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.