First blog post

So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for £2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.

Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!

Bruce

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Strictly honestly – I was in the pub!

Yeah, what was going to be a lunchtime/afternoon session rather overran. There was me reckoning I’d be home for Pointless Celebrities, which was a Strictly line-up, and next thing I knew it was quarter to eight! Well, there’s a lot to put right about the world in these current times, a couple of pints wasn’t anywhere near long enough to cover everything! And when the fresh air hit me I was rather hungry so a fish supper had to be purchased, yes, had to be (a fish supper means fish and chips, in fish and chip shops here if you want anything with chips it’s a supper). So after all that I only made it home for the last two couples on Strictly, damn, but it was a fine pub session taking in the Jolly Judge, Bow Bar, Dagda and the Cask and Barrel.

Hurrah for BBC iPlayer, I watched both shows on Sunday evening instead. No, I didn’t watch Bodyguard, am I the only one in the country who hasn’t seen any of it? Maybe I’ll get round to it sometime before another series comes out.

So Strictly…… well I did say about making some reference to Danny John-Jules’ Cat and, blow me down, first off was himself and Amy doing a foxtrot to the theme tune to Top Cat – I loved that cartoon so much as a calf. He’s the oldest celeb but crikey he’s pretty fit and has some great moves, I reckon he’ll go far.

Poor Seann had the tango, not an easy dance for a male celeb to start with, but he did go for it so he gave it plenty of attitude and character to make up for lack of technique. The scores weren’t helped by Katya putting in a lift that wasn’t allowed, but ever a comedian Seann said it wasn’t a lift, more of a “chuck”. Being used to hecklers and the like, the judges may find he’s one contestant who’ll always have a smart quip back at them.

My other immediate favourite, Charles Venn, wowzer! Oh yay, he can dance, and he and Karen looked amazing together in red. Joe Sugg was actually pretty good at the jive, I was pleasantly surprised, but I’m not sure how he’ll cope with a rumba! Kate Silverton Cha Cha’d with plenty of attitude, but I reckon she’ll be a half-wayer. Another half-wayer I reckon is Graeme Swann, but I did love hearing Soul Limbo, of course he had to dance his Samba to the cricket theme tune, and Oti was as scrummy as ever!

Generally it’s another pretty good year with plenty of potential winners. More about the others next week. First out? If they’re in the dance-off, Susannah and Anton. Of course, if they get enough public votes to avoid it ….. but I’m not sure she has enough fans, even with Anton’s over-the-top antics.

If you’re thinking, what? Another post about that dancing tosh! Well, let’s say, if the title contains the word Strictly that’s what it’ll be about, forewarned and and all that.

Nighty night!

 

Damned statistics!!

Pardon me for not blogging recently and now I’m back just to have a rant! I have this particular rant every year around this time, every year? I hear you ask, yes indeed, let me tell you all about it, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea first…….

Ready? Then I’ll begin. Edinburgh Fringe 2018 put a post on Facebook to announce another record breaking year with ticket sales up 5% on last year. But Brucie, surely that’s good, isn’t it? Ah, but, dear friends, that statistic doesn’t really mean much on it’s own. The next statistic was just laughable, that ticket sales were up “a whooping 52% on the 2009 figures”, I should bloody hope so considering how much bigger the Fringe is now!

They also attached an article from The Scotsman about the latest statistics from the International, Book and Fringe Festivals, which was a bit more illuminating as it pointed out that in 2017 there were 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows compared with 56,796 performances of 3,548 shows this year. Hmmm, so that 5% increase in ticket sales isn’t a big deal considering the increase in tickets on sale, was it even enough for audience percentages to remain the same?

Oo, I was going to mention that the Pleasance audience figures were up this year, but on reading and re-reading and re-re-reading that part of the article again I rather think that bit is somewhat ambiguous (at least I don’t think it’s very clear). I think they are up, but not as much as I thought on first reading. Hurrah for the spokesman for Space UK, he said attendances were up 11% and they had a 20% increase in sold out performances. At least that does mean more bums on seats.

See, that’s my point! A 5% increase in ticket sales doesn’t mean diddlysquat on it’s own. So there was 5% more bums on seats, but if the overall number of seats for bums to sit on (ie, the number of seats available for every performance of every show) has also increased by 5% then there’s no real increase at all and a 6% increase in seats would mean audience numbers are down – audience statistics would be a far better way of judging whether the Fringe was more successful than previously.

Also, might one enquire how many tickets were sold at the Half Price Hut? After all, every ticket sold there is kind of like half a ticket, and let’s not forget the Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 tickets, again they’re like half tickets too. They might make a company feel better seeing more faces but if all the tickets sold were at half price, how much of a comfort is that?

As a punter I love the Half Price Hut, it is a necessity with the Fringe having become so huge to help some shows get folk in, I check it most days hoping one of my possibles comes up. On the other hand, there wouldn’t be such a need for it if the Fringe had a slightly smaller huge choice of shows. Ok, so no one outside of the big acts makes any money, but if a show with tickets priced at £8 only manages to sell tickets at £4 it’s not doing well at all, surely?

Now I’m feeling despondent for all the little shows trying desperately not to sink beneath the waves of the great ocean that is Fringe. I do love the Fringe but sometimes I wonder where it’s going.

Nighty night  x

 

 

Strictly for the fans

Well I just had an evening of all sparkly televison, from first Strictly, then the Last Night of the Proms, then flicking over to Elton John, Glam Rock and finally a 70s pop round-up. Plenty of glitter all the way!

So, Strictly – The Pairing Up Bit. There’s been quite a bit of negativity this time that the quality of celebrity is going down with no “big names” this year, but then some people are never happier than when they’re complaining. Yeah, at first look I haven’t heard of about half of them, but then I never watch morning, daytime, news or sports television. So lets see who the fuss is about ….

The news mob, Kate Silverton is a BBC News presenter, Dr Rank Singh is a “TV medic” (that’s what it says!), Stacey Dooley (MBE) is a presenter, journalist and documentary maker; so all pretty intelligent, good careers, all probably well-known to a vast amount of people. Is there a problem with these guys?!

Vick Hope is a multi-lingual radio and TV presenter, a print and broadcast journalist, and an Amnesty International ambassador; Katie Piper is a former model who suffered a terrible acid attack, but has since worked on helping others with disfigurement injuries through television work, writing and her own charity. Two strong, principled ladies and great role-models, I had heard of Katie but not Vick, but millions will know both.

Lauren Steadman is another inspiration, a paratriathlete with a rather full awards cabinet! I have wondered, and as a fan of The Last Leg, is it ok to ask how will the lack of a right hand be dealt with in the ballroom (come on, we all thought it!). Graeme Swann, a cricketer takes to the floor, Strictly does like it’s sports stars. As athletes they’re obviously disciplined, fit and competitive, but out of their own fields it can be tricky! Their bodies are fit for their sport purpose but dancing training is often in opposition to how they did move.

Then there’s Joe Sugg, who?? A YouTuber apparently. Not sure how seriously he’s gonna take it, but I was touched that he would like to make it to Blackpool as his Nan used to dance at the Tower Ballroom. Then again, he does have millions of followers on YouTube so they could easily get him there whether he deserves it or not, hmmm. I do hope he turns out to be pretty good, otherwise it’s another Sergeant Scenario.

Susannah Constantine, only know her from the Trinny & Susannah TV shows, which I never cared for, I assume she’s still some sort of fashion guru?! Faye from Steps, apparently apart from Steps the lass has done a plenty of musical theatre and the odd panto (Oh no she hasn’t). Ashley Roberts was one of the Pussycat Dolls, she left the group to go solo and then ended up doing all sorts on British telly, very versatile and game for anything. Lee Ryan, another pop star, and apparently was also in Eastenders a while. All famous celebs, they’re kinda like the red sweater guys in Star Trek to me, cannon fodder, but I will pronounce my predictions proper next week.

I’ve saved my already favourites til last, not favourites to win, just ones I’ll enjoy watching. Charles Venn, another soap actor, wow I like his charisma! And he’s dancing with Karen Clifton, lucky man! Next, well I have thought a number of times that he should do it and finally, yay! Cat from Red Dwarf aka Danny John-Jules is reacquainting himself with sparkliness. I so hope they Cat him up one week, Halloween or movie week?

And finally, Seann Walsh, a Fringe regular for some years now (see I got in a Fringe connection) but I have to admit I’ve never seen any of his shows, but I have seen plenty of him roaming the streets of Edinburgh. Yeah, he must stay fairly close to me when he’s up, never remembered his name, he was “the dirty blonde guy” (as in a dirty blonde colour not dirty as in filthy, but then I’ve never seen his show!) forever wandering past me. Umm, I might even peg him as the dark horse, I reckon he may well have the attitude and self-awareness to succeed, as long as he has some sense of rhythm too!

So there’s no A listers up there, but neither are anyone of them vacuous celebrities. They are famous in their own spheres and the outraged are just mad that it’s not a line-up all from within their own little world sphere, get a life!! Strictly is like a Venn diagram, spheres collide, new mixes come out of it.

Toodle pip!

 

Post Fringe Blues

Hi folks! I’m writing this from the doldrums, the pit of despair, aka postfringe-Edinburgh. Motivation is currently a four-letter word. My get-up-and-go got up and left with the Fringe and all it’s accoutrements. My joie de vivre has taken on the tone of Marvin, “Life? Don’t talk to me about life.” Was it only six days ago it all ended again? I was still in full Fringe-mode this time last week (eleven o’clock Sunday night).

This time last week in the rather warm Monkey Barrel 2, I was trying to see round a rather large gentleman to watch some bad wrestling matches. Yes, I finally got round to going to Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches and can confirm you need know nothing about wrestling to enjoy this show. It may help to know something or be a fan, but just an enjoyment of hilarious video clips is enough, and the banter between Burns and Cabana is a joy to behold, like some old married couple. There were a few guests on to add to the mix and chat, the last of which was John Hastings; he must always have a lot of posters up as I’ve never seen him but I knew who he was  (unlike the other guests).

Then, what happened at the very end of the show made me very glad I’d finally gone ….. Brendon announced it would be his last time of co-presenting it!! His reason being he’s getting old – er, 47?! Old? It was quite touching the emotion in the room, while everyone tried to stay very manly about it! Ya big softies! So I’m very glad I finally made it to BBACCDCACTBWM for Burnsy’s swansong, now I wish I’d been earlier, like six years earlier.

Toodle pip!

The party’s over 😭

Give me a few days to tidy all the mess of the last month, wash all the washing up, catch up with work in work and sleep in bed, much, much sleep in bed!!

To tide you over, here’s a few pics of the final furlong and if you have a look on Facebook (Bruce T. Moose) I arranged for an old friend to sing a farewell song to Fringe 2018 😉

 

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One last show to desperately advertise or how they felt by the last night?!

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Psychedelia at the Pleasance Dome

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Will Seaward in full scary mode intent on scaring the bejesus out of all who dare entire his domain!

A walk on the fringe side

Last night walking through the Cowgate, Fringe posters everywhere, I got to pondering if someone was trying to remember a recommendation …. “I remember it’s John, yes definitely John, the surname was something like Roberts, or possibly Robertson? What’s that? John-Luke? Oo, not sure, the guy said he was very good. Huh? Roberts? No, I think it was Robertson. Well, they’re both comedians, how different will they be?” Well, sir, they are very different, just like porters and golden ales are both beers but one style is bogging whilst the other is rather nice; pick the wrong one and the result may leave a rather unpleasant taste! Personally, of course, I enjoy both Roberts and Robertson but I don’t like porters.

Earlier today after seeing Scary Story at Paradise in the Vault I headed home the roundabout way down the Royal Mile, now the last chance saloon for flyerers desperately trying to drum up one last audience. Also walking along was one of the silent disco walking tours, yeah right, silent?! They dance around singing loudly and badly to the amusement/annoyance of other pedestrians. Today I happened to catch their rendition of Sheena Easton’s 9 to 5, damn them, it’s still in my head! And I remember all the words, oh the shame!

Let’s make it a threesome, yesterday afternoon heading from the Gilded Balloon up the Royal Mile I happened upon a chap typing up instant poetry on the street. Ho, I thought, never had a poem written just for me, so I commissioned him to tap something out. Him was Ben, a lovely American chap who’d seen it done in New Orleans and decided to give it a whirl himself. We had a lovely chat, enjoying the late afternoon sun as the world passed by. Here’s his endeavours, a new treasure to add to my Fringe Box.

 

 

 

 

Guilty pleasures

Yesterday afternoon I indulged myself with an hour of class, intelligence and charm – I went to Benet Brandreth’s show. Ye gads, he has charisma in spades, but, and this is a big but, he looks and sounds so like his father!! How can I have a moosecrush on someone who looks and sounds like Gyles Brandreth? I do find Brandreth Snr entertaining and amusing but Junior is something else. Bud and I went to his first Fringe show back in 2011 for a laugh, we came out swooning and disturbed, Gyles Brandreth’s son! So wrong it’s right. I shall be reminded of him every time I see a ramekin from now on.

Not quite such a guilty pleasure is Brendon Burns, this year Mansplainin’ at Heroes@Boteco, a Pay What You Want show though when I went most folk had bought tickets in advance to be sure of getting in. Why do I feel any guilt about Burnsy? It’s when people politely enquire how my Fringe is going (out of something to say and obviously not any genuine interest) I can say how bloody brilliant he is, what a great show, and then hope they’ll go along – I spoke the truth but omitted that he probably wouldn’t be their cup of tea! He’s definitely not for everyone, someone yelling “Anal!” repeatedly in your face, he’s an acquired taste. And I’d say Burnsy has mellowed out a bit, not so John Robertson.

John Robertson has been having a Sweaty, Sexy Party Party this year at Just the Tonic at The Tron, another PWYW show. This year he came aided and abetted by the stony-faced Dr Blue on guitar (when the good Doctor actually cracked a smile and laughed at something, JR was like all his christmases had come at once, obviously this was a rare occurrence). His opening number The Sadomasochism Blues set the scene, and boy, he can sing the blues rather well, even when improvising, which he does whenever an inspiration appears, like how polite we were about him just helping himself to other people’s drinks (he can really chug a beer down!)

I think what I find so appealing about JR is how I feel like I’m peeping into a world I find scary and alien, but it’s only a peep and afterwards it’s like an unnerving but hysterically funny dream. A dream that includes margerine-coated koalas sliding down trees!!

Toodle pip! Sweet dreams!

 

 

The loveliest man on the Fringe

This award I would give to Aidan Goatley, he really is a lovely chap. I first saw him doing his show Ten Films With My Dad at the Voodoo Rooms in 2013. Since then there’s been The Joys of Retail, Mr Blue SkyThe Year of the Goat and this year’s Aidan Goatley is the Vicar’s Husband. Each year he has still also done Ten Films… which I love, it probably helps being a similar generation so the films are very much part of my own cultural references.

There was just one fairly obscure old black and white war film, with a young Thora Hird, that I didn’t know; I took a friend to see the show last year (any excuse to go back again) and she creased up in hysterics as she immediately recognised the film because of the young Thora Hird. On thinking, that same friend also almost ended herself at Year of the Goat when Aidan was slagging off his wife’s hometown, it only turned out to my friend’s hometown too! (she did agree with him)

You will have never seen a rant ranted as politely and so Britishly as Aidan Goatley rants, and I do find myself nodding and in fits of giggling agreement, for example, “street food” – if it’s indoors how can it be “street food”??! Totally with him on that one, a little favourite rant of my own in the last year or two. Oo, and Avatar, don’t get me started!! It’s wonderful to hear someone able to put voice to my own rants with so much eloquence.

I went to see this year’s new show The Vicar’s Husband  at Sweet Grassmarket and thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because it’s in an air-conditioned room! That, of course, is a bonus, but on the other hand Ciao Roma did have the most sumptious ice cream to aid cooling. This year Aidan is also doing a few Ten Films … as podcasts with a different guest each time to chat about films, but sadly it’s also the last year he’s going to do Ten Films… So for one night only he’s doing Ten Films With You Pricks a look back at some of the horror stories of his time performing it. I have kinda mapped out my last few days of Fringe but, oo, I may have to work some jiggery-pokery to fit it in.

So if you happen to read this in Edinburgh before 25th August 2018, you still have a chance to see one of my favourite ever shows!

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It’s galloping away now!

Aaand that’s another week gone! Oh no, only eight more days to go! Today was grey and miserable right through. I don’t think the drizzle has let up once.Yesterday evening it began and by the time I headed home from my last show it was pelting down, rivers were swamping the gutters. Ok, so that was at quarter to three in the morning!

And where you may wonder was I ’til such an hour? At the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, ACMS for short. Never heard of it nevermind been before, but as this year I’ve determined to try to see more late night shows, I fancied giving it a go. Well, it does have Thom Tuck and John-Luke Roberts as co-hosts and I knew the weather forecast was crap for today so no need to leap out of bed; also, I mentioned it to Will Seaward and he obviously loves it, it seems to be something of an institution. Will mentioned about “permitted heckles,” huh? Oh yes, a list of the permitted heckles is on each seat.

ACMS is long from five to midnight to supposedly half two, but apparently more like as not three o’clock, thankfully there are two intervals for people to get some air and refreshment (it truly is mentally hot in the Monkey Barrel). So I’d been made aware this was an odd show – oh yes, absurd from beginning to end, with a particularly absurd piece by Tim Fitzhigham! What a joy to see him again. Thom Tuck was a delight, as was the poor chap who stood in for an absent John-Luke Roberts, no idea who he was, but lovely boy. They fair kept the pace going as there were quite a few acts to get through, no wonder it usually overruns!

Most of the crowd were obvious regulars, at only £7 it’s a great place to finish a day off with some fun and nonsense. If you do have a late night spare, it’s definitely an alternative worth considering if you fancy something alternative! Not everyone stayed to the end, after each interval a few had headed home, but at £7 even just staying an hour it’s worth it.

Just be sure you’ve nothing planned for the following  morning!

Toodle pip!

 

Best Fringe Thursday Ever!!

Well, blimey charlie, what a day Thursday turned out to be! From the sublimely hilarious to the ridiculously surreal. So first off, after throwing a quick strong coffee down my neck, I sprinted up to Pleasance Dome to get a ticket for Courtroom Play: A Courtroom Play with only a few minutes to spare (I should start timing my sprints up to Pleasance Dome and the Gilded Balloon, see what my record times are).

Chosen purely because Thom Tuck is in it – along with a bunch of real talents, I can now say. Not that I’m recommending it, but it is seriously and utterly brilliant. Tuck, first as nasty price of corporate work then the judge, was in his element (and always on the right side of silliness), presiding over the case and advising us, the audience, how to react by way of paddles with instructions like “gasp”, “oooh”, “hubbub”; once admonishing us for an underwhelming response. It says in the Fringe programme blurb “it’s Legally Blonde meets Hot Fuzz”, I’d say it’s an Ealing Comedy updated to the 21st century meets Hot Fuzz. It is so well written, it’s sharp, witty, daft and playful. Ooo, what a way to start a day!

Next up Other People’s Teeth at an old favourite venue of mine, the Roman Eagle Lodge up behind the castle. Wow, intense and dark, the blackest of humour, unnervingly unpredictable characters. All three actors were great but Tom Claxton as Sol, jeez louise, I actually once knew someone very similar to Sol, Claxton had me rather unsettled at times. Another great production at a great little venue.

From there I had to do a fast trot over to C at Chamber Street for my next show, which unfortunately was then way up the stairs at +3, sheesh, was I warmed up! And in +3 there’s no chance of cooling down again! This is why it’s always important to grab a flyer to use as a fan. With Stand and Deliver it was back to lighter comedy and how! Great use of lighting effects, class choices of music (Tarantino-inspired, I’ll warrant), ambitious fighting scenes, well-timed comedic acting of an impeccable script; all made a fine production even finer.

Phew! After all that I did need some sunshine and cool breezes. On sauntering past the Gilded Balloon I noticed a pooch with enough room on his bed for another one, so I rested up a while, we chatted, he mentioned the chap in the seat was actually part of a Fringe show called Matt and Ollie Are … Dads! so we parted with me clutching a flyer. Enough of the fresh air – I went and bought a ticket to head once again down into the bowels of McEwan Hall (aka Underbelly, Bristo Square).

What a great day I was having, yet another cracker! A father and son are off on a trip and as they sit together the father tells father/son stories set throughout the ages, actually quite odd, dark, surreal tales, which turn out to be stories of their own family history. All delivered with natural wit and dark but daft deadpan humour. Four for four so far, I had one show left to see, would it measure up to the others…..

The last show wasn’t on until 22.45 at the Gilded Balloon; as I meandered up I bumped into Will Seaward doing his flyering bit for his midnight show, just time to hug and howyadoin. Then into the heat that is the Dining Room, umm, it’s warm in there and it was late, reasons why I may have closed my eyes a couple of times.

The Moa Show began with the writer/performer Jamie McCaskill just chatting with the audience before he sets the scene as the interior of a pub, The Junction, where we focus in on three drinkers, these three are magically transported (yeah, just go with it) to another place where they try to find a moa. Yes, moas are extinct, but hey, go with it (um, is the plural of moa moas or moa?) they, or at least Carl Michael believed in it. Carl Michael was my favourite of the characters all acted by McCaskill. Yes, it’s a one man surreal-as-hell play, but go with it! Think a gentler David Lynch in New Zealand, go with it and you will see a Kiwi fly, oh yes! Be warned, this show has a relaxed almost stoned vibe that carries you home, puts you to bed, and then the Moa takes over your dreams!!

Night, night, everybody, night, night!

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Stannah Stair Lift to heaven?!