When I arrived in town yesterday, the first thing I did was go buy a cup of tea.
“Oh,” said the girl at the till, “I’m still confused. They put the prices up this week because it’s the Fringe and I can’t remember what’s what now.”
Welcome to Edinburgh during the Festival.
Yesterday afternoon and evening, I was in a daze. I had had two hours sleep in a layby just outside Edinburgh at 5.00am plus an hour’s sleep at 2.00pm. My rented flat has WiFi access which is, unfortunately, provided by the ever-incompetent TalkTalk. This means that all access to any Facebook or Twitter or WordPress (which hosts this blog you are reading) is blocked because.. well, who knows?
Later, crossing North Bridge on my way to the Voodoo Rooms, I saw a double rainbow over Edinburgh. This presumably means either double my luck at the Fringe or twice the shit. But it started well.
Mat Ricardo, the man who can not only pull a tablecloth OUT from under crockery on a table but who can also sweep it back UNDER the crockery again in one fast move has brought his London Varieties format to Edinburgh as the Voodoo Varieties.
This involves an admirably zealous pushing of variety acts, different top-notch cabaret acts each night, a different chat guest each night and not a stand-up comedian in sight.
Last night, this meant an audience with a high percentage of Edinburgh’s best cabaret acts in it. This also meant that, on-stage, ukelele chanteuse Tricity Vogue accidentally ended up with audience member participation from singer Lili La Scala whose own Fringe show is called Another Fucking Variety Show
I had not realised until I got there that last night’s chat guest was doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers (and fellow Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge) Kate Copstick.
After watching Up and Over It’s (Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding’s) extraordinarily rousing electro-pop hands-beating-on-amplified-table-while-physically-attacking-each-other pastiche of Riverdance style music, Copstick and I just looked at each other in awe.
Copstick, in her own chat with Mat Ricardo was raving about Paul Provenza’s Set List, Tom Flanagan’s Kaput and the fact that “in comedy, the audience is dwindling up the arse-hole of television.
“You could have a crock of shit live on stage at one of the major venues,” she suggested, “and, if they add an As Seen on Mock The Week or Star of Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow strap on the poster, it would sell out at £16 a pop. A lot of comedy audiences are muppets…
“And then you get somebody who’s dragged up the arse-end of a tour that has been every place in the UK except Edinburgh to do seven nights at the (large) EICC or somewhere. Fuck you! The Fringe isn’t the place to do that. This is the place to do new stuff, interesting stuff. Don’t just schlep up some tired old crap because you know there’s enough dumb people who’ll pay £16 a ticket for it!”
“I kind of think,” said Mat Ricardo, “that pretty much every show up here… the person doing it should be unsure of whether it’s going to work or not.”
“Absolutely,” said Copstick. “The Fringe should be where you take risks. If the Fringe can be killed, it will be comedy that kills the Fringe.”
Copstick is not big on safe comedy. She mentioned Bob Slayer’s Alternative Fringe shows at The Hive venue.
“Things don’t get much more unacceptable than Bob Slayer,” she told Mat admiringly. “I was absolutely gutted that, last night, I couldn’t go to the Alternative Fringe launch party. I had been offered free beer and, normally, that will have me flat on my back with my legs in the air. I was asked to go and tattoo someone at the launch party. I told Bob But I can’t tattoo anyone! and his reaction was Ooh no problem, no problem! He’s got a very high pain threshold!”
Later last night, at the Free Festival launch party, I asked Bob Slayer about this.
“It was my friend Miles Lloyd,” he told me. “Miles has got the biggest collection of terrible tattoos in the world. He is happy to be tattooed anywhere by anyone, provided it isn’t on his face or hands. It couldn’t be worse than what he’s got. He’s got a tattoo of a band that he didn’t even know. He just saw it as a logo on a skateboard and thought Oh, that looks cool. But then he found out they are a band and they are shit!”
“What did you do when Copstick didn’t turn up?” I asked.
“Well, we didn’t tattoo him.”
“You should have tattooed him yourself,” I said. “Anyone can do it.”
“Well the tattoo needle thing didn’t turn up either. We’ll get Copstick to do it at a later date. This is an open call to Copstick!” Bob started shouting. “We need you at the Alternative Fringe to come and tattoo Miles’ arse!”
I then checked my phone and found I had received a tweet from the monthly London Fetish Fair, which I went to a few weeks ago but did not blog about. There was a Twitpic of a poster which said:
CHARLIE CHUCK HAS GONE TO THE DARK SIDE
London Fetish Fair… The world’s longest running fetish fair & alternative cabaret party welcomes our new, iconic compere to interpret the world of the bizarre with a riotous, irrepressible hilarity. 2nd Sunday of every month, starting October 14th 2012.
I had actually gone with Charlie Chuck to last month’s Fetish Fair where he talked to them about this. (No pictures!) There had been talk, I think, of them providing a latex suit for him. I must ask him about this when he arrives in Edinburgh on Sunday.
The other thing I need to catch up on is the half-hour play based on Janey Godley’s extraordinary Twitter viral story about an overheard conversation in a train.
This is now going to be staged as #timandfreya – a special one-off, one-night-only event at the Pleasance venue on Monday 20th August, dramatised by Janey’s daughter Ashley Storrie. Their selling line is:
For one night only, the world gets to see the account of two people, one horse and an internet sensation that provoked worldwide debate on privacy laws.
Whether the real Tim is going to turn up at the performance, I don’t know. I expect details when Janey and Ashley descend on Edinburgh to overnight in my flat tonight. Pity they can’t access Twitter from it.
Last chat of last night at the Free Festival launch party, before I went to an early bed, was with comedian Lewis Schaffer, whose posters went missing after they arrived in Edinburgh. No doubt spurred on by Britain’s double-gold-medal win at yesterday’s Olympics and with the glittering hope of winning a second increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award, he tells me he is going to have a competition.
He says there will be a prize offered for the person correctly guessing the time and date when his misplaced Edinburgh Fringe posters will be located.
“I’m also offering a prize,” he told me, “for the best suggestion of what that prize should be.”
“What’s the prize for that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I may have another prize competition about that.”
The strange thing is that, unlike most people performing at the Fringe, Lewis does not drink much.