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August 07, 2008

In Defense of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival

The Edinburgh Comedy Festival is an idea that’s taken a lot of flack. Basically the big four Fringe venues (Pleasance, Underbelly, Assembly Rooms, Gilded Balloon) decided to get together and market all their shows under the banner of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival. Now this isn’t that new. For years the venues have been pairing up to help with promotion, producing joint programmes and so forth. Most of the consternation comes from the name: it implies that they’re the only comedy shows on the Fringe, ignoring the smaller venues.

It’s a valid complaint, but it’s hardly the first time someone has pulled something like this. Some years ago Avalon (a comedy management company) produced a “Fringe Highlights Guide” which was styled like the official Fringe program and had just their own acts in. Still nothing has been done on this scale before and the argument appears to be that it discriminates against the smaller acts that can’t afford to play the big venues, which is against the spirit of the Fringe (though the organisers have suggested other venues could join the “Comedy Festival” banner in future years).

I’m not so convinced it’s that clear-cut. For a start pick up the Fringe programme and thumb through it. 1000s of shows, but adverts for only around 10% of them. If you can afford an advert in the programme you get better advertising. If you can afford and convince one of the ‘Big 4’ you should play there you get better advertising. It’s most certainly a question of degrees rather than a fundamental issues.

The other issue that gets raised with this one is how comics lose thousands of pounds putting on a Fringe show. One interesting thing to note is that those on at the bigger venues are paying a lot more for those rooms, they’re taking a much bigger financial risk. Sure they get better positioning, more advertising and so forth but if they’re not good enough or don’t take advantage of it they’ll lose more money.
Now lets be honest, there’s a lot of shit on at the Fringe. There’s a lot of acts and productions that frankly shouldn’t be there. The open nature of the Fringe is that anyone can put on a show which is a good thing, but a lot of those shows are going to be rather poor. And the smaller and less auspicious the venue gets, the higher the proportion of really bad shows.

Now before you have a fit, I’m not denying there isn’t crap on at the Pleasance, nor am I denying there are some truly brilliant acts performing at the Free Fringe. The former is a case of acts with either more money than sense or over-inflated egos. The latter tend to be the opposite, or those acts that simply don’t have the money to risk. But at least when it comes to the bigger venues, the acts have put their money where their funny mouths are. They’re saying that they know they’re good enough to be playing there and put cold hard cash behind it. Meanwhile there are acts playing the Free Fringe that know they are far from having a sold hour of material, but are doing because it’s fun and not too costly.

So there does exist an argument that bringing these acts willing to risk their own livelihoods playing the big venues under one banner helps the consumer. And meanwhile it also hopefully sells more tickets overall so the acts don’t lose as much money.

The most interesting thing of all is that a number of the acts openly criticising the Edinburgh Comedy Festival are performing at The Stand. The Stand is a great place, but has the advantage of running comedy all-year round, so has a solid infrastructure already in place. It’s also a fairly small operation. All this means that those acts lucky enough to be picked by The Stand to play at their club don’t lose money. In fact, most of them turn a profit. Which is why it’s a little disconcerting to see them attack a system that’s designed to help out their fellow established circuit comics that are stuck performing at the Underbelly et al.

Sure, the whole thing could have been handled better, and under a different name I doubt half as many people would have been upset. But to automatically dismiss it as ‘a bad thing’ seems to be something of a swift judgement.

And of course, after the horrendous ticketing cock-up at the Fringe office, from a purely practical point of view it’s very useful to be able to buy and collect tickets for all four venues from one box-office!


August 04, 2008

Edinburgh Late Show Round–Up

You know the feeling, it’s Edinburgh, 11pm and after a day of watching comedy, you quite fancy watching some more comedy, but in a slightly more laid-back fashion. A strange tradition has been established at the Fringe, and that is while most individual stand-up shows are done by midnight it’s these late hours when the traditional club-style comedy nights start up. You pay your £12, you get 3-5 acts doing 10-20 minutes each with an MC and it’s all a bit Jongleurs but later in the evening.

And there are loads of them. While in years past there were only two or three, these days there are 5 or 6 every night and closer to 10 or 12 at weekends. They serve numerous purposes. For the comics it’s a reminder of the day job, a tap on the shoulder telling you not to get too complacent in playing to tiny attentive audiences. Your main function remains, for better or worse, to make large rooms of drunk people laugh. Also much like said day job and unlike most solo shows, the late shows actually pay money, helping off-set the horrendous losses most comics make in bring their own shows to the Fringe. They’re also a good way for a comic to promote their solo show to the paying punters. Likewise it gives the audience a chance to check out a whole bunch of acts in one night, so they can note down the good ones and go and see them do a full length performance. Most comics are aware of this and do mainly material from their previous shows at the late-night showcases so you won’t be paying for the same jokes twice.

But with so many to choose from, which one do you go for? Well generally, the one with the best line-up that night. But unless you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the comedy scene, you won’t know half of the acts. Fortunately there are other things you can base the choice on: each night has it’s own style, atmosphere and approach. But since the reviewers don’t cover the late shows it’s something previously only picked up on by experience. Until now, as FringeBlogs presents the ultimate guide to Edinburgh late shows.

Late ‘n’ Live Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4th-25th, 1am-5am
Late ‘n’ Live is the daddy, the big one, one of the Fringe’s first late shows and known by it’s reputation as one of the greatest. Past compères include the likes of Daniel Kitson and Russell Howard. The event runs from 1am-5am but the comedy is normally done by 3am after which there’s live music.
The problem with Late ‘n’ Live is it’s trading on a reputation. It used to be the best for a reason, I remember it being my first introduction to a late night comedy club when I was first at the Fringe in 2002 where it featured a man whose act appeared to be downing 5 pints of Guinness and a headline set from a not-yet-famous Jimmy Carr. It was wonderful and brilliant. But then the venue it was held in on Cowgate burned down a few years back. The Gilded Balloon relocated it to their other venue but there’s no room there that’s really suitable for this sort of show. The old venue was this ornate ballroom and it had cabaret style seating, people sat around tables with drinks and it was great fun. Now it’s in the big room at the Teviot and it just doesn’t work. If you queue early, get one of the 10 or so tables near the front and never turn around it can be great. But behind that people are squeezed into rows of seats theatre-style with little leg room and the whole thing falls apart. Not to mention that if you’re at the back you can barely see the stage. It’s hard to create an ‘anything could happen’ and ‘go ahead and heckle us’ vibe in that sort of room. It’s a shame. And for a gig that used to pride itself on regular comperes doing the job nearly every night, it appears to have 6 or 7 different ones this year.
It’s a shame, it’s not the gig it used to be but it can sell out every night on the Late ‘n’ Live name alone so there’s no incentive there to improve it. Like the website says, it truly is “one of the hottest tickets in town”. It just shouldn’t be.

Spank! – Underbelly, 4th-24th, Midnight-4am
Spank! is pretty much what Late ‘n’ Live used to be. And not just in it’s use of strange punctuation marks which make it awkward to type. The acts on slant slightly less mainstream than Late ‘n’ Live with a tendency to pick weird acts while maintaining the traditional bear-pit atmosphere. It’s in a lovely wide room with cabaret seating and rows with actual leg room at the sides. While both gigs go for the high energy, loud music, plenty of intervals for drinks approach to late-night gigs, Spank’s room is just more conductive to creating that. Neither are gigs you go to to see a specific act, more they form a fun part of a night out. Nor are most particularly tolerable sober!
But anyone that’s a fan of comedy but mainly sticks to the more arty end of the spectrum with theatre gigs and such really owes it to themselves to check out a gig such as this at least once. The highly charged combative acts vs audience atmosphere is at once unpleasant but still strangely alluring. It’s comedy in a very raw and primal form, where seeing an act die miserably while failing to win over the vicious crowd is often as entertaining as seeing one do brilliantly. Seeing such shows at Edinburgh offers a slightly different experience to your regular Friday night at Jongleurs, as the audience are generally more comedy literate (if also more drunk), the acts a cut above, and there are less stag and hen parties. So if you’ve ever wanted to see such a gig, Spank is your best opportunity. You probably shouldn’t sit at the front though. Like Late ‘n’ Live, it’s scheduled till 4am, but the comedy finishes about 2.30-3am, after which there is some sort of club night.
Also there’s always at least one naked person on stage at some point. 98% of the time it is a man.

Late Show – Underbelly, Thu-Sun 3rd-24th, 00:40-03:10
The Late Show is The Underbelly’s other late night comedy showcase. It’s in a smaller room so the whole thing is more intimate, and less Rock ‘n’ Roll than Spank, aimed slightly more at people that want to enjoy the comedy rather than get drunk. Not that there isn’t heckling and audience interaction but it’s a little more restrained. Nice if you’re finding it too early to go to bed but would rather wind down a little than be fired-up.

Political Animal – Underbelly, Wed-Sun 6th-24th, 22:30 – 23:50
Another Underbelly show, this one isn’t so late but is worth including. It mostly features political acts or acts doing political material and as such is a little bit more intellectual than the other late shows (though there’s not that much you’d really term ‘cutting satire’). Ably MC’d by Andy Zaltzmann it’s a great show that often showcases comics doing material they don’t normally do to an appreciative audience. Well worth checking out.

Honourable Men of Art – Sun-Thu 3rd-24th, 00:00 – 03:00
So at some point Daniel Kitson got bored of MCing Late ‘n’ Live and adopted a far less aggressive style of comedy. But he also missed having somewhere for him and his friends to hang out of an evening, and so Honourable Men of Art was born.
Up at The Stand away from the hustle and bustle of the more southerly venues and purposefully not running on Friday or Saturday evenings to avoid ‘that sort’ of crowd, Honourable Men of Art is a million miles away from your traditional late show. It features Kitson and some of Andy Zaltzman, David O’Doherty, John Oliver (via webcam) and Alun Cochrane.
It’s all quite laid back and silly and certainly the comedy connoisseurs choice of late show, even though Kitson would probably argue such a description made it sound far to elaborate.

We Need Answers – Pleasance Dome, 10th-16th, 00:15 – 01:25
Another rather different late show, this features Mark Watson, Tim Key and Alex Horne presiding over two other comics in a quiz format, as the comics compete to win. The catch? All the questions have previously been asked of AQA, a text message answering service that isn’t as good as Texperts (66000). You can text them any question and they’ll send you an answer for a pound. Quiz contestants have to guess exactly what answers AQA sent back.
It’s not at all serious, there may be cheating involved and it’s done in a brilliantly over the top gameshow fashion. Hopefully Tim Key’s sliding chair will make a return this year. If you want something totally off-beat and bizarre at midnight, this is the thing to go for.

Storytellers’ Club – C Central, Saturdays, 2nd-23rd, 23:45 – 01:15
This aberration of logic is a friendly, relaxed late night gig on a Saturday night in Edinburgh. Presided over by Sarah Bennetto the point of the gig is to offer a different sort of comedy gig. Interesting and amusing stories are valued over punchlines and traditional jokes making the whole thing the ideal tonic to the rest of Edinburgh on a Saturday. Come along, sit, relax and be taken on a funny journey by some brilliant comics. Especially on August 16th when they have an amazing line-up…

Everything Else
Those of course, are only a fraction of the options available. Off the top of my head there’s also Afterhours and The Bad Film Club at the Pleasance, The Stand’s weekend late shows, about 5 different Free Fringe and Free Festival Late shows, a Late Show at the Tron and probably a bunch of others too. But since I’ve never been to them, I can’t really write them up. But should I make it there this year I’ll be sure to write some addendums.


May 31, 2008

Edinburgh Comedy Festival

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article4036501.ece

So there’s a big row going on about the fact that the ‘Big Four’ venues in Edinburgh (Gilded Balloon, Assembly Rooms, Pleasance and Underbelly) have joined forces to package everything up in one brochure under one heading.

While I’m very much against it, it’s just another in the cynical marketing ploys that happen every year. For many years past these venues paired up with each other to make 2 big brochures instead of 4, and now we’re just getting one, it seemed an obvious step. Also having all the booking systems linked is fairly handy, as you can buy tickets for one venue at the box office for another.

This is nowhere near as bad as the stunt Avalon pulled a few years back, where they printed off brochures with a cover and design just like the Fringe program, and called it a “Fringe Highlights guide”, with only those in the know able to figure out it only actually had Avalon acts in it – your average punter would have taken it as an official festival production, with genuine ‘highlights’.

One thing that stood out for me in the article linked above was that they wanted to be ‘bigger than Glastonbury’ and this led me to thinking about the one case in which I would support this “Edinburgh Comedy Festival” and that’s if I could buy an “Edinburgh Comedy Festival” Ticket for say £150 like most other festival, and then get in to any shows I wanted to see that were at these venues. It’ll never happen though.


January 14, 2008

Review of the Year Part 3: Comedy

Edinburgh was sort of weird this year. The overall quality of shows seemed to be up, but the flip side was that less really stood out as brilliant. There were a couple of shows that were particulary good though.

Runner Up: Stewart Lee: 41st Best Stand Up Ever
Some comics improvise a lot of stuff on stage (Ross Noble), others keep the same topics and stories but move words, delivery and such around every night (Robin Ince), while others go to great extents to carefully script a set so it sounds completely improvised (Billy Connolly).
Stewart Lee ignores all that. While they’re technically stand-up, Lee’s shows tend to veer very close to being one-man theatre pieces. He has a script, in which every word was carefully picked to get just the right response, every pause expertly timed to the half-second. In doing this he’s able to play with the form to a crazy degree, weaning massive amounts of laughs from cleverly done repetition and other techniques that you know would just be a disaster delivered by anyone less conscientious about their writing than Lee.
The show touches on what might be considered fairly hack topics such as reality TV but it’s done so differently you don’t care. The only reason this isn’t the winner is that it re-uses a lot of techniques, though not material, from his previous show. He’s since said that he considers this, 90s Comedian and Stand-Up Comedian a trilogy of sorts, so it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

Winner: Brendon Burns: So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now?
Burns is always a somewhat misunderstood comic. You’ll often find him headlining rowdy comedy nights at big clubs in the weekend, playing the part of the offensive asshole to a tee, being that stereotypical shouty Australian saying bad things. It’s an act that pays the bills, but Burns’ Edinburgh shows have always offered something more. While they feature plenty of shouting, it’s done in a smarter way and the shows often have a point to them that justifies it all.
The show takes Burns’ point-making to an extreme, with the first two-thirds offering Burn’s standard intelligent but somewhat skewed views on the issues of life, but then the ending turning everything on his head. It many ways it’s almost an attack on the easy-led braying weekend comedy crowds Burns is used to playing to, but it also highlights the inherent mob mentality and the sort of casual right-winged-ness exhibited by many self-proclaimed liberal comedy fans. Of course, to give away the ending would spoil it and hopefully it will get a London run like Burns’ previous shows, and is defiantly worth seeing.
Well deserving of the Perrier award, though I worry slightly that this is the second year in a row a show that’s about ‘making a point’ (albeit Phil Nichol’s show did it in a very different way) that has won. I’ve felt both have deserved the recognition for some time now, but I worry about this year’s Edinburgh having too many people spotting the trend and attempting to shoe-horn badly thought out ‘messages’ into their comedy shows.

Disappointments
Mark Watson’s 24-hour show
I’ve talked at length before about how brilliant Mark Watson’s 36 hour show in 2006 was so I was very much looking forward to this. Alas, it was a bit rubbish, and I ended up leaving halfway through, having only managed 12 of the 24 hours. So here’s some speculation on why it wasn’t as good:

Venue: I’m aware there were some venue problems and one of them was a last minute cancellation, but the venues were a real problem this time around. The first half of the show was held at The Stand. Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Stand. It’s a great little venue, that’s a comedy club all year round, and the acts that play there get to actually make money, they do wonderful stuff for the acts, they’re pleasant lovely and helpful and they’re great. But The Stand is in the city centre near the high street. This is a million miles (not actually) from The Pleasance, The Underbelly, The Dome, The Gilded Balloon and all those venues. And the reason that this was a problem was the show ended up being very isolated. In past years, it was held at the Pleasance Dome, right in the middle of things, so various acts would pop in and help out and banter with Mark and co. throughout the night as various late shows finished and so on. But you can’t ‘pop in’ to The Stand, so other than acts making a definite effort to be there (and the contortionist, I don’t think we’ll ever forget the contortionist) it was mostly just Mark. Even his regular sidekicks Alex Horne and Tim Key weren’t around for much of the show this year, placing far too big a burden on Watson’s shoulders. For the second part of the show it moved to a more central venue, but again it was one of the new C-Venues and not exactly somewhere on the beaten track, and from what I hear the level of guests and so on really only picked up in the last 3-4 hours of the show. One man can’t be funny and entertaining for 24-hours on his own, he needs people to bounce of and that was sorely missing this year, and I think the main factor in the show being not as good as before.

Timings: A short show at 24 hours this year, it ran midnight-midnight. I can understand the point of this, as it gets those awkward 3am-9am hours out of the way while people still have some energy, but on the other hand it prevents any setting up of anything in the previous day to pay off in the following one.

Theme: I don’t object to saving the environment or anything, but the problem with this theme was that it didn’t have a temporal aspect to it. Previous shows have involved a minute for every year in history, or an around-the-world trip with timings planned so that Watson could check our current ‘position’ at any point. That meant that there was always something to fall back on. Having a more general theme meant there was no ‘safety net’ to speak of.

Running around: There was too much moving about and emphasis on pre-planned events that not only felt artificial but also after you’ve been up for so long you don’t really feel like trudging down to Princess Street for Mark’s book launch. Also my personal circumstances may figure in to it. Last time around I was doing a rolling review of the show for Chortle, which meant not only did I have something to focus on, but I had a laptop for power and an internet connection so if I did get a bit tired or bored I could always have a quick MSN chat or check some websites. Whereas without that there was only Watson.

Dawkins: Sometime early in the show, when discussing what celebrities we could convince to come along, Mark got into his head the idea of getting Richard Dawkins. Problem was, from what I could gather no-one was even sure if he was in Edinburgh. He was doing a book signing, but that was about a week away. So much of the show was spent obsessing over how to get Dawkins, and it got old quite quickly. And it was also somewhat ridiculous when someone actually gave Mark his phone number early on, but he was reluctant to call him, so a million and one other ideas were bandied around, none of which actually worked. It was an awesome idea in principle, it just sucked up far too much of the show and for the twelve hours I was there we never seemed to get away from it.

Ah well, I only write all this as I felt the 2006 show was so brilliant and if this year’s one is to be the last long show I want it to be better.

Other Stuff
In non-Edinburgh news this year I have spent lots of time listening to piano-based comic Tim Minchin, hearing him with a band for the first time on his Radio 2 Christmas show was a revelation, and I’ve since tracked down his first album, which features him and a band and is more ‘music’ than ‘comedy’, even if it does blur the lines. It’s awesome. I want, nay demand, a Tim Minchin and band UK tour this year. Preferably with Chris T-T supporting. Thanks.

I’d also like to plug GoFasterStripe.com a husband and wife outfit who film good comedy shows and sell them on DVD for ten pounds. Legally and stuff. There’s so much good stuff out there that just won’t get a DVD release through the regular channels, but needs to be archived somewhere as it’s just too important not to. I heartily recommend their first release: Stewart Lee’s 90’s Comedian which I personally consider to be the best stand-up show ever written, and anyone who cares about comedy should buy it right now.
Also, and this is a more subtle point: they film all the shows at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. It’s a small venue and holds just a hundred or so people. The reason I point this out is if you buy any stand-up DVD from Woolworths it’ll inevitably have been filmed at the biggest theatre (or sometimes stadium) the producers could find. Whereas comedy is at it’s best in smaller rooms, and these DVDs go some way towards capturing this, picking up some of that intimate performer-audience connection that doesn’t exist in the massive cavernous theatres most shows are filmed in.


September 28, 2007

Why I Hate The Olympics

If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a sports fan, so the Olympics is of practically zero interest to me: I won’t watch it on TV, I won’t go to London to see something live, all it will do is keep me out of London for two weeks wherever possible. But I’m not bitter or angry about it for that reason. I’m not one of those people that goes “They’re spending my taxes on something I don’t want! How dare they!”, even if I did get increasingly pissed off by the (predominatly London-based) media’s overwhelmingly positive attitude towards London’s bid in comparison to thier universal derision of Manchester’s.

You see, even though I don’t care about sport, it’s a big thing for a lot of people, and this is a chance for us to host the biggest sporting event in the world, featuring the top athletes at the peak of thier careers gathered together for an amazing event. It’s a big, impressive, and worthwhile thing. Afterall, sport is one of the pillars of our society: the sports and the arts account for the majority of our recreational activity, and have done since Roman times and earlier.

Some of you may see where this is going.

Because the Arts are another pillar of our society, so you have to wonder, what’s the Arts-world equivalent of the Olympics, what’s that big event that brings people of together from all over the world to celebrate it. Well for a start it’s not a moving event, it’s stuck in one place. So we can’t bid to get it over here then? Well actually, it already is. The biggest Arts festival in the world is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sounds like marketing gumpf, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but let it sink in for a second the biggest arts festival in the world – and that’s not even including the Book Festival, Film Festival and International Festival that all overlap it.

But here’s the problem. Every year, ticket prices for Fringe shows go up. Every year, accommodation costs for people that want to stay there rise, as landlords rent thier properties out for 3-5 times the normal rate. The performers arn’t getting rich either. Most make a loss as the venue charge increasingly higher sums of money to rent increasingly delapidated performance rooms to people wanting to put on a show. Slowly but surely attending the festival, either as a punter or a performer, is being priced out of the range of more and more people every year. Meanwhile the goverment spend nearly half a million quid on an Olympics logo while doing nothing for the Fringe.

The Olympics are costing us 2 billion pounds. And that’s the conservative estimate. Figures of closer to 9 billion are what many are claiming to be the true cost. And for that we get something that will only be used for two weeks ever. Sure, it’ll include redevelopment work that will benefit people in the area and there’ll be a load of new sporting venues that will sit empty until being sold off after the event but still.
Imagine what even one billion invested in Edinburgh for the benefit of the festivals would bring. Better transport links, more accommodation, purpose build venues, renovation of existing venues. And while some of this would serve a lesser purpose 11 months of the year, at least it’ll be used on an annual basis, and for twice as long as the Olympic stuff to boot.

And that’s why I really hate the Olympics at the moment, because we’re pissing billions up against the wall to get the biggest sporting event in the world in our country just one time, while we already have the biggest arts event in the country every single year, and we’re losing it and doing nothing about it. It makes me feel ill, to be honest. Lets make the most of what we have before we go looking for something else eh?


August 22, 2007

More Reviews

Four more reviews up at FringeBlogs

Once I’ve written up the other fifteen or so reviews I’ll try and get a general edinburghy bloggy-blog up on here!


August 20, 2007

Random Edinburgh Statistics

Number of shows on the “To See” List: 40
Number of shows actually seen: 31
Number of shows from the “To See” List seen: 26
Number of random shows seen: 5
Number of shows missed out on: 14
Number of shows I actually care about missing: 3
Number of shows missed due to idiocy: 1
Number of shows I didn’t pay for: 4

Hours of Mark Watson’s 24-hour show watched: 13
Hours of shows watched: 50
Hours of sleep attained: too few

Number of pretty girls I chatted with randomly but failed to do anything about: 3
Number of annoyingly happy couples: 12 million
Number of Lauren Laverne sightings: 0 :(

Might do a more in depth blog later on, in the meantime, am still posting reviews at FringeBlogs


August 06, 2007

Edinburgh Recommendations

My Edinburgh Fringe recommandations (well the first half) are up at Fringeblogs.co.uk


September 06, 2006

Edinburgh Blog – Day 19 – August 19th

“Nail bombs under every seat…”

At 1pm today I’m supposed to be going down the road to the cinema again to see a full 90 minute Q&A with Kevin Smith as part of the film festival. I have a ticket and everything (got it just before it sold out, they’re pretty rare). But I wake up at midday and despite 8 hours sleep feel like I haven’t slept. Uh-oh. See, you stay up for 40 hours and it messes up your body, but you also get that delayed effect – the previous few days I’m fine but 4 days after the event and ‘boom’ now you’re going to be exhausted. So I weigh up my options, and decide to forgo the Q&A as have very early starts scheduled for the next two days and this will be the last chance for a lie in. I put my head back down and the next thing I know it’s 5pm and I actually feel like I’ve slept.

After this I go off to see Amateur Transplants (Medina & Negociants, 19:00 & 21:00) – they’re the ones who did the London Underground song that anyone with the internet has probably heard by now – they’re mean to have my name on the door as a reviewer but don’t, but I blag my way in anyways. It’s a weird venue, everyone sits on cushions on the floor. It’s also a bit weird as it’s the first show I’ve asked to review, rather than been assigned. It’s very good though.

From here I go to see Political Animal (BabyBelly, 10:15pm), Andy Zaltzmann’s politics themed gig, with Pops and his mum. Richard Herring is on, along with Danny Bhoy and someone else whom I forget. Herring continues to deconstruct his performance during his act by pulling apart a played out conversation between two different aspects of his personality, testing the audiences’ patience. It’s not laugh out loud funny buy it sure is interesting to see a comic that doesn’t care about the audience response just fucking with us.

Then I meet up with Henry’s flatmate and his friends, who I first met at the WoW guild meet-up a few weeks back. We go for a few drinks and they want some hints on what’s good and what isn’t. They also want to go and see Cowards, since I gave it a bad review and all the other critics loved it, so they want to know who’s right!

The last few days have been fairly uneventful as I’ve been recovering somewhat from the Mark Watson gig, but things should get busier and more show-packed over the next week or so, and these entries should get longer and more interesting!


Edinburgh Blog – Day 17 – August 17th

“Oh, you’ve already seen it”

Nothing to review today, picking back up the schedule in the next few days, so another long lie in. Went to see Ed Byrne (Pleasance Grand, 21:50) (you know, the cheeky Irish chappy that did the Carphone Warehouse ads… who the hell calls them car-phones anymore anyways). His show was fairly middling – funny jokes but nothing special. He did have a great idea though, that while the set-up for a joke, was pretty clever in and of itself. The idea was that people should go out and buy headphone splitters, then when on public transport, listening to their iPods, they wave the splitter at another likewise occupied passenger. If they get the nod, they put the splitter into their iPod and play you a song. Then you put it into yours and play them a song. You don’t talk to the other person, but you connect through the music. I’ve had similar thoughts myself before so I really liked this, am writing it here to do my bit for spreading the idea around.

I also had two rather interesting flyering experiences, one from a cute girl flyering Jarred Christmas’ show, which meant for the first time this festival I was able to use the ‘I’ve already seen the show’ line and genuinely mean it. The second was some girl coming up to me and serenading me with a song about me, as I apparently looked a little miserable (actually: tired) – can’t even remember what the show was but I have to commend the effort.

Also spoke briefly to Pops (Adam) who is up for a few days, though he was just headed into a show as I caught him. After this went for a few drinks with Andy and three American people he’d got talking to – students, two men, one girl. Apparently he’d accidently kicked her in the head the previous night then rejected her advances or something. I think she’s very pretty but in that 5ft-tall-and-I-have-a-thing-for-short-women sort of way so the reactions of more normal people will be less predictable. First we went to the Hollyrood, then the Underbelly and then they went off to find a club to go to. I didn’t, as had left my earplugs at home and didn’t fancy having tinitus for the rest of the festival. She was hot, but not risk-my-hearing-hot.

During this time the rain had finally broken well and truly and it was a cold and miserable walk back home, being soaked by the end of it. On reflection, I should have got a taxi. Plus I can’t figure out how to make the heaters in the flat work.


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