Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Belly Laugh at Underbelly
★★★★ (out of five)
SURREALISM seems to be a hit in Edinburgh this summer.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise.
After all, the Fringe Festival counts Jeremy Paxman, Nancy Dell’Olio and cricket commentating legend Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld among its 2014 line-up.
But few things are as bizarre as seeing singing comic Frank Sanazi, dressed as Jesus, de-robing to a song from the Fame musical.
In front of a stage set up like Craggy Island, no less.
Sanazi’s performance came during Ted’s Got Talent, an early round of Tedfest.
The four-day homage to Father Ted, held on Inishmore each February, has been condensed into an hour for the Fringe.
Organisers appear serious in their claim that Simon Cowell lifted the idea for his ‘talent’ contest from them three years after dreaming up the concept in 2004.
During the show, the line between fiction and reality blurs further as ‘Father’ Jack Anderson, introduced as the parish priest at St Anne’s in Edinburgh, takes to the stage.
Anderson proceeds to belt out a number a la Fr Ray Kelly, the Meath priest who became a YouTube sensation after his adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah clocked up more than 30 million views on YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, Tedfest is a fast-paced show. That’s the case from the Lovely Girls contest - reworked here with Scots lasses - to the Toilet Duck Award, a stand-up competition with four Irish acts who have three rapid minutes to deliver their sets.
The comedy contest - MC’d by Gary Lynch - nods to Father Jack’s hallucinatory tonic and the Golden Cleric awards.
However, like much of the performance, links to the hit sitcom are subtle; you don’t have to be a Tedhead to enjoy them.
On the night we caught, Alison Spittle’s impressions of famous singers performing in Lou Reed’s Perfect Day video fell flat.
However, Colm Tyrell won the crowd back with riffs ranging from Scottish independence to his unwanted talent of growing a “neck scarf” beard.
The Toilet Duck award eventually went to the bonkers but brilliant George Firehorse.
All considered, Tedfest made for a rude, blasphemous and by turns hilarious hour of comedy.
Tedfest runs at Belly Laugh, Underbelly, at 9pm, until August 24.
The grand final of the Toilet Duck Award takes place at midnight, on August 22, at the same venue.
For tickets see http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/