EDINBLOG 2014

A few weeks back, I headed to Edinburgh to take in the Fringe Festival. It was the 6th successive year i’ve attended it. Not going to lie, I love this event, that’s why I keep coming back.

Usually, I arrive in the city on a Saturday, but this year I made it a Thursday to Monday trip. I’d consider myself to be an Edinburgh Veteran, so the trip began in usual fashion – an early morning flight, then a trip to the Ticket Office.

It’s a bit of a risk to wait until arrival to buy tickets, as a lot of shows sell out quickly, I usually find it easy enough to get a good schedule.

It might sound sad, but I plan what I want to see, and have back-up options, just in case.

I didn’t get some of my first choice options, so I had to switch some of my schedule around to accommodate other nights which had tickets available.

I decided to keep some windows open in order to wait and see what to get to fill those gaps, later in the trip.

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Edinburgh ………. they have Trams!!!!

It’s a sad development for the world of comedy, as in previous years, comedians weren’t slow in putting a gag or reference to the much delayed tram line.

As a result of delays getting my baggage, I missed out on being in the audience of MacAulay and Co, which I had a ticket for that morning. Frustratingly, David O’Doherty was a guest that day.

I try to get a mixture of people i’d seen before, and people I haven’t seen. David O’Doherty is one I have to see everytime i’m in Edinburgh. I tried to get tickets for his show but it was sold out, which made it even more frustrating.

I’d planned to see my first show that afternoon, a musical of the movie Ghostbusters, but I got lost trying to find the venue (yes, even Edinburgh Veterans get lost sometimes) and missed it.

Later that evening, I went to my first show of the Fringe – Tedfest, a show based on the Festival/Fan Convention of the TV show Father Ted.

It had a World Cup style comedian battle, a talent show, and of course, a (mock) Lovely Girls Competition. It had it’s moments, most notably when the compere asked people to stand for the national anthem, and “Ghost Town” by The Specials was played, but overall, it just wasn’t that funny.

Friday began with MacAulay and Co, always a pleasure, with guests that day including Alun Cochrane and Tom Rosenthal.

On Friday afternoon, I went to see a show called The 56, a show about the Bradford Fire in 1985.

There was no plot, just three actors reading and acting out real life testimonies of people who survived the fire. It was well acted, to the point where it felt like a hard watch at times.

I got lucky with my dates, that Paul Merton was performing when I was there. Paul Merton only does a few dates in Edinburgh each year, and some years i’ve missed out on seeing him because the dates didn’t match.

The show, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, sees him, and collaborators, including his wife, performing Improvised Comedy.

That evening, I went to see Frisky and Mannish. I’d had them recommended to me in previous years, and finally decided to go and see them in 2013 …… except, they didn’t have a show that year.

Their show this year, was a musical comedy looking at popculture and it’s best meltdowns, and how they struggled to come up with an appropriate anthem for feminism. They were very funny, especially when they sang all of Sinead O’Connor’s unpublished open letters to various pop stars.

My next show on Friday was Margaret Thatcher : Queen Of Soho, a musical comedy about how Margaret Thatcher became the Queen of Soho.

Margaret Thatcher is the lead character, telling her story, in a laugh a minute show, which isn’t afraid to make fun of her, as she offers a bottle of milk to an audience member, and gets into an arguement with fellow cast members, and tells them “I won’t hesitate about making people unemployed”

When asked by one of her staff is she should screw over the Lib Dems, she simply replies “No, we might need them some day”

There is also a talking picture of Winston Churchill.

From there, I headed to the Comedywealth Games, presented by Mark Watson. I’d wanted to see Mark Watson’s show, so this was the next best thing.

Comedywealth Games was, unsurprisingly, a comedy version of the Commonwealth Games, where comedians competed against each other in a range of events, none of which were athletic based, including sock pairing, eating fruit on a treadmill, and a sack race.

The night I went had Mark Steel representing England. Romesh Ranganathan was due to represent Sri Lanka, so Mark Steel’s son Elliott took his place. It was the day before his 18th birthday. As the show began after 11, he celebrated his birthday midway through the show.

The final competitor was Andrew Maxwell, from the Republic of Ireland.. As Republic Of Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth, a draw was made to assign him a country. He was assigned Kiribati.

After spending some time on Wikipedia before the show Andrew Maxwell was now a patriotic Kiribatian.

Star of the show, was an audience member called Darren, who was picked to assist the competitors. He was “slightly worse for wear” and spent most of his time swearing and making rude gestures.

The crowd loved him, and chanted his name everytime Mark Watson asked for a member of the crowd to assist.

For the record, England and Kiribati were level on the medals table, with England winning 2-1 on a Rock/Sissors/Paper Play-Off.

The first part of Saturday was mostly football dominated, having a pub lunch to watch Man United v Swansea, then to see Sid Lowe do a talk about his book, Fear And Loathing In La Liga, a look at the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

That evening, I went to see Axis Of Awesome. I’d previously had them recommended to me. It was a musical comedy, very much in the style of Flight Of The Conchords, with each member taking it in turns to be the butt of the others jokes.

The highlight of the show was when they performed “4 Chords“, a series of pop classics to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, showing how so many songs use the same 4 chords.

I had an unexpected bonus on the Saturday night, as David O’Doherty performed an extra show at 11pm, due to demand. It was classic O’Doherty, with his surreal sense of humour having the crowd in stitches.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Tynecastle watching Hearts v Hibs. From there, I had a very long walk to see John Lloyd’s Museum Of Curiosity, a very QI type show, unsurprisingly, considering that John Lloyd was the creator of QI.

My final show, came on the Sunday night, called “What Does The Title Matter Anyway?”, though it was listed in the festival programme (published in early June) as “Whose Live Show Is It Anyway?, which sounds a bit like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

It was hosted by Clive Anderson, who hosted Whose Line Is It Anyway? and featured Whose Line ….. regulars such as Greg Proops and Stephen Frost.

Anderson, a former lawyer, was quick to point out that this show was totally different from Whose Line Is It Anyway? I feel it’s only fair to repeat what he said.

Whatever the legalities, the audience didn’t care about that, they were only there for laughs, which they got, from the mapcap and surreal situations the show provided. It was a good way to end Edinburgh 2014.

I always keep meaning to explore Scotland when i’m there, possibly taking a day trip to Glasgow or Stirling. But there’s so much going on in Edinburgh, it seems a shame to leave the city while you’re there, even for a day.

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG PREVIEW

In just under three weeks, i’ll be making my annual trip to Edinburgh to take in the Fringe Festival.

Since the programme was released, i’ve been circling and scribbling notes, trying to decide what I want to see, a process I may finally have mastered.

As with my previous two visits, once I drop my belongings at the hotel, i’m heading straight for the ticket office to get tickets for the shows i’m wanting to see.

I arrive on the morning of Saturday 13th. Feel free to label me as brave or stupid for flying on the 13th. At least it’s not a Friday.

I should be there in plenty of time, and I know the route to Tynecastle, so planning to take in Hearts v Aberdeen that day.

I took in football at Tynecastle and Easter Road when in Edinburgh in 2009, plus I get to add 1983 European Cup Winners Cup Winners Aberdeeen to my UEFA 100 Club list.

That night, i’m planning to see Fred MacAulay with Ed Byrne as my back-up option, and then possibly Tim Key, depending how tired I am.

The programme for the event gives performers a brief showcase of their work, which can often make or break them in the eyes of tourists.

Him and Me TV” and “Ze Hoff Und Friends” both have good write-ups, plus they’re free, so if they’re crap, it’s no loss.

The main one I hope to see on the Sunday evening is David O’Doherty. I saw him in 2010 and he was fantastic, laugh a minute.

Im also hoping to see Jason Byrne, having seen him in 2009, again, laugh a minute stuff, especially the sketch about how he wrecked his knee ligaments.

Each morning, MacAulay and Co, a BBC Scotland show hosted by Fred MacAulay will be broadcasting from the festival, so i’m hoping to attend as many of these as possible.

For the Monday night, i’m hoping to see Michael Winslow. Winslow, along with David O’Doherty are the two performers I desperately want to see.

You may not immediately recognise the name,but you will recognise th voice, or should that be voices, having gained fame playing Larvell Jones in Police Adademy.

For Tuesday, i’m hoping to see Isy Suttie, best known as Dobby from Peep Show, mainly because (a) I love Dobby (b) I love Dobby (c) I love Dobby …….. and so forth.

Later that night, i’m hoping to see Neil Delamere and Rich Hall, having seen both on the same night in 2009, and both were excellent (and were absent from the festival in 2010)

On the Wednesday, i’m hoping to see “Rosie’s Pop Diary” by Rosie Wilby and Seann Walsh, who you may recognise from the recent panel show circuit.

At some point on the Wednesday or Thursday, i’m hoping to see Angelos Epithemiou, star of Shooting Stars.

Nothing has been planned for the Thursday yet, mainly because I have to get up ridiculously early on the Friday morning for my flight to Gatwick, so i’m debating wether to go to bed early, or pull an all-nighter.

If Hearts are playing a UEFA Cup tie that night, I may go to Tynecastle for the second time of the week.

If not, i’ll be hoping to see some of the acts i’ve got highlighted and not yet seen such as Dave Gorman, Alun Cochrane, Jimeoin, Andrew Maxwell and Phill Jupitus.

If you’ve never been to the Edinburgh Festival, I can’t suggest it enough for you. If you are going to this year’s festival, I hope i’ve helped you decide who you are going to see.

Only another 20 days until I arrive.

EDINBLOG 2010

Having visited last year, I decided to return to the Edinburgh Festival for the 2010 event.

Last year, I went over the Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of the festival. As much as I enjoyed it, there was a distinct “Last day of school” feel when I was there, so I decided I would go over much earlier in the event in 2010.

It is actually a series of different festivals running simultaneously throughout August, with the most high profile one, being the Fringe Festival.

When arriving in Edinburgh, it’s always good to do some pre-planning before your arrival. Like last year, I got a copy of the programme well in advance and listed the shows that appealed to me and their start times, so you can plan your days.

Like last year, the first thing I did when I set my bags in my room was to head to the ticket office to get tickets for shows.

After queuing up, I got most of the stuff I wanted. For some, the worst case scenario was to get a second choice option. I’d hoped to see Jason Manford at EICC, but unfortunately, that was sold out long before I arrived in the city.

The Sunday was a rather relaxed day, watching the Charity Shield before going to see Doves in concert.

A review can be found here. If you’re too lazy to click, in short, they were brilliant.

On the Monday, I decided to check out a free lunchtime show by Andrew Collins.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s possibly due to the fact that he frequently appears on list shows, credited as ‘Writer/Broadcaster’

Don’t let that put you off, as he is generally knowledgable when speaking on these shows.

The show was focusing on the journeys people make through life, pointing out that we are always travelling from A to B, and when we arrive at B, it automatically becomes A.

It has the potential for a good show, but Collins was nervous throughout, often affecting the delivery of the punchlines, such as the time he considered his mortality, and the fear of dying in a train crash, and then thinking, as a minor celebrity, his death would get quite a lot of column inches in the celebrity due to the nature of the British media, only for his heart to sink when he noticed James Bolam sitting across the carriage.

The afternoon was spent seeing Gyles Brandreth at Pleasance Courtyard, one of my favourite Fringe venues.

Best known as a roving reporter on The One Show and guesting on Countdown (As excellently parodied by Mitchell and Webb), and for a spell as an MP for Chester from 1992 to 1997, he uses his career as a backdrop for a series of witty stories.

Never afraid to make fun of himself, the show begins with an announcement that the audience should leave their mobile phones on, in case of boredom, and that photography is encouraged “Due to Mr Brandreth being a shameless attention seeker”

He uses his time in parliament for some of his stories, describing himself as “A dedicated Conservative”, mainly due to his hair turning white when John Major became leader, and then going bald when William Hague replaced him.

He recalls a heart to heart with then Prime Minister John Major, then concerned with Northern Ireland and Kosovo, to explain that he was worried about the cost of having to buy a raffle ticket at every public event he attended.

Then, to his utter amazement, John Major took out raffle tickets he bought in 1982, and had been reusing, to show at public events. Even then, the Tories were making saving cuts.

Brandreth’s acerbic wit and banter with the audience was a joy to watch and is an absolute must-see of the festival.

He finished with a swipe at his current employers, mourning the departure of Christine Bleakley from The One Show, describing her as “A unique personality”, before shrugging off her departure by reassuring fans of the show “It’s OK, we’ve got someone who looks just like her to replace her”

From there, it was across the city to see Duke Special at The Famous Spiegel Garden.

The show is reviewed here, but if you’re too lazy to click the link, he was excellent.

My third show of the day was at Pleasance to see Justin Moorhouse, in a show titled ‘Boiled Egg On The Beach’

Moorhouse, best known as the thick as shit Kenny Junior in Phoenix Nights, revels in 80s nostalgia, focusing on the subject of ambition and aspiration with jokes in the middle. Well worth going to see.

On the Tuesday, I visited the Guilded Balloon to see Kate Fox News which was largely disappointing, as it was a different show to what had been advertised.

It wasn’t laugh a minute, but there was laughs there, you just had to wait a long time to get them.

That afternoon, I saw Tynecastle, and then headed to the Udderbelly for the first time to see ‘Now I Know My BBC‘ by Toby Hadoke, a lovable reminisce about BBC programming of the 1980s, filled with witty observations, such as Newsround being a news programme dumbed down and aimed at children, though it shouldn’t be confused with Fox News.

The evening show was a live show by Alun Cochrane, a deadpan Yorkshireman familiar to viewers on panel shows.

In his show, ‘Live, Jokes, And Jokes About Life’, he explores what jokes people find funny, having an X-Factor style vote for jokes to be used in future shows, observing that the jokes which were approved were lewd, which must be a commentary on the audience.

Wednesday had some spare time, so I went to Cameo, an old fashioned cinema in the city, to see ‘Gainsbourg’, a biopic of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, focusing on his life, though not the infamous ‘Whitney Houston incident

That evening, I went to see Reginald D Hunter, a regular on the UK’s panel shows, for a stand-up show, where he investigates what makes people offended, in his unaplogetic American style.

Laugh a minute stuff, and well worth checking out.

I’d saved my best two acts for last, as I went straight to see David O’Doherty, a madcap surreal comic, who begins by doing a love-song duet with Shakira, only Shakira is unable to make it, and he takes on the role of the Columbian singer.

He then explores life, and changes gear constantly, reeling off (totally made-up) facts about animals, and singing with his trusty keyboard, including a song about advice to a member of the audience who was having trouble with their bike.

Thursday morning was spent watching Macauley and Co at the EICC, a radio show on Radio Scotland. Frustratingly, I only found out about this on my last day.

Throughout the festival, the show brings listeners a look at the best acts performing at the event. Not bad for free and a good way to start your festival day. If only, i’d known earlier.

Edinburgh is a lovely place to visit, and I got to see more of it in comparison with last year.

It’s a credit to those involved how tidy the city is considering the amount of flyers that are handed out in the streets.

It almost feels like four cities in one, as there are plenty of places to visit should you want to get away from the Fringe for a bit, and you’re never too far away if you want to jump right back in.

Have to say, i’m already counting down to visiting in 2011.

Edinblog 2009