Edinburgh Fringe August 2016

By Dave.

13th August – We decided months ago that to save money and leave more for shows, we would catch a coach to Edinburgh. Within minutes of getting on the coach we regretted this, as we were informed that the toilet was out of order for the sixteen hour journey.

Within ten minutes of the journey commencing, a broom and child seat booster fell down from the overhead compartment, landing directly on my head. We laughed at the time, but it could have ended in an injury.

We survived the rest of the journey with little incident, although we were both too excited to get much sleep, and were also somewhat hindered by the noise of a captive wildebeest. At one point the relief driver woke this poor creature up and told him off for making too much noise. This lasted approximately five minutes until the creature was fast asleep and snoring away again.

14th August Day 1– Arrived in Edinburgh at 7:50am and made our way straight to Wetherspoons for breakfast. We got there five minutes before opening and met a local ‘character’ who was waiting for her usual Sunday tea and toast. But only if they hadn’t ‘Hiked the prices up again for the Fringe’.

Then off for a shower at Waverley Station and then to our student digs to leave our bags there for the day as we were not allowed to check in that early. A first visit to the Blunderbus to see how the Chilcott Report reading was going and then off for our 11 planned shows.

( Just after collecting some tickets from the Fringe office I spotted a blue suit rushing past on The Royal Mile, my first spot in real life of the wonderful Jonathan Pie whose show we will be seeing later in the year – Carole)

Minky: A Sketch Show

Three young students. Some very good sketches and very few misses. Thoroughly enjoyable start to the first day.

Adam Larter’s Return on Investment

Wow – What a show, Adam Larter and his conspirators of Joz Norris, Marny Godden and Lucy Pearman. Satrising 80s life and finance. Fantastic script and performances from all these crazies. We loved it.

Matthew Highton – I, The Universe

This slot was supposed to be Ali Brice, but he cancelled his show as he was suffering from the night before. It was easy though to switch to the room next door. Another enjoyable romp with elaborate effects.

Beth Vyse as Olive Hands in All Hands to the Pump…

What can we say here? I saw Olive Hands previous show three times though never all the way through as I always ended up being part of the show. So feared for the worst again. And yes, here I go again, and here I am being face painted again. Exactly the sort of lunacy we have come to expect and love from Beth Vyse. Everyone knows I love her. And will continue to do so. Will I ever get to see one of her shows without being part of it though?

Ed Aczel’s Foreign Policy

Ed’s brand of anti comedy is not to everyone’s taste. I love him, Carole doesn’t. One of a handful of acts we are diametrically opposed on. I had a lovely time, Carole, having seen him twice now, will probably not want to see him again.

Pete Johannson

Pete was poorly this day. Suffering from a heavy cold and debating whether to pull the show. He didn’t and I was glad for it as he was superb as always. Carole missed out on this one to check us in to our accommodation and pick us up some food!

Joz Norris: Hello Goodbye

I saw Joz in 2015 when he played to me and a handful of other people. It is hard to generate energy needed for a high tempo interactive show, but we all did our best that day. This year, a very healthy crowd. And a quite beautiful show, structured, silly, sublime. We both loved it. And we both love Joz – a lovely man and one of our heroes of the Fringe.

Paul Currie: FFFFFFFMILK!

What can we say about Paul, like our favourite comic Tony Law, he weaves a tapestry of silliness and you have to just go with it. We had both seen and loved his previous show, but this was even better. Faultless and beautiful. One of our joint top four shows of this year’s Fringe.

Mat Ewins: Mat Ewins Will Make You a Star

We have seen Mat at the Fringe four years running, and his shows have always been hugely entertaining, Also, occasionally, for the things that went wrong. Not so this year. Amazing technical skill, great jokes, and interactions. Another faultless show for us and unhesitatingly another one of our joint top 4 shows of this years Fringe.

Kate Lucas: Whatever Happened to Kate Lucas?

Carole always likes a musical comic. We had first seen Kate during 2012 in an all female show at the Three Sisters on the Cowgate. It was a surprise then, that this was her debut hour. Armed with guitar, she sang some great comedy songs and intertwined with a good narrative. Thoroughly enjoyable.

We had been planning on going to the Gilded Balloon next for Rebel Bingo and then pop along to the Blunderbus after, but on checking my phone found Rebel Bingo was cancelled. As we were close to our digs and we were knackered from a long day and 36 hours with virtually no sleep, we decided to go ‘home’ get a good night’s sleep and be ready for another long second day. It is probably as well we did as it was then that I discovered that I had left the folder with all the tickets for the other days, along with money, at home. So panic stations hit. Nothing we could do until the morning however.

So day one, an AMAZING day, best start to a Fringe ever. But would there be a day two?

Paul Currie and Mat Ewins were the stand outs of day one, closely followed by Adam Larter et al, Beth Vyse and Joz Norris.

15th August Day 2 – We got up really early, so Carole could contact our house sitters, who found the folder of missing stuff in my office. They kindly arranged to get it all couriered up to our halls for the following day. I popped along to the Fringe office and the lovely Ciara, who had spoken to me via email in the past, and knew about my World Record and our rescue chickens named after comics, made it really easy for us and reprinted our tickets for the day. (Thank you so much again!!!). It was 10:20am so we had to miss our first planned show which was due to start at the same time, but to be honest the relief for not being totally screwed, far outweighed this. We went and got the first of three lovely breakfasts during the week at our favourite haunt Hula Juice Café. They remembered us immediately from years past, and we really felt at home.

And onto the shows…

Andy Storey – Funny Storey

We had followed Andy when he made the final of the BBC New Act Competition, and had seen him a couple of years previous in Manchester the day after I finished the World Record. It was billed as a less than an hour show, and was heavy on laughs and Andy has a lovely relaxed style. Still very much and up and comer. We enjoyed seeing him again a lot.

Sketch Thieves

Thoroughly enjoyable hour with a format that can work or not. It certainly did this day. (Unfortunately I cannot remember everyone we had, except Lovehard and Best Boy, who we will look out for in the future).

Katia Kvinge: Squirrel

Character comedy, loads of characters, a bundle of manic energy. A multitude of voices. A delightful hour from someone we had not seen before.

Goose: Hydroberserker

One of our most anticipated shows and boy did it deliver. Third show we have seen from the boys and as wonderful as ever. With wonderful interactions, and a lovely cameo from Kath from Geins Family Giftshop. Oh and a live band. You have to see Goose for yourselves to appreciate how good they are. Another of our four top shows this year immediately followed by another.

Sarah Kendall: Shaken

We have said before that Sarah has a lot to answer for. If we had not gone to her late night show at the Soho Theatre in 2011, we would not be as hooked as we are now on comedy. Her narrative storytelling is beyond compare, and always has us spellbound from start to finish. Sarah will always be top of our list to see and she delivered again in spades. We were surprised not to see another nomination for best show as this show was as good as last year.

The Eulogy

A strange one. Enjoyable clowning and a clever show. But not something that stood out against the best of what we saw this year.

Ria Lina: Dear Daughter

Always love to see Ria, Carole gets excited seeing anyone with a ukulele and spends as much time watching the playing techniques as listening to the show ( I know! It’s very distracting but educational at the same time! – Carole) Another very fine effort from one of our faves.

Simon Slack: The Fantasist

A very odd one this. I really enjoyed this drug fuelled romp about loneliness and depression, which was very strange. Carole hated it. As did half the audience who walked out.

Spank – Laura Lexx and James Loveridge hosting. Kitten Killers, Alison Spittle, Pete Dobbing, Al Porter, Jollyboat, John Robertson. We do not tend to enjoy the raucous late night gigs like this and Late N Live. But tonight we were still in celebratory mood following the rescuing of the Fringe, and we bought tickets as there was a great combination of acts we know and love and those that we had not seen before. We had an absolute blast from start to finish. Despite one very strange bloke at the front, who looked like he might go on a killing spree at any moment. Bloody fantastic end to a night.

And so to bed, shows of the day. Goose and Sarah Kendall by a street but Spank was an absolute delight. We aren’t too old yet!

Day 3 – 16th August

We had lots of contingency plans for this morning as still needed the special delivery post to actually turn up, but no need to worry as the package was waiting at reception as soon as we got up. So off we toddled for a breakfast at the new Spoons, The Booking Office by Waverley Train Station, and a day principally at the Stand.

Josie Long and Martin Williams: Investigations

A lovely start to a day. Any time with Josie is fun. And this show was exploring dodgy politicians and their other interests. Corrupt bunch of fuckers they are too.

Mulhollandland

Our one show away from the Stand this day, at a dodgy little venue just down the road in the middle of nowhere. We arrived to find the audience was just we two, then met the lovely Patrick Mulholland who after asking whether we wanted him to go ahead and being greeted with an enthusiastic “Yes!” from us, proceeded to give us an hour of surreal wonderfulness. Ghost Cow was brilliant as were several other of his creations. This was billed as a work in progress, and we cannot wait to see the full show next year. Hopefully in a better venue. Well done fella, this was our surprise of the week.

Seymour Mace: Shit Title

Back to more well known territory with the wonderful Seymour who we have been back to see for several years now. Another wonderful show from the master of silliness and fun.

Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z

This was actually the first time we had seen Andy live and we loved his political show, featuring a lot of Post Brexit angles.

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism

Another fantastic show about consumerism from a master of stand up. We had seen John with some of this material at Plymouth Comedy Club in 2015. But what a great show it was incorporated into. One for thought.

Andrew Doyle: Future Tense

We last saw Andrew at our first Fringe, the night after a punter threw a pint over him when walking out. He is a bit ranty, and dark and we still love him. And will be looking forward to seeing him again supporting Jonathan Pie later in the year.

Standard Issue Stands Up

A big line up featuring Sarah Millican, Ellie Taylor, Harriet Dyer, Zoe Lyons, Susan Calman and Jo Caulfield. Whats not to like. It was great. Especially Harriet our local lass who got the best reaction we have ever seen her get, which made us very happy.

ACMS: The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

We have been to several ACMS now. Last time, Carole said it was not for her, so I was glad she let me talk her into giving it another go. She was glad I did as it was a fantastic night from start to finish.

Highlights were Faye Treacey playing vegetables as musical instruments. Chris Coltrane unable to say Squirrel. And Deborah Frances White and her quiz. Oh, and I think Carole quite enjoyed me getting dragged up on stage by Howard Read’s children and being forced to sing and dance the Haberdashery/Gnu song over and over. A tune we are still singing two weeks later (earworm!)

A great day. Shows of the day were Mulhollandland, Seymour Mace and ACMS.

Day 4 – 17 August

We started the day at the Pleasance Dome for The Big Byte Size Breakfast Show

Always a good start to a day. Five or six short plays. With food and drink to start the day. I really enjoyed the Clown/Marriage Guidance act.

Revan and Fennell: Fan Club

Really enjoyable sketch comedy from Devon lasses who we had seen three years before at the final of the Best New Sketch Act and headlining a charity night at a theatre in Babbacombe Devon. Loads of winners and still lots more to come we hope.

Short & Curly: A Curly Night In

What can we say about these guys? We have seen their last four shows and loved them all. This was the best yet. And having seen a very early preview in Leicester in February, it was really interesting to see how it evolved.

Joey Page: Jowie

An enjoyable surreal hour, which had some real highs but also a few lulls.

Katie Mulgrew: Saboteur

Was lovely to see Katie again and she put together a lovely hour full of charm about being a new mum.

Diane Spencer: Seamless

Diane is a wonderful comic. In recent shows, she has thrown off her previous smutty image and produced some quite wonderfully knitted story (and home sewn!) telling shows. This her best yet about becoming a stepmom.

Larry Dean: Farcissist

Another wonderful show from one of the most natural comics and lovely guys we have met.

Jess Robinson – Impressive

We loved Jess the last time we saw her and were really looking forward to this. But despite the bigger production, this did not hold our attention as much as her previous show did. Possibly because it started late and overran and we were worrying about getting to our next show. Also partly because of the weird choice of one particular member of the audience to sit on tables on the stage. It was odd and distracting as he really did not seem to be enjoying it. And was eventually clumsily moved elsewhere by one of the production crew. It was obviously because he was in the position to be part of a major piece of crowd work. But it was also rather clunky and fell flat, like the show did overall for us

Phil Nichol: Twenty

Phil has always been a favourite of ours and this was a best of show to celebrate twenty years at the Fringe. Only about a third full, but what a show Phil gave us. He even dressed Carole and I in Muslim origami costumes and we renamed ourselves Ahmed and Fatima for the rest of the day. She still won’t walk six paces behind me though 😉

Ettieboo’s Cabaret Bonanza

Late night Cabaret compilation at Frankenstein’s. Very rowdy and acts featured were very hit and miss. A bit disappointing.

Late N Live – John Hastings, Kevin Gildea, Larry Dean, Marcel Lucont, Elliot Steel, Aunty Donna

The last time we did late N Live together we hated it – this time it was very good. And we enjoyed ourselves a lot. We went straight from here to the Blundabus to do our slot reading the Chilcott Report, Iraq Out & Loud something we were immensely proud to have been able to contribute to in a tiny way. We did the 5-6am slot. And by the time we got to bed it was 6:30 am and daylight. Not bad for two old 50+ fuddy duddies! And with our first show due to start at 10:45am!

Show of the day Larry Dean for Carole, Phil Nichol for me. But the overall highlight was taking a tiny part in Chilcott.

18th August – Day 5

So, considering we had had just two hours sleep, we did well to get up for another Hula breakfast and make it to our first show. Would we last the day?

A Sketchy History – three young lads doing a history of the world in sketches. Some good stuff, but mostly as the title suggests – sketchy.

Rachel Fairburn: Skulduggery – very good show from Rachel. First time we had seen her since the day before the record attempt two years previous and everything about her style and delivery seems so much more mature.

Dude Looks Like a Lady: Call of Dudey – we met these ladies in Leicester but had other shows booked, so promised to see them here. This was great sketch comedy. Energetic, with great calls backs and interactions. A big future ahead we think.

Danielle Ward: Seventeen – Great autobiographical show by Danielle. Well thought out and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tom Neenan: Vaudeville – We struggled a bit with this one. Tiredness took over and being in a dark portacabin with most of the show taking place in low lighted conditions. It was a struggle, which was a shame as we like Tom’s narrative driven shows. Good ending.

David Mills: Shame! – David is a great comic, and this show is a lot about his experiences playing a role in a recent Meryl Streep movie. Always a winner.

Tim Renkow: King of the Tramps – Another winner from the master of dark comedy. We are always very happy to spend an hour with this chap and he will always be one of the first pencilled in to our schedule.

Limmy: Daft Wee Stories – This run of shows by Limmy was a very cynical cash in. Dearest tickets we bought all Fringe and biggest waste of money. Consisted of a few minutes introducing himself. Twenty minutes reading from his book Daft Wee Stories and a Q&A. (I agree – Carole)

Gavin Webster’s 11 O’Clock Bill – As late night bills go. This was one of the worst we have been to. We got there ten minutes late after getting a little disorientated walking back from the EIC and then saw both acts, who we won’t name as we know they are much better than this, die horrible deaths in front of a small crowd who did not laugh at all. It was a very painful hour – especially after Limmy. A combined waste of nearly £60. Poor end to the day but overall another good one.

Shows of the day – Call of Dudey and Tim Renkow.

19th August – Day 6

Carole got up very early to catch a bus to Glasgow to stay with her sister for the night and catch up with family so I had a little lie-in before a day on my own.

Sooz Kempner – Queen. Lovely little show about Sooz’s life. Enjoyed this a lot, unfortunately smallish crowd did not help.

Alison Spittle Discovers Hawaii – Absolutely love this lady. Boundless energy and enthusiasm, even more impressive as show has a mental health theme.

Marny Godden: Where’s John’s Porridge Bowl – Another massive winner at the Hive. High tempo. Great interactions with the audience. Wonderful characters. And a non stop smile throughout.

Adam Hess: Feathers – Another quality hour of stand-up from Adam. He is very good indeed.

Jenny Collier: Jen-Hur – Debut hour – wonderfulful stuff. Really enjoyed this.

What a day so far. Was going to the Dome next to see Mr Swallow, ambled along , had a sandwich, then realised I was at wrong venue and should have been at courtyard. No time to get there so made a quick switch to: Fast Fringe: Katie Mulgrew, George Rigden, Damien Kingsley, Jody Kimali, John Hastings, Abigoilh Shamaun, Damian Clark, Laughing Stock, Stephen Carlin, Colt Cabana, Sooz Kempner, Olaf Falafel. Purpose of this show is to give a lot of quick tasters to peoples shows. Not of much use to me with my meticulous planning but it did remind me that I really need to see Olaf again soon.

Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Tracey. Wonderful surreal nonsense. Did well to turn the show around from a bizarre walkout, which most people did not know whether it was staged or not.

Hayley Ellis: FOMO Really enjoyed this show and the rest of the crowd clearly did as well. Quality stand-up.

Twins: Two balls in a Bag I Really like Jack Barry’s stand up. This felt very laboured and was at times painful. They kept mentioning a bad review they had received and the disappointment in this clearly permeated through to the attitude onstage. Very disappointed.

Shows of the day – Alison Spittle and Marny Godden

20th August – Day 7

Carole arrived back on an earlier bus from Glasgow and was trying to call me at our digs while I was blissfully sleeping. Eventually she got me and off we went for a nice breakfast before heading off to our first show…

Previously on Maff Brown – quality hour from a real pro. Full of gags. Was recording the show as a showreel for a job in America!

Ahir Shah – Machines In same room as Maff, just as well we stayed as massive queue and room was totally full and every available bit of floor space used a full twenty minutes before it was due to begin. Really quality polital comedy from one of our favourites. Full of passion and draws you in to his world wonderfully.

Late Night With Boabby Roaster Show – A lot of work went into this. And some of the videos linking things together were really good. But the onstage action was flat and just not funny.

Becky Walkers Mandatory Rest Break – Not so much a show, but a lovely relaxed chill out for an hour. Love you Becky.

Phil Ellis is Alone Together (But Mainly Alone) – Great nonsense and a really clever ending. We loved this show but should have twigged the two comics sat in the front row were plants.

Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning – A difficult one this. I really enjoyed this but Carole didn’t. But I think this was more due to the fact we were next to a massive speaker and she was being deafened, rather than the show itself. I found this a wonderful piece reflecting sexism in comedy.

Max & Ivan: Our Story – We saw part of this new show as part of their tour earlier in the year. But as always with a Max & Ivan show the narrative and characters were vivid and immersive. Another wonderful show from one of our absolute favourite acts. Part of the theme of the show involved wrestling as Max was a wrestler in his earlier life. And Colt Cabana was in watching the show. This did put us off a little as we kept expecting Colt to turn out to be a plant and to join in at some point as he had in a previous Brendon Burns show..

Garrett Millerick: The Dreams Stuff is Made of – We love Garrett and his style, but we really struggled with this late night performance as the room was literally like a sauna, and it was uncomfortable from start to finish. It felt more like a hostage situation than a show. It was so bad we were just waiting to get back into the fresh air. And we abandoned plans to do a late show in favour of getting a bit of extra sleep to recover.

Shows of the day Ahir Shah, Phil Ellis & Max and Ivan

21st August – Day 8

Our last full day of a too short Fringe, but you can only do what you can afford.

David Callaghan: Let’s Get This Partly Started – What a fantastic start to a day. I had seen David before and loved him – Carole had not. A really imaginative and clever show using innovative technolgy. And importantly it was really funny.

Candy Gigi: If I Had A Rich Man – Again an old favourite of mine, but new for Carole. What a voice, what a twisted mind, what a show. Absolutely immense.

Red Richardson Experience – When they warn you something is going to be very dark beforehand, you have anticipation. But this was a bit of a damp squib, with nothing edgy or particularly exciting to write home about. First Fringe – plenty of time to develop though.

Mark of Stupidity Two: Even Stupider – A very silly and childish show from a friend of ours. Huge amount of fun. Ventriloquism, visuals, songs and so much more, an all round entertainer and good guy.

Pat Cahill – D.O.T.T – Was not originally in our plans as we had seen in an early preview, but another show got cancelled and we were in the right place to see this again. Much tighter and brilliant. Along with Haberdashery from the ACMs, we are still singing the COCONUTS song regularly two weeks later. Lovely show, lovely fella. (Coconuts – ANOTHER EARWORM – Carole)

Ari Shaffir: Ari S-P-E-C-T Full on straight stand up – I really enjoyed, Carole was a bit meh about it.

Steen Raskopoulos – You Know the Drill – The trick with audience participation shows is to pick the right people. This was the best we had ever seen of its kind. As it seemed everyone picked was a performer already and really up for it. Huge laughs. Also a couple of running gags that were spot on. The ping pong balls was brilliant.

Taylor Glenn: A Billion Days of Parenthood – Not seen Taylor since she had her baby. Last time was in Totnes after she had opened for Arthur Smith and then sat with us in the audience to watch him. Always liked her and in her time away she has put together a really great show about being a parent. Great to see her back and look forward to the next show.

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana – The first time we have been to the wrestling commentary show. As a wrestling viewer, I appreciated it more than Carole, who tolerated it. It is a very geeky show. We had the bonus of a very special guest in a man we love, Sam Simmons. So in my book it was great.

Will Seawards Spooky Ghost Stories III – Will is a gent. We love him and his quirkiness. And we have bumped into him several times this fringe and he has always had a chat. Really enjoy the spooky midnight ghost stories format, but it was somewhat spoilt by two bunches of dickheads who were very drunk and kept disrupting the flow. Fortunately one lot fucked off, but another was constantly making quite rude comments then turning around to get acknowledgement from a woman behind. A shame, but these things happen at the Fringe. We hope Will didn’t get fined too much for overrunning by over 20 minutes!

Four absolute stand outs in David Callaghan, Candy Gigi, Pat Cahill and Taylor Glenn.

22nd August – last day and what a last day!

Bridget Christie: Mortal – We saw a preview in May after which Bridget completely rewrote the show following Brexit. Wonderful as always. And loved the gardening framework (or should that be trellis) to the show.

Fern Brady : Male Comedienne – Love Fern – loved the show.

Silky: Indoor Fireworks – Always a pleasure to spend an hour with this guy. Quick witted, funny and lovely.

Joanna Neary Does Animals and Men – This show was cancelled and then uncancelled and we had to book again. Carole was really looking forward to seeing Jo again, but we were a bit disappointed as there was little coherence to the show.

John Robertson: Arena Spectacular! – John is unique in that he can do a whole hour by just talking to people and poking gentle fun at them. Like a perpetual motion machine, never stops. Relentless fun.

John Pendal: International Man of Leather – A lovely gentle show from a lovely chap. There are some testers in there to determine how filthy the show can be, and we were a VERY vanilla audience, so it was gentle. Have seen some of John’s late night material before and it would have killed some of these guys 🙂

Viv Groskop: Be More Margo – The last time we saw Viv was in Exeter on Halloween a couple of years ago and she was face painted as a zombie. This show was a beautiful little homage to the eighties and middle classes.

Gavin Webster: Jesus Christ’s a Window Cleaner Now – This needed to be good to make up for the late night bill previously and it was. Loved last years show. This wasn’t quite as good but still one of my favourite acts. New for Carole.

Martin Mor: #RoadComedian – We saw most of this show and were thoroughly enjoying it, but had to leave as it was only ten minutes until our bus left for home, so Martin gave us some freebies, a CD and a DVD as we were missing the end of the show. Martin was lovely again, and is one of life’s real gents and natural funny men. A great way to end the Fringe.

Nearly a perfect day to end with. Martin, Fern and Bridget were the stand outs, but all in all a great day. Eight and a bit days – eighty-four shows and overall probably our best Fringe yet. But still not enough time to fit more acts in.

It is worth noting we also saw another fifty plus shows in preview and some of those were absolute corkers too. Delighted to see Sleeping Trees and Birthday Girls do so well and virtually everyone else we love seemed to have a great Fringe. We deliberately left out some of the big hitters, James Acaster, Nish Kumar, Richard Gadd and Tony Law as we already have tickets to see them on tour before Christmas.

Dave.

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