EDINBLOG 2013

As per usual in August, I headed to Edinburgh for the festival. It was quite later in the month than my recent visits. From my experience, it’s usually best to visit during the middle of the month, but in truth, there’s never a bad time to visit.

It was a double milestone for me, 10 years since my first visit (albeit, I was working) and my 5th proper visit overall.

It was an early start for me due to the early morning flight, but the advantages of it were that I got to the ticket office early.

It might sound sad, but it’s best to get a copy of the programme before you go and plan what you want to see day by day, and make it so much easier when you go to get tickets.

You can book online in advance, but I prefer to purchase when I arrive. For some of the bigger acts, it’s harder to get a ticket at such short notice, but you mostly get at least 90% of what you want.

Tickets purchased, I checked in, and headed out in the city. Comedy, however, was parked for the moment, as I headed to Easter Road to see Hibs take on Dundee United. It wasn’t the best of games, which is unsurprising considering it was a meeting of two struggling sides, though it did liven up after a double red card.

After that, I had a bit of spare time, before heading to the Book Festival and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a last minute ticket for John Taylor (Yes, John Taylor of Duran Duran) reading excerps of his autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove.

Taylor didn’t really need to do much to win the crowd over, they were hanging on his every word, speaking about his teenage obsession with his favourite bands, most notably Roxy Music, then becoming obsessed with Sex Pistols, speaking of his pain about having to put up with Nick Rhodes reminding him at least once a month that he saw Sex Pistols live in concert, while Taylor didn’t.

When it came to the Q and A section, there were people who could barely speak, such was their excitement of getting to speak to their idol. He didn’t quite confirm it, but he didn’t deny it when pressed on rumours of a Duran Duran tour in the summer of 2014.

My first full day, Sunday, saw me head towards Guilded Balloon to see Grainne Maguire do a show about a TV guilty pleasure …….. Election Night.

After 2010 UK General Election, 2011 Stormont Elections and 2012 US Elections, I was a wee bit electioned out, but to be honest, I wouldn’t mind another election soon.

Her stage was set up on a political theme, complete with a swingometer, and pictures of political broadcasters such as David Dimbleby and Jeremy Paxman, with a beard topically drawn in with permanent marker.

After comparing it to “Eurovision for Politics Nerds”, she observed that life situations are just one big election, bemoaning that she is yet to win the seat she wants …….. Favourite Maguire Child.

From from one G, it was to three G’s for The Ginge The Geordie The Geek at Just The Tonic. I’d seen them advertised on my past visits and heard good reviews but had only now decided to take a chance on them. It was well worth it.

It was a simple formula, quick sketches with a range of humour from the surreal to the sick, such as a police horse facing a disciplinary panel. Best sketch was when they audition as dancers, and when told to finish and go home, interpret them as dance instructions and do hand gestures based on it.

For my Sunday evening show, i’d originally planned to see Andrew Maxwell, but decided to see David O’Doherty as his Saturday show was sold out.

I’d previously seen Maxwell in May, though it was a very Northern Ireland specific show, I knew if I did go to see him in Edinburgh, it would have been a different show.

It’s the law that you have to see David O’Doherty when in Edinburgh and he didn’t disappoint, commenting on all that is wrong with the world, having seen the two things he believes in, church and state, let him down, consoling himself with the fact he still had Professional Cycling.

From there, I went to see Marcus Brigstocke at Assembley, where I spotted Clive Anderson queueing up to see him. I was trying to stifle the laughter, as all I could think of was the Brass Eye sketch of him and Noel Edmonds.

Brigstocke was a largely autobiographical show, the highlight of which was where he tried and failed to try out new material when in the doctor’s, even though the doctor declared he was a fan.

Monday morning began with MacAulay and Co, BBC Scotland’s mid morning show. It was filled with guests from the festival, giving a showcase to acts you might not have heard of.

The downside of buying tickets when you arrive, is that you don’t have much room for manoeuvre if you change your mind and want to see something different.

From there, I dashed to Assembley Rooms to see David Schneider discuss if the internet is making people more stupider. It was essential just a Best Of Lamebook show, but it was still enjoyable, as Schneider observed that Twitter is essentially cute pictures of animals, and pictures of things/people that look like Hitler.

After a bit of lunch, it was Pleasance for the rest of the day, seeing Gyles Brandreth discuss the persuit of happiness, and noting his unhappiness at seeing a personalised copy of a book he wrote appearing in a second hand shop days after giving it as a gift.

From there, it was Newsrevue, a musical satire about the news, sometimes straying into dodgy ground, but still being funny.

Later in the evening, I saw Tom Rosenthal, star of Friday Night Dinner and son of ITV’s Jim, with a tale of trying to blend into Bulgarian culture when spending time in the country filming. He managed to slip in puns and punchlines subconsciously without lingering on them too much.

It was enjoyable enough, without being laugh a minute.

Next, was The Boy With Tape On His Face. Brilliantly funny last year, and the same this year, though if I was to see it for a third time, might be too much.

Tuesday morning was spent at a Podcast hosted by Shaun Keaveney. He does better bouncing off people than performing solo, his guest that day was John Lloyd, creator of QI and Blackadder.

From there, I went to see Football Manager Ruined My Life, an amusing enough tale of becoming addicted to the video game, with the jokes making sense if you’ve ever played the game

Next, was a play, A Complete History Of The BBC, being set in a shed where a BBC enthusiast called Terence, who is currently trying to create a BBC museum, one of the articles is the tub of Lard which replaced Roy Hattersley on Have I Got News For You.

The highlight of it is the exchanges between Terence and his wife Ingrid, who doesn’t quite share his passion for the BBC, and makes the mistake of suggesting that Doctor Who is a kids show.

Tuesday night, was Jason Byrne, with an autobiographical show (seemingly a theme this year) the highlight of which was the awkwardness when his dad accidentally slept on a packet of Rolos, causing much panic from his mum.

Wednesday morning was spent at MacAulay and Co before going to see When I Grow Up by Juliette Burton, a tale of trying to live out childhood fantasies of the jobs she wanted when she was younger, and finding they weren’t quite as she hoped. Though, there was a happy(ish) ending.

There was a bit of a gap before my next show (I went to see Alpha Papa in the cinema in the afternoon) that night of Kunt and the Gang, which as the name suggests, isn’t exactly family entertainment.

Never mind sailing close to the wind, he sailed into the wind. Not for the easily offended, which, thankfully, I am not.

Thursday morning was spent at Shaun Keavaney’s Pleasance Podcast, which was marred having Nick Helm as a guest, as most of the exchanges were excruciatingly awful. Thankfully, the next guest, Johnnie Walker, was a lot more entertaining.

Then, it was time for Amnesty’s Secret Podcast. Not awful, but not brilliant.

Thursday night, was spent in the EICC watching Jason Manford’s show, First World Problems discussing, well, the little things that annoy us.

The highlight of which, was Manford chasing after a man who headed to the toilet during the last joke, dragging him to his seat and insisting he stays there for the joke.

Next up, was Ed Byrne, with (another) autobiographical show looking at life now that he has just turned 40. It was an enjoyable night and an enjoyable end to an enjoyable week in a city that always raises a laugh.

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG 2011

If it’s August, then it must be Edinburgh.

As is now annual, I headed to Edinburgh for the festival recently. Having taken in the last week (2009) and the first week (2010), I decided to take the middle week, and it turned out to be an inspired choice.

Instead of the festival just getting started or winding down, it was in the full swing of things when I arrived.

If I could afford to stay in Edinburgh for the whole month. I would.

I flew in on an early morning flight on Saturday 13th. So early in fact, I managed to be at the ticket office before it’s 10am opening time.

Pleasantly, I was surprised to have been able to get tickets for all the events I wanted tickets for, without resorting to second choices.

Like the previous two years, I was sad enough to make a timetable of what I wanted to see, and it helped me plan my time in the city.

It was time to leave the culture to one side as I headed to Tynecastle for Hearts v Aberdeen. A blog of the match can be found here.

That night, I saw Ed Byrne at the EICC, and he was very funny, even if he did rehash a couple of jokes from Mock the Week, giving his views on immigration, pointing out the irony of Irish people complaining about immigration and stating he has no problem with the number of Eastern Europeans living in Dublin ……… except for the fact they work as doormen and don’t watch Mock The Week, meaning he can’t pull the “Do you know who I am?” line.

After a nice relaxing sleep, I headed to see some free shows on the Sunday afternoon.

One which caught my attention in the programme was Him and Me TV which turned out to be an inspired choice, as it was laugh a minute stuff.

It was a live sketch show poking fun at television and popculture, much in the style of The Kevin Bishop Show, but if the exception that it was brilliantly executed, such as the sketch of a superhero called “Councilman”, a masked vigilante who fixes road and infrastructure, that the local council won’t, and the continuity announcement of an upcoming movie premiere of Batman Biggins, a superhero epic starring Christopher Biggins.

The next show I saw was “Ze Hoff Und Friends”, which to be honest, was dreadful.

Yes, the Germans love David Hasselhoff and yes, they speak in what appears to be funny foreign accents, but it’s hard to do a show about such a thing.

Later that night, I saw David O’Doherty who I saw in 2010, and he was as madcap and erratic as ever, a must see.

Following on from his facts about Panda Bears, he moves on to facts about Sharks, pointing out that 9 out of 10 shark related injuries happen at sea, clarifying that the remaining 10% include incidents such as people falling out of bed after a shark related nightmare, or stufed sharks in museums/aquariums falling from where they are displayed an injuring people.

From there, I headed to EICC to see Jason Byrne who was one of the star turns in 2009.

He didn’t do the joke about how he injured his knee while doing a poo (Youtube it) but still managed to entertain in the most novel of ways, most notably, how many audience members can they fit into a pair of spanx.

The first act I saw on Monday was the one i’d been waiting for the most – Michael Winslow

If you don’t know who he is, he’s the voice effects guy from Police Academy, taking his live show to Edinburgh for the first time.

He enters the arena with a great opening line, informing the audience that it is a crime to impersonate the PA system on an airplane, a fact he found out the hard way, and then saying he is banned from every Tesco and Sainsbury in Scotland for the same reason.

A fantastic show well worth seeing if you get the chance, Winslow managed to interact with the audience, pointing the spotlight on people leaving to go to the toilet while doing comedy sound effects to their footsteps.

And yes, he even did his much famed Jimi Hendrix tribute.

The next show I saw was by Jason John Whitehead , title “Letters From Mindy”, going through the story of a break-up, but, as he entered the stage holding cue cards for the audience to see, it wasn’t the story of a breakdown, it was a breakdown of a breakdown.

I’d previously seen him before, and this was a darker show by comparison, but there was still heartwarming moments as he spoke about his companionship with his dog, a relationship where he forgives his dog for pooing in the kitchen, something he wouldn’t do for his human friends.

Unfortunately, on the Tuesday, I managed to sleep in and miss MacAulay and Co which I had tickets for.

At teatime, I went to see Isy Suttie, best known as Dobby in Peep Show, for a musical tale of a holiday romance brought back to life later in life via the internet.

That night I went to see Neil Delamere, who i’d seen before in Edinburgh. The master of the quick witted banter, he managed to tease and taunt his audience in equal measure.

When someone in the front row returned, he told them not to worry as they hadn’t missed anything, apart from him getting Madeline McCann on stage to perform a dance, to which an audience member groans “Too soon”

It was one of those types of shows.

I then went to see Rich Hall who was typical Rich Hall, ranting away at all the things he hates about America, complete with all the things he likes about Scotland, before bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t think of a good way to end the show, and that he should have possibly ended when there was racaous laughter at a joke he did five minutes earlier.

On Wednesday, I saw Rosie Wilby in a show called “Rosie’s Pop Diary” recalling her days as columnist at a magazine called Making Music, whilst persuing her dreams of music stardom.

It wasn’t laugh a minute, but there were still some enjoyable moments.

Next up, was Seann Walsh, currently being seen on 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

The show seemed to struggle at times as he had nobody to bounce banter with, as came be the case when panel show regulars do their own shows.

However, the magic moment of the show came when an audience member left to go to the toilet. In such an intimate setting, it’s hard to escape unnoticed.

If there’s a moral to the story, it’s to never leave during the middle of a show to go to the toilet.

Walsh hatched a plan where the girls friends would swap with another group.

There was another woman also going top the toilet, so Walsh sat in her seat, talking to her friend in a Kilroy style whilst waiting for the other woman to walk in, only to find someone else sitting in her seat, and her friends nowhere to be seen.

It was a prank that Jeremy Beadle would have been proud of.

Later that night, I saw my favourite show of the festival, by Angelos Epithemiou, star of Shooting Stars, wheeling out his segments into a laugh a minute, hour long show.

The show began on a travel theme, explaining that he’d come back from Afghanistan, entertaining the troops, and that The Taliban were a hard audience to please.

He also spoke that he was heading to the North-East after Edinburgh, and hoping it was nothing like the Middle-East.

His trusty keyboard was there, as his keyboard went on a blue theme, playing sex noises, before accidentally hitting the wrong note, when a monotone American voice says “Dictionary”

What was in his bag? A blind man’s walking stick, which Epithemiou boasted the victim he stole it from never saw it coming.

On the Thursday morning, I managed to see MacAulay and Co, where guests included Michael Winslow and Jimeoin, whose Northern Ireland accent was mocked by Winslow, which made me smile that one of the voices of “The Man Of 10,000 Voices” was North Coast accent.

That night, I went to Tynecastle to see Hearts take on Spurs, and thus, my Edinburgh adventure was over for another year.

Already counting down to August 2012.

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009