Set List: Stand-Up Without a Net’s penultimate show of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was also its final of five nights taping Nerdist web episodes at the Pleasance Dome. As creator Troy Conrad ran tech, newly ponytailed host and fellow co-producer Paul Provenza explained to the vocal, sold-out crowd how never-seen topics would be projected via onstage TV screen; comics must harness all their talent and creativity to create material on the spot. “It’s like [British panel show] Mock the Week if Mock the Week was fucking real,” Provenza offered, prompting the audience to cheer with a knowing “Heyyy!” “You only have one rule, ladies and gentlemen,” he continued. “Don’t be cunts.” (Audience: “Yayyy!””)
Longtime Fringe veteran Thom Tuck took the stage for his only appearance of the month, the Brit proposing that “Thatcher = Faking It?” implied the late Prime Minister weighed her coffin with three dogs “she strangled herself” and taken to roaming South America…because she was a zombie. Following a quick audience round in which attendees had 20 seconds to riff on either “Wales Tourism Slogans” or “Princess Diana Theme Park,” Canadian Tom Stade immediately faux-admitted it was his first day off the wagon, because…” Looking to the screen, he laughed, receiving the coincidentally appropriate “Loch Ness Liver.” When later given “Pound vs Euro vs Handjob,” he quipped, “Well, my wife always says I’m not good with budgeting,” quickly admitting how, given the ever-declining value of the Euro, he’d been booking much more international work in France, where payment options were decidedly liberal.
Australian Felicity Ward ran with Stade’s affinity for the French, shifting the show into high gear with an escalating in which she declined French offers for “Coffine,” thus preventing hyperactivity but inadvertently paying via handjobs for her grandparents’ cremation. She followed by shrugging, “It was called The Last Entrée” in response to “The Last Supper Prequel” and unspooled a masterful rant against the trend of vaginal plastic surgery when presented with “What If We All Were Giant Genitals.” “I know this is a comedy show, supposedly,” she said. “But this is my time, and this is my soapbox!”
After stalling out with “Ich Bin Ein Sorry,” Ward conceded, “Aw, this one sucks. Can I just do an interpretive dance?” then rallied herself with a rousing “All right, Felicity; get your shit together!” and proclaimed ”All-Stalker Marathon” was not a sprint for those possessing only a passing interest. Only the truly dedicated could commit to trailing someone from childhood until death; fortunately Facebook and Twitter have made it much easier for lay-stalkers.
Closer Eric Lampaert, a rail-thin French/Dutch love child of Tim Minchin and a Muppet, made light of no one understanding what a “Singing Disciplegram” could possibly be before weaving the impressively cohesive tale of “Michael Barrymore’s Hollywood Ending,” one involving the fallen-from-grace UK personality, President Obama, himself and yes, the French emerging unscathed from a gay orgy, raging house party and after-hours swim. Like Set List itself, Lampaert proved that an anything-goes mentality and willingness to value process over perfection will result in an authentic and memorable experience every single time.