This was my first year at the Fringe. I’ve always wanted to go, but have either left things too late or just haven’t had the time. What better time to go than for its 70th Birthday, engorge myself with comedy and leave fatter and more open minded than I arrived. I actually only had four tickets for shows when I arrived and everything else was on a punt… Except one, which we will get to later.
Throughout this round-up, I’m going to try not to spoil very many jokes, or routines. I don’t feel comfortable in doing so, unless they contribute directly to my experience.Also, bare in mind, I review vidya games, not comedy.
John Robertson – Dominant
First of two John Robertson shows that I went to see at the Fringe, and of course I WAS LATE. God dammit.
I walk in and was hailed as the Messiah. Me Dammit. (Okay, not the first time this has ever happened at a Robertson show, but this time had an apt set-up that I was unaware of until after the show. Sweet!)
John is always a delight to see in his element, and that is exactly what this is. It plays to all of his strong points. He commands what little stage there is with his massive presence (NOT A EUPHEMISM FFS), in what is largely an improvised show, with a lot of audience interaction. In fact, the culmination of the show involves some Frank Sinatra, a whip and some consenting volunteers. This is not a show you’ll be quick to forget.
John Robertson – The Dark Room
Welcome to The Dark Room, the worlds only live action text based adventure game… Where you are the player.
This is my 7th time seeing The Dark Room live. To sum it up, the draw here isn’t necessarily the show itself, but the wealth of interaction between The Dark Room and the unsuspecting Darrens. Even though I know pretty much the key points of the Dark Room by heart now (SHUT UP, DARREN!!) the heart of the show is always fresh and a lot of times, you’ll find something new. Even if you don’t, sometimes the audience interactions will surprise you. Such as a cocky 18 year old who was hated enough that when The Dark Room asked if he should live, a loud voice from the front immediately reacted with a resounding “NO!”. She got a Flamboyant Potato. Another Darren mispronounced his Ls, leading to a good 5 minutes of improv, that ended with the phrase “C’mon kids, let’s go upstairs and eat Jenny”.
The Dark Room is an experience that you need to see live and in person, multiple times. It’s always worth the price of admission.
JoJo Bellini – Crash-Bang Cabaret!
This is the show I was actually most excited to see. I had wanted to see Crash-Bang Cabaret since January, when I was hanging out at her house briefly. I had also missed her short run at the Brighton Fringe because timing. So, where better to see the show than at Edinburgh Fringe, eh?
I wasn’t 100% sure on what to expect, other than a good time. What ensued was an hour of singing slightly modified songs, the mutilation of a cucumber (ouch!), and possibly the most powerful message I have ever received from a comedy cabaret show. It truly has to be seen to be believed. I found out some new things about friends I have known for just a short time, and overall it’s heartwarming, genuine, funny and most of all powerful.
Darius Davies – Darius’ Road to Wrestlemania
As a wrestling fan, there aren’t a lot of comedy shows that tackle what it’s like to be a fan and even less shows that try to convert non-fans into fans. That’s what Darius Davies tries to do in a single hour with Road to Wrestlemania. A short show that entertains, informs and even pokes a little fun at the wacky world of professional wrestling. Darius, much like myself, is a lifelong fan of professional wrestling and even attempted to break into the business in 2001 with the arrival of Tough Enough, the WWE led “reality show”. Darius also deals with the trials and tribulations of getting trained, including a ridiculous story about his first day that needs to be heard to be believed. Wrestling is carny as fuck.
Darius himself is rather open and honest, which is endearing, even managing to keep non-wrestling fans glued to their seats for the hour long show.
Abigoliah Schamaun – Namaste, Bitches!
Having seen a snippet of this show from a free preview day at The Good Ship in Kilburn (Excellent venue, go there.), the concept of telling her story about being in a cult (the Bikram Yoga cult) and another cult (the Crossfit cult) with her love of musical theatre isn’t one that I’d typically go for, but I am SO glad to have done so. I could say entirely too much of the show, but I don’t want to give away too much. Which makes this a difficult sell from a review stand-point. BUT I’M NOT A REVIEWER. I AM A MAN WHO WENT TO SEE A SHOW. Just believe me when I say, you need to see this. It is excellent on a number of levels (even if doing jumping jacks and squats after literally running from another show just to make it in time wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.)
From someone who has seen the preview, that didn’t contain the finale, I was awestruck in the best way. I felt like Nelson Muntz watching Andy Williams. It was so so cool, and my heart grew three sizes with pride for Abigoliah that day. Absolutely heartwarming and beautiful.
Colt Cabana & Brendon Burns – Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches
Does exactly what it says on the tin. No, really. This is a show that’s easily accessible to even non-wrestling fans, simply due to the absurdity of what is shown. The format is generally Comedian Brendon Burns teaming with Pro-Wrestler and Funnyman Colt Cabana to provide hilarious analysis of some of the weirder things that have ever happened in pro-wrestling. The show I attended featured a third comic, and an epic derailment from a man in the front row who turned up drunk and didn’t know where he was. Most of the show actually involved this non-quite heckler, just chiming in at random points with some nonsense before drifting into what might have been sleep, or what might have been fit. We’re still not sure.
Bec Hill – Out of Order
I knew I had to see this when I met Bec Hill the night prior at the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society. She had just done a short set, while drunk, and I equally drunk made an arse of myself. Words and alcohol don’t mix, honey. *sips whiskey*
Bec was hilarious, and this show proved to be no exception. The main premise of the show was that pre-determined shows were pretty much the norm for The Fringe, so Bec would shake things up a bit. Behind her was a board loaded with topics that she had routines about. In pure democracy, those who struck first and with the loudest voices would pick a subject. You could interject at any time, which rarely anyone did… Actually in this case, I think I was the only one trying to segue her material from a bad joke to the subject “Was that supposed to be a joke?”. While all the shows would eventually contain the same material, they would never be presented in the same way.
Some of the highlights included Bec’s excellent flip chart animations, which are marvelous creations, and a small anecdote about one man’s “favourite British hand gesture” which wasn’t British at all and much more offensive that you usual assortment of fingers, or masturbation gestures (which are the best, Bec said so).
Whose Line is it Anyway? LIVE
This was my be all, end all. I have been a fan of Whose Line since I was very young, and probably not supposed to watch stuff like Whose Line. The Fringe show has a rotating cast, this time being fronted by Colin Mochrie, Stephen Frost, Ian McShane and Tony Slattery and was filled with the usual types of games you’d expect from Whose Line, exploring the casts mastery of film & theatre styles and their quick wits when coming up with songs.
It was truly an honour to watch the original crew of Clive Anderson, Colin Mochrie, Stephen Frost, Ian McShane and Tony Slattery work, just like they did damn near 20 years ago or more. Their timing and comedic stylings work just as well as they ever did, and I’ll cherish that hour for the rest of my life.
Alexis Dubus – Mark Watson’s Festival of Bad Ideas
The way this show was explained to me made this an offer I couldn’t pass up. Chief Marcel Lucont impersonator Alexis Dubus performing Marcel Lucont’s 2012 show Gallic Symbol with a Scottish accent. For a festival of bad ideas, this sounded like a pretty good one to me! Alexis strode to the stage, introduced his act and stripped down out of a t-shirt and trousers into proper Marcel Lucont attire. You’d be forgiven if you mistook him for Marcel himself! (VERY LOUD WINK)
For a show that hasn’t been done in almost 5 years, the ability of Alexis to reel off routine after routine seemed almost effortless. There were a few spots where words were lost and a few jokes that didn’t quite work in translation, overall the performance had me in stitches from beginning to end. Absolutely incredible stuff. I even managed to catch an encore of sorts later that night at ACMS, where Alexis performed again as Marcel (WIIIIIIIINK!!!) in a Scottish accent.
Overall, I had an excellent time at the Fringe and will definitely be going back next year. The sheer amount of talent I’ve seen in such a short amount of time is incredible, and it is truly a testament to the quality of the Fringe that I’ve only had one bad comedic experience during my three day stay. (Not mentioned here, because A) I ranted about it on Twitter, 2) I’d hate to relive it all over again, Tres) It’d be highly unfair to the other acts performing that night to let that turdwaffle dismantle the final star rating. STARS FOR ALL!!)
Thank you Edinburgh. Thank you to the performers, the techs, the venues and the PR teams that make this all possible. You’re all great.