Our Fringe in bite-size chunks. There were a few other shows in and amongst this lot but they were abandoned due to any, some, none or all of the following: ridiculously heavy rain, over-running or late starters, fire alarms.
Nicholas Parson’s Happy Hour
These shows are, on the whole, delightful to attend. They’re funny and you get a look at acts you might not have considered before. However, this one was a little different. Nicholas had a fall on the train on the way up and was in pain. We can only assume he was on super-strong painkillers because he wasn’t entirely with it – often asking his guests the same question over and over again while not really listening to their answers. Where he normally walks past the queue to get in, he was wheeled past in a chair this time and had to drop out of his run of shows while we were there too. He’s 96, so I dare say this may be the last time we see this particular show…
Lucy was the first comedian we saw as a couple, and we have made a deal with her that we will remain together for at least as long as she is performing. This year’s show was about being prepared, and centred around the brownies, a bit of death and the panics of a mother. I enjoyed it, as I always do. Carole didn’t quite like it as much.
Matt is my second favourite in two categories – Australian (my first is Bec Hill) and mathematician (my first being Hannah Fry) but we can’t hold that against him. His show is based around his book, Humble Pi, which contains various maths mistakes and the consequences of said mistakes. So you’ve got the Pac-Man “death screen”, the Gimli Glider (which is an awesome story of so many coincidental screw ups in its own right), Amazon pricing, something to do with a lake draining away (but I missed that because there were two Matts on stage at that point) and Big Numbers in adverts. It was funny, informative, brilliantly nerdy and included the Ghandi mistake from the Civilisation series which is one of the best things ever. Oh, and LASERS.
Michael is a staple of our Fringe week. If he’s on and we’re up there, we’re in a room being shouted at. It’s a no brainer. This was a show about not being Iggy Pop. But about maybe becoming Iggy Pop. Daring to dream. That kind of stuff. But not in a schmaltzy way. In a way which inspires you to go out and take down the silent disco stalking the evening streets of Edinburgh. Michael promised on Facebook that in one show this year he would piss himself on stage. This was not that show. There was partial nudity though.
Why it’s my number one favourite Australian. This show was less flipcharty than previous shows, and centred on the premise that Bec had been to the future in a Becks Beer Box helmet and a Doctor Who duvet suit. The show was mainly about what we can do to not have a shitty future, because we are on a slippery slope to the shittiest of all futures. Change the small things which in turn changes the big things. It had more of Ted Talk feel about it than previous Bec shows but it was still good and the props stuff is as super fun as ever.
It’s a bearded Irish man with a Casio keyboard. What more do you need or want? You know you’re in safe hands with DO’D. There was a bit I recognised from last year – but I really enjoy it – and if you want to be super picky he did less than an hour. But who cares? It’s always fun to hang out in a lecture theatre and be entertained by him. And now we all know his belly can play the keyboard better than he can, busting out some jazz chords as he showed us the money pit that are the batteries.
Shakespeare For Breakfast
Romeo and Juliet. By five people. And you get a croissant. Top marks. The show this year was brilliant. But I am biased because I really, really love the gang behind the shows at the moment. Because they work together so well, and have done the show for a good few years there are lots of little in-jokes thrown in for – I’d like to kid myself and say it’s for the audience and sure, it is partially for us – themselves. Call back to previous years, attempts to make each other laugh. It’s as good as it always has been and probably better. But I am biased.
AND this year a woman got out a full-sized jar of jam and proceeded to spread it onto her croissant. I mean, that is an absolute bloody gamechanger.
You know what, we booked this off the back of Taskmaster. We liked Lou on there, she was fun. And, it turns out, we liked her in real life too. It was a really good show in a really hot room.
We saw Ivo at Nicholas Parson’s Happy Hour last year, so this was solely off the back of that. And it was wonderful. From the moment he snatched flyers for other shows from the hands of a woman in the front row, and then immediately apologised to her this show had it all. The moment of the Fringe came as some late-comers arrived, having been held up by a fire alarm which we were not privy to in our room which was troubling. They came in and there were a couple of single seats left. So they sat on the stairs rather than sit apart. A woman then offered to move so they could sit together and was rewarded by numerous handshakes and wild applause. It was a great show about parenthood, and doing dubious ITV2 shows so you can afford better prams.
Dickens For Dinner
Obviously brilliant. It’s the same people who do Shakespeare for Breakfast. But this time you get soup. And they had a puppet join them in the titular role of Oliver Twist. Criminally, every year Dickens doesn’t do anywhere near as well as Shakespeare does from a tickets point of view and it deserves to be so much better attended. But I am biased because I adore the whole lot of them. And the puppet.
In previous years she’s wondered where all the happy people are. And now she’s gone and bagged herself a happy boyfriend. So this is a show about trying to understand why he’s happy and, ultimately, if he’s too happy to stay with. I enjoyed it, Carole didn’t like it as much this year primarily, I think, because she mis-described a mental health condition.
I love Fern. There. I said it. She’s absolutely delightful. She’s rude, she’s funny, she doesn’t know what to do if you compliment her. And she’s managed to get a 6pm slot which means there aren’t half as many pensioners in the show as there used to be. And there were a lot. And there probably aren’t many shows on at the Fringe this year that involve a study of the structure of Scottish amateur porn.
Phil Wang’s show has a very clever ending. Very, very clever. It’s beautifully constructed. It’s a delicious callback wrapped up in a rant about the ridiculousness of the cartoon Popeye. In fact, all of Wang’s stuff is clever. And funny. And when he – as a white Chinese man – is one of our new Overlords I hope he reads this and takes pity on me.
Jess has a sexist child, loves a compliment that implies she’s strong, hefty or otherwise chunky and wraps it all up in a feminist bow. I think this is probably my favourite of all her shows. And I’ve see her under a blanket essentially having a nervous breakdown while playing with finger puppet. A ridiculously funny show all round. The chairs in the Monkey Barrel, though, are bloody uncomfortable!
In 2017 Mark Watson nearly died at the hands of Bear Grylls. He took part on a celebrity survival show on an island off of Panama, chosen because Tim Wonacott couldn’t do it and he nearly died. Before he nearly died he battled his irrational fear of lightning – one night he counted 300+ lightning flashes rather than sleep. And he overcame. And just when he’d said, “You know what, I am going to survive till the end of this adventure” he collapsed and nearly died. So this is an uplifiting story about how to make the best of shit stuff, how to rise out of failure into a state of almost winning. It’s a lecture which shows that you can do stuff if you put your mind to it and be a better person for agreeing to do a TV show quickly before your nerves realise what you’re up to. He’s also signed an NDA so can’t talk about half the things he talks about, which is why this is a limited run show. They’re never catch him.
Obviously. I mean, come on. Not going to miss this am I? The Showstopper team are among my favourite people and even more so when you chance upon a show with Ruth in because she’s ridiculously funny all the time. This show, as if trying to win me over more, was set in the world’s easiest escape room. Where, it turns out, you can’t escape your past and/or your feelings. But you can sing a song about all you sexual conquests in the style of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Carole has a new girl crush. That’s the take home from this one. Suzi has found happiness – she’s engaged, she’s on the property ladder, she’s been to World Pride with Tom Allen during which she has forgotten she got a whole plane full of people to sing happy birthday to a fifteen year old boy. This was our final show of the Fringe, and a great upbeat way to end it. I loved it, as Carole said, because I love all that LGBTQ+ stuff and Carole loved it because she has someone else she can stalk on Facebook if Susan Calman’s busy.