We always come to the Fringe in the first week; not only to take advantage of the comps that companies are giving out then, but also to get the maximum benefit from the 2for1 days that operate on the first Monday and Tuesday of the festival. (I wrote an article about it last month for Spark Magazine, which you can read here.)
Today was the first of our two day 2for1 marathon, and it started, as it always does when you go to C venues, irritatingly. Shakespeare for Breakfast is a really good show this year, and is well worth seeing, but try to avoid going on the days when the over officious jobsworth is working, otherwise, like us, you may end up not being allowed to go upstairs for your free tea or coffee, even though there are obviously people already up there, which means everyone is being kept on the ground floor until the last minute, which means that by the time everyone finally gets upstairs and is served their beverage, let into the venue and seated, the show is going to go up ridiculously late – even though you’re the FIRST FUCKING SHOW of the day! It often happens at the fringe; with such tight turn arounds between shows, things run over slightly as the days go on and towards the end of the day some shows will start late. When you’re the first show of the day there is NO EXCUSE for this. I tweeted as much, hashtagging #Shake4Break in my tweet. I got a reply from the producer of the show. I told him it was the fault of the idiot jobsworth from C venues. I hope that unqualified prick gets disciplined and confined to tidying flyers.
But as I say, the show was good.
That was the first show in a 9-show day for us today. Yep folks, 9 shows in 1 day. Still one off our record of 10, though, so just a silver medal, but quite impressive nevertheless.
Bob and Jim were next on our list. I did a couple of gigs with them last year with Don’t Trust Salmon, and they’re two of the nicest blokes on the comedy circuit I reckons! And very funny too – check them out. After that was The Early Edition – Marcus Brigstock and friends reading and commenting about the papers. I first saw this show a few years ago here at the fringe and thought it was brilliant, but to be honest, since then I think Brigstock has got a bit too big for his boots and doesn’t feel he has to put as much effort in anymore, and I wasn’t as impressed with the show this year. (More on that theme later). In fact, I would have been incredibly disappointed with this show, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Randy from Sammy J and Randy was one of the panelists, and was absolutely brilliant. Randy, by the way, is a puppet. A bald, purple-headed foul-mouthed Australian puppet, and he was by far the funniest thing in the show – even if he couldn’t actually see the newspapers that were placed in front of him. I’ve never seen any of the Sammy J and Randy shows before, but his appearance today makes me want to go buy a ticket. Oh, and there was a surprise brief appearance at the back of the auditorium at one point by Phil Jupitus, to read out a Garfield cartoon, which was fun.
Max and Ivan Are… Con Artists was next. Two talented performers and a good script. It was a full house, and the audience loved it. I enjoyed it too, and Helen, who I saw it with, said it was one of her highlights so far.
The Pin is a brand new sketch troupe. This is their first Fringe, but they’ve obviously made some kind of splash in the comedy waters, because they’re at the Pleasance Courtyard and they’re packing in full houses. The concept of the show was very clever: a series of weird sketches, in which they all get to display an impressive range of performing styles, accents and funny voices, and all strung together in a kind of Tarantino-esque (yeah, I used the word Tarantino-esque, so what, it’s my blog isn’t it, fuck you I won’t do what you tell me) out-of-sequence time frame that links them all into a loose narrative.
I’m afraid though, beyond that you’re getting nothing new here. It’s a bunch of three white, middle-class Oxbridge educated (I suspect) nice young boys, going exactly where many other white, middle-class Oxbridge educated (I suspect) nice young boys have gone before them. With this in mind, I suspect they’ll do very well for themselves, and (Prediction Alert:) you’ll no doubt be hearing them on Radio 4 before too long.
Next was another sketch group, WitTank. Their show last year was fantastic, and had some of my most memorable moments in it and, although this year’s was good (I loved Naz Osmanoglu’s Yeti), it didn’t quite live up to my expectations from last year.
James Acaster was a welcome and pleasant surprise. I’d heard of him – even chatted to him briefly in a Pleasance dressing room last year – but I’d never seen him perform before, live or on one of his many telly appearances. His one-hour story-telling stand up routine was great. Seemingly so simple, as it meandered from the Kettering Town FC anthem, through research on bread, playing with candles in pubs, a slight detour when an aeroplane right overhead sounded like it might actually be dropping a bomb on us, and finishing up with a rave scene in which he and an audience member danced with apples. It was a perfectly constructed show, delivered with ease, assurance, and a calm self-deprecating confidence. We all came out wishing he was our mate and we could have a drink with him in the pub afterwards.
Late Night Gimp Fight have got huge in the last couple of years, and are playing the Forth this year. (Nearly 300 capacity I believe.) They were victim of the afore-mentioned problem of the knock-on effects of shows running over, although the set up of their own tech couldn’t have helped, and the show went up 20 minutes late. We had another show to go and see straight after, so we insisted on sitting right by the door in case we had to leave before the end (which we did.) Gimp Fight have a reputation for crass and crude, and here they delivered exactly that. A good fun show, enjoyed by a capacity crowd.
Final show of the day was I Am, I Am. Two musical boys from the Cambridge Footlights, who looked like they were about 12 years old, doing a Flight of the Conchords sort of act. They were sweet, endearing, and their boyish charm and enthusiasm probably helped them get away with what should have been a slightly better rehearsed show. But it was a fun enough way to end the day.
By the way, here’s a weird thing – we’ve been here three days now, and I haven’t been pissed once. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had more than about half a dozen beers. I don’t know what’s wrong with me to be honest. I mean, I don’t feel ill, but there’s obviously something amiss. When we came out of the final show tonight I actually heard myself say, when we were deciding what to do next, “Well, we have got an early start tomorrow, maybe we should just go back to the flat. I really fancy a cup of tea.”
Alright, I didn’t actually say the bit about the cup of tea. But I was thinking it. And I did suggest an early night. Shit, what’s happened to me?! I’d better do something about this tomorrow!…
Shows seen today: 9
Running Total: 17