It’s late, I’ve been medicating my sore throat with strong dry cider, I think it’s working, or?! Anyhoo, Mesdames et Monsieurs, Welcome to the Bruce On The Fringe Fringe Awards 2022! These winners have been picked from 52 shows (not counting return views); there’s been some stiff competition this year – so I took a leaf out of the ACMS’s approach and made up awards to fit.
Best Zomcom: Apocalypse Kernow
Best Pomelo: Palimpsest
Best Sci-fi: Space Hippo
I’m still pondering Best Musical Moment, first nomination is the Miracle Glass Company performing Look At You Now (it was mighty fine)
Best Use of a Red Hat: The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much
Most Macabre: Famous Puppet Death Scenes
Smartest Suited: The Flop – A Band of Idiots
Second nomination for Best Musical Moment is Blueswater performing The Wizard (epic)
Best Creepy Mouse Costume: Neil Frost – Nan’s House Of Fun
Best Hans Gruber Impression: Yippee Ki Yay
Most Tenacious: Aidan Goatley
Third nomination for Best Musical Moment is Nicole Smit for every moment she’s onstage
Most August: Thom Tuck
Best Kitchen Utensils: Steve and Shirley Sieve
Best Washing Machine Operator: John-Luke Roberts
Fourth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Accordion Ryan’s ability to go so low
Most Absurd Bird Impressionist: Luke Rollason
Best Avian Messenger Trainer: Christian Brighty
Best Furniture Movers: Grubby Little Mitts
Fifth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Carl Marah not falling off his stool in Binkies
Sweetest Fringe Thing: Accordion Ryan
Sexiest Fringe Thing: Rob Kemp
Silliest Fringe Thing: Crybabies – Bagbeard
And that’s it for this year. Pardon? Who won Best Musical Moment? I’m gonna take another leaf off ACMS’s tree and not bother declaring a winner.
Come on, moose, focus! No playing out in the sun ’til you’ve written up a few more reviews. Well, as I stuck that pic up of The Establishment poster form 2017 at the end of my last post, let’s start with them. Yesterday I caught up with Neil Frost’s and Dan Lees’ latest Fringe offerings. The Establishment may have disestablished itself but these two have plenty going on. I had already PWYC for Neil Frost: Nan’s House of Fun, then just a couple of weeks ago I spotted that The Flop: A Band of Idiots was back (I failed to see it last year, yes failed, I did try hard) at Banshee Labyrinth, yay.
Neil Frost is at the Blundabus, a fitting setting for such an anarchic silly sense of humour. It is a small venue and he will talk to you wherever you choose to sit, but he’s very lovely and friendly so don’t let that put you off seeing this delightful show. You may wonder five minutes in what the show’s title is about, he’s still on his first riff dressed up like a scary psycho mouse, it’s actually a bittersweet look back at parts of his childhood. Neil Frost is obviously around ten years younger than myself as he thought Timmy Mallet was great in the 80s, really, he wasn’t. The show is on at 8pm in the Blundabus, which is next to the Potterow underpass (its passed by all the time by folk going between the Old Town/ Cowgate area and the university area around Teviot); definitely worth pausing there for 45 minutes to recharge your funny bone ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
The Flop: A Band of Idiots wasn’t listed in the Fringe programme (it is now in the online version) but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt these last few years it’s that the Absurdists like to keep folk on their toes, always check the free fringe stuff regularly, the silliest comedy is worth the hunt. The Flop are the other half of The Establishment, Dan Lees, a third of Privates Tom Curzon and Cammy Sinclair, three gents who can make you laugh just by standing still. What a wonderfully musical and cathartic hour! Again, some friendly audience interaction, the front row seats are not to be feared, embrace your inner child and have fun. Besides being rather good at physical comedy our trio are musicians also, Dan on electric guitar, Cammy on percussion and Tom on strings, yes, he’s brought his double bass along again and a violin. If you’re not grinning from ear to ear by the end of the show, well, there’s no hope for you, I’m afraid.⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
The Flop: A Band of Idiots is the perfect follow-on to Neil Frost: Nan’s House of Fun, and time for a beer or two in between. Be warned though, like last year this is going to get very popular so head to Banshee Labyrinth up to an hour before and pick up a token from the bar to ensure you’ll get in; they’ll appreciate it if you stay in there drinking but you can toddle back a while.
And while I’m talking silly, Grubby Little Mitts at Assembly George Square Studio 4 at 14:45 is very silly. Sullivan Brown is a lovely chap (Russian Roulette) and this year he’s up with a new show with Rosie Nicholls, obviously I was going to see it. Funny, subversive, charming, dark, daft; Sullivan does blustering magnificently and Rosie is marvellous, I like her, excellent character acting both of them, the two make a great team. The chaise longue plays its part well and doesn’t seem to mind being pushed and nudged around, I wonder did it come up with them or did they audition local chaise longue for the part? Oh, and this show may make you think twice before ordering a coffee anywhere later. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
That is to say, there are a number of shows that did make the effort to come to Edinburgh last year, that are back again, some did come as WIPs (Work In Progress) in ’21 so there will be changes to them. I’m excited to see Rob Kemp: Agenda in a couple of days, that was excellent last year, I wonder if I’ll spot the changes. All three Privates are back with last year’s shows, alas, again no actual Privates show even though they do have a new show Great Ideas by Geniuses, which was premiered at the Brighton Fringe earlier this year.
Due to extremely popular demand last year I didn’t get to see Tom Curzon in The Flop: A Band of Idiots but this year I’m determined (he was in another show last year which I did see but thats not being repeated). Luke Rollason and Christian Brighty were both at Monkey Barrel last year so I was able to get tickets in advance to ensure seeing them. Christian has moved over to the Pleasance Courtyard (Below), let’s start with him.
Christian Brighty: Playboy is a brilliantly silly show with plenty of bawdy Carry On style humour. One obvious change from last year – no bows and arrows left on any seats for the audience to fire at him, shame! At least in Pleasance Below there’s quite a gradient up to the tech desk, so the avian messengers had easier downward flights to the stage. Pingback back time, if it works, see last year it was A win by a gnat’s crochet for young Brighty (click on the highlighted bit to see last year’s review), could he do it again?
Well I’m pretty damn certain there was no talking armchair in Luke Rollason: Bowerbird last year! It even has a wee segment to itself when it invited someone to sit on it (the guy at the front wouldn’t, nothing would persuade him, Brighty boy was in the audience and obliged the armchair), then Luke reappeared, kind of like those little odd bits in The Young Ones, remember them?! I did think he spoke more this year, as I previously noted that it seemed almost weird when he did talk. I’ve checked and my review from last year still stands, he is A barrelful of funny. Another pingback there, do let me know if they’re not working.
But which one won the battle of the Privates this year? Oo, gonna have to say Luke Rollason: Bowerbird (and that’s not just because he had badges at the end!). Mind, if you go to either of these shows and enjoy it, then do check out the other.
This evening I trotted up to Cabaret Voltaire to see Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines last year it was Philosophy Pig – a man who doesn’t stray far from his favourite subject! Another interesting and entertaining show, oh, he did get in a mention about Andrew Nagel and his book again (well, I do recall his liking for bats). Last year Philosophy Pig did very well with plenty full audiences, mind that was a smaller room, but I’d say go for the PayWhat You Can in advance option, this chap could get very popular again!
I’ll put this up I’ve seen some things, you know as it has my review of Alex Farrow: Philosophy Pig in it along with my reviews of The Return of Sherlock Holmes and Stand-Up Philosophy which are both back again. I’ve noticed that the company that put on Embassy Stomp are back again, hmmm. And John-Luke Roberts’ show was my favourite at that point of the Fringe. Ah well, it’s very late, to bed!
Alas, I didn’t get to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots last night and it was their last night, unless, like many things in this fluctuating Fringe, they decide to do more shows (pretty please?!) Nah, it’s unlikely, at least I have the third Private to see today, Christian Brighty: Playboy. Its like a minibusload of absurdists came up for a week and now they’re all packed ready to head back south just as soon as Christian has taken his bow and said his thank yous. Him and his stuff will be bundled into the bus and with ringmaster, Dan Lees at the wheel, they’ll be gone. Imagine if the outside of the minibus reflected the minds of those inside?!
I had been intending to head to Stramash after the show, wow, drinking and dancing in a no doubt busy room, a blast from the past. How would Stramash be now? Well, it was weird going to the bar, rather than six deep around it, there were two queues stretching across the room. To folk entering it wasn’t immediately obvious so they’d head straight to the open space at the bar, then they’d kinda look round at us, it would click that we were stood in a line, “Er, is this a queue for the bar?”,”Yup!” and they’d head the other way to find the back of it. God, it was interminably slow. Now Stramash has an upstairs balcony area that I’ve rarely been in, I was pretty certain there was a bar up there but not 100% certain, striking up a conversation with a chap alongside me in the other queue I ascertained yes, there was a bar upstairs but the queue was even worse up there, that’s why he was queuing where he was. Considering how quickly my drink (a pint of Holyrood Pale Ale, very nice) was bought and paid for, I don’t understand why it took around twenty minutes to get it! It looks like Stramash has gone cashless, everyone was paying by contactless or their phones, so no fumbling around for cash and change.
It was busy but the doormen were making sure everyone was using the CheckIn Scotland app on entry. I guess its become another habit for some, click in and mask up. I did notice a few folk keeping their masks on awhile once inside, like they couldn’t really believe it was okay to remove them. It is a bit confusing, different places have different rules, many folk I think keep masks on until they’re pretty its ok to remove them. Some Fringe venues are fine with unmasking during performances, well, if there’s a bar many will have brought a drink in. Some venues do make an announcement asking that folk stay masked (half then have to put their masks back on), yes, it’s confusing.
Assembly Roxy has attendants at the door to enquire the size of your bubble and then lead people to appropriate seating. Similar was done at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club; they also have a temperature scanner there (only one I’ve seen so far) and they administer a squish of hand sanitiser to everyone who enters. Many venues certainly started the Fringe with seating spread out in groups of twos and fours, I wonder if some have made the spaces between smaller now to accommodate more seats; certainly some venues now have the usual rows of seats. Some folk do look uncomfortable when strangers sit right next to them, but as the In Person shows are selling out a fair bit, it happens, are they thinking “would it look insulting if I put my mask back on?”?
So, back at Stramash, pint in hand I found a good spot to watch the band come on for the second spot, a band called The Kennedy’s Project. I almost spilled my drink – it was the band from Waverley Bridge! It was great to see them indoors in a proper venue and, my, they were good, really good. As usual both the rhythm and lead guitarists shared out the vocal duties, as their voices suit very different songs it works well across the songs they cover. The crowd (and me too) loved them, plenty were on their feet dancing. Highlights for me were Hound Dog, Bring it on Home To Me and, as awesome as the last time, Minnie the Moocher. My, that guitarist was hot, growling out the words, hotter than Idris Elba even!
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Godammit! I was too late to get a ticket to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots tonight! There’s now a highlighted note on my Fringe calendar to be outside the Banshee Labyrinth ten minutes before the hour before tomorrow evening. The sad news is Barry Ferns has cancelled his Arthur’s Seat shows, I was perusing what was on today as I breakfasted and spotted it; good to know, but as it was already it in my head that I’d be ascending the Seat I decided to head up anyway. It was a good day for it – warm but overcast with a pleasant breeze.
Good news, the lovely Tim Fitzhigham is doing a show (a as in just one) at the Pleasance Courtyard Cabaret Bar and I have a ticket for it, huzzah! It’s not listed in the Fringe programme (well, not as yet), I happened to be looking at something else on the Pleasance website, then of course, I fell down the rabbit hole, at least it wasn’t another waste of time!
This year’s Fringe has been odd for trying to keep up with all the updates, no doubt at some point I’ll find out that I missed something I would have dearly loved to have seen. The Free Festival announced today that they have added a significant number of extra shows, extended the run a day to end on the 30th and earlier this week added a new venue at Bar 50. Things are obviously going very well for them, yay! And speaking of updates, there’s four shows I’ve seen but not mentioned yet, so, in chronological order this time (it would be hard to call between three of them).
I saw A Highly Suspect Murder Mystery in theSpace @ Symposium Hall. Umm, it was fun but the interactive part of it worked better for some than others. They had printed sheets for audience members who couldn’t access the clues and stuff that were online (new phone, me, I joined up with two ladies next to me). There were a few questions to ponder and solve, and plenty of interacting with the characters between their set pieces. Interestingly, the set-up had Dr Watson, a few years after the death of his wife and Holmes (almost deja vu!), he’s moved back into Baker Street; Mrs Hudson, Inspector Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes are with him trying to solve the mystery – but could one of them be a killer?!
We had to figure out the how & why for not one but two murders! I was very impressed when one of the ladies next to me seemed to quite easily spot one of the how’s, it really was not obvious at all. I did enjoy the show, the actors stayed in character well. They could have had something telling us where to go online before the show began to save some time (many folk had turned their phones off what with being in a theatre!)
Next up, Joke Thieves at the Counting House, so a PWYC show, I’d already done that online to get a ticket. This year a lot of folk are booking and paying in advance for PWYC shows (Pay What You Can), there haven’t been many seats left for walk-in’s at the shows I’ve been to, so booking is a good idea (there are usually a few different prices you can choose from, just like you would choose what to give at the end of a free show).
Joke Thieves is an interesting concept hosted by Will Mars, four comedians perform their own jokes, then each others’. Will asked a member of the audience to pair up the comedians to show that nothing could have been rehearsed for the second part. Obviously every show will be completely different; some comedians may be meaner than others with the material they set their pairing up with; the second two of the second of the pairs (are you still with me here?) may want to retaliate somewhat for how the first two pairings of the second half have retold their jokes. I hadn’t really thought about it much before I went in, other than thinking it could be fun. It was! As I said every night will be different but its worth a punt.
Last night I saw Nathan Cassidy: Bumblebee in Bar 50. He’s been around the Fringe a number of years but I’ve never seen him before. Okay, so with the shortage of In Person shows, I decided to give him a shot and am pleased I did, he was really rather good; I would go and see him again next year. The pacing of the narrative was good, I enjoyed his delivery, and I would agree, Idris Elba is way hotter than Bradley Cooper.
So I didn’t see Barry Ferns today, but I did see Adele Cliff at 32 Below. She seems to be doing very well, extra shows added on for her. She’s rather sweet and so young! I did worry a bit if I’d just not be on the same level as her, like, what common areas could we possibly share? Well, there’s mothers who want to know everything, I feel her pain there. It was a light, entertaining hour in which she managed to confound many of my expectations. Nice one!
That’s it for another evening, I must away to my bed. If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like to catch more reviews and other tales, I always post a link on Facebook, look up Bruce T Moose.