EDINBLOG 2015

August is my favourite month of the year, for the simple reason that it’s the month that I visit the Edinburgh Festival. If I could, i’d go there for the whole month.

I actually went later in the month than I usually do. The latest i’ve been since I first visited in 2009.

This year, for the first time, I bought my tickets in advance rather than waiting to purchase when I arrived. I got everything I wanted, barring having to rearranging my Saturday night and Monday night choices.

All I had to do when I arrived at the ticket office was to swipe my Debit Card, and my tickets printed off. It wasn’t totally problem free, as the printer ran out of paper when printing off my tickets. Only a minor hitch in an otherwise efficient system.

I flew out on the Saturday morning, and after getting my tickets and getting checked in, Saturday afternoon was all about football, as I headed to Tynecastle to watch Hearts take on Partick Thistle.

Despite being an Edinburgh veteran, I managed to get lost en route by not paying attention at Haymarket Station and taking a wrong turn.

I managed to make it to the ground in plenty of time for kick-off regardless, and saw Hearts maintain their lead at the top of the SPL with a 3-0 win.

I only went to one show on the Saturday, Stewart Francis at Assembly George Square. You will recognise him from various panel shows, specialising in bad puns. Groans and laughter were plentiful in equal measure.

On the Sunday, I decided to head to Glasgow for a few hours, while taking in Rangers v Hibs. Before I set off for Glasgow, I got some photos of Street Art in Edinburgh, near Waverley Station.

Every year that i’ve visited Edinburgh, i’ve always wanted to visit another city or town in Scotland, just to escape for a few years.

I have in my head to visit Stirling some time. Maybe next year?

I was a bit delayed getting out of Glasgow, I missed the start of John Lloyd’s show. That, and the fact I got lost en route to the venue. I am an Edinburgh veteran, trust me. It’s just that there are so many venues called Assembly.

Turns out it was Assembley opposite Hotel Du Vin rather than the one at Potterrow.

You probably know more about John Lloyd than you think you do mostly famed for his work behind the scenes on Spitting Image and creating QI. His show was an entertaining look at trivia and knowledge.

Later on Sunday, I headed to Pleasance to see James Acaster. I’d previously seen him do a slot at a charity gig in London a few years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing him.

His humour is very deadpan and surreal. This year, he has made a breakthrough into panel shows. This show focused on him sharing celebrity gossip about the Chilean Miners, and his experiences on jury duty.

One more show followed on the Sunday, and I managed to go to the wrong venue. Again, a case of two many venues called Assembly.

That show, was a live recording of Josh Widdecombe’s XFM Show. I’m a big fan of Widdecombe, and actually listen to the show when i’m getting ready on a Saturday morning.

As a bonus, James Acaster was on it. Double Acaster in the one night.

There was one bonus of my getting lost, as I found out where Roxburgh Hotel was. On the Monday morning, I headed there for a Record Fair. I didn’t get anything, but if I didn’t go, I knew I would have been annoyed at myself for not going, and thinking that i’d missed out on something.

I spend Monday morning wandering around the West End and visiting my two favourite shops in Edinburgh – Fopp and Football Nation.

One of the best things about Edinburgh is, that you can escape from the Fringe for a few hours if you wish, and you don’t have to go very far to do so.

One year, I spent so much time in Cowgate, Potterrow and Pleasance, I didn’t even spend a minute in Princes Street/George Street, so it’s good to get a nice mix of Edinburgh.

My first show on the Monday was to see Mark Watson do a show called Work In Progress, which as the title suggests, was to try out new material.

I’d seen him previously, as well as him hosting the Comedywealth Games last year. It was classic Watson, moving from one topic to another in rapid time.

I’ll be keeping an eye out if he does a full proper show next year.

From there, I quickly legged it from The Stand to Pleasance to see Batfan, about one performer and his obsession with Batman, and his quest to create the perfect Batman film. He’s not a fan of Joel Schumacher.

Not enough 60s Batman in it for me, but it was still enjoyable, especially some of the obscure/forgotten/unknown references. You didn’t need to be a massive fan of Batman in order to enjoy it.

I’d wanted to spend Monday night seeing FFS in concert, but unfortunately, all the tickets were sold out. I didn’t want to spend the evening at the venue in the hope that some tickets become available, so I decided to just go to a comedy show instead.

Quite literally, a case of FFS.

If you don’t know, FFS are a supergroup comprising of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. They are rather good. Looks like i’ll have to cross my fingers for a Belfast gig.

So what would fill my FFS void? Aisling Bea. You may have seen her on various panel shows. She was very good. The audience got a bit of a fright when they entered to room, to see her dancing in a morph suit.

Tuesday morning was spent walking around Princes Street Markets and Rose Street, before going to see The Man Called Monkhouse, set in the mid 1990s around the time of the theft of his joke book and the 20th anniversary of the death of his writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, sees Monkhouse looking back at his life to that point.

The voice was good but not perfect, but the look was. It looked like Monkhouse was in the room. As a bonus, we got some classic Monkhouse one-liners as well.

That was my only show on Tuesday, as Tuesday night was spent watching football, making a short train journey to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee.

On Wednesday morning, I was curious and went for a walk around York Place and ended up in Leith. Even though this was the seventh year I had visited, it’s always good to explore new parts of the city I haven’t seen before.

One part of Edinburgh i’d love to visit is Arthur’s Seat, a hill which offers some spectacular views over Edinburgh. I’d planned on going on the Thursday morning, but the weather had started to turn. I didn’t quite fancy a hill walk in the rain. Maybe next year.

It was great though to have a trip to Edinburgh without having to wear a raincoat for the first four days. There were short periods of rain in my last two days.

My only show on Wednesday was to see Matt Forde. He specialises in Political Comedy, but he’s not a preachy type of comic, instead focusing on funny things in politics and amusing observations.

I’d previously seen him on Rory Bremner’s Election Report, and was not disappointed. He began by saying that he supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to be Labour Leader, not for political reasons, but for the material it will offer.

Wednesday night was spent at Princes Street Gardens to see James in concert. James doing a gig was part of the reason why I chose this particular week to go to Edinburgh.

Thurdsay was my last day, where I went to Edinburgh University to browse through the various charity shops for possible bargains.

Thursday lunchtime saw one last show, Pippa Evans celebrating the guilty pleasures of life, through the medium of song, even briefly bringing back her character of Loretta Maine, who I saw make a guest appearance on MacAulay and Co a few years ago.

Talking of MacAulay and Co, it wasn’t on this year. It was cancelled by Radio Scotland, and they didn’t even bring it back for the Edinburgh Festival.

In it’s place, was Kaye Adams. I’d love to be able to tell you if it was any good, but I slept in each morning I had a ticket having stayed up too late the night before. Maybe next year.

After Pippa Evans, a wee brief stroll around Princes Street, before getting the bus back to the airport.

That was it, that was my Edinburgh adventure for 2015. I didn’t see an awful show, which is almost disappointing. Already looking forward to 2016.

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

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 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