Just the Tonic

Jonny Awsum: Honey, I Promised the Kid

18/08/17

Just the Tonic at the Caves, Edinburgh

When Jonny Awsum rashly promised his infant daughter that one day he’d play live at the 20,000 seater O2 Arena, little did he suspect that he was embarking on an epic quest to try and make it happen – one that would lead him in some unexpected directions.

This amiable one-man show, staged in what must be the Caves’ most salubrious room, is funny and heartwarming stuff, particularly as it’s all based on a true story and even features recorded interjections from the daughter herself (now aged six). Awsum is an engaging performer, who soon has the entire audience singing along and clapping their hands. His witty songs and amusing PowerPoint illustrations help to stitch the whole thing together,

After watching a lot of standup it’s really heartening to see a comedy performance this well-constructed and thoroughly thought-through. You’ll laugh in all the right places and marvel at the man’s evident brio. As to whether Awsum manages to deliver on that promise… well, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch the show to find out.

Suffice to say you’ll doubtless leave as I did – with a great big smile on my face.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

Danielle Ward: Seventeen

2016DANIELL_JE

06/08/16

Just the Tonic at The Caves, Edinburgh

Ugh, I don’t like this venue. The rooms are small and damp, with all the inherent charm of a medieval dungeon. But this is the Fringe, so it’s par for the course.

And I do like Danielle Ward. I’ve never seen her live before, but I’m a fan of her Do The Right Thing podcast, loved her musical, Gutted, and have heard a lot of her work on Radio 4. I’m excited to see what she does live, and she doesn’t disappoint.

The show’s premise is a simple one: what advice can Ward, at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, offer to a new generation of young women? What wisdom can she share with seventeen-year-old girls, on the cusp of adulthood? Can they learn from her experience?

Part reminiscence, part polemic, this is a fascinating show. Ward has a warm, natural appeal, and is so at ease on stage that she has no problem engaging the audience’s trust. She takes us with her effortlessly, through a list of topics as diverse as female masturbation and Donald Trump, chocolate oranges and red loo roll. It’s a feminist show, albeit one that eschews bold claims, and there are some delightful lines. “Back in 1996,” she tells us, “The Spice Girls invented Girl Power, which was to feminism what Dairylea is to a strong, mature Cheddar.” Some bits are very accessible, while others are more challenging; it’s a good balance and we’re laughing throughout. She’s right, it’s not really a two-in-the-afternoon show, but I can’t think of many better ways to spend an hour at any time. Today’s show was close to sold out, so don’t wait too long to book a ticket for this one!

4.6 stars

Susan Singfield