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. This is my second of three posts about my week (Part One here) and this is all about the various street performers I saw.
The Edinburgh Fringe must be the highlight of any street performer’s year. Performers from all over the world come to the city’s Royal Mile and get given a slot in which to perform their show. There is all sorts of things happening on the Royal Mile, from strange street shows to circus tricks and fantastic music. Plus there’s literally hundreds of people flinging leaflets in your direction desperate to get people to come to their show. Unlike with the shows, it was pretty easy to take photos of the street performers and in this post are a selection of the best acts I saw, with something a bit different from the typical riding a unicycle, escaping from a straitjacket or juggling machetes (all impressive of course but they get dull after a while).
This guy was very funny. He’s Spanish and was great with the crowd. What you can’t see in that picture is that he is balanced on a board which is on top of a tube. The bomb just makes a loud noise when it goes off but it’s still quite impressive to stay balancing.
This great little band playing some country music, with quite a few ‘unusual’ instruments. The guy in the hat was playing an old washboard with metal bits on the end of his gloves and the curly haired guy was making a tune using a converted megaphone. At one point the woman in glasses proceeded to play with her shoes. It was sort of tap dancing but they noise was part of the song, which was pretty incredible.
This is incredibly talented beat-boxer MC Xander. He used a loop station to record loops of bits he beat boxed and layer them up to create whole tracks. It was truly breath-taking to listen to and he even managed to include some great messages in his work. Check out some of his music on his website.
These guys did a sort of comedy martials arts show. They were very funny and there were some great sequences in it put to music and sound effects. They had perfect timing meaning pretend bullets being deflected by the plastic sword worked fantastically.
I think this was my favourite street performance of the Fringe. This guy had no show at all, he just improvised with people walking past and in the crowd. He playing music to go along with people and put voices to them. He stole someone’s phone when they were in the middle of a phone call and plugged it into the speaker. The funniest bit was him playing a gong noise and bowing when Asian people walked past. Pretty racist but still incredibly funny. A side-splittingly funny show.
This guy dressed as a bell boy was a bit odd but still pretty funny. He pranced around a lot and then dressed a male member of the audience in a dress and wig (picture) and proceeded to dance with him.
We saw a couple of magicians on the street too but I was too busy concentrating on their tricks to take photos one. One took a £10 note from the member of the audience and made it go inside a walnut that was a in a bag of walnuts that he never touched. It was pretty amazing. Another did the typical balls under cups thing but then made loads of oranges appear from the cups and a melon appear under his hat. Magicians are scary.
Tom had exactly the same voice as comedian Steven Merchant. You can see in the photo he is riding a unicycle and has a child’s tennis racquet around his waist. He proceeded to remove that tennis racquet over his head by partly dislocating his shoulder. It was both disgusting and amazing.
On walking back from a show we came across a group called “Zambezi Express”. They had come all the way from Zimbabwe and made some incredible music which was both beautiful and lively at the same time. It was wonderful stuff and stood on a Scottish street corner at 10PM listening to African music made me realise how global society is these days.
This guy was quite frankly insane. He had a fantastic ability to juggle any stick like items, which he demonstrated effectively. But then he went one further and juggled a machete, a fake grenade and a working chainsaw. Don’t try that at home. He survived intact though and then laid on a bed of nails and had a woman stand on top of him. You could see the nail marks in his back afterwards…
And that was the highlight’s of the street performances I saw. It really is a crazy place. One street performer said Edinburgh during festival time was like an open air mental home and you’d be hard pressed to disagree. Join me at the weekend for the third and final post on my time in Edinburgh as I explore the city. See you then!