12th-13th August 2015 Camden Fringe and Edinburgh Day 1

In retospect travelling to Edinburgh on the Megabus from Plymouth was a mistake. But, at £25 each way, it allowed me more money to spend when I finally got up North and also allowed me to fit in a couple of shows at the Camden Fringe en route.

I left Plymouth after being dropped in by Carole at 7:45, arrived in London just before 2pm and headed up to Camden for lunch, which was a yummy Chinese meal in the market. On the way there I was flyered by a young lad from near us in Exeter doing a show at 4pm. I could fit this in before my two planned shows at the Camden Comedy Club at 6:30pm and 8pm so off I toddled to watch “Spandex Bastards”, a play about wrestling. This was well received by the crowd including myself and funny in places, but had some occasional poor acting in and the biggest problem of the piece being the lads were far too young and poorly built to represent wrestlers; still a pleasant enough filler.

I had dinner and a beer at the Camden Comedy Club where I received a lovely welcome and saw my first planned show “Simon Watt – Frogs and Friends“. Simon is the founder of the Ugly Animal Society and we have seen Robin Ince mention the society in past shows after which I christened Carole ‘my little blobfish’. This show was largely about Frogs and was a hugely entertaining lecture. After this I got a copy of Simon’s book dedicated to “Carole the Blobfish”.

My second show was “Andrew Bird – Brain Doodles” a hugely entertaining hour from a comic at the top of his game, and, chatting to him afterwards, a lovely fella. I will be looking to see him again and would recommend you do too.

Unfortunately time dictated I could not stay to see Joe Bor do his show and I trudged wearily back to Victoria for the dreaded journey north, another 8 1/2 hours. Fortunately I managed to get some sleep and after Sheffield had a double seat to myself. Arriving in Edinburgh at 7am and disembarking directly opposite the Stand 5 & 6 I felt a tingle go through my whole body at the prospect of the week ahead, tinged with great sadness at having left Carole at home.

Thanks to my cousin Andrew I had found I could get a shower at Waverley Station for £5, a great idea with twelve shows planned, no significant breaks and a check-in of 2pm. Fortunately my hostel did let me leave my luggage (for a fiver) and I could check-in any time day or night. So with the preliminaries sorted I went off for a leisurely breakfast before day one at the Fringe officially began for me at 10:30am with…

The Big Bite Size Breakfast Show.

In 2014, this was the first show of my 304 show world record, so was an entirely fitting place to start. With strawberries, croissants and coffee included in the price and 5-6 short plays it is a fun way to start any day. They have a rotating menu of plays so you can go three times and see no repeats (I did last year). This year I saw menu three, which was, as always, a lot of fun. My highlight was the first playlet Quack which explored the relationship between a human and a talking duck. I left very pleased then had a very short trip to the Gilded Balloon for…

Georgie Carroll – Nurse Case Scenario

In simple terms this was tales of nursing in Australia from a ex-pat. It was populated largely by a crowd of nurses (old and young) who seemed to love this from the off. The tales of things found up people’s bums etc. were very cliched and well documented. To me Georgie seemed like the sort of nurse nobody wants as a lot of the things she had done to patients were horrific. An ok hour, but not one I would recommend or go back to. Down to the Hive for the next five shows starting with …

Ali Brice – Eric Meat has no proof, only memories of pasta.

I first met Ali last year as part of Beth Vyse’s show and have seen him a couple of times since. I was really excited about this and it was a rip-roaring hour of madness as you would expect. Made me roll on the floor with laughter from start to finish. I stayed in the same room for…

Aidan Killian: Holy Trinity of Whistleblowers

This hour was about whistleblowers and very much in a Mark Thomas-esque vein. Aidan has a very laid back style and the hour had plenty of humour in it. Was it too preachy? I’m not sure. But it was another enjoyable hour and in total contrast to the surreal masterpieces that preceded and succeeded it. Next up…

Candy Gigi – Chicken Soup

Candy was one of my hits of last year, a veritable whirlwind of energy, taking us along with her. This show was very much an extension of last year and developed her talents further. A short show in comparison to most Edinburgh hours but one that contains more than most longer offerings. I will be eagerly awaiting what comes next and be first in the queue for whatever it is. Whichs leads me onto…

Beth Vyse – As Funny as Cancer

Last year’s show by Beth was my favourite of the 304 I saw. It was a madcap rollercoaster ride of excitement. I saw the new offering in a very early preview and was a little worried about it as it was far from formed, or funny at that stage. It was also a far departure from last year’s show and a deeply introspective show about Beth’s battle with cancer. In Edinburgh the fully formed show is deeply moving, but also hilarious, a fine line to tread. Writing this in retrospect and having seen Alistair Barrie’s show, about the same subject, which is getting rave reviews, I found Beth’s show much more moving and funny. Final show at the Hive for today…

Adam Hess – Salmon

A very funny and likeable chap, Adam was much more traditional stand up than any of the other shows I saw this afternoon at the venue. He is however, still quirky and I dare anyone not to enjoy him perform. A guaranteed star for the future.

Leaving the Hive I had 25 minutes to get to the Gilded Balloon for the next three shows so checked in to my hostel on the way. Who should I happen to see in the courtyard, none other that Sofie Hagen, so I was able to present her with a framed picture of our chicken named after her before heading up to see another performer we have a chicken named after…

Diane Spencer – Powertool

We love Diane since the first time we saw her. Her previous show was terrific as was this follow up. This combined two threads, moving into a new home and producing an Edinburgh show in 2014 for a ‘celebrity’. Another wonderful show from a wondrful performer and person. And onwards to…

Adrienne Truscott – One Trick Pony

That difficult second show. How do you follow up a show that wins the panel prize when you are not a traditional stand-up. Unfortunately, however much I wanted to love this show, it did not do much for me. Sorry. On to…

Aisling Bea – Plan Bea

Aisling has taken over our TV screens. I love to watch her, but can she do good stand up? Having seen a few negative reviews, I would like to say I loved this show. Though I found it a bit disjointed in places, it it hard not to like someone who is so bubbly all the time. The key material about appearing in a pirate metal video, would have meant nothing to most, but really identified with me as Carole and I are fans of the band concerned, who like Aisling herself is a huge amount of fun. Her appearance at ‘The Wrestling’ later in the Fringe was hilarious but more of that later. Over to the Pleasance Courtyard for…

Gein’s Family Giftshop: Volume 2

They were great in 2014 and deserved all the plaudits. Did they follow it up? Nearly. Another great show from one of the futures of sketch comedy. It was terrific until the forty minute mark they ran out of steam for me. Finally…

Just the Tonic Comedy Club – Midnight Show

With any late night show it can be entirely down to the crowd as to whether it fully works. Tonight there were too many drunks and plain idiots in for this to succeed. A shame as the performers tried hard. Lovely Mick Ferry (MC). Markus Birdman, Zoe Coombes-Marr, Dr Neal Portenza and Bobby Mair tried so hard with varying tactics with finally Bobby really attacking a couple of cretins down the front. But the gig was never really under control, which was a shame.

My must see shows from day one (in no particular order) Beth Vyse, Candy Gigi, Ali Brice and Diane Spencer. With Adam Hess and Aisling Bea marginally behind.

And so to bed.

Dave.

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