Yesterday I drove up from London to Edinburgh – an eight hour drive not helped by a performer phoning me at 9.34am, 9.59am, 10.32am and 10.36am to suggest himself for the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award. The previous night, he had sent three identical e-mails suggesting himself. Not three separate e-mails… The same e-mail three times with gaps between. Not a mistake.
This does not signal Talent to me. It signals Trouble and I can do without the comic version of Play Misty For Me.
At the Gilded Balloon’s launch party, I was interested to see the Big Four venues have changed the cover of their brochure since their London launch – or, at least, provided an alternative.
For a couple of years, they had printed a brochure under the banner Edinburgh Comedy Festival which got them terrible criticism because it was said they were trying to con punters into believing their shows were ALL the comedy shows at the Fringe.
I never understood the criticism. All the venues and all the agencies who print their own brochures to complement the main Fringe Programme have, at various times, in various ways tried to make their brochure seem to be the only one punters needed. It seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable self-marketing and the hoo-hah against the Big Four’s Edinburgh Comedy Festival appeared to be (I was told) stoked up by another venue which had been keen to be in the brochure but had been turned down.
So I was impressed to see at the London launch of the brochure a cover declaring it was the EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE brochure. It sort of masqueraded as the main Fringe Programme rather than just the comedy shows.
Now I can only imagine the Big Four have backed-off and changed the cover.
More jollity was to be had at the new Freestival launch party, sponsored by the La Favorita pizza chain. Not only were there slices of pizza on offer amid the champagne, but there were stacks of fairy cakes. Now THAT is my sort of festival launch.
The downside was a wanton attack on my shirt by very talented but obviously sartorially tasteless comedians Alexander Bennett and Paco Erhard.
Standing on my left side, Alexander texted to Paco who was standing on my right side (this is the 21st century):
John’s shirt – a brave choice.
Paco texted back to Alexander:
Oh great! Made me look! It looks like a lava lamp to me now.
These two excellent but foolhardy performers are not quite up to the level of some bloke sending me the same e-mail three times and phoning me four times in one hour, but they are risking the wrath of my increasingly prestigious blog.
It was a relief to be dragged across the street for a meal with Juliette Burton and her musical director Frankie Lowe.
“Nice shirt,” they both said with I thought a tiny trace of sarcasm.
Juliette told me she had four reviewers in the audience for her first Look At Me show – always a good sign there’s a buzz about a show even if it is nerve-wracking for the performer.
I said I went “across the street for a meal with Juliette Burton and her musical director Frankie Lowe”. In fact, I did not have a meal with them. I watched them eat. At the end of their apparently very tasty meal, it turned out that Empire’s restaurant does not take credit cards or debit cards.
In a sign of how technology is affecting us – or just our own individual bank balances – it turned out neither Juliette nor Frankie… nor I… had the required £22 in cash in our pockets. Not even combining our resources. So I paid with a cheque (to be reimbursed to me by them later in cash or in fairy cakes).
Frankie said he had not seen anyone use a chequebook since the 1990s.
This made me feel out-of-date. I do try to keep up with the kids in the hood. I listen to the wireless on my computer and use the interweb and wear trainers.
Round the corner from the restaurant, we bumped into Bob Slayer outside his new venue Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop.
He licked Juliette’s nose.
He licked Frankie’s nose.
I escaped his tongue.
I felt relieved.
I went back to my rented flat.
It is frighteningly clean.