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

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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 2012

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.

TOP FIVE

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

WORTHY MENTIONS

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.

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009