Day 16 at the Fringe – 14th August 2014

It wasn’t a good night’s sleep for either of us, or a good start to my Fringe day. Here’s what happened.

If you read yesterday’s blog you’ll know that I didn’t get to sleep till after 4 am as we’d got home late again and I still had the blog to try and write. Exhausted, but with the update only partly drafted, I had to get my head down – only to be rudely awakened less than an hour later by a coughing fit (this throat/cold thing has been dragging on for nine days now and is getting right on my you know whats). I got up and got some water. Rather than have an open cup sat by the bedside (an invitation to disaster) I grabbed a small bottle of it, had a few sips and tried to get back to sleep clutching the bottle like a comfort blankie, Dave murmuring about me really not being very well…errr, I KNOW! Eventually I drifted off again with just the odd coughing spasm, only for us BOTH to be wakened up by a strange beeping noise coming from somewhere. Dave got up and blundered about in the darkness eventually tracing the noise to the top of my suitcase where I’d left my Garmin sportswatch. It had decided, for whatever reason, to start playing us a wee tune. (I didn’t know it could do that!) He managed to switch it off and we both went back to sleep. 

Eventually the proper phone alarm went off just after 9 am and Dave was up, showered, and off and out for his record breaking show, Mils Trills in the Pleasance Courtyard Yurt. This was an extra one he’d shoved in, as he still has that magic number of 300 shows in his head as a target… but the other important thing was that this was going to be the show that beat the current Guinness World record of 169, and so it was to be. He went through the record at 10.30am this morning and was pulled up onto the Yurt’s stage to celebrate. Mil’s Trills has a different guest on each day and today it was a dance troupe from New Jersey, New York (Bugge Ballet). Dave also reported that adults were outnumbering children at today’s event. He really enjoyed the show.

After that he nipped up to the Greenside venue at Nicolson Square for The Hunting of the Snark, the renactment of a poem by Lewis Carroll by a brilliant cast from Chicago. Visually amazing with contemporary music – another brilliant show! He sent me a text saying he’d meet me outside the Greenside at 12.20pm (when his show finished)

Meanwhile – I had turned over in bed after he’d left and was having a few extra minutes shut-eye. I sank into sleep like a stone, and what seemed, literally, like five minutes later I turned over, yawned, and thought I’d better make a move as I had to shower, grab a bite to eat and most importantly, sort my hair out before going out. I got up, checked my phone for the time and nearly had a fit when I saw it was 12.03 pm!! I also saw the text that Dave had sent me – ARRGHHH!

My schedule said I had to be at the PC Bunker One by 12.50pm for Sochi 2014, and that was going to be a close thing unless I got a move on,  but I couldn’t see any way at all I was going to be able to meet Dave at the Greenside on time. Foregoing my usual shower, and just having a quick wipe over with a wet flannel, quick brush of teeth, (looked in the mirror, sighed over my hair, but nothing to be done there at all) threw some clothes on and the daily necessities into my rucksack and pouchbag, I literally legged it out the door, clutching more water and trying to ring Dave as I went to say I’d be better meeting him at the Bunker. He however phoned me as I was trotting down Southside, and after I explained what had happened he said he’d meet me at the corner by the Southsider pub and we’d walk down together. Phew – I’m exhausted all over again just typing all that up!

Anyway, we got down to the PC, grabbed a sandwich each, and went into our first show there. How to describe Sochi 2104? Performed by students from Durham University (Durham Student Theatre) five young people took on multiple parts in a production highlighting the plight of the LGBT community in Russia – with particular reference to the SOCHI Winter Olympics. The company’s re-enaction of scenes of beatings, torture and death make it harrowing in places, and brought me to tears at least once. In an extremely powerful performance each student plays characters representing various people’s views and pointing up other countries and the Olympic Committees apathy at dealing with this situation. Highly recommended and will make you sit up, open your eyes and take notice.

After that rather heavy start to the day at the PC, Dave nipped around to the Banshee Labyrinth for Hooray for Ben Target, an hour of surreal madness. Ben gave out imaginary items at the door on the way in and the audience also built an imaginary cake. There was also aerobics and at the end Ben encouraged them to take off their shoes and throw them at him. Crazy!

Meanwhile I’d jumped into the bar down at the Bunker and finished off and published yesterday’s blog so no time was wasted there!

A heavy shower of rain was starting and the Bunker was filling up with sheltering people so I finished up, packed away my wee blogging tablet, and headed outside to meet up with Dave before going in to see Tania Edwards: Always Rihgt (sic). He was just coming along the alleyway towards me but I was coughing a bit again so I grabbed some water, calmed it down and then, still feeling a bit peckish,  thought I’d make use of my free Breakaway biscuit (from last night’s Comedy Countdown) which I’d stowed in my pouchbag for just such emergency situations!

However two bites later, I breathed in at the wrong time and one stray crumb shot down my throat, decided to make for the wrong hole, irritated an already very annoyed airway, and immediately sent me into paroxysms of coughing and wheezing so hard that I was also nearly throwing up. I spent the next few minutes trying to breath properly again but it wasn’t working. We walked into Tania’s Bunker One venue, I sat down, realised that I just couldn’t stop the coughing, and told Dave I wasn’t going to be able to stay in or people would kill me for being a noisy, germy, pain in the ar*e, so I took myself straight out again and told him to stay there while I sorted myself out.

While he stayed to watch the show I walked down towards the Royal Mile and found a chemist shop where I bought some throat lozenges and a grocers where I bought some soft drinks and then made my way back over to wait for Dave to come out as we were then going back in to see the wonderful Danny Ward and Infra Dig. By this time my throat had decided that, as long as I kept mainlining the lozenges and kept sipping the water/drinks it would behave itself a bit better and stop embarrassing me.

Dave reported back to me good things of Tania’s show (and also that she had a very posh voice!) and then we were into Danny’s show – full of lovely expressive and funny story telling about his problems with his back and the multiple ways he’s managed to aggravate it. We also had tales of his misadventures on dating sites, the problems he’s had getting his socks on and offers of good drugs (painkillers for his back). Dave had seen all of this in Danny’s previews a month or so ago but it was all new to me and hilarious. Danny did not have the crowd he deserved at today’s show so if you are up at the Fringe and not sure who to see – this one is to be highly recommended!

Out quickly and then at ten to six it was time to go into Phil Wang’s show: Mellow Yellow. Phil told us how much grief he’d had over the name of the show and gave us some great examples of what it could have been. There’s some very clever writing around Chinese New Year and other terms beginning with Chinese (town, burns etc) and Phil is a funny guy. Unfortunately for us we were both having a big lull, the room was warming up and my head definitely nodded at least once before we escaped into the fresh air to try and wake ourselves up. No reflection on Phil at all – the punishing schedule was having an effect, despite my long lie-in!

Luckily we’d shaken ourselves out of our stupor and were fresher for Tom Craine’s show: Thoughts on Love (By a Man with None of the Answers). I was still chugging away on liquid to keep the throat happy and we both enjoyed a nice hour of story telling by Tom who told us about his dotty parents, his 32nd birthday, writing for Cosmopolitan with his views on sex through the eyes of a single man  and through the construct of various envelopes on a doormat laid on the floor, how he dealt with agony aunt type letters and emails sent from Cosmo readers. A show worth a viewing for sure with a nice call back ending.

At this point Dave ran around to the courtyard proper to grab a burger and some more drinks but I didn’t fancy anything yet so he was eating on his own.

Carl Hutchinson was our next show. From South Shields, we’d last seen Carl supporting Chris Ramsay upstairs in the theatre at the B-Bar last year – when thanks to some drunken dickheads it had all kicked off both inside and then outside the room causing Chris to mention the uproar on the Sunday Brunch show the next morning!

Carl’s show was another good hour of story telling – mostly around him trying to stop being such a dick. He told us of scenes with people on trains and buses, his George Foreman grill and of classic one liners from an old geezer who he sees when he goes swimming. All funny stuff and Carl is very engaging. 

Nipping around to the main courtyard area to grab yet another sandwich (have had nothing hot yet again today!) we were soon back again for Henry Paker. We’ve seen him twice before, at the Corn Exchange and the Bike Shed, both in Exeter. We got picked on nearly right away as he’d spotted me trying to dig out another throat lozenge from the small tube I’d bought earlier, and thinking it looked like lip salve, started teasing me about it. When I immediately also produced a bottle of diet coke for extra throat soothing, he asked me if I wanted to get anything else out of my bag, whereupon Dave immediately produced an apple! Eventually, we managed to get the attention off of us and Henry got on with act proper.

It’s all based around the fact that he’s moved in with his girlfriend and his parents have asked him to go through a box of his stuff that they had been storing for him. The box holds, amongst other things, lego. He tells the story of his continuing relationship with his gf, and their story, through lego models and other figures and it kept the audience fully engaged for the entire hour – Henry is a first class and funny narrator and there were no lulls here.

Next up was the Italian comedian Francesco De Carlo with Italians Do It Later (sounds vaguely similar to the Cornish motto – dreckly). De Carlo is performing his act in EAL ( I work in a secondary school; EAL is education speak for English as an Additional Language) so he is at a slight disadvantage to the regular Fringe comic. Despite this he put himself over very well and got plenty of laughs. On the crowd being asked if we had any nicknames for each other,  for example Blueberry Muffin (!!!), on being questioned directly about what I called Dave, I did let everyone in the room know that “I just call him Shithead most of the time”, which got a big laugh.

Italy, it would appear, is a very sexist, lazy country. What impressed me was his comedic structure, and some clever pun writing (given that he has EAL). I might not have agreed with some of the material but I can’t fault him for trying hard and for getting laughs out of the mainly male crowd.

At this point I wisely decided that enough was enough for me and at the end of the show I took myself off home (in the rain) to update the blog/diary, leaving Dave at the main road junction to head off to the Gilded Balloon and Bacchanalia – a cabaret/variety type production featuring some naughty burlesque MCs in the form of Tittybar Haha, other acts including Tony Roberts (Australian stand-up), Demi Lardner (also Australian stand-up!) James Acaster (a really nice guy – we saw him at Machfest and got to draw him there too in a portrait drawing class!) and lastly Pants Down Circus, two jugglers who performed their juggling tricks jointly with stripping off and redressing in each others clothes! Clever!!

The up-to-date  running total of shows for us both at the end of the day sixteen? Dave is at 181, and I am lagging well behind on 135. Dave is the only one of us registered with Guinness however, so it’s his final total that counts, with me just aiming to beat the old record of 169 by any amount (which I should manage comfortably I reckon). With nine more days to go there are still plenty more shows to see and record but the target of 300 for Dave will depend very much on what other shows are still running by the 25th as not all shows make it to the end of the Fringe.  

Hmmm, somehow it’s 3 am again. Night folks.

Carole.

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