2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hi folks

Well, it’s August and that means the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now under way in Scotland’s capital city.  As long-term readers (hi there and thanks for reading) may know, I like to try to get through to Edinburgh as often as I can during the month to see some of the shows and watch a number of the street performers.  I got back yesterday from the first weekend of this year’s Fringe and had a great time and thought I’d give you my impressions of some of the shows that I saw.

One little note about these “reviews” – after reading an article about an open letter that Jerry Sadowitz had sent to reporters about their reviews a couple of years ago, I try not to give much away about the material that is performed in these shows, especially the jokes/gags that any of the comedians perform.  There is also the small factor that I’m not taking notes during the show, so I’m unable to remember most of them.


Guilded Balloon, 18:45 (1hr)
I’ve seen Jarlath’s last 2 shows and both have been excellent but this one, his 4th time at the Fringe, is, in my opinion, the best so far.  Regan isn’t an “in your face” comedian.  He is a very laid back performer who tells more stories than actual jokes as such.  And these stories are very entertaining and very very funny.  Due to technical problems, we were a little late getting into the room that he was performing in and a few folk in front of me were getting a little ratty as they had other shows to go to.  When we finally got in, I had one of the couples sitting next to me but from before the start of the show (if you go, you’ll see what I mean), Jarlath’s humour had everyone in attendance laughing, enjoying themselves and forgetting about the delay.  From stories about going to pre-marriage counselling (!) to how not to answer a mobile phone, Jarlath had the audience in the palm of his hand on every word.  You should try your best to get tickets to see him live.  You’ll thank me later.

Just The Tonic @ The Caves, 15:15 (1hr)
Piff’s first Edinburgh Fringe show last year was one of the most popular, and most successful, of last year’s Free Festival.  This year’s show is being held in one of the Udderbelly’s many venues.  It is a good show but there were a few bits – mostly in a sketch about a tripped out visit a strange, magical pizza land – that made me wonder what was going on or why it was in the show at all.  The magic, as always, was very strong and the reactions from the audience were excellent.  Sadly, however, I happened to go to see the show on a day where nearly anything that could go wrong did.  This, however, only showed Piff’s professionalism and his ability to think on his feet with so many sets of eyes watching him.  It was an enjoyable hour that I am sure you will enjoy too.

Guilded Balloon, 21:45 (1hr)
This is also Ali’s second time performing at the Fringe and his show was full of excellent magic with a roughly half of the material being mental magic.  A couple of the highlights for me in this show were a number prediction which is a real fooler; an excellent presentation of the old “Sands Of The Desert” trick using items more commonly found around the house and an underwater escape that had audience at the edge of their seats.  Ali also had a few moments in the show where he did a little stand up comedy with no magic involved.  I have to admit that some of the material didn’t “work” for me (other members of the audience were laughing away so I suppose you can’t please all the people all the time) but what did work was very funny and, at times, a little on the dark side of things.  Overall, it is a very enjoyable show that will fool you in several places.  Make sure you get your ticket quick as I hear they’re selling very fast!

Old Rope In The Balloon
Guilded Balloon, 23:00 (1hr 15min)
“Old Rope” is a comedy night set up and run by Phil Nicol and Tiffany Stevenson in London and Brighton that allows comedians a place to try out new material.  With the line up of talent around Edinburgh during August, they have transferred the night up the Guilded Balloon for the month allowing for a different line up each night.  Of the performers, one is a headliner who will perform a tried and tested set (sometimes throwing some new bits in).  On the night I went, we had Tiffany Stevenson as compere, Jojo Sutherland (Scottish comedian telling some amusing stories about her family), Biddy O’Loughlin (Australian-born, Irish-based comedian who has only just started comedy and seemed to be trying to shock laughs out of the audience more than anything else), Paul Foot (English performer who was too weird and off the wall for my personal taste) and headliner Rob Rouse (English comedian who did a set that made me think “I might go and see him”).  If you’re in town and still have the energy to go to a show at 11pm, it might be worth a shot – you never know who may turn up, or what might happen!
 

Espionage, 12:15 (1hr)
I had heard about this show through one of my work colleagues, whose cousins were performing it, so decided that I would go along.  To be honest, it wasn’t the best show I’ve seen.  But then, it wasn’t the worst either.  Sarah-May and John-Mark took turns to perform with Sarah-May performing mostly straight stand up comedy with a few comedic songs thrown in and John-Mark featuring some increasingly strange stories in his “Kindergarten Corner”.  I felt that John-Mark was coming across as the stronger performer, but that was probably because his parts of the show were more character driven, instead of the straight stand up being performed by Sarah-May.  Saying that, though, Sarah-May did hit one huge piece of gold in the show.  At one point, while talking about relationships, she asked if anyone had ever had an affair.  One woman put her hand up and while a brief discussion took place between performer and spectator about the affair, one girl a few seats away was seen to visibly cringe.  It turned out to be the woman’s daughter who was sitting listening to her mother talk about her sex life!

“Diobo” of Poland performing amazing magic during his
street performance on Edinburgh’s High Street

But there is much more to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe than the shows.  There are the street performers and buskers who ply their trades on the High Street.  They, along with performers of various shows who are trying to plug their own shows, help to create an amazing atmosphere around the city.  If get manage to get through to Edinburgh during August, make sure you go up to the High Street and catch a few performances.

For me, watching some of the street magicians means that I get to catch up with old friends, and make some new ones.  There was a point on the Sunday afternoon when a group of us were hanging out that had the feel of a magic convention – folk showing each other tricks and moves and general magic talk.  It was great fun.

Ian Kendall starting to build a crowd for one of his street shows
These guys were plugging their Fringe show with some excellent puppet
manipulation.  Watching kids interact with the character and completely
ignoring the operators was very amusing.
 PocketFox performing heavy metal and rock on Ukuleles – rock poses always included!
I’m intending to go back through at the end of the month but wanted to let you know about the shows that I had seen.  If you make it through, I hope you have a great time.
Speak soon.
The Cardman 🙂

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