Dave started his day down at the Space on North Bridge to catch Frozen at 9.25 am this morning. Now that he has broken the old record, the magic 300 target is still drawing him on; however we are running out of days and of early shows.
Frozen, he described to me later as, “a very hard hitting play about a serial killer paedophile and whether the killer was evil or mentally competent”.
After that lovely uplifting start to the day (that’s irony folks) he was off to Ray Fordyce’s Brunchtime Banter at the Free Sisters. This started off with Ray talking about astrology. Then he brought on Andrew Sim, who opened with a dance. We last saw him two years ago at our first Fringe in the White Horse on the Canongate. Dave remembered because he left his fleece in the very hot room. Andrew’s mum and dad are divorced – mum is with another woman and his dad talks bollocks.
Next up on their list was Scott Jeffrey who had dictator jokes and lots of observational humour with a bizarre Bea Arthur (Golden Girls) finish. Also on the bill was Richard Pulsford – who Dave said was a very funny punster with the best physics joke of the Fringe.
Then Dave was off to the Pleasance Courtyard “Beneath” for Dylan Thomas’ Return Journey, the venue where we were to stay for almost all of our subsequent shows with just one other at 1.15 am over at The Counting House (more on that later!!).
Dave’s notes say that Dylan Thomas was very well performed but not his cup of tea. The only thing, he said, that kept him awake was watching with much amusement the four people who WERE actually asleep in the front row, in particular one lady who’s head kept doing the classic nod forward and jolt upright, every few minutes.
After DTRJ was Mock Tudor. A superb spoof set in Windsor Castle with modern day actors doing historical re-enactments of Henry VIII’s life, specifically Ann Boleyn/Catherine of Aragon. Dave said it was very, very funny and really well done.
While Dave had been in seeing back to back shows at Beneath – I’d had a nice long lie, (till 10.30!), leisurely shower, sorted my hair out (at long last!), and strolled down to Cabaret Voltaire on Blair Street, picking up a sandwich on the way, and adding a tea and piece of carrot cake in CV’s bar while I picked up their free wifi on my tablet and caught up on some emails and Twitter as I was waiting for my scheduled show to start at 1.20pm.
I was at Cabaret Voltaire’s Free Fringe specifically to see Caimh McDonnell, a lovely Irish comedian with a shock of white hair. I wasn’t the only one – he had a few in! We had an entertaining hour with Caimh telling us about his girlfriend and family, about the problems of maintaining relationships while doing stand-up and about moving about to try and find the best, most affordable place. A good start to my day. I also had a nice chat with Nathaniel Metcalfe who was standing outside of the CV flyering for his show which is also on there, but a little later in the afternoon. We’d seen HIM last in a gig in a train goods’ shed at Machfest in Wales where he’d forgotten to change his shoes and did the gig in his comfy slippers!!
As soon as I was done there I nipped up the hill to Piemaker to pick up one of their good value steak bakes for Dave to eat when he came out of Mock Tudor; he’d have a fifteen minute gap before we both headed back into Beneath for Kingmaker.
As Kingmaker kicked off, I didn’t think I was going to be too interested – it’s about a meeting set up by a female Tory whip between two contenders for prime minister – one contender surely based on Boris Johnson and the other a generic up and coming young Tory who has surely been set up as a fall guy against the Boris character. All very “In The Thick Of It” but with fewer swearies. Quite enjoyable!
Then onto Jamaica Farewell – an excellent recount of a true story by Debra Ehrhardt. It tells of her dream and of how, by hook or by crook, she fulfilled that dream to escape from Jamaica to America during the class problems Jamaica was having in the 70s. Debra plays all of the parts exquisitely and I was thoroughly enthralled right from the beginning. I had my fingers crossed so hard for her to achieve her dream. The room wasn’t full when we were there which was criminal so go and get booked up!
On to Clever Peter then, story telling sketch comedy at its best. The three man team performed a series of interlinked scenes knocking the advertising, estate agents and ( I reckon) dairy industries. They also had a bash at the impossibly airbrushed way the media represent women in their fashion and beauty magazines. All good stuff and thoroughly enjoyable.
Perhaps unfortunately, next up, we had yet another three man sketch group immediately afterwards. The Beta Males and their show Happenstance. The marked out their stage area with tape and props, their backdrop was a large piece of cargo net with more props suspended there too. This was also sketch story telling but this time based around cupcakes that fulfil wishes – you just have to be extremely careful how you word your wishes. I loved the Dads On Tour skit and there was some lovely corpsing plus audience interaction. We love a bit of decent sketch and this was that for sure!
The only problem with this show was that it ran about six minutes over and we had, in the last break, prebooked some hot food at the wee courtyard bistro literally just outside the Beneath venue, to be ready for exactly 8pm before going back in to see Romesh Ranganathan at 8.15pm so we were on a very tight eating slot there already without things running over.
I bolted out of the room, having to run in front of the stage past the lads (and got a round of applause from them – I think they thought I was bursting for the loo) to alert the bistro that we were ready for our food. It was a close thing but we got done and back in line for the next show – I did need to go to the loo by this time but had no time left and spent the whole of the next hour with my legs crossed and also suffering from indigestion from rushing my dinner.
Fortunately the next show was Romesh, and he presses a lot of good buttons with me as he is a vegan who isn’t afraid to A: mention that in his act with examples of how animals are poorly treated, keeping it not too judgemental to avoid alienating his carnivorous fans, and B: moan about how hard it is to stick to the vegan principles. Most people in the audience seemed surprised that vegans can’t eat honey (for example).
More stand-up was to follow in the way of Pete Johansson, a Canadian with a nicely challenging set around sexual fantasies/masturbation/swinging, and trust/honesty within a marriage. Half the audience were really onboard with it – the other half were a lot quieter! If we didn’t agree with his morals, we had to admit that it was interesting!
Then it was the turn of Julian McCullough, a 35 year old American who told us all about his Dream Girls and of growing up and travelling around with his free spirited parents in the 90s.
Lastly at Beneath we had Tom Rosenthal – Work in Progress. This was a slightly strange show with Tom not having quite a full set of material. He repeated several times that he had not wanted to do the show but had been convinced to by his agent. He gave us a dissection of nursery rhymes and some insight into Danny Dyer’s mentality. Then, he sat with his back to the wall on stage and asked for questions. A young looking lad called Roman went down on stage and took a selfie with him, then asked us all to add him on Twitter. Tom offered us half of our money back as well as an apology for the lack of jokes!
Dave had scheduled in a late show at The Counting House. Supposedly starting at 1.15am, this show was entitled Trevor Feelgood, Sex Machine. Dave had spoken to Trevor outside the venue a couple of nights before and apparently the numbers had been low. Trevor had stated that he wouldn’t run the show unless he had at least two punters interested in watching him so I was dragged along to make up the numbers in case Dave was on his own in the room.
We started the show (there were half a dozen others willing to be there rather than in bed), and I hate to say it, but less than two minutes into the hour, I was wishing I WAS tucked up under our duvet. Trevor didn’t seem to have rehearsed at all, jokes were painfully long seconds apart while he searched for notes, props, or got his next piece of music cued up on his mp3 player. In the whole hour there I perhaps laughed twice. We were urged to go and get a drink to make him funnier. Im not going to say anymore about it, apart from that it was a blessed relief when we were eventually allowed to go.
So endeth day 17!