The Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes place every August for around 3 weeks and it's the biggest arts festival in world. For these 3 weeks every inch of spare space is transformed into a Fringe Venue. From established venues and theatres to open spaces such as Bristo Square which hosts the E4 Udderbelly every year the city is vibrant and the atmosphere is fantastic.
For me and for many like me the Fringe means comedy, but it is actually so much more than that. Shows during the festival range from comedy, children's shows, cabaret, music, musicals, opera, theatre, arts - the whole lot. There really is something for everyone and people of all ages from across the globe will find something to do in Edinburgh during the Fringe.
The organisers of the Fringe do a fantastic job in ensuring that the Fringe Festival is accessible to everyone. There are shows to suit all budgets and in recent years there has been an increasing number of free shows which seem to grow year on year. The free shows are often where some hidden gems can be found. Most of the acts have paid to fund the show out of their own pockets and for those who aren't lucky enough to be one of the star names on show that is no easy task. Therefore they often use the free shows as a way to promote themselves.
As well as free shows there are also a number of shows which are available for around £5. One of my favourite venues which normally runs £5 comedy is the Tron pub at Hunter Square. Hunter Square is situated just off North Bridge. There a plenty of buses, such as the 3 and 33 which you can pick up from the centre of town or do the up hill 15 - 20 minute walk.
The first week of the Fringe sees many acts offer 2-4-1 on tickets to see their shows and increasingly more common are free view shows the weekend before the Fringe officially starts where you can pick up tickets that are heavily discounted.
For those looking for something else other than comedy the big shows that spring to mind are the Ladyboys of Bangkok who have a show every year and they normally host this from a venue in the meadows. There is also usually some sort of circus near Ocean Terminal, Leith. This is also where you will find some excellent shopping and the Royal Yacht Britannia. There is also a vast array of Street Theatre. The pick of it for me can be found on the famous Royal Mile. There is usually plenty of street performers plying their trade through out the day and they normally ask for a small donation at the end of their performance.
Accommodation is at a premium during this time and it can often be expensive and hard to come by. However, a good place to check for affordable accommodation is with Edinburgh's Universities, Edinburgh, Napier and Heriot-Watt as they lease out Halls of Residence during August for around £40 a night.
The Fringe also brings with it extended opening hours and the pubs will stay open until 3am and clubs are open until 5am. There are plenty of Late night shows that run into the wee small hours that take advantage of the extended opening times. My top tip would be to check out Late n Live which I have had the pleasure of seeing many of the big names of today when they were looking for their big break. Late n Live can be found at Teviot which is a Gilded Balloon venue, just off Potterow. There are also some great outdoor bar gardens in and around this area for those long, occasionally sunny, Scottish nights.
I have been attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the past 10 years and it's a truly fantastic month to be in the city of Edinburgh. For me it's better than the month of December when the famous Hogmanay Street Party, German Markets etc take place. August and the Fringe is the highlight of my year as an Edinburgh Resident.
As a rule of thumb, I would say that if you are short of time you should see at least 1 act that you have never heard of as well as one you have heard off. Many up and coming stars ply their trade in the early days in Edinburgh so you could be watching the next big thing.
For a while now the senior partner in my accountancy and assassination firm has begged me to let him loose on dooyoo. Up until now his inability to type (due to lack of arms following the cigarette machine fiasco of '93) has held him back but this morning I foolishly allowed him to make me a cuppa and he won't give me the antidote to whatever it was he slipped in unless I type this out for him.
So please don't blame me but here's Monkey Peter's review of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009:
Edinburgh. It's in Scotland which is like England but more north and has men who wear skirts and women who wear trousers and allegedly they toss cabers up there but if you ask one of the women in trousers up there if she will toss your caber for a fiver you get punched.
In summer month of August they do good festival here. They don't play the football so well or speak too proper but they know how to arrange a good festival.
Anyway this year me and Vinegar Jenny we go to festival and we have much fun. There be many many strangely dressed freaks who walk the city street and they say 'come see my show' and you say 'ok' and they give you piece of paper with writin and stuff on it and you say'is this your show?' and they say 'yes' and they tell you about their show how it has music or shouting or funny bits in and when they walk away you throw the piece of paper on floor and walk away til you meet next freak who want to talk at you.
There is also many people standing on boxes and screechin and singin and hurtin your head and wearing clothes that ARE TOO LOUD and when you want to get away from all the NOISE and WEIRD WEIRD people you go to pub but even here men and women or people who you don't know if man or woman stand up and try to make everyone laugh and you have to stand up and shout 'shut up I am trying to drink' and then they try to mock you. No-one mocks Monkey Peter so you stop them, you stop them hard, and then you have to run from Police people and it like at start of Trainspotting, you run and you run and you run.
And everywher is so many people and so much colour and so much noise and so you find someone who will sell you ticket to go sit in a 'venue' and if it daytime the venue is not too crowded and as long as you can zone out and focus your thoughts you can ignore the strange people who come out on the stage and do very strange things involving balloons.
After dark when you have had chance to finally drink your daily alcohol allowance it all start to make more sense and you can go to venue and instead of strange people playing with balloons you can see singer or funny folk or play (which is like a true story but made up) or dancin. Vinegar Jenny she like dancin, we went and saw African men dance and we saw students dance and we saw Malcolm McClaren but he did not dance.
We also see magical man who can guess what card you pick from a pack. Nice man but we don't know what he do when not at festival as how often do you need to pay man to tell you what card you have. Why not just look yourself?
We see man who blow BIG bubbles and make shapes and stuff but I fall asleep and miss best bit.
We got new tattoo, mine is of duck, vinegar Jenny's is private, but if you have £20 she might show you.
If you go festival this year you too late as it's over but they probably do it again next year. DON'T make the mistakes I made:
1) If you single man and smell of beer don't go to shows that have interactive bits for children. I go Magic Porridge Pot and am only man there on own. It funny and kids have fun but when I laugh and smile at kids I get shouted at by woman with kid and she shout and shout and they stop play and they get abusive and no-one gets abusive with Monkey Peter so I make them stop. Hard. And then it like Trainspotting and I run and run and run.
2) If you go see play that says it have nudity you have to keep your own clothes on. If not you have to see police again and then it gets like Trainspotting and you have to run and run and run.
3) If your ladyfriend makes you go to feminist show where women stand with their boobs out you not allowed to leer and when it finishes you not allowed to stand up and shout 'I applaud your tits' or else your ladyfriend will stop any night time business for you.
4) The little boxy stages on the golden mile are for performers and men who dress like ladies. You not allowed to use as car boot stall. If you try you find it like trainspotting and you have to run and run and run.
5) If you manage to set up your own show on street you not allowed to expose your tackle. At least not more than once. In front of Police Woman.
That my guide to Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There were other bits but I am not a memory man but I enjoyed, I didn't hit too many women or children or goats and very few men. The tortoise I will apologise for once the angry mob disperses.
Top shows this year: Paul Merton Improv Chums, the woman who did her show from in a house, the one man show about the Holocaust (though not many laughs), the comedy about staging a comedy show, the private dance Vinegar Jenny did, Room on the Broom, the snack van comedy routine, the kiddie performers who dressed as crabs and walked the streets and the blonde named Eric who only charged me £8.
Go Edinburgh it good.
I lived in Edinburgh for 5 years and used to really look forward to the month of August when the Edinburgh festival would commence. It was established in 1947 and is still going strong. This year it runs from the 31st July - 25th August.
There are shows about virtually everything from Comedy to Flamenco, Opera to Hip hop. The venues are scattered across the city and vary from a phone box to a magnificent hall. It really is anything goes here!
If you are going to attend the Fringe there are 5 top tips recommended on the fringe site (http://www.edfringe.com )
1. Book accommodation - it is probably best not to arrive to Edinburgh during the Fringe unless you have the promise of some floor space in your mate's house or you have book accommodation. The place is absolutely bursting at the seams and you don't want to have to spend the night wandering the streets. It can get cold in Edinburgh, even during the summer.
2. Get the Official Fringe programme - the programme comes out on the 5th June so no excuse! The Metro newspaper reviews shows everyday and it is worthwhile picking up a copy of the free paper if you are in the train station or travelling by bus.
3. Book your tickets in advance - Saying that, I am arriving on the 14th and have nothing booked yet! However, if you have a particular show in mind that you want to see then it is best to book it. There are also some great last minute shows and some street performances that are available for ½ price or free. Don't have everything timetabled as some of the best shows are the ones you are dragged into and don't pay a penny!
4. Get ready to party - the place is packed all the time so be prepared for queues into restaurants, pubs etc. On the flip side, the atmosphere is electric and original.
5. Experience Edinburgh as well - it is a beautiful city so go for a drink in Leith, visit the castle and take the open top tour and hear all about the ghostly goings on in this haunted city!
Some of my favourite shows from the past few years have been:
o Janey Godley - a fantastic comedienne from Glasgow. She is playing at The Pleasance Dome this year at 7pm from the 6th - 25th August. Tickets cost £10 (approx)
o Danny Bhoy - another Scottish comedian. He is playing at Edinburgh International Conference Centre from the 8th - 19th August at 7.15pm. Prices are £14.00.
This year I am going to try and see:
o Alba Flamenca - every year I say I will watch a Flamenco show and never get around to it. I am booking this year. This show is on from the 6th - 24th August at various times. Prices are £12.00 (approx)
Then I will be wandering around just taking it all in. After all that is what it is all about!
We have just spent the weekend visiting friends in Edinburgh and the weekend coincided with the 'preview' week of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The atmosphere in Edinburgh was fantastic and party-like with loads of performers parading the streets and plugging their upcoming shows. The Royal Mile was packed everyday with stalls and performing arts groups on their costumes handing out fliers for their productions. There was so much to see and do, all detailed in the huge thick programme that you can get from any of the box offices around the city.
The preview week is really good if you want to save a bit of cash - there are loads of gigs (comedy/plays etc) that are on a 'buy one get one free' deal as technically they are still tweeking things ready for the official start of the festival. We managed to see a comedian at a reduced rate on this basis and he was still really great- but did have to refer to some flashcards to help him remember his routine as he was still practising!
Amazingly we also managed to get some tickets for Ed Byrne - the Irish comedian. He had a show going on at the Assembley Rooms on the Mound and his show was fantastic! We did not think we would be able to see any shows with the festival not having officially started but passed a box office stand and enquired, and there were 12 tickets left for the performance that night!
I would recommend the Edinburh Fringe to everyone, and if you want to get your hotel a bit cheaper and pay less for some performances and shows, go up there the week before and see what you can find!!
Once more the Fringe festival is almost upon us, Princes St. all the way up round Cockburn St. and the Royal Mile are totally buzzing with people from all walks of life. Japanese, Americans, Canadians, Germans and one or two Polish, they turn the City into a month long party for anyone who loves a bit of culture.
Some folk go and don't spend a penny (culture vultures), the amount of street performers makes sure of this, as they are allotted a certain amount of time to each act at each part of the city, other entertainers then move in eagerly. Fire breathers (not the pub goers), Jugglers, people doing back flips and sometimes people breathing fire whilst juggling and doing back flips, it is brilliant, I hear that anyone playing Bagpipes on the Mile now, is to receive an ASBO, which I think is just insane, these are talented people who are not sitting with a dog and sleeping bag asking for handouts.
One of the live shows I would recommend would be the Freak Circus, with 3 hrs of people with bizarre talents like Mr. Stretch (who can stretch the skin from his neck, over his face), and others from which I was too high to remember.
I DO remember the year I went and didn't know that, what turned out to be "Lady-Boys from Bangkok", were, too me, extremely good looking Thai chicks.....with d***s, so beware you have been warned.
The general atmosphere is easy ozy, no hassle and everything at your own pace, whether you decide to sit in the gardens and catch some rare Scottish sun whilst watching it all happen, or going round the city watching the different acts, is entirely up to you.
If you do decide to visit, from England per se, get a hotel in Bathgate, there's a couple there (the Fairway hotel, the Holiday Inn and the Cairn hotel all at 35 pnds for a night, haggle a deal) all are only 2 minutes from the train station, which is 20 minutes from Edinburgh, as some hotels and B&B's can charge time and a half on top of the normal rates.
Everything you'll ever need is in Edinburgh, helicopter rides over the festival the Forth Road & Rail Bridges, and hunting that elusive creature, the Haggis, remember always eat what you kill! but to be fair, it is an expensive place so don't spend all your money in one go.
As a wee Scottish lass I'm ashamed to say that I must have been at least about 12 or 13 before I first attended the Fringe. In fact, up to that age I'd been in glorious oblivion to its existence, until one balmy summer evening when I was dangling from the light fittings and annoying my mother, my dad packed me into the car and sped off up the motorway. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. After all, I was a young teenager and was just developing that always becoming chip on my shoulder and it would be seriously uncool of me to actually enjoy any activity that my poor dad had made an effort to engage me in, so when we arrived in Edinburgh I skulked out the car sullenly. Of course, I'd been in Edinburgh time and time again, and as my dad led me up to the Royal Mile I was convincing myself that I'd see nothing new, but I got the shock of my life when we finally arrived on that wee street, and ever since I've been a Fringe addict! The Fringe is a bit of a strange mix. It takes place in August and this year (2004) is running from the 8th-30th of August. Shows pop up everywhere that you can buy tickets for, and many of them are off the wall to say the least. I was handed a flyer for a show involving 3 women dressed in fat suits doing strip-teases whilst sauntering up the Royal Mile this year. Really, the shows people put on never cease to amaze me! However, this, in my opinion, is not the main attraction! You see, during the Fringe, street performers swarm the streets of Edinburgh, although most of them are concentrated around the Royal Mile. They are technically performing for free, although they ask for donations as most of them do street performances for a living and are relying on the generousity of onlookers. You really do get all sorts.
I've always seen jugglers every year without fail, I've seen a few escapologists, quite a few mime artists and plenty of musicians. The great thing is that you hav e the freedom to wander around and pick and choose who you watch. You can watch an act for 5 minutes and, if he doesn't interest you, wander off and find someone else to watch. I usually pop up to visit the Fringe at least 3 times during its run and here's some tips for any visitors: 1. Make sure you have some spare change. As I mentioned, performers ask for donations, and it's good to have some change in your pocket to give to the acts. I only pay if the act is worth it as I'm a struggling student and can't afford to give away some dough to every act I lay my eyes on, but you generally find that most of the acts that perform are worth at least something. Don't put coppers in if you can help it. For a start it's rather rude, but more importantly, the performer may draw attention to you doing this, so if you want to save yourself some embarrassment, at least put some silver in if you can't afford a pound or more. It is also a good idea to have some notes with you too as some performers sell CDs. I've bought CDs directly off performers at the Fringe before, and they generally cost about a tenner, and I've never been disappointed. 2. Time your visit. Performers will perform all day and into the evening. There are boards at certain sites with times of performances up, but often you'll find an act performing at a spare bit of street where there is no board, so you will catch someone. You are more likely to catch a greater number of acts during the day, but day times are busy and crowds gather around performers quickly, so you might not be able to see a thing. I usually prefer to go in the early evening and hang around til
l about 10 or 11 at night. 3. Be prepared for the weather. It is Scotland, and although Edinburgh is generally more likely to catch the sun than Glasgow, it still has its fair few rain showers, so be prepared for this. Performers will still usually be out in the rain if possi ble, although sometimes their act is cut short because of it eg. some musicians might be worried about the rain damaging their instruments. 4. Be prepared for audience participation. Many performers drag poor unsuspecting bystanders on stage, or make fun of passers by, so be aware of this. If you are the shy, retiring sort, try to avoid standing at the front or passing directly by a performer who is trying to attract a crowd. 5. Utilise Fringe information services. Check out www.edfringe.com for a start. Generally you can find brochures containing all Fringe events and prices, and there is also a Fringe info shop not far from the Mercat Cross and St. Giles' Cathedral that is open to late at night. 6. Try a little bit of everything. Experiment with watching street acts, buying tickets for acts performing in clubs and theatres and checking out bars and pubs for performers. There is, of course, the Tattoo, although you have to book early for seats, as well as events and places around Edinburgh that are open all year round to visit such as The National Museum of Scotland, the Castle, Camera Obscura, guided ghost walks etc. 7. Don't forget the shops! Many shops are open later when the Fringe is on as they know they can get the business. Of course, you'll have to take home some Tartan tat, even if you are a Scot already! I recommend the musical bagpipe playing teddies and the See You Jimmy hats! Edinburgh is a fantastic city, and is especially vibrant when the
70;ringe is on. You can easily (and cheaply) pass away the hours at the Fringe and I recommend it to anybody, whether for a day visit or a longer break. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
Last August was my first ever visit to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and I had the time of my life. I laughed so much, walked so much, ate so much and drunk so much that I left it in serious physical pain. But god, was it worth it! The Fringe runs throughout August every year, and comprises hundreds upon hundreds of plays, music events and comedy gigs in tons of venues throughout the city every day and night. I went for the comedy, having seen it on telly for years and always promised myself a trip. First, booking up. As you can imagine, Edinburgh is ABSOLUTELY CHOCCA at this time, so you must book early. I booked my accommodation in February, and still I had to try about 15 different places before I found one with a vacancy. Next, you must book your event tickets early or you'll have little chance of getting in. Tickets go on sale in June, and you find out what's on by registering with the site www.edfringe.com who give you a number to call for a programme with a booking form in the back. You can book at various venues in the town itself while the festival's running, but you will queue for literally hours only to find that your chosen events have sold out. There is so much to choose from, with loads of newcomers you can take pot luck on to all the big names on the comedy circuit. Here's a quick run-down of my faves from who I saw: Daniel Kitson - If you've not heard of him yet, you will soon. He was nominated for the Perrier Award (but sadly didn't win) and sold out every night. I first saw him at the Comedy Store a few months before the fringe and if he doesn't get his own TV series before long then there is no god. Johnny Vegas - An absolute genius. Comedy to make you laugh and cry, it is so poignant and so hysterical and filthy at the same time. (One downside to this - he drank so many aftershocks he literally threw up on stage the night I saw him - I also got picked from the
audience and coerced into kissing his nipple) Richard Herring - I've never been a fan, but this show was superb. Called 'Christ on a Bike', it sought to disprove that Jesus was the son of God and was wonderfully blasphemous as well as very funny and very clever. Trevor and Simon's Circus of Evil - the former Going Live twosome are as daft as ever and had us conjuring up evil spirits by chanting passages from the Next Directory. Idiotic and truly marvellous. Again I was picked out of the audience and got to shake their hands! Perrier Pick of the Fringe: All 5 award nominees in one show. What more could you ask? These were only some of the shows I saw, and I wasn't disappointed with any of them. Even if I had seen a bad comedian it wouldn't have mattered because the atmosphere at the festival is magic. Everyone is friendly, everyone is happy, everyone is having a good time and laughing themselves to insanity. Shows are on almost continuously and pubs are open until 3 am, 5 am and some are peddling their alcoholic concoctions 24/7. There just aren't enough minutes in the day to take advantage of everything on offer. At the venues beer is reasonably priced and there's always a good choice of cheap grub to keep it down with. Another great plus is that during the day they close off part of the Royal Mile and throw it open to street entertainers and comedians giving you a taste of their wares trying to tempt you to their shows. Any criticisms? Well, the organisation's a bit wonky, with shows starting at different times than advertised and venues at different parts of the city having the same bloody names which means you keep turning up at the wrong place for the first couple of days and then have to fight for a cab to get you to the right place on time. However, you soon get the hang of it and because there's so much going on you can understand arrangeme
nts going tits up once in a while. Also, even though you've got a ticket, you still have to form an orderly queue to get into the venue a good half hour in advance if you want to get a good seat. All tickets are unreserved seating. I did walk whenever possible to try and save a bit of cash, but Edinburgh is so BIG and so HILLY that my mate and I ended up exhausted and in actual physical pain and thought f*** it, we're on holiday, we need to save our energy for laughing. How much? Well, tickets for each show – all last 50 mins to an hour - are about a tenner, so that soon mounts up if like me you're taking in 3 or 4 a day. Then there's the taxi fares to get you from one venue to the next. Including accommodation (a very cheap but clean 20 quid a night B&B) and getting there and back, I reckon I spent around £500 on my 3 nights 4 days there. Expensive some might say, but I reply that this was an absolute holiday of a lifetime. I have never, ever had such a good time or so many laughs, and it all takes place in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Would I go again? I've already sorted out my accommodation for Fringe 2002, and would suggest anyone with a sense of humour and adventure does the same.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is probably one of the greatest in the world. Having run for many years it has a worldwide reputation, attracting some of the biggest names in music, comedy and theatre. It runs along side the 'real' festival and is designed to offer the 'arts' to the masses at a cost more discerning to the average Joe Public. BUT WOW! What a price! We have lived in and around Edinburgh for the past 10 years and hence have enjoyed the delights of the 'fringe' every year. But 10 years ago that was easy as you could see 3 or 4 shows at less than £5 a time but now ...ahhh - Second mortgage required. To demonstrate this point, there is a show which has been in the 'fringe' for the past few years. It is a musical comedy show and is very good but ... Three years ago this only cost £5, this year it is £12.50 !!! Now it could be argued that you get what you pay for and hence this show must be good to justify £12.50 - and in fact, it is good. BUT! The average show cost, no matter what the quality, is now around £10 a time. Quite a leap (and they say inflation has fallen over the past few years!) Worse still you never know what you are going to see - Another show by a supposed top actress from London was diabolical but still cost £12. It had rave reviews and she was even written about in the Scottish national press prior to her show. However they failed to mention that she found a certain swear word beginning with 'c' an absolute necessity for her act. So you came away offended and out of pocket. So in conclusion - The Fringe is excellent but has a price tag. It is about time the prices were reviewed before Joe Public will no longer be able to enjoy what is supposed to be a festival for them.
Why am I here? There's not much toilet roll, and there's a sign on the door urging me to 'spare a thought and share a flush'. Is this what life has come to? Yup - if you're in Edinburgh that is, for those four mad weeks we call the Fringe. And using portable toilets is the very least of it. Where shall I start - well, here's a good definition for you. When I was a (cheeky, inquisitive) kid, I asked my dad what the Festival Fringe was. My (creative, thoughtful) dad drew me a picture of a rug. He wrote the names of some world class performers in the middle (Yehudi Menuin, anybody?) and then, on the fringes round the edge, he wrote things like 'jugglers, mime artists, poets'. You get the picture. Well, that definition *should* still hold true today - except that it kind of doesn't. The Fringe has now become what most people mean when they refer to the Edinburgh Festival. It's expanded - exploded, even - to such an extent it now dwarfs the very thing it was once on the outskirts of. Sure, the mime acts, the street musicians and the myriad local productions from all over the world are still here. My god, are they here. Just try walking up the Royal Mile and see how long it takes before you are whipped out of the crowd and made to play the part of Bottom in somebody's Dream - or at the very least, had half a rainforests worth of fliers thrust into your hand by earnest young actors with home counties accents, chanting 'You've got to pick a pocket or two' - oh yes indeed ladies and gentlemen! But the Fringe itself has fragmented - basically into two camps. These are: comedy (interesting and lucrative) and: not comedy (neither interesting nor lucrative). The three 'biggy' fringe venues - The Assembly Rooms, The Pleasance and the Gilded Balloon - now showcase almost exclusively comedy acts. And the width of this genre is impressive - this year we'
ve got Nicholas Parsons delivering showbiz chat, Joan Rivers dispensing advice for the elderly, and of course Alan Davies to help us choose a mortgage. And that's not even the *tip* of Edinburgh's comedy iceberg. Anybody who can stand up and open their mouths is here to test out the audience, and to be given a ten part sitcom on Channel 4. As if! The glory of all this talent (and untalent) being in one place at one time is obvious - us lucky locals get to see some wonderful, hilarious, life-enhancing comedy, and if one show is crap - well, so what, the next one'll be better. I have been a rabid fringeophile since I was old enough to buy tickets - about 15 years old. Oh! - those were the days. Alternative comedy was just taking off, and four quid got you in to see acts that would soon take over the world - I saw Ben Elton, Julian Clary, Jeremy Hardy, Lee Evans and Craig Charles all in one year once! Not to mention the best of all - Bing Hitler, the comedy genius. He later changed his name back to Craig Ferguson and was last seen wearing leather trousers in a gay hairdressing movie - but hey, I knew him when...! Ahhh... those days are gone. In the last few years, you can forget seeing any big name comedian for less than a tenner. All very well if you're part of the Soho media set - bit dicey if you're an average Edinburgher. For me, ticket money is *always* worth it - even if the show is rubbish - but I guess many people can't afford to experiment much with ten-quid tickets. Ok, so let's get up to date now. What's the big news this year? Well, the Ladyboys of Bangkok are back - where would we be without them? Once again, the High Street (Royal Mile) is impassable without a cattleprod and a sharp heckling tongue - and once again the papers are full of the usual letters from irate members of the public who wish the whole thing would just go away and leave them to eat their shortbread
in peace. I stand in the middle of this debate. I love the festival - it's energy, it's vibrancy and of course the chance to ogle celebrities (see my list of celebs at the end), but I hate peeing in a portakabin. I hate the inflated prices, the flat beer, the hassling and the heckling of random punters in the street - and most of all, I hate those f***ing Pan Pipe Mood guys at the end of Princes Street. Give it up, chaps! Surely you must be millionaires by now. Some people round here would have every actor, every smug Londoner (sorry - but the evidence is here) and every would-be standup rounded up and shot. I'm not one of them, but I can see where these folks are coming from. It's a very strange experience to have your home town taken out of your hands by strangers four weeks of the year - just ask anybody from SW13. Right - the shows themselves. Which ones should we go and see? Well, the standard way to make these increasingly hard choices is by consulting the all-seeing oracle. Yes, that's right. The Scotsman review section. Five stars from these guys will get you a guaranteed sell-out for the rest of your run. On the other hand, get two stars or less and you'd better pray somebody confuses your name with that of Al Murray and comes along anyway. Is this fair? No, of course it isn't. Why should one reviewer have the power to make or break any show? It is just such a subjective process - look at the variety of opinions here on dooyoo alone. Last year my friend and I fell in love with the comedian Arj Barker - we cried with laughter all through his show. My boyfriend sat stony faced, and wanted his money back. Where's the logic? Having said that, I only usually see shows that come recommended by somebody else. The fringe is famously full of shows playing to empty houses, or (worse) to one person. So... What was I doing in that portakabin the other night?
Well, me and my boyfriend were having a 'Fringe night' up at the Pleasance. This is *the* place to come if you want to soak up the festival atmosphere. It's a big courtyard, surrounded by an old Edinburgh University building, all of which has been converted in all shapes and sizes of comedy venues. The buzz is amazing. There is a huge outdoor bar, serving decent drinks - and hot dogs. The people-watching potential here is awesome. Yeah, you do get plenty of tossers called Tristram, frantically bellowing into their mobile phones (IM AT THE FRINGE!! etc), but you get the rest of the world and it's dog too. Last night we saw two acts - both get three stars from me. Adam Bloom (bleached-blond Jewish comic, looks a bit like Jean Paul Gaultier) was funny, but didn't have the confidence to truly set us on fire - as I'm sure he could have done if the stars had been in his heavens. Noble and Silver are two apparently mad blokes who do lots of surreal interaction with video footage - sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing. The end of their show was so vague that nobody knew it was over til the lights went up. Having said that, Nicholas Parsons and his lovely wife sat in the row behind us, resplendent in pastel golf sweaters. Worth a tenner alone, I think! Apart from the spartan facilities, this is truly a place you could come and hang out, even without show tickets. Shows start every ten minutes or so anyway, so why not come along and be spontaneous? You may well get to experience an intimate gig with the 'next big thing'. Oh, I could write about this all night. But I sense I'm losing you - a bit like poor Adam Bloom did last night, when he resorted to flute-playing to get our attention. So here are some handy hints for enjoying the fringe: 1. Don't even *think* about coming to Edinburgh without accommodation sorted out. Everything is booked. Stay with a friend if you can
. 2. Do not go to see comedians if you are easily offended. Almost all comics will use the f word liberally - some will go for the c word and worse. Many will refer to controversial topics like paedophilia. Adam Bloom told an eight year old girl last night she was going to grow up to be a lesbian. It was funny! If in doubt though, DON'T GO. 3. Please, respect the natives. Most of them are still holding down full time jobs - they're not on holiday like you. Let them walk down the street without barging into them to get a better view of some minor soap star who's just walked by. 4. Go to see as many shows as you can - you'll be tired but it's worth it. performances start early morning - some include breakfast - and go on until the wee small hours at night. Give it some energy! 5. Don't waste time queueing for tickets. Book on the phone, then swan to the front of the fringe Box Office queue to pick them up. 6. Don't moan about the prices. Pretend you're at Disneyland. That's it. See you all at the Edinburgh Fringe!!!!!!! (credits roll, people start shuffling to the exits) This years celeb count so far: Sean Hughes - drinking in The Barony Nicholas Parsons and wife Claire Sweeney Gina the barmaid from Heartbeat Carol Smillie - booo! Elizabeth from Big Brother Ralf Little - lurchio! What's the scores George Dawes and that bloke off the telly... Oh... WHAT'S HIS NAME?????????????? **** UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE Short and sweet - If you only see one show this fringe then make sure it's 'Puppy Love' by Andrew Glover. This man is indescribable - energetic, hilarious, eccentric and... at one point, totally naked! '*****' - The Scotsman. Cut down your phone bills by ordering online - edfringe.com - thanks
to Elf for this tip.
Let me just say one thing: "Come to the Edinburgh Festival!!!!!!" It really is not to be missed. I went to the festival last year as a performer in our school Musical and I had two of the best weeks of my life. Where should I start, the list of great things is endless. Firstly, the entertainment provided both in and out of the theatres in edinburgh is fantastic. I saw some great shows in Edinburgh, although admittedly too few, including Lee Hurst and Greg Proops: two of my favourite comedians. The serious drama was fist class too, and if you want some serious concerts or opera then the international festival provides that in abundance. The streets of edinburgh are just one giant party atmosphere. The whole of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh's main thoroughfare, is closed to traffic and full of street entertainers and actors leafletting their shows. The second reason I would suggest going is that you will enjoy yourself, especially in the evening when the town really becomes alive. All of our cast went out every night, got absolutely plastered and then staggered back to our flats. Luckily our show didn't start until 3:00 pm so we had plenty of time to sleep it off. So my recommendation would be to GO to the festival if only for the brilliant atmosphere in one of Scotland's most vibrant cities.
The Edinburgh Festival is obviously a good thing, in that it gives lots of little known artists a chance to perform. However, it is also good for the consumer as you can discover why these little known artists are just that. It's usually because they're rubbish. My advice for the festival is to book early for the interesting or well known acts which you really want to see. don't bother risking the others. if they ARE good, then they'll be back next year and you'll have heard of them by then on the telly, but 80% of them are rubbish. There are some really good names for the festival, so be organised to get tickets for them, rather than seeing two bad shows. Also, the tattoo is as good for scots as tourists alike, and the fireworks concert in the gardens is spectacular, although difficult to get tickets for. it is as much fun to go up one of the hiils in Edinburgh, listen to Forth FM and see the fireworks from there. You get a good view of the city and don't have to put up with all the traffic. Also, it is quite fun as you realise there are people doing the same thing all over the city - you can see camera flashes coming out of the darkness all over. Please bear in mind this advice on festival acts - I've wasted a lot of money in the past. Plan what you want to see in advance, stick to it and you will not be disappointed.
Arts Festival (said to be the largest in the world), with theatre shows, comedy shows, children's shows, dance etc...It occurs yearly in August. Edinburgh International Festival.