edinburgh

Venues are being prepared and performers all over the country are polishing their acts which can only mean one thing: Edinburgh is nearly upon us. Now when I say Edinburgh I don’t mean the city, I mean the festival and to be absolutely accurate the Fringe festival. Because lets face it, nobody is that interested in the arts festival. It’s there – but really who wants to see a load of fat people singing. Edinburgh is about three things: comedy, paranoia and an obsession with stars.

Stars?

Yes stars! Not celebrity ‘stars’, I don’t mean celebrity ‘stars’. That would be laughable! In fact what I do mean by those words on this page, are the stars which accompany a critic’s review of a particular show. Mostly reviewers mark a show out of a possible five stars and obtaining as many of these stars as possible can become a performers sole interest during the festival.

The reason for this is that there are thousands of shows on the Fringe vying for an audience and that audience is fickle. They use the star system to decide which shows they are going to see, so a show with only one star will be left languishing and the bottom of a pile and will only attract an audience of about three people and a guide dog.

To me the star system sucks arse and I take no notice of it at all. For me the Fringe is about seeing something new and exciting in the rough. You don’t find that in a five star show with a known comedian. Yes they are often slick and funny and that’s fine. But for me the joy of sitting in a room with five other people, one of whom is on the stage, is what it’s all about. That’s the comedy front line and in my humble opinion, one comedian successfully entertaining four people in an audience is as great an achievement as entertaining a thousand in Wembley Arena. Now before you think that this is simply the romantic view of a none performer. Let me tell you that I have entertained a five man audience and I have entertained audiences of hundreds (never have done thousands). But the tiny audience was my favourite because it was like being in a pub making your chums laugh.

Let’s face it, that’s why I do the podcast with Tom and Andy. It’s more joyous to see an old friend laugh at something you say than a stranger. This is because it is far more difficult to make a friend laugh. That’s not because Tom and Andy are devoid of a sense of humour; far from it, they are both very funny men. The reason is that they know me and can predict what I’m about to say next. The only way to get them to laugh is to pull something out of the air they weren’t expecting. I like to fake a moment of confusion and then drop something on them at the end of it.

Anyway I was talking about Edinburgh.

For the last couple of years I’ve gone up as a punter (although last years I did a couple of covering spots on the free fringe) which is a strange experience. For me the Edinburgh Fringe is very much a performers’ festival and not being in a show up there can feel a little odd. This is mainly because there are two time zones PST (Performer Standard Time) & AST (Audience Standard Time). PST is about six hours behind AST and it is very difficult for somebody on AST to organise a drink with somebody on PST. Mainly because performers (if they’re sensible) will only drink after their show, so it can be midnight before they get their first hard drink inside them or anything else for that matter and last year I spent a great many nights alone like some Billy no mates comedy obsessive. It was also a mistake for me to go up for the final week so when I did get to drink or have dinner with somebody I had to prop their eyelids open with matchsticks.

This year I’m prepared, I’m going up for the first weekend and I’m going with my bestest chums. Of course it won’t be all debauchery. We’re recording a podcast and doing some vox-pops stuff while we’re up there. However if you’re at the festival next year look out for The Gentleman’s Review show – it should be around somewhere( providing we can get the money). We’ll be the show with  four people in the audience and three men with stupid grins, on the stage.

Chilli for tea.

Edinburgh Stars and Bollocks

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