Will Franken: The Stuff They Put In Sleep

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (comedy): Will Franken: The Stuff They Put In Sleep at Just the Tonic @ The Caves (Venue 88). Review by Kate Copstick


From the moment he opens the show with an interview with himself about how the most difficult thing is coming up with an opening for the show we know we have Franken on form. This show probably has to be seen at least three times to be fully appreciated. But, on a first visit, I left sore with laughter and breathless in awe of Franken’s talent.

Apart from anything else, the sheer density of material here is incredible. Where the art of many comics is Impressionist, Franken is Seurat. And when all the tiny dots start to join up and you get to see the whole picture of his show it is a wonderful thing. We have a minute’s silence for victims of hurtful comedy and the most brilliant satire on media newscasting (with specific reference to BBC4) you will ever hear, we get the Sixties and the much slower than you think rise of The Beatles. This is high-risk comedy – and not just because of the Goodfellas jihadi moment. Franken is political in cleverer, funnier, more telling ways than anyone I have yet seen.

In Franken’s world, Sigmund Freud is showstoppingly hilarious, smugness cures cancer and a conference call with an alcoholic opens up a dark tunnel all the way down to suicide as a cure for depression.

At the risk of sounding fanciful or hyperbolic, I could see the spirit of Robin Williams in a lot of what Will Franken does. The characters come and go with a turn of the head and a twist of the shoulder. The voices that intertwine spill out in crazy/clever conversations. Some of the flights of fabulous fancy take off and whirl around the stage as if Franken has a bucketload of funny which he is spinning around without spilling a drop, the whole unlikely thing held together by a sort of comedic centrifugal force.

OK, I can see that is a bit fanciful, but it is true. Go and see him. You will feel fanciful too.

Until 24 August. Today 10:40pm, more info.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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