Edinburgh Fringe: A Beginner’s Diary – DAY FOUR

DAY FOUR – 10/08/12

This will be my longest entry, because it was also my longest day.

I am HUNGOVER, but I have a guest pass to Gareth Morinan’s show, so I drag my protesting body into town. On day four, I am beginning to get what I now think of as “Edinburgh Leg”; an ache throughout the muscles alongside the shin bones, caused by walking up and down the many hills. On my way to Bristo Square, I pass a tourist who is gawping up at the castle, whilst saying “that’s the castle!”

I love tourists. I love them so much that I am one.

Gareth Morinan: Truth Doodler
I love Gareth’s show – the minute I heard it included data analysis and animations, I was pretty much on board. My favourite bits are the flowcharts and also his sproingly hair! I’m just that kind of nerd.

But I feel like it – the show I saw, at least – suffered a bit from being a pay-in gig, though, and would’ve got more attention on the Free Fringe. There seems to be a lot of worry this year about decreased audiences for the main festival; Richard Herring’s got a good bit on it over on his blog (“Is the fringe bubble about to burst?”) Obviously, as this was my first year, I don’t have anything to compare it to, and I personally can’t imagine the streets of Edinburgh being more jam-packed than they were at the weekends. Maybe it’s just weekday stuff that’s suffering? I don’t know. I don’t know. The Fringe is a whole new world, with its own traditions and controversies and celebrities and heroes. I’ve barely got to grips with the beginning of them.

Anna Morris: Dolly Mixture
Sketches! Sketches! Sketches! Lots of fun skits and bits on gendered marketing and how ridiculous make-up adverts are, and – broadly speaking – feminist-flavoured themes, but nothing that would hammer you in the face if you were a bit feminist-wary.  One of the more effortless shows I saw in terms of audience engagement, too; Anna has a way of bringing the audience in as characters in her sketches that doesn’t feel too horribly intrusive or awkward. I endorse this.

Richard Tyrone-Jones’ Big Heart
One I’d been wanting to go to for a while, and not just because I love gingers. HE IS GINGER YOU SEE. Rich’s show is spoken-word, peppered with pieces of his poetry, about developing and coming to terms with his own mystery heart failure. By turns terrifying, devastating and uplifting, I came out not at all sure of my own body anymore. Definitely one for fans of the NHS (represent) and maudlin types who like to dwell on their own mortality (represent).

ImageFor lunch today I decide to try haggis, because apparently that is a thing that you have to do whilst in Scotland. It turns out that trying haggis when massively hungover and nauseous is a bad thing to do, especially when there is a wanker sitting opposite who keeps sing-songing “LUU-UUNGS! TRACH-EEEE-AAAA!” at you. I would give haggis one star out of five.

I decided to go vegetarian about four days later, and am not certain that the two are unrelated.

Nick Doody: Look at This Massive Picture of My Face

Nick Doody came highly recommended to me, especially in terms of political stuff, and I will give him this – his political stuff was all perfectly fine. I love a bit of Thatcher-bashing as much as the next insufferable lefty. The moment when we fell out is when he went into his set about offense in comedy, and then made the (almost inevitable, these days) leap into talking about rape jokes. Now, I’m not part of the school of thought that thinks rape should never be “allowed” in a comedy set. But I also think it’s a very contextually sensitive issue, and that there’s a massive difference between “rape jokes” (I see this as, jokes belittling, normalising or making fun of rape) and “jokes dealing with the subject of rape” (another thing entirely). I don’t see “comedy” (though I realise that the name itself is misleading) as something that has to make you laugh all the time; I think at its best, it can be something that makes you think, and something that makes you examine the parts of you that you’re not ok with, and something that makes you examine your place in the world and how you feel about it. So, I’m certainly not the type of person to go “right, they’ve mentioned the R-word, that is IT”. I don’t think any topic is “off-limits”, in that sense.

My problem was with Doody’s argument, which was – in a nutshell – that people should never get offended by rape jokes because “rape jokes don’t contain any actual rape”. He then went on to say that getting offended by rape jokes “is like getting offended at doors because of knock-knock jokes”. OH HI, FAULTY LOGIC! So jokes about lynching racial minorities aren’t offensive because they don’t contain any actual lynching? So jokes about kicking disabled children in the face aren’t offensive because they don’t contain any actual kicking disabled children in the face? I mean, how far do you want to take this, exactly?

Anyway, after that he went on to do some boring cliché comedy about men not using moisturiser, no one wanting to fuck science nerds, and women caring more about their looks than practicalities. So that was fun.

After this – and perhaps related to it – I am hit with my first proper bout of Fringe-fatigue. With hours to go until the midnight show, I find a bar at the Students Union and sit in a corner, nursing a pint and looking doleful. Tom and Becky are similarly zonked; this is what happens when you take three introverts and make them socialise incessantly. Finally, in an effort to inject some pizzazz back into our ailing souls, Tom suggests we switch from hefty pints to spirits and coke.



The Beta Males: Midnight Movie Theatre
I go into this not entirely sure what it’s going to be, and to be honest, I come out not much the wiser. A mixture of B-movie viewing (B-movie actually seems generous, in this case), interactive theatre and sketch comedy, the Betas had roped in a variety of Fringey chums and promised us all a night of immersive thrills and chills. This…mostly consisted of them chucking things at us. But in a good way. It was….well. It was.

Following this, I accidentally stay out until 6am, getting kicked from bar to bar as they close their doors for the night. Edinburgh in the early hours is a ridiculous place; it doesn’t feel dangerous or lairy in the least, and there’s that feeling of festival comradery wherever you go, although I do pass a crying woman sitting on a pavement with blood running down her face. But, tbf, there’s every chance it was performance art.

Walking back through the grey Edinburgh dawn, I feel a strange sort of solidarity with everyone I pass. I wonder which side they’re seeing dawn from, and feel sorry for the ones who are seeing it from the correct side; they’re certainly in the minority. I pass a group of men happily playing a game of kick-the-can, and then get high-fived by a drunk Scottish man. “Where are you going?” he asks. Well, I think – in whimsical mode, from the dawn and the drink – isn’t that always the question? “Home,” I say, wondering if he’s making a clumsy attempt at picking me up. “Don’t you DARE say you’re going to McDonald’s!” he yells, suddenly aggressively. I am confused. He is eating from a McDonald’s box.  What does this MEAN?? Tbf, there’s every chance it was performance art.

In the last bar we get shepherded into, they’ve just stopped serving and the room is almost deserted. The Neuroscientist suggests that I grab one of the abandoned pints perched on a table (we are classy folk), so I…do.

It turns out.

It turns out.

I can’t even write it.

It turns out it is not abandoned.

It turns out it actually belongs to a man with.

A man with no legs below his knees, who walks about on just his stumps

Who stumps over to me asking for his drink back.

Rightly so.




I have been learning the art of the mystical “callback”, can you tell.

Shows seen: 5
Haggis count: 1
Feminist wrath incurred: SOME
Hugs/compliments received from strangers owing to fact that am wearing a Pokemon tshirt: 4
New comedy techniques learned: 1


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