Comedy review: Caroline Rhea

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Caroline Rhea at Gilded Balloon Teviot, reviewed by Martin Gray

[Picture: Getty]

A few photographs, the odd chocolate bar, a banana … Caroline Rhea doesn’t need much in the way of props to entertain an audience. Truth be told, she doesn’t need these either, because Rhea has funny bones. There’s just something about her that has the sides of the mouth rising into a big, fat grin, Delighted to be back in her ancestral homeland, the Canadian stand-up and actress warmed the audience up with a singsong – some Neil Diamond tune or other – before telling us what’s been going on since she was last at the Fringe in 2010.

The sad news is that she’s split from her partner, but the great news is that she and daughter Ava are doing just fine. The four-year-old features in several stories, being cutely demanding in the middle of the night, amusingly alarmed at the disappearance of Mommy’s breast and endearingly crap at hide and seek.

We see what a gorgeous little girl Ava is via Rhea’s collection of slides, which range from photos of her striking parents and sisters to shots of herself growing up, images from TV shows she’s appeared in … and vegetables that look like snails. We see the admitted chocolholic with her Sabrina co-stars, Dick Van Dyke, Walter the Muppet and more, It’s not a question of ‘behold my celeb life’, more comic maguffins leading to hilarious reminiscences on the life of a jobbing comic.And Walter’s not the only Muppet seen – Bill Clinton’s there too, and Rhea’s indiscrete anecdote gets deserved applause.

Being single again means 49-year-old Rhea – Aunt Hilda in TV’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch – may fancy younger men in the audience, but don’t worry ladies. or gents, she’s more likely to toss a bar of Aero at them than pounce. Rhea is way too classy to go the cougar route.

Rhea refers to her stories as ‘jokes’ but there’s a truth to them that had the audience laughing non-stop. While she’s not Aunt Hilda in real life, you may leave this show wanting the warm, wise and witty Rhea to be your new best friend. Give her a bag of M&Ms and she might even agree …

Originally published in The Scotsman