Laughspin’s look inside comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Part 5)

By | August 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm | No comments | News, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

EDINBURGH — Nazis are hilarious! That statement might be a tough sell but dare I say Frank Sinazi has pulled it off. Crooning hits such as “Third Reich” (That’s Life), “Gestapo” (Chicago), or “Strangers on my Plane” (Stranger in the Night), Sinazi has the packed hangar-like room in complete submission. Let me spell it out: he is Frank Sinatra and Adolph Hitler blended into a smoothly offensive lounge act. Sinazi is not as cool as Frank, but definitely funnier than Adolph. Scary to think what Hitler could have achieved if he was funny.

Any astute comedy historian would point out that Mel Brooks already covered the comedy of a singing Hitler in The Producers. However, Frank Sinazi is not a schticky gag where he is singing uncharacteristic lyrics on Broadway; Frank Sinazi embodies Hitler and commits to his diabolical ideology in every fashion while still staying true to Sinatra’s cool baritone. His best moments were when he broke the crooning to scream in intense, indecipherable German jibberish where he looked remarkably close to the real deal. The act is more heil-brow than it sounds on paper.

Sinazi wasn’t the first comedian of the day nor the run of the festival thus far to get mileage out of the ironic detachment to World War II. Earlier in the day, I watched Aussie comedian John Robertson drop no less than five different WWII jokes, including slams on Poland and a full sing-a-long original about Soviet Russia called “Stalin.” Amongst the UK comedians, jokes about WWII (not the Holocaust) are quite prevalent. With my own American reservations, I often forget that those events happened on their soil. Our men fought in their backyards. They’re laughing deeply about it. Who am I not to as well? Check out a little sample below:

Don’t think I hesitated for a second to rub the Revolutionary War in their faces as well. I was happy to point out that their recent riots in London were sad replica’s of our glorious war against the British Empire. What they both have in common is that both the Americans and the Tottenham teenagers didn’t want to pay the government for stuff they wanted for free. We took a country, they took televisions and sneakers. Man, it feels good to slam another country’s shame.

Thus far, crowds at the Fringe consider the boldly-political to be “edgy” and the filthy dick jokes just “silly.” Americans generally consider “dirty” comedy to be explicitly sexual, as evidenced by the show run by New York-based comedienne Desiree Burch called Smut. It’s a stand-up show running prior to Sinazi that aims to be exactly what it is entitled. Often times, dirty shows can turn out to be pretty clean. Dirty shows can also turn out to be unfunny. Smut was both dirty and funny (particularly Desiree). Proper Scottish old ladies and bespectacled punks alike were digging it. My date to the show laughed harder than I did and she’s a classy British gal. That’s right – I accompanied a delightful young bird from London to a venue called The Hive to catch a show called Smut. Aren’t I romantic?

Considering Smut, Sinazi, and the endless flood of “controversial” comedy show flyers, it becomes clear that to stand-out at the Fringe, artists tend to carve out their own territory on taboo grounds. Enjoyable stand-up, sketch, and improv will do the trick as entertainment, but ballsy subject matter keeps people talking. Chatter over pints is one of the most valuable currencies any show can hope for. I, for one, recommended Frank Sinazi to everyone I talked to for the rest of the day.

Would some Jewish audiences find Frank Sinazi offensive? Absolutely and for good reason. My lineage was not directly victimized by the Holocaust, so I could never fully appreciate the weight of that history. Would an uptight audience not appreciate Desiree’s graphic exploration of anal sex? No doubt. I’ve neither succeeded or failed in that arena. Personally, I am not offended by any particular subject matter – I am solely offended by bad comedy. What is now considered “offensive” is purely subjective. Hell, even just dropping a curse word into a tame joke can turn people off. But here at the Fringe, on European soil, surrounded by artists and citizens from countries the World over, it all makes sense. Nobody came here for enter-lame-ment (copyrighted).

Oh, and for those who are offended by curse words, Frank Sinazi will provide you “swear stickers” to mark the arm of the offender. Say that three times out loud. Get it? Heil-larious!

UPDATE ON UK TERMINOLOGY: Women have “front-bottoms.”

Check out my first four Fringe dispatches here.

About the Author

Jeff MacKinnon

Jeff MacKinnon is a comedian, writer, and tweeter (@wickedcomedy) who continues to explore new ways to state his opinions as fact. Jeff tours various venues nationwide and abroad as a comedian, proven not to hurt business or too many people's feelings. He considers himself based in Los Angeles and Boston throughout the year and his first stand-up comedy album "Bring Me To Your Mother" will be released August 2011.

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