I arrived at the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday to find it unchanged.
Going into the Gilded Balloon venue press party, I passed a young man who was wailing: “I just got wine on my phone! I just got wine on my phone!”
Inside the Gilded Balloon, comedian Maureen Younger, who was going in to see Janey Godley’s show Janey Godley Is Ungagged, told me people keep coming up to her in the street because they mistake her for either Janey Godley or Karen Dunbar – both of whom have Scots accents – despite the fact Maureen looks nothing like either and has an English accent.
On the other hand, Maureen’s own show The Outsider is about how she became the only London-Scottish, Austrian-accented German-speaking, black lesbian on the UK comedy circuit, despite being white, straight and British.
At the Gilded Balloon party, I also bumped into New York comic Laura Levites, still jet-lagged, who told me she had finished re-writing her show Selfhelpless eight minutes before her first performance yesterday, which turned out to be a good idea, as Kate Copstick (the Fringe’s most influential critic) came in to see that show.
Apparently Copstick liked it.
“What’s it about?” I asked Laura.
“What’s it always about?” she asked.
I can do no better than quote the blurb.
“Life is shit. Drugs, shrinks, denial and the higher power of eBay haven’t helped. It took Laura three hours to get a new diagnosis – judge her in 60 minutes. ‘A straight-talking New Yorker with an upfront attitude’ (Scotsman). ‘Levites is both lovable and crazy’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com). If life were a cab it would first refuse to take her home and then hit her … wait … it just did! Laura almost let a creepy ex-neighbour photograph her in chains for this show. ‘Nuff said. Her dog needs vaginal rejuvenation. Lord knows what Laura needs.”
What she did not need at the Gilded Balloon party yesterday was a rather scary pink pig puppet on the end of a man’s arm come up and try to sell his show to her while she was drinking.
Leaving by the pedestrian underpass outside the Pleasance Dome venue, I heard someone say: “He’s daubing graffiti with an invisible paintbrush,” and, indeed, a man was doing just that, while talking loudly to himself about the fact that the bees are being killed off by “them”.
But even I can be occasionally slightly surprised at the Fringe.
I have seen some topless comedy shows, but American performer Adrienne Truscott’s show is the first time I have seen a female comic’s show performed bottomless.
Her show was an eye-opener in that I now know the projected faces of several pop stars look even weirder with a lady’s pubic hair added to their chin. Her show is called Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!
As someone said to me afterwards, it seems perfectly normal, at the Edinburgh Fringe, for a performer to wear nothing below the waist.
The show took place in Bob’s Bookshop – a new venue run by comic Bob Slayer which unsurprisingly (for those who know Bob) has a public bar selling beers and sundry other drinks.
Before and after Adrienne’s show, I was chatting to comedian Ian Cognito. He was wearing a hat. He said he had a song about the late Malcolm Hardee. I invited him to perform it at the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the final Friday of the Fringe. He said Yes.
The last time I saw Ian Cognito was when he, Jenny Eclair and I shared a funeral car at Malcolm Hardee’s funeral at Greenwich in 2005 – an event that was ‘reviewed’ by the Daily Telegraph with the words “Rarely can there have been so much laughter and irreverence at a funeral service and rarely can it have been more appropriate”.
Last night, Cognito told comic Pam Ford and me a very funny series of stories about his own dad’s funeral and what happened to the ashes afterwards.
Alas, I don’t think I can repeat them, because I was harassing Cognito that he should do death stories as an Edinburgh Fringe show in 2014.
“You would make it funny, sad and odd,” I told him. “You should call it Four Funerals and a Funeral.”
He did not seem persuaded, but you never know.
When I got back to my Edinburgh flat, zonked, an e-mail was waiting for me from Alexander Frackleton, a Scot living in the Czech Republic, occasionally mentioned in this blog.
He told me: “Please gonnae no’ refer to me as an ex-pat. I hate ex-pats and avoid them like the plague cos they are always complaining about how things are not like Britain, America, Canada, Australia etc. And I’m not a comedian – and don’t want to be. Ye know that. I’m a Scots Poet in exile. Don’t look at me like that, yer a writer, ye can work with that idea.”
His real reason for writing, though was to tell me that a report he had spotted in yesterday’s Daily Mail online was not a wind-up.
“It is true,” he told me, “cos it was reported here in the Czech Republic a few days ago.”
The report was about a Czech man who claims his religion forces him to wear a sieve on his head. He says his religion is ‘Pastafarianism’ and the authorities have now given him permission to wear a sieve on his head on his official Czech ID card picture.
Perhaps it is NOT just Edinburgh which is eccentric.
“Do ye know what the Czechs call the ‘silly season’?” Alex asked me. “They call it the cucumber season.”