ancestry entirely.

It's a place where all Portlanders must land at some point, though it's disproportionately patronized by the sartorially adventurous: On a recent evening, I spotted several Utilikilts, a woman in a sequined Mrs. Claus getup and a chap going shirtless underneath a fur-trimmed vest. If only all sideshows were so rewarding.

Jukebox, pool, piano, patio with bonfire, endlessly fascinating knickknacks and creatively dressed patrons. With its lack of signage, vast patio and occasionally hipper-than-thou bartenders, Rontoms has long been a bastion of low-key swank. But in the last year, its free Sunday Sessions—which feature newer or lesser-known local bands—have made the airy yet intimate bar even more of a destination.

In the winter, acts play in the sunken indoor pit, surrounded by comfortable, low-slung couches, and in the summer they take to the sprawling back deck, which also boasts a fireplace and pingpong table. The menu tends toward comfort food think fondue and Swedish meatballs and the drink menu is standard, but while sipping a glass of Oregon pinot on an oh-so-long summer night, there's scarcely a better place to be. Live music, pingpong, fireplace, patio.

The bar's dark-marbled rock looks to have been cracked and hardened by first magma, then cooling river. The liquor selection is even more impressive than the room—oft-neglected rum sports a meticulous selection including Zaya, Appleton Estate, Neisson, DonQ and Mount Gay Black—but rarely has such imposing opulence been put to such pedestrian, if eminently tasteful, purpose.

Food specials and select drink specials 3: True love apparently can tame the most savage man—or bar, as the case may be. Onetime biker-rowdy, obscene-minded Roscoe's has been wizened into an old pussycat by its one true and abiding passion: Plinys both Younger and Elder pass through the fast-rotating taps, as do sours both local and Belgian. And while the house menu's Cajun, you can get sushi from neighboring Miyamoto delivered to your barstool. The bar even offers sushi-beer pairing advice.

One thing, however, that remains wild there is hair, both on the patrons' faces and in the scruff of their loose-running dogs. More than the new bougie builds, the bar stands as emblem to a gentler Montavilla that nonetheless still bears the scars of its roadhouse past in both chipped red brick and the occasional live rock show.

Sports TV, pool, live music. As the rest of the city blossomed into a food and brewing mecca, Portland's most affluent quadrant became depressingly irrelevant during the last decade. For Southwest Portlanders, finding a decent bite means at least a five-mile trip, often across the river. Fortunately, Sasquatch Brewing is one of the first steps in rectifying that malaise. Sunk off Capitol Highway on Hillsdale's west end, Sasquatch serves up an impressive array of in-house brews, guest taps and ciders. The food is even better, with seasonal burgers among the best I've had and a "small plate" of fried chicken and fingerling potatoes that is definitely not small.

The space, while decked in warm woods and tasteful Portland nostalgia, is a bit cramped when it's too cold for the patio, but that's nitpicking. Here's hoping Sasquatch is around for a while and helps lead a renaissance of these forgotten hills. Beer, wine and food specials pm and 9pm-close daily. Though its name means "savage" in French, absolutely nothing at Sauvage falls below perfectly refined, except maybe the taxidermied goose perched imposingly on a stack of wine barrels near the bar.

Hardly identifiable from the street, the entry is a chalkboard wall simply scrawled with " Sauvage" and a veiled door. Finishes on the 26th. Give your hope and soul a much-needed make-over — just go, alright! She used, she tells us in various tales from her past, to be fun. But fun and alcohol were too linked, and when she quit one, the other seemed to vanish. She even manages to mine comedy gold from a childhood accidentally drinking, the church youth group, and life in an all-girls school. Hill deserves a bigger and a better room — the tiny venue is so packed people can barely even lift up their drinks, and she had to turn people away.

Throughout, she holds the room in the palm of her hand, with a stream of laughs only interrupted by knowing nods through the set-ups, erupting into laughs again at punchlines. The audience enjoyed her so much they almost forgot to drink their pints! Once he starts, it becomes instantly clear that there is no need to fret: Danelis is a Toronto-based musical comedian who manages to charm his crowd with a brilliant blend of sharp wit, optimism and perfectly dark humour.

A Kealy's Heel Alex Kealy offers up a mixture of history, politics and personal life in his third Fringe show. The trouble is that whilst the world is in crisis, he is in love, and happiness, he admits, is not ideal for comedy. You get the distinct impression that he would rather be discussing the weightier subjects in this show, but the more mainstream routines like discussing the complications that arise when buying lube are generally better received, and he cheerfully acknowledges that these have been inserted to compensate for the heavier subjects: This is intelligent, informative, funny stuff from an important voice.

The Bullingdon Club seems to have a reputation as a representation of Oxford - as a club which is revered and even potentially feared. Actually, the idea of it is a bit of a laughing stock, with struggling membership, and recently being kicked out of college. This unpopularity might, in part, be something to do with the David Cameron and pig incident. I brace myself for horrible humour, but find myself very pleasantly surprised. The tone of the posh boy is captured perfectly, and the sense that any kind of recklessness would end with a retreat back into their money and vast carelessness.

The obsession of the young politicians with milk and Margaret Thatcher is a hilarious hook throughout the play, and the set-up of a surprise encounter is genius. Adam Martin-Brooks is a wonderful David Cameron — sitting dumbly centre-stage with a wide-eyed stupidity which makes me laugh before he says anything. The same can be said for Luke Richards, who manages to use the practised stupidity and overegged persona of Johnson as a means of consciously cultivating a personality.

While largely comic throughout, the cast also hint at the level of threatening and menace behind this mentality. The smaller venue adds to the energy, containing the action to make the slapstick even more dramatic. It seems like this play was a lot of fun to put on. Wakefield singer and TV personality celebrated in deeply personal Fringe debut.

This includes, it transpires, the one audience member who did not grow up in the UK, so has never actually heard of TV personality and singer, Jane McDonald. Those of us who have enjoyed actively keeping up to date with the recent activities of Noel Edmonds can attest to this, as can anyone who still smiles to themselves every time they remember Dean Gaffney. In these troubling times, it seems nothing is more powerful than the invocation of a UK celebrity whose star is on the wane to unite us in affectionate mirth.

A consistently engaging presence, he is never less than compelling as we await his next stunt. Some of these tricks really are something special removing his jacket whilst juggling is particularly stunning A Fist Full of Ideas A fist full might be overstating it. Only once or twice does Hicks dip into his notebook for new material, and even then, the temptation to chat to the audience proves too strong.

Rather than using us as hooks to hang his gags on, however, he seems genuinely interested. In terms of routines, Hicks alludes to his alcoholism, his accommodation and the difficulties of forming relationships later in life. He is a fascinating character, visibly bruised by life, yet he ensures that the focus is firmly on us. A Fist Full of Ideas Hour of masterful crowd work as comic figures it all out, whatever it is. Sizing up the packed room, and with the door still wide open, he addresses those waiting outside.

Another performer has claimed them and turns to face him. Hicks' show is mostly just this sort of thing: Looking barely awake, he clutches a mug of coffee, enlists an older couple to act as surrogate parents, and takes us through an hour of masterful crowd work. It flies by, to the extent that it's closer to 70 minutes by the time he's done.

What he lacks in timekeeping he makes up for with some genuinely amusing conversations. We learn today, for example, that the Lithuanian tourist board recently came up with the slogan 'the G-spot of Europe' to encourage visitors. Marriage is discussed, and Hicks tells us he hates being told 'you should have a kid, Russ,' given that he can barely arrive on time for his own show.

It's all very convivial and — thanks to our host's fairly direct approach to asking personal questions — never dull. A fistful of ideas turns out to be a rucksack containing a notebook. Consulting it, Hicks rambles about the joys of sparkling water and goes off on a tangent about squash before looking at us, resigned. It may be so, but watching him figure it all out is an amusing way to start the day. In The Trouble With Being Born Romanian, he explains that he's only considered 'Romanian' in Edinburgh whereas in his homeland he's just 'a guy', while in London he's erroneously labelled as 'Polish'.

None of these designations mean anything to Patrascan, who just wants to get along with his fellow citizens. Filtering the absurdity of racism through astute observations and anecdotes, he's an engaging comedian with some nicely drawn analogies. He often comes across as over-earnest which actually makes his material funnier, and he softens many of his gags with a cheeky smile, a ploy he uses to gain approval when his stories occasionally venture into edgier territory. Patrascan says he learned English late in his relatively young life and is still trying to understand its various complexities, but he has a firm grasp of vernacular and vividly demonstrates how the language's myriad rules both fascinate and bewilder him.

He also brings an interesting international perspective to political matters such as Brexit, Trump and Tommy Robinson, who he skewers with a crowd-pleasing punchline. Not everything hits the mark, particularly a joke about Madeleine McCann that's a decade late and set in the wrong country. Its uneasy reception suggests he's testing the goodwill of the crowd. With such a strong command of his material and his secondary language it seems the gamble paid off. Happy As the audience settle in, Nicky Wilkinson hands out sheets of stickers, and the crowd divide themselves into two teams — Movers and Shakers.

She also makes it clear that the show is just about being — and making ourselves — happy. There will be no going on a journey here. She has a wide range of things to make her — and hopefully us — happy. These include pork pies, silly games, stationery, and her own invention of a party game that turns out impossible to lose. She covers karaoke, demonstrates making someone happy, and throws in a whole list of fun facts, which I have sadly now forgotten.

Pubs, beer gardens, and of course pub quizzes, leads us to her own quick quiz. New skills, and TV themes somehow manage to lead inevitably to an attempt, aided by audience members, to make a silly pointless world record. Quick witted with strong audience work, sharp observations and great stage presence Gary G Knightley commands the room and supplies some close to the knuckle, very funny material. The show has good structure and is very well written and thought out.

The pacing and timing come together to form a brilliantly funny performance for adults with a filthy sense of humour. For me, this is top notch stuff. He owns the stage with proper, traditional comedy complete with brilliant anecdotes and strong punchlines which land and hit home with age groups in the audience. His biting, fairly dark martial trips off the tongue and is delivered with an effortless charm that makes it impossible not to enjoy. Arif is a tour de force. I was in absolute fits of laughter. These guys are amazing. Conor brings a good amount of energy to the start of this show, urging the audience to come along with him on the journey of self-discovery and rediscovery.

He has a sharp and surreal wit, able to cast sideways glances at all spectrums of social and popular consciousness — his analysis of the animals in Dublin Zoo was a particular highlight. He has a great ability to tell a story, with strong anecdotal comedy throughout. This is a show about discovering your inner rocker and your inner self by a performer who is not afraid to show his most embarrassing moments — there are some cringe-worthy photos of his younger self he has offered up for laughs — which adds a nice layer of vulnerability to the show.

Underneath the comedy there is a strong message about always being true to yourself. Warrior Not Princess Zahra moves on to the stage with the confidence of a warrior — she has never wanted to be a princess, despite what society has told her. From the very start, Zahra has a strong confidence in her material and a great command of the room. Her show takes in a whole host of topics — from growing up as a female in Saudi Arabia, to dating, the MeToo movement and Repeal the 8th — there are plenty of hard-hitting moments in this show, and many dark jokes to go alongside them, but Barri has an instant charm that always makes the audience feel at ease, that this is a safe space in which to explore powerful concepts and ideas.

Zahra also has plenty to say about the pitfalls of social media. There is a great structure to the narrative of this show, coupled with her self-assured delivery, brings a fantastic energy into the room. Zahra is not a princess; this show proves she is a warrior of comedy. The entire room was attentive, expectant. Abbie brings an hour of comedy about getting older, the intrusiveness of technology in modern life and about her time working as a performer on a cruise ship.

All the time, there is an undercurrent to these stories — a powerful tone of feminism upon which the narrative hangs. Abbie wonderfully flips the conventions that desperately need flipping with hard-line and jet black humour, not afraid to cut through the stereotypes with sharp teeth. All the while, this is a show about always being who you are and chasing your dreams. Abbie has a tremendous talant for finding the sideways perspective, bringing a different view to some very important themes. Gabriel takes to the stage first, with a good amount of energy and charm to welcome the audience into his world.

His comedy is sharp, flipping the conventions of racism and appearance. There are stories about how he was bullied growing up but Gabriel always presents a light-heartedness to his anecdotes. When Sam takes to the stage, there is a different energy — his is more laid back and presents a different perspective to the themes from the first half, looking at another side of racism and judging people by their appearances. The room was warm so ice water was to be dispensed if anyone said the safe word.

I loved that touch. Charmian Hughes also went to the trouble of making fans from her flyers. Friendly, considerate, thoughtful and quick thinking. These qualities come though in her material too so that her audiences see a well thought out, funny, delightful show that makes you feel good and makes you think. There is no option but to love it. Hughes is very charismatic and has a superb way of telling the beautifully written stories and material.

Everyone in the room is completely invested and really enjoying themselves no matter what age or gender they are or identify as. It is a performance that really encapsulates all of the frustrations, trials and triumphant feeling felt in seeking a sexy, supportive, non-bank account breaking bra. So, the show itself. We were all laughing, but quite strangely at different times, picked off by her punchline sniper rifle.

Mansplaining Feminism Talbot is a great feminist. From the very start of the show, to the vox pops from well-known faces that are dotted throughout this hour of sharply-written sketch comedy, this is never in doubt. One very strong narrative that runs through this show is that Rosie Holt just wants a compliment on her physical appearance — one compliment in particular. Both simmering beneath this show and in full plain view are many important lessons that everybody needs to learn — about judging people on physical appearances, about how to fundamentally act around other people, about treating each other with respect.

All of these lessons are presented by two performers whose energy, chemistry and passion radiates from the stage. The sketches themselves are perfectly written and timed, ranging from a beautiful parody of periods, original sin in the garden of Eden to how social media can draw out and blow up the smallest of disagreements.

There is no doubt that this is a very important show, absolutely on point with the long-overdue movements sweeping society today. Holt and Talbot bring all of this to their show with amazing craft, wisdom and intelligence. It's , where every other comedian is discussing feminism and political correctness Rosie Holt and Christian Talbot provide some kind of escapism with imaginative sketches parodying the issues. Fast-paced, fun and light-hearted, Mansplaining Feminism looks at the likes of internet dating, right-wing grandparents, catcalling, the use of social media to expose foibles and a woman's physical features through a range of well thought-out, tongue-in-cheek, closely observed sketches.

Videos covering changes feature fellow comics telling him: Talbot is the more shy and understated, projecting a sense of insecurity, while Holt is the more committed performer: The crowd in this packed sweaty room concur, having as much fun as the performers clearly are. He has a distinctive look, and an infectious style. He is as home working the audience as he is in delivering his well-crafted set and even in these latter days of the Fringe is still packing out his venue on a daily basis. But he needs our help. He has had Twitter spats with a number of people and organisations and has been blocked by them, hence unable to vent his views further.

It is not a one way street though. Mor goes through the early minutes finding out about his audience, there are a large number of repeat attenders but it is a chatty lot, just the kind of gig he thrives on, in fact he says he prefers weird gigs. It has to be said the room was behind him with everything he said. Mor is a class act, always has been, and at the very top of his games. Mr Kearse is, as he acknowledges in the show, deliberately provocative with some of his statements and viewpoints, coming across variously as rampantly self-interested, prone to generalisations and stereotypes, and with a penchant for punching down rather than up.

He does also however, aim his ire at both the right and the left, highlighting stupidity on both sides. Structurally, the show works well, with gentle transitions between stories indicators and gear changes, rather than handbrake turns and everything linked to a coherent central theme. He makes a valid and well-argued point about making space for all points of view — even if they are distasteful — and on that we do agree. Huge If True Paul Foxcroft has all the confidence you would expect from a man who has improvised with the best for most of his career.

But this is tightly scripted stuff. There will, one day, be an incredibly dark hour from Foxcroft on his relationship with his family, and it is hinted at all through this one, adding a little frisson of danger to an otherwise well-mannered show. We wind down with a few moments pondering the worth of reviews, illustrated by reading a few from public review websites before ramping up the excitement to eleven with that game of FinaleQuest.

I might just keep going until I get to play, it is ridiculous amounts of fun. This is his first solo hour, amazingly, and it is a cleverly-crafted mix of comedy genres. Not many performers can pull this off but he does so with aplomb. Still, he seems justifiably peeved that a tour he was booked on referenced his crash in its advertising. Along the way we are treated to a contemporizing tour of his personal zeitgeist; Brexit, Tube Travel, potentially imminent fatherhood, racism — all of which varied in quality, but was entertaining enough.

My instinct tells me that if Daniel can weave a show where his jokes bounce off the audience interactions, a rainbow may sunder the sky along which path should lie his comedy gold. Melt In his stand-up show Melt, Dave Green projects himself as a slightly incompetent, slightly unconfident Everyman, stressing the small stuff. Luckily for his comedy, the upside of overthinking even the most mundane of everyday situations also applies to gags, giving them a quirky edge. They are pithy and offbeat, and this show establishes him as a keen writer who approaches the everyday from a different angle.

Yet they come from such an obvious place of love, they cannot possibly taken the wrong way. Even though he is still alive, the comic sometimes refers to him in the past tense, so far has the man he knew faded. While this is heartbreaking, Day focuses almost entirely on painting a portrait of what manner of man his dad was.

Primarily he was a grafter who had to work for everything. But Conor Drum has turned some of the most cringe-inducing memories of his time in a band into something valuable — the backbone of this highly entertaining hour of anecdotes. He had been a happy-go-lucky, if mischievous, child — albeit one who managed to get kept back a year in playschool and went on to indulge in some dangerously unsupervised experiments with his best pal. But he seemed to undergo a transformation into a sullen greasy-haired, angst-ridden rocker almost overnight.

The ravers who bullied him in his Dublin school called him Mmmbop, because they thought his long hair made him look like the band Hanson, while his parents were clearly controlling Nazis who never let him do anything. Melt Solidly enjoyable stand-up comedy with flashes of brilliance. The structure here is worthy of a seasoned professional comic, and the delivery is as confident and assured as they come. While his interactions with the audience feel a little forced on occasion, it is clear that Green is generally a relaxed and confident performer, more than adequately prepared by his already relatively illustrious comedy career to make his somewhat belated Edinburgh Fringe debut.

The promotional material for Melt is misleading in some other key ways. Appropriately, Eat Sleep Shit Shag is an hour of amusing anecdotes undercut with mock bitterness that serve to give her comedy an acerbic aftertaste. With her strong Essex accent and breakneck pace, her delivery is both a boon and a drawback; her high energy levels ensure that the tempo remains upbeat despite the often pessimistic subject matter, but the rapid-fire diction makes it difficult to keep up at times.

The same can be said for her overall demeanour. Her rants are imbued with impeccable comic insight and her prickly dryness is what gives the material punch, but the contempt often spills over into standoffishness, leaving the audience unsure of the ground they stand on. For a show that relies heavily on her catalogue of failures failure to get a mortgage, a marriage, 2.

Yet Cardwell succeeds in creating a warm feeling the room, a cocoon of empathy amid the drunken hedonism outside the door. Our host for the hour is Sylvia Sceptre — real name Careena Fenton — and it's never quite explained whether she's a medium, a spirit guide, or one of the deceased themselves. But whatever her role, she's a bright and capable character, filling the crypt-like performance space with both wit and conjuring skill. The magic is well-worked, and at times genuinely befuddling; there's an emphasis on mind-reading, as befits the theme of seeing the world from the other side of the veil.

Fenton is kind and generous with those she gets up on-stage, always understanding that it's her job to make her volunteers look good, and she has instant in-character responses to the minor distractions of a free-festival venue. A couple of the big set-piece tricks are really quite similar to each other, but there's enough of a twist in their presentation that I'll let that point pass by.

Some humour is provided by an invisible psychic cat — if you've got the imagination, Fenton's patter and performance will make you believe it's really there in the room — and there's a stonker of a prop hiding under an intriguingly-draped tablecloth. The background music's well-judged too, striking enough to set the atmosphere, but used sparingly enough that it doesn't become intrusive. Our Kid There can be no doubt that Stephen Bailey is a comedian who is going places. Stephen Bailey is in evidence from the start, getting people seated explaining the format and them we are off into an hour of him at his very best.

Bailey shies away from much involvement in current affairs, he is more intent in talking about family, friends, his gays, friend Natalie, dating and interacting with the audience. He is a blatant flirt, chatting to two men in particular, one gay, one straight currently, he adds and gets piles and piles of laughs from everyone there. His early life is briefly included as are a couple of his amours, he can say things that a different comic may cause offence with but such is his charisma nobody can object in anyway.

However, his particular brand of observational comedy with crisp one-liners is refreshing and original. He is able to talk about a whole range of subjects, from suicide to Brexit, from sport to reality TV with a fantastic speed and sharpness. His easy charm on the stage disarms the audience, particularly when his comedy pushes on potentially awkward topics, such as anxiety.

The levity in his humour can push through boundaries in a daring way without ever making the audience feel uncomfortable. This is an hour of self-aware and intelligent comedy from Alex Kealy which weaves between a whole range of subjects seamlessly. This is a bold and daring comedian that should not be missed. Hail Mary There are so many strong shows at the Edinburgh Fringe this year it is easy for some to get overlooked by reviewers. Sean McLoughlin doesn't seem to have had many critics in so far but he doesn't seem to be having much difficulty getting fans into his show.

I had to squeeze into the back for this one and watch it on a bench facing the wrong way. It was worth the stiff neck though. McLoughlin has become a Fringe regular in recent years and is the epitome of the skilful stand-up. He is self-mocking but sharp and confident, angry but not to the extent that it gets on your nerves. He also looks the part. Imagine if Lionel Messi had decided to go on a crash diet, not sleep for a week, don a shirt and jacket and lurk in a basement in Edinburgh for August.

McLoughlin clearly knows what he is doing. Hail Mary is initially about getting older, about your ambitions not working out as you had planned. It is also about our obsession wth technology and how our humanity is being relentlessly taken over by social media and perhaps we don't even realise it. He's mad as hell and not going to take it any more, but first of all he is going to make us laugh. He cuts an incredible charming and likeable figure on the stage, dotting his set with audience interactions that never makes those members feel uncomfortable.

He is a comedian with a clear pedigree of writing well-crafted jokes, with a clarity and confidence of delivery that is at the height of the profession — even with jokes that he self-admittedly only wrote that morning, making this even more impressive. Inevitably, a show about falling in love and all the foibles around it — Daniel is trying to be a better person for his new partner — there are lots of jokes about sex which are presented in a very accessible way and never strays into uncomfortable territory.

His comedic talents also turn very well to fantastic word play and the flipping of the tropes and convention associated with love. This show is a fantastic way to start the day at the Fringe, a highly enjoyable and hilarious hour of comedy that needs to be seen. Chameleon, Comedian, Corinthian and Caricature From the very beginning of this show, with Nathaniel welcoming the audience into the room with an easy and warm charm, it is clear that he is an expert performer.

This is a show about how his lead to the break up of his relationship and how this is his first Edinburgh show since then. It is a show that explores the paths and avenues of artistry, full of sideways glances at a wide array of subjects — the influential figures in his life such as David Bowie, Coco Pops and pretty much everything in between.

Every moment is well-constructed, moves with purpose and confidence and displays exactly what the performer is capable of. Nathaniel Metcalfe has put together a show here that has everything. There is superb use of multimedia — a break-down of a bizarre Jeremy Irons interview and subsequent return later in the show is a particular highlight.

This was a hour of comedy that was an absolute pleasure to be part of. He has a great story-telling style, which builds his own narrative throughout the show and leaves room for big, silly jokes while still moving round dark corners. When his does meander away from the light, his warmth and friendliness reassures the audience that everything is still OK, and that there is a big, daft laugh right around the corner.

He has a good talent for bringing the crowd along with him on his journey. His relaxed style is the perfect night-cap to a day at the Fringe, easy-going comedy with an edge that will round off your day in the right way. The stories told will change from performance to performance, as is the nature of the structure; one the night I was in attendance, there were stories of drunken excess, new loves and heartbreak that spanned the globe from Australia to South America.

There is a brutal honesty to the stories that are being told by Aidan, engaging with a great blend of easy charm. Sometimes, the stories pushed on the taboo, with tales of sex, but these are dealt with a sensitivity that never puts the audience on edge. Aidan carries the structure of the show with a great energy that brings the audience along with him on his adventures, stepping in to the levity of situations while finding the darker side of things as well.

His 18 months of backpacking around Australia, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur and others form the basis of his likeable hour of standup, which keeps its audience chuckling appreciatively even if it never quite takes off. His anecdotes of minimum-wage bar work, dealing with hecklers and having his beard stroked in foreign cities are always good fun, but start to feel digressionary, even rambling, as the hour goes on. Logan is an affable guy with great comic delivery, but his show is definitely wanting tighter focus.

It's bad news, I'm afraid: World War III has broken out, and we're the last few survivors to have made it down to this cramped and sealed bunker. But all's not lost, for we have a stout-hearted guide to lead us through the coming darkness; a strong, inspiring, practical woman, who won't let the little matter of nuclear Armageddon disrupt her well-ordered life. Or at least… she seems to see it that way. The woman in question is Lotta Quizeen, the long-time alter ego of performer Katie Richardson, whose Thatcheresque imperiousness and love of domestic regimen make her the ideal candidate to organise a brave new world underground.

She has roles in mind for all of us, and she's stockpiled plenty of cake mix; and if this all seems a touch gender-stereotyped for your taste, don't worry, she's sorted out the generator too. But her son Hugo's been out on patrol, and he's really quite late returning. He'll be all right, of course. He's just a bit delayed. The story that follows is cleverly constructed, with hints of something even darker than nuclear winter poking at the edges of Lotta's mind.

Unexplained motifs — from her obsession with the wild dogs hunting outside, to her out-of-place musings on forgiveness — together suggest there's something about Lotta's recent history which she isn't quite letting on. By the end, when it's all snapped into place, we have a renewed understanding of how she came to be in this bunker, and of what life after the bomb went off might actually mean to her. He recently turned 30 and has slipped to fourth in the Google search results after: In a hysterical hour of comedy Hail Mary explores faith, love and technology as religion.

He played the Royal Albert Hall a couple of months ago but finds himself performing a free Fringe show in a basement and wonders how he got here. Technology has also impacted on his love life — he was in a long-distance relationship for a year and relied on tech to keep the romance alive.

If a joke ever fails to land, he becomes bitter which is often funnier than the dud gag itself. The set finishes with an exploration of religion from the perspective of a lapsed Catholic who has recently rediscovered his faith. The comic then skilfully ties the narrative about technology and religion together with the audience laughing and whooping to the end. He provides a high energy, solidly funny gig to hoards of people who have flocked to see him on word of mouth recommendations alone. One day, Lee Kyle found himself kicking potatoes into the sea, and he's got the video evidence to prove it.

The route that led him to believing this was a productive and typical way to spend an afternoon is outlined in an hour propelled via his genial and warmhearted persona. Multiple sequences evidence an ability to comically work through novel ideas, even if sometimes these are stretched beyond their limits.


  • .
  • The Yellow Book.
  • Modern Substitutes for Christianity (with linked TOC).
  • ?
  • .

A reworking of the alphabet is initially funny, then outstays its welcome, then reasserts its comic value through a well-structured payoff. Another section about repeated sounds in words could do with some trimming too, even though it is testament to a creative comic mind. Indeed, there's considerably more technical cleverness going on here than might be apparent at first, as callbacks and recurring themes bubble to the surface in unexpected ways. But there's an odd incongruity between these self-contained comic ideas, and the darker themes that pepper the show.

Kyle recounts his mental health issues, and how these both inform, and construct barriers to, his comedy. Given his evident skill in weaving together multiple narrative strands, it's a shame the interplay between the serious and the comic isn't more fluid. The ending successfully draws all the thematic threads together in a manner that reveals considerable technical skill, and it's good to experience a show that offers a meaningful denouement. If only the journey there had been smoother.

He is one of many comics on the circuit choosing mental health as his comedy fodder of choice covering both anorexia while trying to plug his new book, Weight Expectations and anxiety as he encourages people to seek help should they require it. Firstly, he dissects the language we use around mental health explaining that we all have mental health, it is mental illness which causes difficulties. But even that, Chawner explains, is all wrong as he asks why we insist on focussing on the negative instead of the positive?

Chawner is striving to improve this as part of a working group which includes members of parliament and a stint as a presenter on a documentary about body dysmorphia. Sounds like a barrel of laughs right? Well remarkably Dave Chawner does manage to make this a show littered with laughs commanding the microphone with confidence. He is clearly passionate about the topic he has chosen to base his show around and this sometimes causes mild cases of verbal diarrhoea which are hard to keep up with as the words tumble at increasing speed from his mouth. However, as much as the point is to make the room laugh, his material is delivered with care and compassion for those potentially experiencing any mental illness while listening and he even gives the names of places to go should one require it.

Travelling, meditation and breathing are not the only options available he muses, despite the advice he once gave out under pressure. Making light of a serious situation is a fine art and one which Dave Chawner masters with some skill. And with no price tag attached to this show it is a fine art which all can, and should, hear. Ahir Shah has returned to Edinburgh with a super-powered hour of standup, a clear step up from his show which was nominated for Best Show just saying. The backdrop to Duffer is the Windrush scandal from earlier this year.

This was no one-off, as Shah describes how his paternal grandmother was deported 25 years ago back to India, treated like an inconvenient statistic more than a human being, in precisely the way the Windrush generation have been today. Duffer is what she used to call young Ahir. Last year, Shah visited his gran for the first time since she was unceremoniously booted out of Britain. He knew it would also be the last time he would ever see her. As a piece of contemporaneous comedy, examining the effects of cruel and unnecessary policy, it cuts right to the bone.

It would be nice if a few Conservative Ministers dropped in to watch it. The infamous Andrew Lawrence, whose career path was explored in a Sky Arts documentary, seems to have turned degrees on the idea, bringing an all clean show to the fringe this year. Kearse plays up to his presumed intolerant views by putting on a character that is prime for satire. Very rarely do you find someone truly, naturally funny, especially when talking about such a dry subject such as their political stance. As the most recent winner of Scottish Comedian of the Year, Kearse has proven himself, perhaps not as the most naturally charismatic performer, but as a solid joke writer who can stretch out even the most uneven premises into laughter.

Even though it is technically a show where the host invites guest stand-up comedians to do their own few minutes of material after she delivers her own bits, there is a new format to take into consideration in the proceedings. The format, created by the host Dalia Malek, sees two co-hosts, seated by the side of the stage, interrupt clue is in the name! As any compilation show, the enjoyment of it is inevitably linked to the guests chosen and the particular format makes that even more important as not everyone can think on their feet, be interrupted and get back into the prepared material they came to perform.

The host is welcoming, natural and very funny, delivering her sharp, at times dark material based on the struggles of being an Egyptian American with excellent timing. One of the acts mentioned at the end how good an experience being part of this show was, as performing a set material for a whole month can sometimes make you start losing the passion for it and being interrupted and prompted with insightful questions will have you on your feet, creating on the spot or remembering older material, and fall in love with the craft all over again.

Bar Guide 2013: Listings A-Z

Both audiences and acts should be giving the Interruption Show a look. For tickets and more information click here! That world belongs to Will Mars, a dedicated comedian with a surreptitious story to tell. Miss Sylvia is a time-travelling clairvoyant, who never fails to captivate the audience as she explains her life story with the help of Gothic mementos and audience participation. This makes the show feel creative and unique, inviting the audience to question their senses, what they perceive as real or unreal.

Created and played by Careena Fenton, Miss Sylvia also provides commentary on themes such as female hysteria and Victorian medicine with her unique blend of comedic eccentricity and dark storytelling. Full disclosure, I have always been a big fan of Martha McBrier. But she is a comedy Midas: Her story is packed with shoplifting, corporal punishment, religious terrors, chain smoking and Provi loans. This hour will fill your heart with laughter and your eyes with tears. How to be a Bad Girl, a captivating cabaret act of original songs performed on piano, is as dirty as the flyers promise — but with unexpected sweetness and poignancy.

With a cheeky punch, Chap charms even the politest of Edinburgh audiences to erupt into cheers and to sing along. Her songs are rich in variety, spanning themes of heartbreak, longing, anger, and political frustration, each its own storm of passion and humour. Among the best free shows at the fringe all month. He makes that clear from the get-go: The Harry Potter movie actor, and co-writer of The Sketch Show with Ronni Ancona and others, moved to LA eight years ago, so is able to weave in personal bits about his home life, his rescue dog, and his wedding in Vegas before he gets to the bone-crunching details of his crash.

As the show goes on, the laughs quieten for his decent material, as the sucker punch of his real-life disaster kicks in. But he manages to keep a healthy balance of comedy and confession, with a nice few plugs for the NHS and California's progressive policies on medicinal marijuana in there too. A matter-of-fact look at how this unstarry comic nearly checked out, but ended up accidentally bumping up his celebrity profile on IMDb instead. Janey introduces herself as more like a nosy cleaner than a performer prior to launching into a no-nonsense hour of laughter that appealed to everyone and the laughs flowed loud and proud as She shoots from the lip, says what she thinks and nobody and nothing is sacrosanct.

The show covers a few of her greatest hits from over the years, and boy does she have a back catalogue to draw from, but there is quite a bit of new stuff too. She gets a lot of abuse on social media but it takes more than that to worry her. With a hard upbringing and early teenage life she has developed a thick skin. The hour flew by and I am certain was enjoyed by everyone.

Candid Cafe Self-loathing, heartbreak and frequent punchlines. Will Mars has had a terrible year and it shows. He ambles on stage, glares at the room with his sad eyes and asks us not to clap. He's not earned any applause yet. This isn't a gimmick: Fortunately, it just happens to also be a tightly-focused hour of comedy. The heartbreak and redemption narrative will win Mars no points for originality, but this is a show he can be pleased with.

Mars fell in love last year in Edinburgh, but was dumped in a quite brutal manner. Losing 'the one' has forced him to look in the mirror, considering how his life has panned out. He tells his story with an earnest desperation and, while we obviously only get one side of the story, it's savage nonetheless.

On paper it sounds miserable, but Mars crams a lot of smart gags into his hour. I'm not on board with all of it sarcastically bemoaning his straightness as the reason for his not hitting the big time jars with the reflective tone but it's an enjoyably cathartic performance nonetheless. This year's Fringe show from Sarah Callaghan is about wanting to be in a gang.

She desperately wants to fit in, to feel like she's got a family, to get respect and, if possible, a slot on mainstream telly, please. But watching lots of her jokes fall flat, it seems like she needs to pick a team rather a gang. One part of her tries to be on the chummy, mainstream comedy club team, with her banter about geezer mates in London affectionately pretend-bumming her in front of their annoyed girlfriends, and the other part seems to be searing with rage at a spoken-word night, reciting angry, bleak poems about her young, working-class disillusionment.

Although she's been grafting hard at the comedy coalface for eight years now, Callaghan seems shy to reveal her recent attempts to write poetry, but that's the bit that seems most honest and interesting. She feels invisible because of her lack of posh credentials, but it might be nothing to do with that. Her fame-hungry, over-confident swagger and weak gags don't feel like the things that are going to set her apart, but the undertow of pent-up fury at politicians that couldn't give a monkeys, and her cynical insights after growing up in a broken home might be.

Ever the struggling comedian, he reckons that after five consecutive Edinburgh show, his creative tank had run dry when it came to writing his sixth. Yet this impassioned, urgent broadside on the state of both the nation and his own life is fizzing with ideas, intensity and bloody great jokes. While he starts from familiar set-ups, such as feeling he lacks the maturity, stability and achievement he should have at 30 and mulling a future with a partner he loves, he spins them off in insightful directions.

One core idea is that society is divided between the forward-looking, who eagerly consume each quantum leap in technology, and the backwards-looking reactionaries, nostalgic for an ideal that never really exist. With that in mind, what follows is probably not representative of most nights for the Not So Late Show, but nevertheless should persuade you to go. To set the scene: Consequently, getting any kind of an atmosphere going is a challenge with a full crowd.

Unfortunately, Sunday evening was not a full crowd. Featuring guests such as Freddy Mercury and the Ferrero Rocher man, the level of inventiveness required to reinvent your whole script every few days is deeply impressive. Nevertheless, Ross and Josh play off each other fluently, and actually managed to pull off a damn good gig.

The guest spots are funny, their choice of guest comedian played well, and their audience interaction was fluent. This style of kamikaze comedy shows nerves of steel. Dolphins, biscuits, and bottle openers are the main focus. In the second half things get more interesting. As well as adding sharp points to an impressive number of seemingly pointless first act jokes and lines, Falafel makes various moves to deconstruct and expand his performance. At another point, Falafel allows the projector screen he has been using as a subtle aid to take over the show, and suddenly the audience find themselves in conversation with a friendly Indian shopkeeper.

There are silly childish moments in the show, and there are wiser adult moments. Carl Donnelly opens the show by playing a little game with The Counting House lighting. A full range of colours are on offer, and he lets the audience pick the one that suits them. Bold, bright red is too weird, and blue is too depressing, so the audience settle on a comforting orange hue. Instead there are anecdotes, observations, and a little social commentary, amusingly and sometimes cheekily delivered.

Class pops up quite a lot. Class links up with race: These are not shocking revelations, but Donnelly riffs on them well enough to get plenty of laughs. Throughout the whole show, Donnelly comes across as a kind and reasonable man, consciously choosing to host a lower-key show than usual. A Kealy's Heel A funny hour of disjointed standup. Mostly, though, he tackles Brexit, and does so with aplomb, taking on common truths about our national, erm, conversation and providing genuinely new perspective.

But even a three-minute pop song needs shape, form and weight, whereas often this feels like: Is it a metaphor for an interminable Brexit? This is funny, but not a masterpiece. The premise is ludicrous: So another day may bring another, very different show. Additionally, the particular show I saw was rather hijacked by its own audience.

The show is a compilation, with different acts each day bringing material loosely based around books, while Mr Dimarelos hosts and provides some introductory explanation and material. One measure of a comedian is to see them on a bad day, with a pain-in-the-ass audience. An interesting concept for a show that is worth taking a punt on.

He can then measure the results at the end. Thankfully, there was plenty to measure. His thirty-two years an equity member have stood him in good stead, and his patter is, if you look very carefully, quick, and slick. Juggling, balancing, spinning, and a spot of magic, are all coupled with friendly banter, and even a quick hint of satire. Some may put up more of a fight than others.

Some battles can be an epic war of words between two able-minded combatants, decided only on a decibel of laughter. Others are as one sided as a leopard versus a hamster. But the basic principle maintains that there are no punches to be pulled: Never fear, however, as you can be sure that all challengers do so in good spirits and resolve any emotional turmoil with a hug at the end of each battle.

As carnivorous as a hawk, Bakanov is a worthy opponent himself and certainly one not to take prisoners, aiming light-hearted pot-shots at both the judges and audience. Bakanov will fashion you into a lightning rod of damnation for all his brash one-liners. Rallying the audience into a frenzied chant of "Battle! Vanessa Hua and Hannah Pennauer. A nice warm up to the depraved ends of what would eventually lie in store for the remainder of the night, Hua and Pennauer were notably tamer than their counterparts though nonetheless catty enough in their remarks, with Hua deservedly emerging as the victor.

Bewilderment and awkward chortles followed this bizarre clash where neither seemed capable of going all out against the other, nor able to successfully land a decisive verbal blow. Up next were the two talented and experienced roasters Matt Duwell and Calum Ross who collectively produced the fiercest of the battles fought on the night.

Both comedians showed no mercy with curt retorts that ranged from sexuality to estranged parents. Their duel was only won narrowly with a well-timed pause to reflect on a crude joke that thereafter spelled victory for Duwell. Ben Clover and Victor Patrascan appeared next in what could aptly called a one-sided, verbal onslaught, where Clover demolished Patrascan with deviously-witted snubs that left the Romanian comic reeling.

Behind his sardonic demeanour hides a fearless beast willing to take on any challenge, and one could only wonder and hope to see the outcome between Clover and Duwell or Bakanov. The final pair, Jamie Allerton and Humbert Mayr, ended in a draw after a battle of sporadic, tic-for-tac insults where both went for the easy targets of their opponent though nonetheless succeeded in pleasing the crowd.

With the comedic gladiator matches over, the champions crowned and the losers scorned, the judges and roast host Bakanov took their leave to thunderous applause of a thoroughly entertained audience. Candid Cafe Will Mars: I do not want to give away the plot of his show, because every nuance of his tale must be appreciated without forewarning to fully appreciate the telling. Last night at the Fringe Espionage venue this double act — otherwise known as LoveHard — delivered yet another highly entertaining show proving their ability and cementing their reputation as, not only fantastic writers but also, incredibly versatile and compelling actors.


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For their Fringe offering this year, LoveHard transport us to Hopeville, an archetypal Mid-western average American town, where nothing ever happens — supposedly. Here, three highschool buddies, one is actually called Buddy , get sucked up into a science fiction mystery when one picks up an innocuous-looking box of cassette tapes at a yard sale. Strange things and even stranger With homage paid and nods made to, amongst others, Back to The Future, Jumanji and, of course, Stranger Things, this show is clearly going to delight the sci-fi and paranormal geeks amongst you, though it will absolutely appeal to wider tastes too.

Like their previous production this year, Murdered by Murder, LoveHard insists on an audience that pays attention. But if you stay engaged you will be rewarded with a thrilling, fast-paced, high-octane comedy ride. For me, Kevin, the Mediterranean student, was a particular favourite.

But Lovick is by no means less able or talented, his bike-riding mime and FBI caricatures were delivered with a deadpan depiction that was simply brilliant. I loved the epilogue, set in 90s London, too. Tyler and Harding are a viewing must. LoveHard are outrageously talented, ridiculously witty and endlessly entertaining — I laughed out loud from beginning to end of this show.

Sabrina Chap clearly loves people, and her stage presence reflects this vividly. The intimate room at The place on York Place, whilst it may not be the most appealing looking, is a perfect size for an audience to appreciate Chap close-up as she gets personal with them. This is an intoxicating evening, and a must see for cabaret fans — or anyone that wants a bit of alternative sexual education.

A free show, which is well worth filling the bucket at the door — Get there early if you want a seat! But to give Jones his due, he was confined to a cramped room that made the Chokey from Matilda look comfortable. This section of the show is profound and offers its own self-contained world to be explored, but again it feels too clunkily arranged; rather than interweaving the Pixar skit throughout the entirety of the show, it is sectioned off into very clearly banded sections. Hit and miss is putting it lightly; there are some gems, but he should save this as a single occurrence for the best and most accessible ones.

Jones has all the makings of a future comic triumph, but he needs to tidy up his act in certain places. His routine is compact enough not to drag, but to prove he is the real deal he needs to ditch his material notes hoisted on an orchestra stand.

Where he shows most promise is his quick-witted ability to think on his feet and respond deftly to his audience with aplomb. It is truly his remarkable optimism that carries his show, ironic given his open avowal for the perks of a pessimistic lifestyle. But perhaps that is the crux of the argument; indeed, he truly excels when he is unhappy. No, what Jones lacks is stage set up, preparation and a proper venue, though the latter is harder to come by.

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