It was a very good year (part I)

2013 was the year the Free Fringe got really quite exciting, no longer was it just stand-up comedians in back rooms of pubs, there were proper shows to see! Or, at least, that was how my buddy and I perceived it. Casual Violence: Om Nom Nominous in the Voodoo Rooms was one such show, so good we went to see the company’s other non-free show the next day; the live musical accompaniment was a fine asset!

The Hawke Papers at the Blind Poet (loved that pub, alas, no longer there, that fine old boozer has been absorbed by the Pear Tree) was an interactive murder mystery using the full space of the pub for us to move around, look for clues and talk to the various characters. It was popular for a morning show, we missed out one day but were given a signed flyer and told to be there twenty minutes early the next day to be sure of getting in!

We heard that Death Ship 666 at the Three Sisters was very good and very popular and at 10:45 in the morning! After one miss we made it in plenty of time on the second attempt, great show, dubious venue. It may be fine now (I haven’t seen any shows there for a few years) but the back of the Three Sisters used to have a whiff of stale urinals, watching a show distracted from it, but hanging around waiting for a show to start was not pleasant!

The Free Fringe show that sounded right up our street was Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time at what was the Fiddlers Elbow at Picardy Place – ours and every other bugger’s street. We’d heard it was popular so headed down a good twenty minutes early, apparently not a hope in hell said the guy who came out to count the queue.  The next time we were just over half hour early, so did we get in? Argh, by a gnat’s crochet, no!!! We were right at the door, next in, sorry, jam-packed full!! Now fainter hearts may have given up at this point, not us, another evening another even longer wait (forty five minutes) but, yes, we made it in! Was it worth it? Absolutely! Two actors, one musician (yes, more live accompaniment), lots of characters including Poseidon, a Lovecraftian creation played by the actors together.

2013 was the year we saw the wonderful Aidan Goatley for the first time, another visit to the Voodoo Rooms to see Ten Films With My Dad, a Free Fringe show. It was also the Fringe we finally scaled the mighty Arthur’s Seat, not once but twice, to see This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie, a gala spectacular of Barry Ferns and friends (not quite at the top as it was a very windy squally day) and then Barry on Arthur’s Seat, which poignantly turned out to be the last time he’d do his solo show up there – his knees had decided enough was enough.

Here’s a little collage of pics from the Arthur’s Seat shows. See, you can tell it was a proper Free Fringe show – there was a doorway to go in through and it’s where he stood with the bucket at the end 😆

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Still the loveliest man on the Fringe!

After seeing thirty six shows in the first eleven days I took a bit of a breather, that’s not to say I didn’t wander out to savour the atmosphere, chat to flyerers, mooch around Bristo Square. Mind, I didn’t go out any more than necessary last Sunday, a very very wet day indeed; the old moose cave did need a bit of a tidy round too.

Tuesday I dipped my toe back in, going to see the loveliest man on the Fringe, Aidan Goatley, once again at Sweet Grassmarket. Mr Goatley has a brand new show this year Aidan Goatley: Happy Britain Part I. I knew about his idea to find the centre of all 105 counties in the UK and to ask who ever he finds there what makes them happy, but what happened? Why Part I? Let’s face it, it was a pretty huge undertaking, so bad news – he didn’t manage it as quickly as first envisaged, as so often happens in life; good news – there’s Part II to look forward to next year (touch wood!).

We hear all about the ups and downs of his attempt, along with amazing stories about the folk he’s met on his travels, oh, I could have sat and listened to him all evening, such a wonderful raconteur. Alas the show came to an end, a lovely end which sent us all back out into the world uplifted, glowing with warm fuzziness (like the old Ready Brek advert). In fact after getting home that evening I just had to dip back into his book Never Eat The Buffet at a Sex Club* (*contains no food or sexual references), a collection of his previous work. It was almost like he was in the room reading to me 💛

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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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Never babysit an anxious hound.

Really, don’t! Even in the night I’d be disturbed by my door opening as he checked I was still there. So no fringe shows, just walking and more walking. We did take a brief trip down to Portobello beach for a run on the sand followed by coffee at Miro’s on the Esplanade, ok, so we had cake too. Damn fine coffee, friendly table service, scrumptious sticky toffee cake, just a shame pooch wasn’t one for chilling and watching the world go by. Thankfully he went home this morning, yay.

So from paranoid pooches to good bears – I much prefer a Goodbear! Goodbear are a comedy duo, Henry Perryment and Joe Barnes who are now finely tuned to tweaking funny bones. This is the third year I’ve seen them at the Fringe and they just get better and better. This year the Apres Vie Hotel is the setting for their strange, often rather creepy, creations in sketches which twist in the most unexpected ways. It’s the twists that they do so well and they’re so charming too. I predict great things for both of them.

Also back was Aidan Goatley doing an updated version of his 2013 show Ten Films With My Dad, which was a free show at the Voodoo Rooms, next he moved to the room downstairs at Ciao Roma. TOP TIP – buy some of their icecream if you’re going to a show at Ciao Roma because i) it’s bloody roasting down there, and ii) it’s sooo good, I would recommend a scope of the sea buckthorn with a scope of the mango, heaven in a tub!

Last year Aidan moved on to the paying Fringe, which was ironic as I bought a ticket at the Half Price Hut for £4 – I always give a fiver at free fringe shows! He is an hour of joy and amusement at life’s foibles, there is an occasional slight rant, like last year’s about “street food” on which I am in total agreement with him. This year’s rant was about Avatar and again I find myself supporting his stance, quite obviously a man of intellect and taste. Highlight was his telling of going to Chicago with his Dad, with his synopsis of Escape to Victory a close second. He’s finished his Fringe run for this year, worth remembering his name for next year.

Let’s make this a trio of rib ticklers and mention Sleeping Trees, who have moved to Pleasance Dome this year, once again at the Movies: Mafia, Western and Sci-fi. The live score is superb and adds so much to the show. The physical and verbal comedy of these chaps is outstanding with some surrealism thrown in for good measure. They’re also doing Sleeping Trees and the Chocolate Factory again at the Pleasance Courtyard on Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s not in the Fringe Programme so almost feels like a cosy secret for the fans. Which reminds me I really should get a ticket!

 

It’s oot!

It’s out and I’ve just finished my first trawl through the Edinburgh Fringe Programme. Immediate thoughts – it’s looking quite good, I’ve already earmarked about 60-70 possibilities, this will be whittled down later and more will be added with each trawling. A few definite must-sees for me are Goodbear, Sleeping Trees, Aidan Goatley, the wonderful Thom Tuck and Shakespeare for Breakfast. Oh, and after a year off, I’m delighted to see that once again This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie at 2pm on Saturday 19th August. Well worth walking up the hill for, and the show will go on in almost any weather!

One omission from this year’s programme are the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, regulars at the Fringe for the last ten years or so. I’ll miss those little chaps, think Abbott and Costello as socks and a tad ruder! They have plenty of stuff on YouTube worth a look, including a duet with Dean Friedman of his classic Lucky Stars (if you’re old enough to remember it from 1978 check it out).

Ah such is the Fringe, shows come and shows go.