“Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

**** 1/2 (out of 5)

Phil Ellis was the first comedian I saw performing onstage at this year’s Fringe, but watching him MC Chortle’s Fast Fringe and watching him front his own showpiece are two entirely different experiences. For the latter is an absurd romp that really kicks the rest of your day into a higher gear.

He greets us with some purposeful stumbling and clanging and mucking about. Which by the third weekend of the Fringe, found him bumping into audience members, too. Perhaps incidentally? “This was a lot easier on day one,” Ellis announced! But the word is out about his indeed most “excellent comedy show,” which also finds time to mock some of the most trendiest trends in comedy this year, including medical professionals who’ve become comedians, improvised rappers, TikTok and IG comics who present solo sketch conversations to their cameraphones. On the prevalence of ADHD in comedy, Ellis playfully quips: “How’d you write an hour then?” Don’t worry. He also makes a jolly ol’ fool of himself, too.

And he does it all with a two-piece band full of Camerons, frequently breaking up the bits with brief bursts into pop/rock anthems. A lesser comic would need these to cover low points in the hour. But there are no low points here. Just higher and higher laughs in a high-energy show. Was it the greatest show we’ve ever seen? Debatable. I can guarantee you this: It was better than Cats. I’d see it again. And again. And again.

Phil Ellis’s Excellent Comedy Show runs through Aug. 27 at Monkey Barrel Hive 2

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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