Good night, beautiful lady

I just heard last night that the wonderful Lynn Ruth Miller has passed away. At the grand age of 87 she has left the stage and there’s a new twinkly star in the sky that’ll shine bright every night. Ironically, there was a stand-up recording planned for Radio 4 with the working title of Not Dead Yet; it was to have been recorded in July but was postponed after she had a mild heart attack in June, and then came worse news that she had inoperable oesophageal cancer.

Now this was one feisty lady who just got on with life, never stopped, so I suspect she’d have known something was very wrong but shrugged it off with a “I’m old, things get achy and don’t work so well any more, but ain’t gonna stop me doing what I want!” If she hadn’t been in hospital from the heart attack, would she have stayed still long enough for anyone to have realised she had cancer? I don’t think so.

Lynn Ruth Miller was no ordinary American from Ohio, she took up stand-up comedy at the tender age of 70, having lived a full life she had plenty of material and she used it well, entertaining audiences around the world, especially the UK, where she made a new home. She’d already been playing the Edinburgh Fringe a few years, when I first saw her in 2009 at the Counting House doing a free show called All About Me; that was her afternoon show, classed under Theatre (my Fringe diary entry was “a gentle, odd little show ***1/2”). Lynn Ruth Miller was also performing another free show every night at quarter to midnight, Aging Is Amazing Redux, this one classed under Musicals & Opera, oh, the lady liked to sing – in her own inimitable style, witty, funny parodies, miss a line and you’d miss a laugh. She liked to sing bawdy songs, sometimes directly at younger male audience members, always funny!

John Fleming’s blog So It Goes has many contributions by Lynn Ruth Miller, just prior to writing this I shared his post on the sad news, there’s much more there about this wonderful soul. A search on Facebook will bring up tributes much finer and more eloquent than I could ever be. For me she was the epitome of all things Fringe and an inspiration of living your own life and always seeing the funny.

Lynn Ruth Miller R.I.P. 💛

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!