why (slightly nsfw)
why (slightly nsfw)
Saw this at the weekend. Audience controlled robots making breakfast, great stuff. Thoroughly recommend.
Have a spare ticket for So You Think You’re Funny semi-final at 10:30 tonight if anyone fancies it
Saw this on Monday night, very good, top punning, would recommend.
Back from a great, if brief weekend. 16 shows and only one was proper rubbish so a pretty good hit rate. Just spent the morning booking the London runs of some stuff I missed out on (User not found, Freeman, 75) but stand out was Luisa Omielan: Politics for Bitches - Started off as a spoof of a lecture on the way UK politics works but then turned into something very different. Was knocked out by it and a quietly blistering attack on public cuts and this government.
Will definitely go again and stay a bit longer, shows a completely different side to the city.
Just came back from that show Spank. What an intense cluster of cunts. Never come across Fin Taylor before, absolute bellend.
My rule of thumb in Edinburgh was to avoid everything which mentioned either of those in the title.
Honourable exception was Kieran Hodgson as his '75 show was excellent (and only briefly mentioned Brexit!)
Here is some feedback, read it if you like or not, I don’t really know much. For context, I was sat in the front row for every one of these.
Ciao Mama - Shitty lineup show that started with the MC arguing with the act beforehand, right down to them both having their phones out to film the interaction in that way that people do now. There were a hammered Welsh family in attendance whose number was greater than anyone else. For some reason they didn’t sit together, but sat around the whole place. One named Jack heckled a lot, and the family laughed louder at that than anything else. By the end of the set Jack was up on stage doing Elvis impressions. This was the first Fringe show I ever went to and probably was the best of the whole festival.
101 Comedy Club - Surprisingly well attended for a line-up show, seemed to be a common thing for the Hanover Tap. Stroked the MCs head at one point, though it was by his own request.
Aaaaaaaaaargh, It’s the Monster Stand-Up Show - Another full line-up show, a little more ramshackle than the previous and with some overlapping acts and audience. I did a fully improvised set, went pretty well.
Jeroen Bloemhoff’s Scared To Death - Friend of mine from NL doing his first full show at the Fringe. Had just over a month between finding out he’d been accepted and the start of the festival. Had never done a full hour before. Bit rough round the edges, and I’m impartial because I wanted him to do well, but so impressed with him getting things sorted under these circumstances.
John Robertson’s Darkroom - The interactive text adventure. I’d been before, but not everyone I was with had. Obviously it’s an amazing, legendary show that everyone should see once, but I think once is enough.
Tim Key’s Megadate - Fucking loved it. First time I’ve seen Tim live and just so fucking good from start to finish. Really enjoyed his LADish persona with the vivid imagary. Probably my real highlight of the festival.
Villain DeBlanks - Great concept for a show (basically audience decided madlibs for a script reading of a whodunnit), based in New York and crowdfunded over to the Fringe. Unfortunately, it’s a kids show and they came to the fringe the week that the kids had gone back to school. Very badly attended, but I had a lot of fun doing it both times.
Gráinne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done for Me? - Like a Radio 4 program performed live, some mildly amusing sensible chuckles, but that was about it. She’s a great host though, especially with one of the guests (Tim something, very public education) constantly trying to derail the thing but in a nobheadish way.
Afternoon Tea With Ray Fordyce and Other Spiffing Personnages - Another line-up show, but one where I got to see Gabriel Featherstone who was fucking brilliant. Like Paul Foot if he was good. My set went well, apparently one of the better attended versions of this show. Second time I went (my mate was performing) only four people were there who weren’t acts. Didn’t go so well.
Bitter And Twisted - Two completely unrelated halves melded together in a weird way. First half some character comedy from a vaping roadie telling us rock-n-roll stories from the road. Mildly amusing, but well delivered. Second half was a woman angrily telling the audience stories of incidents where people have belittled here as a woman, alternating between talking and screaming. Over 50% of eye contact through the show was directly with me and I didn’t know how to react. At one point she mashed a whole bunch of bananas into her mouth and then spat them out towards the audience. I got some banana on my leg.
Ingrid Dahle’s Wingrid - Really good, heartfelt show. Really affable performer with so many micromannerisms that were hilarious. Probably about 15 minutes too long in terms of how the narrative flowed, but until that point it was pure gold.
Norris & Parker’s Burn the Witch - Reminiscent of League Of Gentlemen, by two amazing performers accompanied by some deadpan guy providing the backing music. It’s not my favourite style of comedy but this show was so good I enjoyed it anyway and would go see them again.
Dylan Moran’s Dr Cosmos - Obviously a very funny man, and started strong, but got weaker the more he rambled. With him leaving the stage so suddenly when his time was up, it felt more like a rambling series of bits rather than a show as such. Still enjoyable, but also a little forgettable because of it.
John Robertson’s Sweaty, Sexy Party Party - John Robertson improvising with a backing musician. Was as insane and intense as his improvised shows usually are, but it felt a bit like a work in progress. Still really good because the guy has such a sharp mind, but felt like some of the bits just didn’t really work.
Spank! - Absolute shite. Just shite on every level. More like a Radio 1 roadshow than a comedy show. Late night, so looser audience, but just full of machismo drenched male comedy and boring observations. The headliner of the first half was some American guy who clearly hadn’t performed in the UK before, and all of his references were SO American that it was hard to understand and find anything funny even though you could tell it should be (if that makes sense). Felt bad for the guy as he bombed for 15 minutes. Walked out during Fin Taylor’s edgelord set of his #hottakes on gender equality and wasn’t the only one. Lots of people found it hilarious though, good for them.
Graham Fellows Completely Out of Character - Indulgent Shite. Lots of namedropping, boring stories and said it wasn’t a character show, but featured John Shuttleworth for the most of it anyway. Music boring too.
Tony Law: A Lost Show - I love Tony, and he’s a big influence, so a bit biased as for the first 25 minutes I couldn’t stop laughing as usual. Did trail off a bit towards the end, and his style is pretty exhausting for a full hour but still great. It’s been many years since I’ve seen him perform though, and in some ways kinda hoped he might be taking risks and trying new things, but very much exactly the style it’s always had.
Ari Shaffir’s Jew - Mostly educational as I don’t really know much about Jewish rules / traditions. Enjoyed it despite its Americanness (i.e. the comedian is the hero, not the idiot)
Frank Foucault’s Shoes - Started terribly, and got better as it progressed. Part clowning, part comedy and quite unique in that sense. The high-concept bits worked better for me than the rest, such as building the shoe pyramid.
Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany - Incredible piece of theatre. Really interesting story and so so well acted. The way she could switch between characters with just changing body language was a joy to behold. Harrowing story, but really well done on multiple levels.
Simon Munnery: The Wreath - Some great one liners and hinged around a really good story. Some bits landed better than others, but was still a great show.
Murder She Didn’t Write: The Improvised Murder Mystery - Improv show which was quite cleverly done, enjoyed it. It was a bit plot heavy so less playing and more “explaining” than I’d like, but gave it more structure as a result.
Elf Lyons’s ChitChat - Really original and entertaining show. Mostly musical based, which isn’t my preference, but absurd on so many levels that it was really enjoyable. Managed to make economics surprisingly entertaining. I got to play glockenspiel for a rendition of If I Were A Rich Man too.
Paul Currie’s Hot Donkey - Absolutely amazing. Not come across Paul Currie before, but was just brilliant from start to finish. Clowning / audience interaction / absurdist comedy I always have a soft spot for, but this was just gold from start to finish, cannot recommend enough.
Signals - Dystopian two-person play which captured the boredom of its protagonists really well. Too well for my liking though as I found it quite boring.
Stephen Carlin’s The Opinionater - A bit hit and miss, and lost the audience on a few occassions, but the highlights were really good and really landed.
Dylan Moran made a joke about comedians mentioning Brexit too much, then used that as a segue to talk about Brexit. I SEE YOU MORAN.
I’ve seen all of Tim Key’s shows since Slutcracker but I thought Megadate was poor. Probably didn’t help that the venue was massive and I was pretty far back, but it really lacked the fun of his earlier shows for me. Or maybe I wanted something different from him but didn’t get it. I’d also had many beers that day - now I’m wondering if I was just half-pissed and tired.
Glad I didn’t go to see Graham Fellowes then, I thought about it but my wife didn’t fancy seeing John Shuttleworth yet again, even if he wasn’t actually dressed up as him.
We also saw Njambi McGrath - African in New York, Almost Famous - and she was excellent. But she was also standing less than a foot away for me for the whole show so I had no choice but to laugh! A really good show though, she deserved a much bigger audience.
Marjolein Robertson was also great in a really grotty venue (Bar Bados, what a shit-hole!) - although I wonder what non-North Scottish folk made of her Shetland-based comedy. Excellent timing nonetheless.
Ben Target was back on form after last year’s show. An hour of “ambient comedy” where we got to draw our spirit animal and chuckle when Ben realised he’d missed out two minutes of his show that ruined his final punchline. We also spotted Adam Riches sitting in the front row - you know it’s good when a comedian goes to see another comedian.
As I mentioned before, Kieran Hodgson’s '75 was excellent. We’ve seen all his other shows and this was right up there. Definitely the next Steve Coogan - and unbelievable takes on 1970s politicians who’d all left Parliament before he was born.
Non stand-up-wise we saw:
Jeremy Holland as Stan Laurel - Spike from Hi-De-Hi in a heart-warming show (cos we’re soppy, nostalgic and happy to sit in an audience of white-haired people for an hour)
Bark! The Musical - Crazy fun featuring actors as dogs singing songs about their daily routines. What the fringe is made for really.
She-Devils - a thought-provoking, well-done one woman interpretive dance / history lesson about the unsung Queens of England. It was my wife’s pick but I liked it much more than she did.
Colin Steele Quintet doing pretty much the greatest hits of Miles Davis in the jazz bar. Really good. I’ve kinda dodged Miles a bit in the past but I’ll need to check out more of his stuff (other than Kind of Blue) now. Annoying that we couldn’t get a seat as usual.
Brian Wilson - ex-Beach Boy stopping off on tour. Expensive, time-consuming, but worth every penny / second.
kill me now
been meaning to see him more, he’s from Belfast and plays a lot here, but the only time i’ve seen him live was when Tony Law was late for a show due to a delayed flight and they got him to go on for a bit. enjoyed him though was very nervous in case he came to me during crowd interaction as i was tired and knowing Law’s style i hadn’t come out expecting that sort of thing at all, but thankfully i didn’t get picked on for anything. i’d definitely enjoy him more now i know what to expect.
i see Tony Law pretty much every time he plays here, first saw him at the Fringe the year he was nominated for the award, absolutely loved that show and saw him again on that tour, think he hit a real sweet spot with his shows around that time in the early 2010s. i’ve been seeing him regularly since and he still has some great bits though last couple of times has felt a little bit like diminishing returns, long ramblings about trampolining in his mock Texan accent that got a bit exhausting after a while. seems like a very lovely guy so i feel a certain loyalty to keep going to his shows though in case he stops coming and hoping he pulls something great out of the bag again.
seeing Dylan Moran next month on that tour, not sure what to expect. he was my favourite comedian ever for a while back when i first watched Monster, which i watched about 100 times and lent the DVD to all my friends. enjoyed the show after that as well, though by the time i got to actually see him live on the What It Is tour (which i ended seeing in Reading of all places, as he sold out too quickly here) i felt like he’d lost something and it wasn’t quite the same. last saw him in about 2012 at the arts festival here and really enjoyed it, i think partly cos he hadn’t done the show in a while and had to keep checking his notes which become a running joke and allowed for more improvisation, plus the more informal setting of being in a tent rather than a theatre, cheap tickets, funny disruption from noises outside etc. Hoping he’s genuinely got good again though and it wasn’t just all that.
saw Tim Key for the first time at the 2012 Fringe doing Masterslut and it was one of the best standup shows i’ve ever seen. had a confusing diagram of the venue seating plan on a screen at the beginning with weird arrows and symbols on it which turned out to be path he would take to the stage and what he would do to all the people sitting in certain seats (sitting on peoples’ laps, kissing people etc). had a full bath on stage that he’d keep submerging his head in while videos of him swimming about underwater played. got the front row to do that game where you each say a word to make a story and would scream at them psychotically if it didn’t make enough sense. superb and i still regret not catching the same show again when he toured here. really wish there was a DVD of it. caught his last tour in London a few years ago which was also very good, hoping he does the new one over here but hasn’t announced anything so far. i told a work friend who went to the Fringe this year to go and see him and he didn’t. utter fool.
haven’t seen Simon Munnery in a couple of years now, always enjoy him though he can often repeat material a lot. he’s definitely best when his shows are based around a concept, i enjoyed ‘Simon Munnery Sings Soren Kierkegaard’ at my last Fringe and the Fylm animation shows he was doing for a while were pretty fun - the last Belfast one wasn’t that full which might be why he’s not been back recently.
Stephen Carlin’s definitely a bit hit and miss but enjoy his good bits. only seen him once, at the free Fringe in 2014 downstairs in the Canon’s Gait, some drunk middle aged women were sitting in the front row doing that ‘don’t go to many comedy shows’ thing of trying to reply to the comedian’s joke and think that it’s supposed to be a two way dialogue. derailed him a little bit at first while he tried to ignore them or get them to shut up but he eventually just ran with it and starting involving them which managed to make it work.
this is all making me want to go back next year.
Masterslut was an excellent show. An audience member got into the bathtub at the show I was at. Key wouldn’t give him a towel when he got out.
I’m completely aware of how much of an entitled bellend this post makes me sound, but here we go.
One thing I did take away from the fringe is that it wasn’t as much fun as a younger me thought it would be. There’s something really indulgent about sitting about all day watching other people entertain you in short bursts while you do little but eat, drink and walk between venues. Felt a bit like a Roman Emperor. Reached a point every day where I just got sick of seeing things, not really a positive association to have with it all. You don’t even get time to properly digest or appreciate one show before you’re marching off to the next. As a performer too, I met some good people, but it was only a matter of time before they fliered me for their show and the conversation kinda died at that point. Also, I daren’t look at my account to see how much money I spent over the course of the week, was absolutely ridiculous.
I mean, I still had a lot of fun, and the positives outweighed the negatives, but I think growing up I’d always had the idea of it being some sort of cultural utopia. Probably won’t go back again unless I’m putting on a show.
i was in my early to mid 20s when i was going and i found it pretty fun, enjoyed going to as many shows as possible and it almost became a bit of a challenge to see how much i could squeeze into two or three days. never really got the ‘i’m a roman emperor, entertain me’ vibe from it.
however i realised when i was thinking of going back this year that i don’t have as much interest in scooting around to as many different things as possible anymore, and would rather just go and see a couple of old favourites who i won’t be seeing on tour in a few months anyway, and keep an eye out for a couple of interesting things i’ve not seen before, and probably leave it at that.
i do remember getting handed lots of fliers by young drama student wankers and finding them intensely irritating, and at times getting the sinking feeling that “god i couldn’t give a fuck about the majority of this stuff to be honest”.
Yeah, I also didn’t feel the fringe was as exciting as it was maybe 10 years ago and wasn’t as desperate to run around seeing as much as possible as I used to be. That may be a 40+ viewpoint. Also agree that it really does mount up. Even a “free” show’s at least £5 now (if it’s good) plus £5 for a beer (as I always try to help the venue if they’re giving up space and electricity for free) - so multiply that a few times over and then add on the premium tickets…eek.
Will probably just have a day trip there for the next couple of years, but I bet I’ll be back doing it properly again once I get the itch again.
It definitely felt like less of a buzz this year. I really can’t believe the ‘most tickets sold ever’ headlines for this one - Everywhere felt quieter than usual and there was definitely more desperation amongst the folk handing out fliers (usually it takes until the last few days for that to happen). I can’t put my finger on why, but it feels like it’s turned a corner. More Oxbridge drama wanks and less of an international feel than previously - I’m guessing partly because of Brexit and partly because Oxbridge drama wanks are the only folk who can afford to move to Edinburgh for August anymore.
Seemed to me that every second act flyering was a choir.