★ ★ ★ ★
This year, Rachel Parris brings her brand new show Keynote to the Edinburgh Fringe.
For years now I've heard the name Rachel Parris a lot at the Fringe but until this year I hadn't actually had the chance to go and watch her perform.
After interviewing her last month and watching her every week on The Mash Report on BBC Two, I was even more determined to watch her new show and I was so glad that I did.
Every entrance into a Fringe show for an audience member is different. Sometimes you're greeted by the performer on the way in, sometimes they're already on stage or sometimes you have music playing.
In the case of Rachel Parris in Keynote, she greeted people in the queue outside the venue and handed them pieces of paper for them to write a great bit of advice on. Then as we walked into the venue there was a big screen at the back of the stage playing a series of speeches.
These speeches came from a number of high-profile people including Jeremy Corbyn, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyongo, Nelson Mandela and even Taylor Swift!
This of course was a set-up for Keynote, Rachel's new Edinburgh hour where she explains that she's been asked by her old school to return and give a speech to 500 schoolgirls. There's one problem though, she hasn't written the speech yet!
But she has written an Edinburgh show, one that is difficult to categorise. Throughout the hour there's stand-up, sketches with a number of characters and a fair few comedy songs. But this is certainly not a case of Rachel being OK at a number of things and spreading herself thin. Quite the opposite. Each section is as strong as each other and I could have easily watched an entire hour of each.
The show is structured around the five things Rachel knows she has to cover including love, fear and, drugs. The latter of which results in quite possibly the best piece of physical comedy I've ever seen - Rachel on MDMA dancing against a tree trunk. It needs to be seen to be believed! Absolute genius. I was in tears. Happy tears.
As for the songs, there's something about singing the words "I don't like your child" that makes them far funnier than if they were delivered as straight stand-up. This is true for all the songs in Keynote. Had they not been sung, I'm not sure they would have received the laughs they did.
I have to applaud Rachel for her use of the screen. Timed to perfection, she was able to use a keynote presentation effectively throughout to accentuate some of her points. My favourite use of the screen had to be when she played parts of Rihanna music videos and standing in front of the screen, danced and sung her own words to a Rihanna-esque song - making us realise how inappropriate her videos are. I will never watch a Rihanna video in the same way ever again.
But what did she do with the advice she asked for from her audience? Well, she referred to them a couple of times throughout the show but it was during the finale where they really came into their own as Rachel was able to weave them into her brilliant final song.
The only thing missing from Keynote? I'm not quite sure what she's going to do come September. But all in all Keynote is a solid hour led by a performer who's confident with her material and at ease in front of an audience. Happy to switch between three different styles of comedy, Rachel Parris is someone to keep a very close eye on.