Last week I travelled the 500 miles up to Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe with my good friend Chris. It’s the world’s largest arts festival and the huge majority of this is theatre and comedy. We went for the comedy mostly and had to do so on a tight budget because neither of us have very much money. I’m going to be blogging about this over three posts and this first one is all about the various shows we went to see.
The Axis of Awesome: Cry Yourself A River
The Australian comedy band opened with a song about the Games of Thrones books being better than the TV series and went on to include songs slagging off business men, young people, modern house music/clubs, smoking and many other things. The songs were interspersed with witty dialogue with running jokes including Austin Powers quotes and the idea that peacocks are actually really manly. It concluded with the internet hit Four Chords, which they didn’t even bother to properly introduce. It was a great end, especially updated and with bits from the show cleverly referenced in. Whilst all the songs were well performed, a couple weren’t that funny but largely it was foot-tapping, side-splitting stuff. 4 Stars.
Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised
Crammed into the upstairs room of a pub at 12 Noon we excitedly awaiting the beginning of this free improv show from a group called Racing Minds. The crowd must select a character name, their big secret, the setting and the title. Suddenly “The Burning Bush” featuring Molly and set in an Indian bazaar happened. And because it was so funny we went again and saw “Down by the Seaside” where Oliver, an employee at a bubble factory in Birmingham, had to thwart a plan from an Irishman trying to make the whole world Irish by putting Guinness in the water. It was all very silly but the group did a great job of adding all the elements together to make a hilarious comic play. Hugely enjoyable and different every day! 5 Stars.
Christian Reilly: This is Not a Love Song
Another pub, another ‘free’ show. Whilst The Axis of Awesome turned jokes into songs, Reilly turned songs into jokes. He saved us money by doing a cover of every song by various artists- Bruce Springsteen, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Arctic Monkeys were all included. A spectacularly funny show that could have easily charged the price of some of the top shows. 4 Stars.
Al Murray: The Only Way is Epic
The venue for the pub landlord was a big tent. Within five minutes of opening he’d managed to take the piss of most of the first row and tested a load of drinks to ‘check what they were’. He continued on to ‘change the world’ covering politics, sport, nationality and everything else too. It was expertly performed and the it’s clear that the character is now second nature to his creator. Much of the humour is edgy and it is hilarious to see people being ripped apart. 4 Stars.
The Dirty Uncle Comedy Roadshow
A free show, and a terrible one. I didn’t count the exact number of the audience but it wasn’t many more than 10. A series of comedians went on stage and tried to be funny. For the most part they failed. There was the occasional funny joke but the lack lustre performances and the meagre audience meant even they died a death. Still, it extended our fringe experience and proved that not all the acts here are that great. 0 Stars.
The One Eyed Men’s Friendship Formula
This free show was effectively a sketch show. There was everything from a look into what it must be like to be a battery chicken to confusion over the plots of the bible and the Lord of the Rings (easily done). There was also a series of sketches involving the trio attempting to make a friend from the audience. And in the show I saw, I was the friend. This saw me say “I’m a sexy motherf***er on stage, dress up as a knight and ‘play’ Dungeons and Dragons and also wear a colander on my head in an attempt to become friends through brain waves. In the end I became their friend and ended up being given a beer. It was rather overwhelming being on stage and not having a clue what was going to happen next but I suppose it was enjoyable. It was a surreal and funny show, unlike anything else you’ll see. 4 Stars
There’s me with my new friends The One Eyed Men…
Rhod Gilbert: The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo
This was exactly what you expect Rhod Gilbert to be like- hilariously angry, though he claims he is better these days. The show flows around the tattoo he ended up with on a TV show and a relationship in a rut. It follows a story with regular intervals where there are rants- subjects that make Rhod angry in this show included toothbrushes and potatoes. It’s what you expect but it more than lives up to the expectations. 4 Stars.
Mark Watson’s Edinborolympics
This was probably the best show we saw. Mark Watson was the host and did a great job at it too, with lots of improv and some prepared jokes, like passing on an electric torch and telling us to watch out for Seb Coe. The show consisted of 3 comedians (David O’Doherty, Richard Herring and Al Pitcher) competing in various events. A standing long jump, best name (decided by members of the audience finding people with the same names on the street), throwing something into a bucket with another bucket on your head and the admin pentathlon (sorting mixed veg, peeling an orange, sending a text and going outside). It was all very silly but incredibly funny. 5 Stars.
The bucket event as it happened…
Lloyd Langford: A Day in the Life of Lloyd Owen Langford
Though advertised as a day in the life, this was actually only an hour in the life. Much like his landlord and friend Rhod Gilbert, Langford’s story is interspersed with various interludes- here Langford considers everything and nothing, including circumcision. It’s a simple show but hugely enjoyable. 4 Stars.
So there you go, that’s the show bit of my time at the Fringe for you. Tune in later in the week for street performers on the Royal Mile and us exploring the city. Thanks for reading and see you soon!