This blog is a long one so “strap in” readers (as all the comedians say up here).
We have been here nearly two weeks now – and holding out not too badly if I say so myself apart from the sleep deprivation. I have no access to weighing scales at our B and B but my jeans are definitely a bit baggier so I reckon the record attempt is as good as a diet (no time to eat!). Also just today, according to Google Maps I walked 3.7 miles just going from our B and B to the Stand 3, then along to the Voodoo Rooms, back along the Cowgate, then up to the Pleasance Courtyard, and also including the walk home again…so there is SOME exercise involved with all of this madness!
Anyway, today was another day where Dave and I had different schedules up until 8pm this time where we were to meet up at the Pleasance Grand for The Tartan Ribbon Comedy Benefit (this yearly event raises money for Waverley Care – a charity benefiting sufferers of HIV or Hep C – www.waverleycare.org).
As mentioned above, I was heading all the way over to the Stand on Queen St first for a 12.10pm gig with Tony Law doing his ToneZone. Anyone who knows us or has read this blog historically will know that we are big Tony fans. Dave was a wee bit annoyed at missing this gig but he already had his day planned out and the distance needed to travel to Tony’s venue from the PC was not conducive to the record attempt numbers. He is consoled however, because he is seeing Tony do his ToneZone thing down our way in Exeter AND Plymouth on two consecutive evenings in a few month’s time. You might think this is madness – but it’s mainly due to us having booked the Exeter gig, then Tony announced the Plymouth gig (practically on our doorstep) after that and Dave just couldn’t resist a double helping!
Tony was his usual crazy, surreal self – in a black onesie with old neckerchiefs ripped to ribbons and sewn on along the arms and body. He dealt with some of the front row – recognising in them old friends who had served with him on the Trojan Horse, and ran with him under Ghengis Khan and his Mongolian hordes. Tony “played” the trombone (ouch our poor ears!!) and gave us gymnastics, and more sadly, in his own original style, the true story of the recent death of the family dog. This made me cry at the show’s preview in Machynlleth in May and it seems I haven’t toughened up any. Sniff. 😦
So then I headed at my leisure (Dave had built me in some biggish gaps so I wasn’t rushing around like a dementor – Harry Potter reference there) to the Voodoo Rooms on West Register Street for some Free Fringe. I ordered a cheese platter and a diet something or other for lunch in their very nice bar. My first show there at 2.25pm was SUPPOSED to be Jess Fostekew but she was doing some filming for the BEEB so we had Danielle Ward instead. Danielle was also favouring a black onesie (this time with skeleton bones on the front) and a long pinkish wig, and was performing under a popstar persona (who was big in China) her own songs, some with strong feminist messages (Don’t put your dick in me! – an anti-rape song surprisingly enough). It was a shame there wasn’t more of an audience in to hear her.
My phone was buzzing away in my bag during this performance and a quick check later found a text from the garage (where our car was currently having a new waterpump fitted) to say that the job was done (long story – but car battery light had come on on my way back to Edinburgh from Glasgow on my day off on Tues 5th Aug and landlady’s brother had helped out big time by investigating to find a snapped drive belt, and had obtained us a replacement but on further investigation by Hendry and Macdonald of Duncan St round the corner from our B and B had discovered a seized waterpump which had caused the belt to snap etc etc) so I phoned them back and settled the bill over the phone and the nice man there said they’d drop the car back to Minto St for me as they knew I was busy – what service! http://www.hendryandmacdonald.co.uk
Then over for a hot chocolate at The News Room 5-11 Leith Street and a quick blog catch-up/draft before heading back to the Voodoo Rooms for Abi Roberts at 4.50pm and her show Twerk in Progress. Abi used to be a jazz fan but has come to her senses. There’s some solid stand-up here and Abi is in good company (with Trent) in having a go at Robin Thicke and his song and video Blurred Lines.
A quick look on t’Internet to look for the exact location of “Beat” which was the venue for Free Fringe show Christian Reilly’s Lost in Music. The place was supposed to be at 69 Cowgate so I hauled myself over there only to find that I COULDN’T FIND it! Luckily I’d been offered a PBH Free Fringe brochure outside of the Voodoo Rooms earlier so a quick check there told me that the Beat had been RENAMED “Movement” and the venue number was 56. I found the doorway, which had a sandwich board type poster outside advertising the gig, so I got in quick, paid far too much for a bottle of Bulmers Original (£4.75, shame on you Movement – what a rip-off!) and settled down to watch. What followed was a lovely hour of Christian’s view of the world told through the medium of his own songs and guitar playing. The riff – “It’s very expensive to see (insert singing star or other celebrity here) so I’ll save you some money.” before he would start on yet another delicious piece of musical slagging off. I loved it and bought one of his DVDs on the way out of the door. (free if you put a fiver in his bucket).
A quick jog along the Cowgate to meet up with Dave, (he’d texted me that he was in Bob’s Bookshop at 5 Holyrood Road (www.heroesoffringe.com/venues.asp), and I sat in with him while he finished watching his show (more later) and then we headed up the hill to the Pleasance Grand for the Tartan Ribbon event as described earlier.
While we were waiting for the Ribbon event to start Dave hastily penned down some notes regarding the shows he’d been in before he met me, so here are the details.
His first show of the day was at the Greenside Theatre and was called Homeless. A very good performance from a young cast, portraying various homeless characters.
By 11 am he was attending The Big Red Bath at Pleasance Courtyard Two – from the same cast as Snow Dog for younger kids. Very good but with not quite the same impact as Snow Dog.
Then he was at The Pleasance Pop-up Pub (22 Fleshmarket Close) for Early Doors, a theatrical piece including a pub quiz and singers.
After that he’d shot over to Princes Street (St John’s) for Nicky Wilkinson – stand-up interspersed with video characters, “her friends”. Then an actual friend: James Dondaswell, who did an excellent ten minute set – a great hour!
Staying at the venue for Mercedes Benson Presents The Pleasure is Yours. Lots of characters in a superb hour from one of the Funbags’ sketch troupe.
Still at St John’s it was Funbags themselves, back after a hiatus. We saw them two years ago at our first Fringe and Dave said it was great to see them back.
Dave then legged it back over the bridges to The Counting House for 5pm and Ahir Shah “Texture” – a superb young Indian stand-up. Very verbose and with a huge future Dave reckons. You saw it here first – so check him out before he’s famous!
Dave’s next show should have been Fern Brady and Peter Brush (same venue – the Counting House). Peter was there, Fern was doing something for the BBC so Peter pulled the show. Dave tried to get into Andrew Watts (Feminism for Chaps, Counting House at 6.15pm) but it was full so he ran down to Bob’s Bookshop on Holyrood Rd for Devvo’s Deal or No Dealer Gaymeshow. Dave reckons it’s an excellent romp of an hour and was really glad he caught it just before I joined him from my jog along the Cowgate and so up the hill to the Grand for the aforementioned Tartan Ribbon gig.
This event was MCd by Stuart Goldsmith and on the act list was:
Ivan Brackenbury (aka Tom Binns) was our first act – Ivan is a character hospital DJ and gives us “requests” from hospital patients alongside descriptions of what they are in hospital for – needless to say the songs are very apt and hilarious – you need to see this for yourself. His show is on the Free Fringe (at the Hive) at 9pm.
Angela Barnes came on for a few minutes of her stand-up act and then we had Tim Key, a room splitter for me and Dave so we’ll leave that there (but The Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind).
Next was the lovely David Elms who performed his song Phonetic Love, then Dan Nightingale gave us some more stand-up.
After that we had the very popular Gary, Tank Commander, then another room splitter for us, Tim Vine. Whenever I accidentally have Tim’s puns forced on me, Dave spends the whole time looking to see if I’m laughing, or nudging me in the ribs with every bit of material. This behaviour is, if possible, even more irritating than Mr Vine himself!
We then had the presentation of a cheque for over £37,000 given to the head of Waverley Care and after that our last act was Pete Firman, magician, who gave us some card trickery and scared a corporate banker by destroying his £20 note (but of course it wasn’t really gone, drat it all).
We were also pleased to see a lovely couple here who have now twice completed witness statements for Dave’s record attempt. Hello the Cassidys! We know that they read this blog so thank you again for your efforts on our behalf. Another couple called Jan and Colin of http://www.theatretripping.com have also witnessed the attempt and even gave us a badge! We’d also like to thank everyone else who has completed statements so far, including all the Free Fringe acts, and especially all of Big Four venue and box office staff who have been absolute heroes in their efforts to accommodate us.
Lastly we saw Simon Amstell around in the Pleasance Forth. Simon is a gay Jewish vegan, so he ticks lots of boxes! His show is very much based around his needy self-obsessiveness and his ego. All good stuff and played to a well packed room.
After Simon’s show I was done for the night and aimed for home while Dave headed off down to the Free Sisters (on the Cowgate) for Shaggers, an elegantly named hour with various comedians doing stints. Names included Nik Coppin, Larry Dean and Evelyn Mok.
Dave has just come back a bit disgruntled because he’s been diving around all day like a man possessed trying to get the record attempt on target for 300 shows but his last scheduled show for the day has AGAIN been cancelled. This was also supposed to be at the Free Sisters: Irish Late Night Mayhem – and he’s just had a tooth filling come out – we don’t need that at this stage; there is no time in the schedule for finding emergency dentists! If anyone knows of one – who won’t charge the earth – let us know!
The car waterpump replacement cost £165. All donations gratefully received!