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Edinburgh Fringe 2017: Amanda Miller @ Laughing Horse (Newsroom)

What the Edinburgh Fringe website says:

After catching her fiancé screwing her friend, Celeste reads under a Snapple bottle cap: ‘We can't stop ourselves from suffering, but we can learn how to suffer better’. Mystified, she seeks out fellow sufferers to assist her in decoding the message. She finds a homeless man with a split personality, an octogenarian who invented a dating app, a maid longing for love, a clown enduring a bureaucratic nightmare and an angry teen who threw a rock at Trump’s head. They all come together before an audience that will determine who is suffering the best!

Watch a video:

Anarchic character comedy

The multitalented Manhattanite Amanda Erin Miller (actress, writer, yoga instructor, massage therapist and now comedian) dons a series of wigs and costumes from a cardboard box in the centre of the stage and plays a variety of characters throughout the show. Each of them is performed in a manic, anarchically over-the-top manner with a good deal of audience interaction (thankfully, not of the “picking on people” variety).

Much of the comedy comes from absurd running jokes - for example, a clown who tries in vain to chase up a medical certificate while being passed from pillar to post through an endless string of bureaucrats on the end of a phone line. Other moments come from physical/slapstick humour, including a silent maid who dances with her broom, and a rather hopeless drunk striptease artist (she does it for empowerment).

The best of the sketches here features a character called Edith Shlivovitz, an elderly lady bedeviled with the issue that her dates (being no spring chickens themselves) keep dying on her. She comes up with a radical solution: a Tinder-style dating app with one crucial difference (watch the show to find out). Another involving an adolescent called Kevin, who throws a rock at Donald Trump and gets sent to “Camp Smile” - where he takes part in a series of artistic pursuits to manage his anger issues - comes close. However, even though the other material doesn’t always reach the same heights, Amanda plays it with such fast-paced insane excess that it never feels like it is flagging.

Ludicrous comic talent

She has a genuine, if not exactly subtle, comic flair. There’s an overriding theme of finding fun in suffering - be it alcoholism, homelessness, old age, loneliness, bureaucracy and anger - and her crazy style makes it a successful mission by blowing everything up to ludicrous proportions. “How to Suffer Better” is one of those examples of a free Fringe show that’s actually better than many which charge the price of a ticket up-front.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Showtimes are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 logo

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