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Archive for the Category "Edinburgh Festival"

Edinburgh: Day 12 Aug 15

Sunday. The sabbath. The day of rest. When God tells me to have a lie-in, who am I, a mere mortal, to refuse?

Will likes thisSleep banked, I headed to the Pleasance Courtyard to see Phillipa and Will Are Now In a Relationship, a short, funny play told entirely through a Facebook wall-to-wall. It’s very well observed and performed and although there are one or two occasions where the drama requires conversations that are unlikely to have taken place online, the play acknowledges this and turns it into a laugh. The conceit could easily outstay its welcome but at half an hour, the show is just the right length.

That sounds a bit like a review. I need to keep reminding myself not to review things.

After the play, I went next door to the Pleasance Gym for a run, giving my sore thigh and its large, multicoloured bruise a bit of a workout. Most importantly, I burnt off a few hundred calories and therefore was allowed to have a massive roast dinner. If God didn’t mean us to stuff our faces with tasty, tasty meat on a Sunday, why did he invent Yorkshire pudding?

I had an evening nap and then took myself off to see Dan’s “main” show, Lifestyles of the Weird and Aimless. That was a fun hour, although not for the first time I embarrassed myself by laughing too loudly at a joke – on this occasion, a lovely two-liner by Laurence Tuck.

LOTWAA is a free show and I’ve started to worry (it’s a social situation – I worry) about free show donation etiquette. If you’re doing a free show, as we are, then at mates’ free shows, it feels a bit odd contributing to the bucket collection at the end. You end up recycling your own takings; if the same comics then come to your show and donate they’re just handing the money back; and it’s a bit weird (and feels almost patronising) chucking a few quid at someone you’re friends with. But equally, I feel miserly walking past a collection bucket and not putting something in; I don’t want to set an example to other audience members that they don’t need to contribute; and you can never be sure whether not donating will be read as being tight-fisted or, worse, disliking the show.

Basically, it’s a minefield of potential faux pas and someone should come up with a clear rule so we all know where we are. But then all social situations would be better with a rule book. Or, even better, a script.

What I learnt today: My laugh is too loud.

Recommended show: Phillipa and Will Are Now In a Relationship

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast, 2.35pm weekdays and Saturday 20th at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry. Also at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards Showcase at the Pleasance Dome, 4pm on August 17th (book online).

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Edinburgh: Day 11 Aug 14

My second Saturday in Edinburgh was a day of three halves.

The shows I was going to were front-loaded, so by half four I’d seen Finger Mice, Jollyboat and Max and Iván Are… Holmes and Watson.

Holmes and Watson is extremely fun with Max and Iván turning in very physical performances to portray the full cast of characters. I’d seen earlier versions of the first half in preview in London and it was great to see how it had developed into the finished show, and to find out how it ended. My reward for following the instructions to fill the room from the front was to get picked on for audience interaction during one scene. It’s definitely the first time I’ve been propositioned for fellatio by a fictional character, but hopefully not the last.

In retrospect, when I bumped into a tired Iván in a bar at 3am, opening the conversation with “I believe you owe me a blow job” may have been a mistake.

Consulting my master spreadsheet, I discovered quite how much I’ve spent seeing shows so far. I need to cut down. I don’t have a problem: I can stop any time I like. But there are so many shows I need – er, want – to see. Still, I decided I wouldn’t buy tickets for any more paid shows this weekend.

For the second half of the day, I snoozed, pondered, pottered about online, ate sushi, contemplated, snoozed, wrote (well, thought about writing) and eventually ended up feeling a bit homesick.

The Edinburgh Fringe operates in a different time zone from the rest of the UK and so it seemed perfectly natural to cheer myself up by turning it into a proper Saturday night at 1am. My highlight of the evening was around four in the morning when a conversation went thus:

“Hi, I’m Will.”

“Oh, are you Will… Howells?”

“Er, yes.”

“Didn’t you write that song about Only Connect?” (There was a hyperlink in her sentence; I could hear it.)

“Yes, that was me.”

“I loved that. What’s that bit about cetaceans?”

That’s never happened to me before.

The third half of the day concluded as dawn broke. I left the bar at 5am BST – or midnight in Edinburgh Fringe Time.

What I learnt today: Telling people “I’m doing a stand-up show. It’s a six-hander (there are three of us in it)” just confuses them.

Recommended show: Max and Iván Are… Holmes and Watson

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast, 2.35pm weekdays and Saturday 20th at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry. Also at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards Showcase at the Pleasance Dome, 4pm on August 17th (book online).

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Edinburgh: Day 10 Aug 13

I woke up stiff (hush) but able to move and with no sign of any serious damage from my fall (I’ll let you know when my pride comes back). I limped off to do some flyering and then to do the show.

The room was so full that we couldn’t stand at the back as usual and had to wait outside while each other was on stage, entering to do our bits via the door by the stage. This looked more showbiz, although uncomfortably so, as if we’d confused our free show in a small room for Live at the Apollo. It’s an easy mistake to make.

I have informally been nominated the Three Man Roast cashier and so it’s my job after the show to count up our donations (thank you, generous audiences) and divide up the spoils. This is my favourite bit of the day: not because I’m avaricious but because I love doing maths. When that was done, I carried my share to the bar and changed the coins into more manageable notes. I still can’t believe it’s taken me a week to think of that one.

Much of the afternoon was spent enjoying the rock and roll Edinburgh lifestyle, by which I mean I sat alone in my room updating my spreadsheet of shows to see. This is the backbone of any manageable Edinburgh Fringe and I don’t know how people expect to cope without. Going to shows “on a whim”? Making your mind up “in the evening”? Scribbling in a “diary”? Lunacy. When a man is tired of spreadsheets, he’s tired of life.

As instructed by the spreadsheet, I took myself off to see Paul Duncan McGarrity and Jay Cowle in Nonsense Duet, their free double-header stand-up show. My favourite part of their show was Paul’s remarkably unsuccessful attempt to avoid a social faux pas.

Without giving too much away, at one point Paul finds himself a red-blooded heterosexual man in the audience and suggests that he (Paul) is so cool that said man will want to sleep with him.

Paul picked on me and just as he was about to launch into that section, he stopped.

“Oh. No. I’ve just remembered. I know something about Will that means this bit won’t work. No, it’s, er… It’s just there’s something about Will that I’ve just remembered and it means this bit won’t work. No.”

Bless him, he went out of his way to be discreet. And then he turned to the man next to me and said, “Sir, are you a red-blooded heterosexual?”

Anyhoo, Paul and Jay pulled off a good hour in a difficult room – do go and see them if you can. Paul beat me in the Amused Moose Laugh Off semi-final a few months ago and that in itself is a guarantee of quality, obviously.

My next stop was The Stand III on the other side of town where, in that traditional demonstration of Britishness, I joined a queue just because it was there. It was ten minutes later that I finally checked with the woman in front that she was waiting to see Paul Sinha too. She was, but then realised anxiously that she hadn’t checked with the people in front of her.

Paul’s show was a beautifully constructed piece of stand-up. The smooth structure has a bitter edge, but like a good gin and tonic, the bitterness is just on the right side of the line and set off nicely by the, er, lime of self-deprecation. And above all, it’s very funny.

What I learnt today: I have won more TV quiz shows than Britain’s 20th best quizzer.

Recommended show: Paul Sinha: Looking at the Stars

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast, 2.35pm weekdays and Saturday 20th at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry. Also at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards Showcase at the Pleasance Dome, 4pm on August 17th (book online).

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Edinburgh: Day 9 Aug 12

My left side still hurts.

In his Walter Raleigh show on Wednesday night, Michael Legge talked about everyone having a “Fringe moment”, the defining incident of their three weeks up here. I might have had mine last night. But more on that story later.

Three Man Roast was a joy from start to finish. We could tell when the lovely audience laughed almost before Alex had opened his mouth (and not at his face) that it was going to be a good one. They were completely on our wavelength to the point that one man shouted out a grammar correction (brilliant) and if I’d genuinely been setting up a Pedants’ Revolt, he’d have put his name down there and then.

Our first review has given us three stars, so we are officially “good”. Good.

In the evening, I made a return to Tricity Vogue’s Ukulele Cabaret and fumbled my way through a couple of songs. Despite losing points from one judge in the Uke of Edinburgh Awards for my lack of technical prowess (expecting someone at a ukulele night to be able to play the ukulele well is surely harsh), I was very pleased how the songs went down, and especially how many people bought into the dolphins song. Delightful musical comedy geek Helen Arney was the deserving winner, albeit cheating by using “skill” and “talent”.

But day 9 was a day of highs and lows. Unfortunately this was in a literal sense, with a physical low coming all too quickly after a physical high.

I fell over.

I fall over every now and again. I’m uncoordinated (see “Ukulele (playing)”). As a result, I notice when it happens – the basic symptoms are loss of balance and the ground rushing towards me – and I instinctively react to protect my precious, precious brain.

Which is a good thing because this was quite a fall. It wasn’t a trip, although that’s how it started. There were large steps, some almost flying, a knocked over table and eight or nine feet difference in altitude between where I began and the floor where I ended up.

My main concern was to hope that no-one had noticed but this was in the busy Pleasance Dome and it turns out that when you fly past people on an uncomfortable downward trajectory, even the most nonchalant of evening drinkers will take an interest.

Performers who looked half my age kindly crowded round to check I was OK. I pulled myself to my feet as one of them sensibly encouraged me to stay on the ground for a bit. Another man picked up my glasses and returned them to me; I hadn’t even noticed they’d fallen off.

I brushed myself down, looked at the concerned faces all around me and said: “Well, this is the biggest audience I’ve played to so far.”

Always on. Always on.

One guy asked if I’d be handing flyers out. In retrospect, I should’ve done, and then entered myself for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best Edinburgh Fringe publicity stunt. I’d probably have needed a few broken bones to win though.

I thanked the gentle younglings for their help, went round checking that I didn’t need to replace anyone’s drink (no drinks knocked over – 10 points to me) and then sheepishly ran away to Brooke’s Bar to hide my shame, to rest my painful left side, and, obviously, to tell everyone who’d listen about my awesome clumsiness.

Oh, and to win a game of pool, which, yes, has to be my defining Fringe moment.

What I learnt today: The best slapstick comedy hurts.

Recommended shows: The Blue Lady Sings Back

Obligatory plug: I’m in Three Man Roast, 2.35pm weekdays and Saturday 20th at Finnegan’s Wake on Victoria Street – free entry. Also at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards Showcase at the Pleasance Dome, 4pm on August 17th (book online).

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