The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by guest critic Jo Trainor

Is there a style of comedy that Steen Raskopoulos hasn’t mastered? Having found the Australian comedian as half of improvisation duo The Bear Pack, I knew how quick witted he is, and how absurd some of his characters are but it turns out he can throw all these skills together and create side-splitting sketches too.

As a warning, The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess is heavy on the audience interaction. We are lucky to have such a receptive group the evening I am there, but I think that’s probably the case most of the time. RRaskopoulos is so warm and charismatic that almost everyone who comes on stage is open to taking part, whether that involves onions or interpretive dance. Those who are a little hesitant are calmly coached by Raskopoulos to get the information he needs, and the room is just as supportive because of how well the show is going. In fact, by the end of it you’re kind of a little jealous that you didn’t get picked to play along. Or at least I definitely am. Seriously Steen, I am sat on an aisle seat, near the front, looking enthusiastic for a reason.

This is sketch at its silliest, but Raskopoulos makes what originally seems like unrelated skits and characters fit together into one hilarious narrative with an adorable, albeit smelly, ending. When you start clocking all the little ways stories that are so seemingly goofy and off the cuff are interlinked it gives the show that extra something special about it. It’s both intelligent and ridiculous – and that’s definitely a thing.

With two shows, you’ve got twice the opportunity to see Steen Raskopoulos before the end of the fringe and he goes back to Sydney, so get on it!

The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess runs through 27 August.

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