A is for Aidan, Alex and Arthur

Just fourteen days to go before the solid-form, paper Edinburgh Fringe programme is finally released. Can’t bloody wait!! I’ve tried having a look around it online but it takes so long to get anywhere, and all that clicking back and forth for more information, can’t be doing with it. See, you can look in the paper version and there’s everything immediately in one glance, the blurb, the venue, the dates and all the varying prices, all there together, no messing. Checking online I’d still have to write all the details down, all that scribbling would take a long while and use paper anyway.

Yes, I took a peek yesterday, when I clicked on Browse What’s On it said there were 3196 results; I filtered out the Online shows and it came back with 3124 results; then I took out Children’s Shows, Events and Exhibitions (apparently there’s 199) leaving me with 2925 to browse through. And that’s another thing, I thought I’d just look through to the end of the A’s, then the next time I’d pick up with the B’s – there’s only previous and next choices of pages, no way of jumping straight to page 30 to the start of B (If there is a way it’s not obvious).

Actually the first shows listed are the ones with numerals at the start, about 30; one for the night owls is 2am at The Jazz Bar. The A’s always have a few beginning AAA to get the first listings, followed by a few Aaaaaaaaaargh…. shows (round about that number of a’s, I didn’t bother counting). I noticed Henry Naylor has a new show, Afghanistan Is Not Funny, this time he’s performing himself; and his one woman play Angel from 2016 is back again.

Joys, Mr Goatley is back with Aidan Goatley: Tenacious but not at the Sweet venue in the Grassmarket this year, he’s on at ZOO Playground at High School Yards instead. Also back is one of my finds from last year, Alex Farrow, still with Laughing Horse but in Cabaret Voltaire this time. Oo, I had a disagreement with a chap the other week who said that the Liquid Room was on the left-hand side near the bottom of Blair Street (it’s not, it’s on Victoria Street) he was obviously thinking of Cabaret Voltaire, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember it’s name at the time! Last year his solo show was Philosophy Pig, this year it’s Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines, he may not be teaching philosophy any more but he’s not ready to give it up yet, and if there’s comedy to be mined from it, well.

Arthur Smith is back, of course. He must be in the running for longest-running Edinburgh Fringe act by now. Hmmm, I must check that out sometime but not right now as its way past my bedtime, so I’ll bid you good night.

Good night!

I’ve seen some things, you know!

Since I last tapped out a post to you I’ve seen six shows in six different venues. I could go through them in chronological order, nope, gonna go least favourite first; that would be Embassy Stomp at theSpace Triplex (yes, one of the tickets I was having problems booking, which irks me now that maybe I should have taken the hint!). Oh, it wasn’t all bad, it just could have been so much better. The plot was fine, pacy and silly, the car chase scene was great, but I wished two of the actors had dialled it back a bit. They were too much for me, made me think of a show I saw a few years ago same problems, shouting is not projecting and less mugging can be a lot funnier (it didn’t help that the room acoustics were not good for shouty voices and made them slightly incoherent). I do think though that there was potential, there were some good ideas; given a few years the two I had problems with may well become fine comic actors.

From a group of young enthusiastic actors to the other side of the business, two experienced older actors playing Holmes and Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Oh it was fine, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been sat further back, I felt a tad blasted by the performance of Holmes (very Jeremy Brett, I thought) but I can see that’s definitely a way to play him, just a teensy bit hammy for me. Another thing was, a whole conversation piece at the end of the play, it felt like it should have happened near the start but they’d somehow missed it out and decided to tag it on at the end to keep the time right; it just seemed odd to me. It’s on in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon until the 29th; Sherlock Holmes fans should go see it and most likely they will.

Next up, another theSpace venue, this time Surgeon’s Hall, I’ve seen plenty of shows here usually pretty good ones, so no pressure. I’d forgotten that Theatre 19 Presents: John was down as an absurdist comedy, now it makes more sense, or at least, what seemed absurd was meant to absurd, and some elements were delightfully so. Again, the room was not the best acoustically when volume overtook projection, but hey, another bunch of young, enthusiastic performers (with those dials up to 11 at times, again, come on directors!) Some of the characters seemed like they were borrowed from bad Radio 4 “comedies” but the plot was fine and the ending, somehow it took me by surprise, well played!

This afternoon I was in the Ballroom at The Counting House for Stand-Up Philosophy. An hour of four comedians (one host, three guests) being funny and philosophical on the topic of the day, which today was rationality. I like these types of shows as the stand-ups can’t just rely on their rehearsed material, we get to see more of their mettle, especially when our host would open the floor for questions! And if you go more than once it’ll be a different show each time. It’s on until the 29th but it was full today, so that bodes well for the run. The Counting House is part of the Laughing Horse family and so operates on Pay What You Can to guarantee entry or risk turning up and donating at the end; today looked like most had booked in advance, you have been warned.

Our genial host of Stand-Up Philosophy, Alex Farrow is next on my list with his own show Alex Farrow: Philosophy Pig. No, I didn’t go to his other show because I was impressed by his solo show, I actually bought that ticket first, but if I hadn’t, I would have bought one! Alex Farrow is an engaging chap with a quietly confident air. I bet he was a great teacher, easy-going but in control; he gave up teaching philosophy to do stand-up about it instead. Yes, an hour with Alex is informative and well as entertaining, plenty to muse on as well as chuckle over. The Pig bit? Humans are animals too and have a base piggy side. He also has a lot to say about bats and is a bat-watcher, good man! This show is next door to The Counting House at 32 Below, (also a Laughing Horse venue) best book in advance as it’s quite a small room and he’s filling it already!

Top show so far? John-Luke Roberts: It Is Better – Live! The man is a genius! Bonkers, but a genius. This show wasn’t in the Fringe programme but I heard about it from Monkey Barrel and quickly got a ticket as it was only on for a few nights, so so glad I did – for me it was the best show of his that I’ve seen. He was so charmingly engaging, (I think he may have mellowed a bit from the first time I saw him) and looked quite debonair with his long mane of hair and beard to match. It will take something very special to knock It Is Better – Live! off my top spot!