Olga Koch review – from Russia with love and oligarchs

Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
In a spirited Edinburgh debut, the daughter of a former deputy PM of Russia tells her father’s fascinating story

Plenty of comics get good material from their parents’ behaviour, and plenty of comics talk politics. Seldom before have those species of comedy been cross-bred – but then not all comics have a story to tell as eye-opening as Olga Koch’s. She is the daughter of a provincial mayor in the USSR, briefly turned deputy PM of Boris Yeltsin’s Russia. Alfred Koch cooked up the “voucher privatisation” scheme that channelled Soviet state assets into the hands of the oligarchs. As Olga says, that’s a hell of dad fact for a teenage daughter to have in reserve when she needs to win a family argument.

Her debut Edinburgh show (she was shortlisted for best newcomer) tells her parents’ story in flashback from the time, four years ago, that her dad went alarmingly awol from his Moscow apartment. It’s part storytelling, part family album, and part Clive James on TV mockery of Russian advertising. I found those latter sections a little condescending. But given what her dad has suffered, and continues to suffer, at Russia’s hands, you can’t blame Koch – Russian-born, American-educated – for taking potshots in the other direction.

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Polski sklep-stick – is Brexit Britain ready for eastern European standup?

A wave of comedians from Poland, Hungary, Latvia and Romania are helping to tackle stereotypes about EU immigrants in the UK

It’s not easy being a Polish comedian in Brexit Britain. “I haven’t heard anyone actually say the words, ‘Go back to your country,’” says Mike Topolski, a standup and actor originally from Wrocław in western Poland who moved here seven years ago and is now proudly engaged to “a Geordie lass”. “But I did a gig a couple of months ago in south London and the jokes were not well received at all. I was the only foreigner there and it felt like it was a Brexit crowd. They were just staring at me and I could see them thinking: ‘How are you still here? Should we build a wall or what?’” His signature opener? “Yes, a comedian. But also builder, plumber, electrician and gardener.”

Topolski is one of more than 80 comics in the lineup of the UK’s first Eastern European comedy festival (EEComFest), which opens on Wednesday with 19 shows at venues across London. It features acts from 15 countries, from Bosnia and Moldova to Malta and Slovenia. The festival’s mission statement jokes that this is “another try from immigrants to get control over the United Kingdom and end the British way of life. It will be in London, as it’s the UK city with the biggest immigration problem.” But clearly the aim is the opposite: to use humour to try to improve mutual understanding. It’s like Eurovision, only intentionally funny.

If I say I’m 31 and I live with my parents, in Romania, that is very funny. It’s too late to be living with your parents

Related: Comedy without borders: Eddie Izzard and the language of standup

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Who is Randy Credico? Comedian linking Roger Stone and Wikileaks profiled in 2003 Laura Kightlinger documentary, “60 Spins Around the Sun”

In a year when the truth is more ridiculous than comedy, why not learn that a comedian could be at the center of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election? Randy Credico revealed this week that Congress had subpoenaed him to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 15. The subpoena […]

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Who is Randy Credico? Comedian linking Roger Stone and Wikileaks profiled in 2003 Laura Kightlinger documentary, “60 Spins Around the Sun”

In a year when the truth is more ridiculous than comedy, why not learn that a comedian could be at the center of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election? Randy Credico revealed this week that Congress had subpoenaed him to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 15. The subpoena […]

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Worth a Rewatch: Samantha Bee’s ‘Full Frontal’ Interview with Masha Gessen

Right before Trump’s inauguration, Full Frontal aired a fantastic segment where Samantha Bee sat down with author, journalist, and Russian dissident Masha Gessen, who fled her home country and now lives in the States. During the interview, Gessen offered some helpful advice for how to effectively resist Trump and his ideologies, but it’s her breakdown of […]

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Worth a Rewatch: Samantha Bee’s ‘Full Frontal’ Interview with Masha Gessen

Right before Trump’s inauguration, Full Frontal aired a fantastic segment where Samantha Bee sat down with author, journalist, and Russian dissident Masha Gessen, who fled her home country and now lives in the States. During the interview, Gessen offered some helpful advice for how to effectively resist Trump and his ideologies, but it’s her breakdown of […]

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From Russia with laughs: How one comedian ignited a stand-up comedy market in Russia

It is a cool, May evening in New York, and the public files into Broadway Comedy club. Waiters navigate the… MORE

From Russia with laughs: How one comedian ignited a stand-up comedy market in Russia appeared first on The Laugh Button.

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Stephen Colbert Visits the Moscow Ritz-Carlton’s Infamous Presidential Suite

Here’s a clip from last night’s Late Show, where Stephen Colbert continues “Russia Week” by finally sharing the segment he went to Russia for in the first place – visiting the Moscow Ritz-Carlton’s now-infamous Presidential Suite, AKA ground zero for the “Trump pee pee tape.” After meeting with journalist and Russian surveillance expert Andrei Soldatov […]

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Jordan Klepper Talks Trump and Putin with Former KGB Spy Jack Barsky on ‘The Daily Show’

Here’s a clip from last night’s Daily Show, where Jordan Klepper chats with former KGB spy Jack Barsky, who explains how Russian spies operate by befriending people to get information: “I will cultivate you over time. We’ll become friends. We play golf, we play tennis. And eventually, you’ll let your guard down.” Barsky also tells […]

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Stephen Colbert Chats with Some Russians About Trump, Putin, and US-Russia Relations

Here’s a clip from last night’s installment of Late Show’s “Russia Week,” where Colbert hits the streets of St. Peterburg during the White Nights Festival to talk with some everyday Russians about Trump, Putin, US-Russia relations, and their thoughts on all the allegations surrounding Russia’s interference in the US election. He also meets a Russian […]

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