QED Comedy Lab's Oxford Festival Fringe Preview Comedy Festival may be an unwieldy name, but it is a fabulous prospect. A whole month's worth of stand-up comedy shows, previewing before these comedians decamp to the Edinburgh Fringe in pursuit of glory, an award or two, and a slot on the end of festival best joke lists. And so it seemed a fine prospect to wander over to the Jam Factory for a few hours to watch a pair of supremely talented comedians preview their new comedy.
The first act was Tania Edwards with Not My Dog (can't tell you why it's called this, even Tania acknowledged she didn't really know). While there was a sprawling, near structure-less feel to this show, it did not detract from Tania's laser-sharp wit and caustic one-liners. Over the course of an hour the comedian jumped from topic to topic, inserting material she'd skipped in her run-through. The fact that the show's introduction, Tania's own theory of everything, came two-third of the way through added to the show's charms. There were hilarious anecdotes about married life and being a new mum, with the tone set early on with a joke that alluded to the negatives of the revitalising impact of grandchildren: they slow down the access to an inheritance. The remainder of the show took in, amongst other topics, the sex lives of her friends and the prospect of having a second child.
Tania was an endearing performer, her set was often hilarious, as well as being remarkably quotable, and yet you have to hope that some kind of coherent structure emerges in the final weeks before she takes this show to
The second act of the evening was Daphna Baram, with her show Sugarcoating. This
There were times when this show had real bite. When it gravitated towards Brexit and how the colossal mess just reminded Daphna of home, it felt like the comedian was getting close to hitting a comedic sweet-spot. Daphna's critique of
Still these were two extremely talented comedians, with hilarious shows that are ripe with potential. It was fascinating to approach stand-up comedy at this stage, where the kinks are being worked through and the rough edges are being sanded off in front of you. Certainly I will be recommending both of these comedians to friends who are making the trip north of the border this year. It was also a joy to watch these shows with a packed audience, a credit to QED Comedy Lab who have successfully turned this festival into a must-attend fixture on the