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

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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