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Archive for the Category "Edinburgh Festival"

Edinburgh: Day 24 Aug 30

It’s the end. But the moment has been prepared for. Because I have a spreadsheet and a calendar.

It was our final show and my last chance to catch other people’s. I reluctantly wrote off the chance to see an assortment of stand-ups I’d meant to get to (sorry), managing to squeeze in three shows before The Last Night in Edinburgh. And that, as you can imagine, was going to be a Big One. I have had to buy in an extra consignment of Capital Letters.

I made my first ever trip to The Counting House to see The Choob, a crazy character comedy show set on the London Underground, before heading off to do the final Three Man Roast. That went swimmingly, aided by another pot of tea, and, inspired by a talkative audience, I enjoyed going off piste during my compèring section and the final section of my set. It was my version of bringing in games for the end of term.

Sadly, I had to sneak off the end of the show in order to make it down to The Tron to see Tom Bell Begins. Tommy and the Weeks tangentially (and inadvertently) helped to get me into stand-up so I grabbed the opportunity to see Tom’s show.

Not long into it, my laugh got me into trouble again. Tom dropped the Q-bomb – “quantum-locked” – and I made the mistake of laughing before he had the chance to explain the Doctor Who reference. I had exposed myself. My reward was to play a game of grandmother’s footsteps and, having won that, to be portrayed by Jennifer Aniston – so all’s well that ends well.

The last thing I went to see at the Fringe was only my second play of the month. I’d meant to see far more theatre but never quite got round to choosing any. The first one I saw was, you’ll recall, atrocious. Despite my concern about the description of A Hero of Our Time as an adaptation of an overlooked Russian novel, I rather enjoyed it.

You may wonder why I would choose such a play, given my apprehensiveness. It’s Doctor Who again. Sorry. I follow Peter Wicks off of twitter because he’s a fanboy and he had tweeted about the play, what with being in it, so I thought I’d go along. I’m glad I did, not least because he was awesome in it (as rightly commended by the NSDF).

Dinner was a delicious Chinese with my frequent Edinburgh companions Niki and PBR. I then met PBR’s friend Tim (from Found Objects) and casually mentioned Doctor Who. Within 15 minutes, we were discussing Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright’s sex life. I took this to indicate he is a fan.

And then I was in the Dome chatting to Peter off of The Russian Play, who I’d not met before, about Doctor Who and cult TV. This is my life, people.

I had planned to have a Big Night Out. It was Friday and I fancied marking the end of the Fringe in style. But actually I had a bit of a cold, was quite tired and needed to be up in the morning, so at the horrendously early hour of 2am, I went home to bed.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

What I learnt today: Let’s face it: Doctor Who is the glue that binds the world together.

Edinburgh: Day 23 Aug 30

The end of last week was rather busy so it’s taken me until now to write about Thursday. Oops.

After the horror of yesterday’s croaky show, I determined to do everything I could to make my voice function. I spent much of the morning gargling salt water, which certainly helped, but the best solution, it turned out, was tea.

I had soup for lunch and when I told the man in the sandwich shop that it was for my voice, he suggested lemon and ginger tea. I fell immediately for his cunning point of sale marketing and went away with two cups of liquid.

The tea worked a charm and my voice, while still a bit croaky, became much more serviceable. The pub we were performing in served hot drinks too so just before the show I got them to make me a pot of tea with a slice of lemon. Milk is not good for the vocal chords so, for the first time in my life, I drank it without. I even took the cup on stage with me, leaving the audience in no doubt that I was the spiritual successor to Bill Hicks.

It was a brilliant show. We were full to capacity and the audience went with every single joke from all three of us. It wasn’t just a relief after yesterday; it was the best gig of the run.

I celebrated with a trip to see Holly Walsh’s The Hollycopter. I’d been meaning to go for weeks and with her nomination for best newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, I made sure I snapped up a ticket before they sold out. A very enjoyable show, it was also the second I saw that week to feature Guildford. True fact.

Social butterfly that I am, I happened upon the So You Think You’re Funny party in the evening. It was full of bright young things and initially full of free booze. Not so much by the time I left for the last Comedy Countdown of the Fringe.

With Danny Pensive back in dictionary corner, the theme tune used for the clock and Blink‘s Ray Peacock playing the game, the show was full of Doctor Who references – which is just how I like it (and, indeed, anything). I am not a natural heckler and rarely shout out anything, let alone “Sontarans”, but time makes fools of all of us.

I’m told that after I worked out the last numbers game, my bouncing in my chair could be felt at least two seats along. The combination of a TV quiz, a letters game answer of KALEDS and a few free Mojitos had perhaps left me a little over-excited. I ended up shouting the solution across the room so croakily that the brilliant host Dan Atkinson promised me free Strepsils for life as a prize.

I made it to four Comedy Countdowns in the end and they were definitely one of the highlights of the Fringe.

After that, I retired to Brooke’s and ended up talking about cult TV until the early hours. Tom Neenan from the old GOL sidled sheepishly across the room and with mock obsequiousness asked me to sign his copy of the new Doctor Who Magazine. I borrowed it and had a quick flick through, as my copy was awaiting me in London, but when I returned it the poor man insisted he was serious, having “always wanted to get someone’s autograph in Brooke’s”. He slinked away the proud owner of the only autograph I have ever given, my name scrawled across a photograph of me with Haemovore hands.

The Edinburgh Fringe is a strange place.

What I learnt today: Tea is a panacea.

Edinburgh: Day 22 Aug 25

In retrospect, screeching Dexy’s Midnight Runners on stage without even a pair of denim dungarees for protection was a big mistake. My already struggling voice, which had begun to show signs of recovery, was shredded. And I had a show to do.

There are three comedians in Three Man Roast. We have cunningly concealed a clue to this fact in the name. Yesterday, two of them did very well. The other one of them, having managed to screw his larynx, struggled through his set trying with only some success to get punchlines out without his voice cracking over the most crucial syllables. In hindsight, I like to think the relative quiet from the audience was generosity: they didn’t want to drown out my quiet lines with laughter. That was kind of them.

One audience member did come up to me afterwards and say she enjoyed my set which is always lovely to here but was particularly appreciated after straining through it.

I did innovate two responses to my impairment. I lip-synced to a recording of part of my set, which elicited bafflement more than anything else, but, for the record, my lip-syncing was very technically accomplished. Alex suggested it may have been too accomplished and the audience thought I was just talking. Dan suggested I had become my own Blackpool drag act.

The second innovation was a cracking joke about Robert Redford that frankly didn’t get the recognition it deserved.

It’s fair to say I was a bit dejected, but I was cheered up by a cuppa, some vitamin pills and stumbling across Ronnie Corbett and Paul Daniels within five minutes of each other. Go, Edinburgh.

And while I thought I had a bad gig, I shouldn’t be complacent as I still had a better gig than the guy whose show I went to see in the evening. He had one audience member turn up: me. So he took me to the pub, which was nice, and we pretended it was a one-to-one immersive theatre experience.

The third and final Karaoke Circus of the run was another joyous occasion. In the bar afterwards, I met half of the Beta Males and was able to tell them how much I enjoyed their show. I may have had a few drinks and added a lot of people on Facebook on the way home.

What I learnt today: The iPhone’s Facebook app needs a breathalyser built in. Or maybe a logic test that you need to be sober to beat, like the one in GMail. The same goes for Twitter.

Recommended show: I haven’t seen it but I have been recommended M. Croser – Unpleasant Man by people of taste, so that’s today’s.

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast (★★★★ – whatsonstage.com), 2.35pm weekdays at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry.

Edinburgh: Day 21 Aug 25

My voice was screwed.

The combination of a low-level Fringe cold and shouting on stage most days had taken its toll and I was starting to lose the ability to speak. It’s an ability I took thoughtlessly for granted. Turns out it’s a pretty key skill when it comes to doing stand-up in Edinburgh.

Although I was croaky, the show went well and I was able to catch up with a number of friends from the audience over a pint afterwards. In an attempt to add tuberculosis to my vocal problems, I then headed down to the dankness of the Caves to see Danny Pensive. Not that I’d have got tuberculosis as I demonstrated immunity when tested at school. Take that, BCG losers.

I had three reasons for seeing Danny Pensive’s Map of Britain: he was a scream at Comedy Countdown; a friend recommended his show; and he’s a Doctor Who fan.

There are quite a few fanboys (it’s a non-gender-specific term) performing in Edinburgh. I’ve been trying to make a list – obviously, because that’s what fanboys do. And here I don’t mean people who like Doctor Who a bit; I mean people who like Doctor Who a lot. People who have the DVDs and actually watch the DVD extras. People who subscribe to Doctor Who Magazine. People who know their Sagacity from their City of Death.

So far I’ve got me and Dan from Three Man Roast (of course); John Cooper (aka Danny Pensive); Michael Legge; Tom Neenan from off of the Gentleman of Leisure (the old GOL); Andrew O’Neill; John Henry Falle from the Beta Males; Marc Burrows (from The 90s in Half an Hour); and Mitch Benn. Stuart Goldsmith and John-Luke Roberts from The Behemoth have question marks next to their names. Do grab them in the street and check. (Update: Luke Roberts – I don’t know why I doubted it. But I foolishly overlooked Colin Hoult and Tom Bell.)

Any more for any more? That list is, surprise surprise, uniformly male so far.

I’m not going to round these people up or anything. Although the Nazis probably said that too to begin with.

The evening’s entertainment was the middle show in the three-day run of the glorious Karaoke Circus. Nathan the Trombonist let me put my name down for all of the songs, as is my foolish way. It was particularly foolish on this occasion with my fading voice managing a workable singing range of around half an octave. I knocked back some Covonia and hoped for the best.

It was another marvellous night. Highlights included Robin Ince’s Two Little Boys (not a euphemism); Tim Vine’s disturbing one-piece PVC jumpsuit as Plastic Elvis; and Nadia Kamil and Joe Lycett performing Cee Lo Green’s uncensored big hit that may not be named (this is a family blog, we don’t say “fuck” here). I landed the last audience open spot.

Some of the songs would have been OK. Some of the songs didn’t have two many notes. Unfortunately, I was summoned to sing Come on Eileen. This, it turns out, has all of the notes and if your voice is a bit weak, it has the potential to sound the laryngal death knell.

I fear Eileen will have been less spurred on and more scared off.

Still, I got to show off my new Karaoke Circus t-shirt, as snapped by Isabelle:

KC Ed11 #2: Come On Eileen

What I learnt today: When you have a weak voice, rest it, you idiot.

Recommended show: Danny Pensive’s Map of Britain

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast (★★★★ – whatsonstage.com), 2.35pm weekdays at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry.