For the 4th successive year, I headed to Edinburgh for the Festival. After booking it, I did start to have second thoughts, mainly because I was worried about repitition. How wrong I was.
I flew out at 7am on the Saturday morning, which always sounds like a good idea when you book it. What this ridiculously early arrival did mean was, that I could get a prime position at the Ticket Office when it opened at 10am.
Last year, I managed to get everything I wanted. This year, I had some disappointments, as i’d hoped to see John Peel’s Shed, Adam Hills and Marcus Brigstoke, but they were all sold out unfortunately.
My first show that I saw was that afternoon, ‘The Boss Rules’ by Sarfraz Manzoor talking about his Bruce Springsteen obsession, and how the lyrics to Springsteen songs can offer guidance to any situation in life.
Not a comedian, Manzoor did have some comic gems, recalling his musical tastes pre Springsteen growing up in Luton, joking that he naively thought people were sharing his love of AOR by shouting “FOREIGNER!!!!!” at him.
He jokes about the negative images of his hometown, as the origin of the EDL, that their leader is so racist, he runs a Tanning Salon, the only place where you will never see a Black or Asian person.
He speaks passionately of his Springsteen obsession, thinking nothing of travelling across the world, even to the point that Springsteen spots him in the crowd at Pittsburgh and asks “What are you doing here?”
Having recently become a father and this change has meant a lot of financial sacrifices, with his own brand of Brucanomics, ruefully observation that the money he spent on a highchair could have got him flights to Mainland Europe or Scandinavia to see Springsteen in concert.
Overall, it was a very good show, and you don’t need to be a Springsteen fan to get the gags.
Next show that I saw was Mark Watson. He was on my reserve list but his show was excellent. You may recognise him from the Panel Show circuit and he has the same bumbling demeanor as his TV appearances.
The show is called ‘The Information’ and focuses on interaction and information organisations have of us. He began by recalling a story of how he overheard two audience members having an argument, that one didn’t want to go so her boyfriend said that they could leave at the interval and got to Nandos.
That was his competition, chicken …….. and not even a high quality of chicken.
It just so happened that they were in the front row, and he used this information against them. You never quite know what direction he is going in when he performs, which is no bad thing.
That night, I went to see The Boy With Tape On His Face, which was originally on my reserve list. It turns out missing the shows I wanted was a blessing in disguise, he was fantastic.
As the name suggests, he has a tape on his face. He doesn’t say anything, it’s all physical comedy (often using his emotions to signal approval or disapproval), using audience members, props and musical assistance.
The first observation, was that he stood on stage as the audience entered the arena, eyeing them up for possible participants.
Best moments were when he had a stapler shoot-out with an audience member with a balloon under each arm and one inbetween the legs, and using a tape measure as a light sabre to recreate Star Wars.
The following day, I went to see Hibs play Hearts. Go on, joke about me going to see an SPL game during the middle of a comedy festival.
A blog about the match can be found a few posts back.
From there, I was Pleasance (My favourite venue. One year, I will spend a whole day there) bound for One Rogue Reporter by Rich Peppiatt
Rich Peppiatt always wanted to be a journalist, but not for the reasons most people want to be a journalist. It was the long hours and low pay which appealed to him, as it was a proud Peppiatt tradition to do jobs that they hate.
In his words “It was one low point after another”
Peppiatt is probably best known for leaking his resignation letter when leaving Daily Star.
The show’s title, in his words “Is stolen, in fine tabloid tradition”
It comes from the Leveson Inquiry, which provides a lot of material for the show.
Peppiatt weaves between speaking and introducing video clips. The clips were often Brass Eye-esque surrealism, poking fun at senior media figures.
Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow stated at Leveson that somebody should have intervened regarding a series of stories about Madeline McCann.
So, Peppiatt blutacs a series of print-outs of these stories onto Whittow’s car, and when challenged, nonchalantly replies “You should have intervened”
The highlight is his stitch-up of Kelvin McKenzie. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t seen it, but it is worth the admission fee alone.
That night, I went to see Jim Jefferies, an Australian comic, not the former Hearts manager.
I didn’t know much about him, but he did have some brilliant reviews, so I took a chance. Laugh a minute stuff, but not for the easily offended.
A routine where he dreams of being widowed purely to get sympathy shags off women sets the tone for the rest of the show.
My final show on the Sunday Night was a show called ‘Guardian Reader’ …… it was utter wank.
I’d thought it might be good as a witty analysis of lazy stereotypes and cliches, it barely referenced The Guardian. It was just a rollcall of crap jokes and anecdotes about the performer’s failed teaching career.
All his ‘jokes’ were read off a page, and he even laughed at his own jokes.
I made my excuses and left after ten minutes. Not sure if the other 12 people in the room stuck it out.
Many performers took Monday 13th off, making it problematic for shows, as it was mostly acts I wanted to see.
That afternoon, I went to see ‘My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver‘ by Toby Hadoke, about a Doctor Who obsessive learning to bond with his deaf stepson through the medium of Doctor Who.
His fame as a Doctor Who obsessive saw him appear at a fan convention on February 14th this year, which he joked was a good date to hold a Doctor Who convention as “Doctor Who fans don’t usually have plans on Valentine’s Night”
Even though he’s a Doctor Who obsessive, he gets annoyed at people who automatically think he’s likes Star Wars, angrily stating “I’m not a geek” and thanking Doctor Who for scaring his kids, meaning he hasn’t needed a babysitter since March 2005.
Having a deaf stepchild, he has learnt sign language, and even created Doctor Who related sign language terms.
He describes watching Doctor Who with subtitles, that the opening credits simply says *DOCTOR WHO THEME* and expressing his sadness that he will never hear such an iconic TV theme tune, even if he watched every episode of Doctor Who, the room fell silent.
That silence was soon turned into laughter with the punchline “which he will do, because I have an week long Whoathon planned for his next birthday”
From there, I went to see ‘Man 1 Bank 0‘, a true story about a man who jokingly deposited a junk mail cheque, which amazingly cleared.
1-0 is of course a football score, a hard fought victory. To use a football analogy, this was an FA Cup giantkilling as the story went from end to end before it’s star, Patrick Combs, eventually was victorious, and $93,000 richer.
That night, I saw Rhys Darby live.
Best known as Murray Hewitt from Flight Of The Conchords, he’s not afraid of typecasting, arring on stage in a spacesuit, where a robot voice welcomes him, he asks “Is that you Jermaine?” (in reference to his FOTC co-star Jermaine Clement)
This robot is called Al, which he explains by singing “You Can Call Me Al” much to Darby’s annoyance
In the show, Darby reminisces about his schoolkids, when he and his friends were known as the “Dicks Club”, so they claimed it for themselves.
The finale involves him dancing to ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’, which he renames “Rhysie Is A Dancer’
Monday night should have been renamed New Zealand Night, as I went to see Jarred Christmas afterwards.
He was funny throughout, and like Darby, spent a lot of his show dancing. Must be a New Zealand thing.
The BBC broadcast shows at the festival, and I was lucky enough to get tickets for MacAulay and Co on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, where Jarred Christmas was a guest (twice in 12 hours) and Des Bishop proved that anyone can have a hip-hop hit by sampling an already popular song, and showed by doing a rap about stalking an ex on Facebook and sampling ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele for the chorus.
After that, I was in the audience for Festival Cafe, where Schlomo was a guest.
My first proper show on Tuesday was a show called ‘Superheroes’, which I thought might be a funny look at comicbook superheroes. It wasn’t. It was a man who should be old enough to know better playing with toys and shouting a lot.
I managed to sneak out after fifteen minutes. The other nine people in the audience were not so lucky.
From there, I went to see Jimeoin at the EICC, which is the Wembley of the Edinburgh Fringe
To be honest, the show was disappointing. It was funny in parts, but not riproaring.
Next up was David O’Doherty at Pleasance. There is a 30-40 minute walk from EICC to Pleasance, my best bet was a taxi. I’d been quoted fifteen quid for a Pedicab, but I knew I was being ripped-off as I travelled a similar distance on Sunday for just under a fiver.
I started walking in the hope of hailing a cab.
As a cab drove past me, I saw it picking up fellow hailers ten seconds in front of me. I chanced and ask where they were heading, they replied Pleasance. Result, got a cabshare. It came to £5.90, so I gave £3 (I felt duty bound to contribue 52-53%)
If Edinburgh Festival is the Olympics of comedy, David O’Doherty is Usain Bolt in the 100m. He’s just as quickfire and madcap.
He bemoaned going to an all boys school and the concept of single sex schooling, pointing out “What’s the point in getting a C in Home Economics is half the world’s population are like aliens to me?”
The master of improvisation, he sang out tips from a Cosmopolitan Sex Guide based on numbers shouted out by members of the audience.
Wednesday’s MacAulay and Co was fantastic, guest Neil Delamere pointing out that Holland’s Olympic team would get a lot of support in Glasgow as they wear tracksuits with ‘NED’ written on it.
Sammy J and Randy were a guest on it. I’d always been thinking of seeing them in Edinburgh. I’ll defiantely do it in 2013.
On Wednesday night I went to see Scotland v Australia. A blog about this is a few posts back.
On Thursday afternoon, I saw Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, as the title suggests, Paul Merton doing improvised comedy with a support cast. I’d seen the show in 2009 and it was fantastic then, and fantastic again in 2012.
And this, Edinburgh 2012 was over for me.
1. The Boy With Tape On His Face
2. Man 1 Bank 0
3. David O’Doherty
4. My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver
5. One Rogue Reporter
Michael Winslow – Best known as Larvell (or, the voice guy) from Police Academy, I saw him last year and he was fantastic.
David Hasselhoff – He wasn’t on while I was here. He has a talking car and invented Baywatch, as if you need an excuse to see him.
The Boat Factory – Friends of mine worked when this toured schools, so there’s a bit of bias with this choice. A two man play set in H and W starring Dan ‘Red Hand Luke’ Gordon.