McNeil & Pamphilon: which ones were they?

Ones who gave out badges at the end of their show, yay! I do like a show that has free badges at the end. That was in the Pleasance Dome in 2011, the show was McNeil & Pamphilon: Which One Are You?, which besides sketches had them looking at their differences and how fans have their favourite of the two (I was definitely a Pamphilon). These two are very funny and play off each other brilliantly, they’re so relaxed and endearing it felt like watching two pals bantering in the pub, keeping everyone else thoroughly entertained and happy just to listen.

Okay at times they seem disturbingly close, like when McNeil had to touch Pamphilon’s balls – it’s there in my old Fringe diary, followed by “(rubber glove and lube)”?! McNeil also drew the short straw in the fashion stakes, Pamphilon looks cool in anything, but McNeil can make the same clothes look crap, demonstrated to make the point (oh, it was well made) by borrowing a hoody from an audience member. Old diaries are fun, apparently the School Rabbit Sketch was VERY sick and funny, I’m sure it was, wish I had one of those memories that can actually recall details! I gave them four stars.

We saw them again in 2012, this time in the Baby Grand at the Pleasance Courtyard, a small, hot room, so, much like most venues then. Threading through the show was Pamphilon’s body-swapping machine and the joke that he fancied McNeil’s mum. Another four stars given.

2013 was the first time they brought Go 8-Bit to the Fringe, and more badges! Yay! Despite never having been much of a videogamer, I thoroughly enjoyed it seeing the enthusiasm and competitiveness it brought out! And the horror of some of the forfeits the lads, as team leaders, had to endure, well Pamphilon mainly. Forfeits like downing three shots of cheap vodka, eating a jar of chillies, getting dead-armed by all the winning team. All good fun, and worth five stars!

Oo, 2014 it went hi-tech, instead of, please switch off your mobile, it was, switch it on, go to the website and vote for who you think will win each video game. Umm, I didn’t bother, ok, so more like I was still getting used to my first android phone and didn’t really know what to do. Just as well, turned out that one lucky person who voted would then be randomly picked to play in the next game, aargh, like seriously, no way could I have done that! Hmmm, back down to four stars!? I did note that the forfeits weren’t as cruel as the previous year’s, was that a reason to lose a star?

As luck would have it, flicking through tv channels on 5th September 2016, I settled on a show on Dave hosted by Dara O’Briain, he’s usually a safe bet. Then, oo, isn’t that Steve McNeil, and there’s Sam Pamphilon, blimey Charlie, Go 8-Bit’s made it on to the telly! Nice one. Hang on, why is it Dara’s? No, it’s not yours Dara, it’s Sam and Neil’s, give it back! That was literally my thought process over the time it was on. Hey ho, maybe Dave wanted a bigger name to be able to entice viewers in. There’s been two series shown so far and another coming up next year. Well worth a watch, with a few beers, natch. It’s still great to see how competitive and focused some comedians can be, yeah right, Calman, it’s just a game!

Shame they don’t do the really cruel forfeits  😆

 

Nick Helm on Dave

I was just flicking through the telly channels when I happened upon Eat Your Heart Out With Nick Helm. Huh? Nick Helm has a food programme now?! Mr Shouty was conversing in French and later showing off his few words in Portuguese, all in lovely mild manner. Hmmm (looks into the distance, head to one side, a hazy wibbly-wobbliness takes us back, back…)

Friday 3rd August 2012, rushed home from work to get to the Pleasance Queen Dome in time for Nick Helm: This Means War. My choice, I just really like the poster, very Flashman/ Rik Mayall’s Bombardier, it worked for me. I had heard he was quite loud, quite loud?! He came on singing a Motorhead song, well, shouting it, then he seriously ripped into some of the audience, boy, was I glad we were well back in the middle of a row. One poor chap ended up on stage peeling spuds and being yelled at for most of the show, but while we felt the fear we enjoyed the show anyway.

I didn’t see Nick Helm again until 2015, well to be fair, in 2014 he only did two nights at the Pleasance Grand at £15 a pop, that’s ’cause he’d made it on to the telly in Uncle. Then in 2015, he appeared on the Free Fringe with a catchy show title, Nick Fuckin’ Helm: My Edinburgh Hour. This time, a young chap at the front who hadn’t clapped and laughed enough was made to sit behind Nick on the stage so that a more appreciative lady could gave the seat, again I was glad to be well back in the crowd! It was another very entertaining show, especially as the venue sound limiter kept cutting out the microphones whenever he sang – it’s not like Nick Helm really needs amplification in a room that size anyway!

So, his new tv show on Dave, well I really enjoyed it. Him and a mate just go places, eat loads of food and meet the chefs who cook it, and he’s quite sweet actually. There were two half hour shows together, the second had Nish Kumar as the buddy, he’s another chap who’s doing rather well these days. I saw him doing McNeil and Pamphilon’s Go 8-Bit back in 2013 and 2014, yes, at the Fringe it was theirs, not Dara O’Briain’s.

More about that later.

 

 

Tidy flat up ✔

So that’s all my ironing finally up to date – who knew a moose could own so many shirts?! I do also iron my bedsheets, that first night getting in between clean, ironed sheets is bliss. What?! So I’m a moose who likes his home comforts, what’s wrong with that?

The kitchen surfaces are visible again, I have clean glasses and mugs and all the pizza boxes are gone (there is a rather good, cheap pizza takeaway just up the road where I can pop my head through the door and though there may be a crowd between me and the counter an exchanged nod has my funghi pizza on the go). All the pots and pans are back in the cupboard, neglected plants are all watered.

My Ukulele Death Squad cd has been a great accompaniment, some tunes really are worthy of a Tarantino soundtrack. Keeping with the aussie theme, after about the fourth playthrough I put on some Screaming Jets to keep the cleaning pace up. Maybe some AC/DC later on? Oh yeah, there’s an INXS album somewhere around (yes, that would be a vinyl album) haven’t played that for years.

Fringe Fund checked and approved. Another Fringe over with some left in the kitty, yay. So that was 44 shows in total: 12 previews, 5 Assembly residents offer, 1 241 Tuesday,  10 Half Price Hut,  2 Pay What You Want,  5 Free Fringe and 9 full price tickets. And despite the rants of some folk about how expensive Fringe tickets are (they seem to think all shows cost at least £15), my average price has been under £6 a ticket! Ok, so I have not included the booking fees of £7.20 in that, but that would still be under £6.

I didn’t even use any of my Friends of the Fringe 241 deals, mind if we’d arranged to see Aidan Goatley a day later that would have been one. So is it worth still being a Friend of the Fringe? Well, I did make the most of this year’s new benefit of being able to buy Half Price Hut tickets in the Friends of the Fringe Hut, really that saved a lot of queuing and no booking fees!

Still nibbling my way through a Fringe chocolate bar. This year Edfringe In Your Mouth was launched and very tasty it is too, especially the Dark Chocolate with Rose Oil – there’s rose petals in it too! As a young moose I didn’t care for dark chocolate, but in the last few years I’ve come to appreciate the luxurious, velvetiness of the dark side. One small piece savoured is enough at a time. After all, a little of what you fancy does you good!

 

 

 

 

Fireworks ignite old volcano

Oh, every year I have this image of the fireworks getting bigger and bigger until everyone realises it’s the volcano reactivating spewing molten rocks into the air and lava flows down the Royal Mile.

So only one show to go, Will Seaward’s spooky midnight ghost stories one more time, and maybe a pop into the Pleasance Courtyard on the way!

Toodle pip!

A late contender

So it’s almost over for another year, already some venues have reverted back. The flyerers have been making a big effect today to fill that last performance, all those I’ve chatted to have loved their time in Edinburgh and would come back again another year if the opportunity arises. It’s even been good weather this weekend, so I’ve been out getting a few more photos.

About now I start composing my Fringe Top 20, oo this year there’s a few in there for top spot. On Friday I went to the Underbelly warren in the Cowgate (very surprisingly the only time I’ve seen a show there this year) for Nick Coyle:Queen of Wolves, ok so I’d been hoping it might Half Price Hut at some point but I finally bowed to my instinct and bought a full price ticket. Like, cor Blimey guv’nor, so worth every penny.

This was outstanding, as a naive, nervous Bronte-style governess he was very good, and he can play the cello. Yes, it was a comedy but the horror aspects were quite chilling. The moving chair and falling books, the sounds around the house, the incessant sound of the rain, all really kept the tension going. Nick Coyle kept his audience gripped from start to finish, and that finish! Well done, sir! If I wore a hat I would take it off to you!

 

Shine on Elsie Diamond

The end is in sight, this time next week Edinburgh will seem so bare and empty, sigh. So to cheer myself up from the impending gloom I took myself off down to CC Blooms to the exquisite Elsie Diamond in her new one woman show, The Sensible Undresser. I first saw Elsie last year as The Sensible Dresser, where she recounted tales of a dresser in an Opera House who has dreams of being a great singer; some hilarious stories, some bittersweet and a singing voice to raise you up or break your heart, oh, and a finale from Les Mis that really showed her vocal prowess and other charms!

Did I mention Elsie is a burlesque performer? Costumes are put on behind a screen at the side of the stage to be teased off again to music, and give the girl a couple of large feather fans, wowzah! Hubba hubba!

This year’s tale of the Undresser is about Joanne who on seeing a burlesque show decides to become Winnie Sparkletits, from underdog to success to saggy tits to final self-awareness and acceptance (and another astoundingly good final number). The costumes are brilliant (love that headdress), voice as stunning as ever, beautiful, sexy, smart, saucy and charming! All in one delightful package!

Wowzah!

 

 

 

 

Theatre Spaces

On a quick perusal of my fringe timetable theSpace@ venues have featured a lot for theatre shows I’ve seen. Over the last few years more and more small venues are becoming part of bigger companies which have also opened up more venues in central hotels. I suppose it’s no bad thing if smaller venues can benefit from the support and assistance of a larger umbrella company. Certainly theSpace@ North Bridge and Surgeon’s Hall have ticks against them in my book, Jury’s Inn has been great but it was also the venue of one of only four shows that I’ve ever walked out of in thirty years.

Space on North Bridge has now moved into the first floor of the hotel, rather more pleasant than it’s original location there. Edgartown is playing there at lunchtime. This is a fabulously macabre dark comedy with steampunk costumes and a cast who can rachet up the tension and creepiness with ease.

Space@ Surgeon’s Hall has the impressive Lord Dismiss Us by Boys Of The Empire Productions, who’s first play back in 2008 stood out from the crowd for me. A play with plenty of humour and drama brought out brilliantly by a very talented cast. And is it just me or does the English master have a slight look of Littlefinger from GoT?

Also at Surgeon’s Hall was Droll. Okay, so it was at 10 in the morning and only cost £8.50, this week it’s moved to theSpace on the Mile at 5 past 10 in the evening and costs £13, it all adds up! Whilst queuing I quickly recognised one of the actors as being previously part of Broken Holmes Productions (oo, they were always worth seeing), so that was a plus. Drolls are from when theatre was illegal in the 17th century, almost completely forgotten by history and not performed since then, until now. It certainly had a charming, devil-may-care enthusiasm which swept the audience along with it.

Now along to Sweet Grassmarket where we find Not: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a farce done in the best possible taste! Plenty of saucy innuendos, high drama, clipped accents, manly chests and fish-net stockings, what more could a moose ask for? Certainly Happy Idiot have pulled off a triumph with this hilarious retelling, they’re on my fringe-dar now.

Crikey, it’s late now, but I do want to mention one more gem. It’s finished now but worth mentioning not only because I managed to get a ticket from the Half Price Hut, nor because of the Free G&T (that’s Edinburgh Gin and Fentiman’s Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, devine!) but because The Gin Chronicles at Sea was yet another great romp. Done as a 1940’s radio play with four actors playing all the parts and a Foley artist (who was a joy to watch), it was a tale of intrigue and adventure with a large dose of comedy thrown in.

The venue itself, St Marks on Castle Terrace was beautiful, an old church with a three quarter balcony, a first visit for me, that’s one of the bonuses of the Fringe, we get to see inside some amazing buildings that we otherwise would never go in.

 

Seeing double

I do like a good laugh (really? I never would have guessed) and there are plenty to be had at the Fringe, as long as your Fringe-dar is working well. You’ll know it needs resetting when the third show in a row just doesn’t work for you (it happened to me some years ago, I still shudder remembering that day).

My fringe-dar was working well when I first picked up on Goodbear a few years ago. This year it bleeped at The Intimate Strangers: Mr Bond. Yes, it’s working fine, these two are very good. They have some great ideas and twists, some pure genius, but there’s something not quite right yet, something needs something!? Heck, I’m only a moose, sometimes words fail me. I do hope they return, I want to see them back next year, I’d definitely get a ticket.

Another duo new to me are Studio 9, though I think they are Fringe veterans from another show. These two are what I think The Intimate Strangers could be, again great writing and ideas, these two have a great chemistry and perfect timing with each other, needed for the pace they go at. Really liked the seagull sketch, one of those that sneaks up and grabs you by the funny bone.

Oo, another duo I saw early on, The Establishment, playing at the Omnitorium this year. I caught them towards the end of the Fringe last year, an unexpected delight of whimsy and absurdity, so glad they’re back. The Omnitorium is a great venue for them, being odd and quirky with a slight air of anything could happen. The show is ridiculously bonkers, as two terribly British chaps they are wonderful but there’s a sinister layer underneath bubbling away. I did feel the material was a bit thinner by the end, but still entertaining.

There was a bit recently on the BBC News website about whether comedy duos have had their day, judging by this lot I’d say there’s new day dawning for duos.

A turkey and a Tuck.

Goodness me, it’s the final week already. More shows finished at the weekend, new shows take their places and I have my eye on a few I’m thinking of seeing. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve seen this year’s turkey, its always good to get it out of the way, of course I could yet see another one! So what was this travesty of theatre that deserves the title of turkey?

Oh dear, I can hear my old mother’s voice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” Sorry mother, it was Egg at Bourbon Bar as part of the Free Fringe. It was a packed out room, whether the rest were more up on what to expect, whether it was just their sort of thing I don’t know, but I just found it too pretentiously arty and she was too softly spoken to be heard at times. I try to find something to like about it and from the applause at the end others did seem to like it, though I noticed a number of folk walking past without putting anything in the bucket. Bad form! Only a show one walks out of early is worth nothing, if one is there til the end it’s worth at least some spare change or my usual is a fiver.

At the other end of the Fringe spectrum, I seriously enjoyed Thom Tuck’s show An August Institution, at 3pm at the Dragonfly. A wonderful hour of silliness and a rather bizarre make-over, I suspect those who got a lot out of Egg, may not appreciate Mr Tuck’s humour.

Well, I’ve enjoyed it since I first saw him in the Penny Dreadfuls’ Aeneas Faversham back in 2006, bloody excellent show it was! Saw them each year after that and when they all did solo shows. Thom was the one who continued to come up each year to do a variety of shows, including on the Free Fringe. His show one year even got enlongated into a short series on Radio 4! I saw his Scaramouche Jones in 2015 which delighted and moved me (it’s in my diary for 2025). Yes, I reckon he’s become an August Institution and long may he remain so!