I was talking to someone last week and we thought it might be quite jolly to have a comedians’ club at the Edinburgh Fringe throughout August, catering not for the VIP top-of-the-billers but for the ordinary riff-raff of comedy. But, of course, it’s far too complicated and time-consuming to organise an 18-hour-a-day venue with inevitably essential access to drink.
Oh, alright, it was not so much an idea as a cheap pun.
We thought it might be jolly to have somewhere called the Gaucho Club or the Grouchy Club for comedians at the Fringe – a club for ordinary scum whom London’s Groucho Club would never want to have as members.
You know you’re getting old when you talk about how Glastonbury has changed and remember the ‘good old days’ at the Edinburgh Fringe when, after comedians had performed their shows, they would end up in the bar of the old Gilded Balloon in Cowgate – before it burnt down – where they would drunkenly bitch with others of their ilk while the Late ‘n’ Live show rambled along anarchically on stage.
Now, during August, there are late-night clones of the old Late ‘n’ Live show (including the current Late ‘n’ Live show and Spank!) all over town and late-night performers-only places to schmooze-in like the new Gilded Balloon’s Tower Bar (too-exclusive and somewhat snooty) or Brooke’s Club at the Pleasance Dome (too Pleasance-centric); the Fringe Central building closes too early for any of this and is, in any case, a tad lacking in atmosphere.
Even if you could find an ideal physical location like the ultra-atmospheric Bannerman’s Bar in Cowgate where the likes of Arthur Smith and Malcolm Hardee used to hang out – the timing is difficult.
I once phoned a comedian in London at 4.00pm in the afternoon and he said: “Are you mad? It’s 4 o’clock… I’m still in bed!”
That’s a little extreme but, after a few days at the Edinburgh Fringe, even normally early-to-bed-at-midnight people involved in shows do certainly get into a rough rhythm of perhaps getting to sleep around 3,00 or 4.00am, then getting up around midday.
Midnight would be the best time for a comedians’ club, but lots of them are still performing or seeing shows at that time. Before shows start would be a theoretical possibility – perhaps 11.00am to midday daily.
But, at that time, most comedians are still turning over in bed, groaning, dreaming of getting their first booking on a TV panel game or thinking they really have caught a sexually-transmitted disease this time.
And then there’s the general throng of punters and tourists. You can’t bitch properly if the audience is sitting at the next table in the bar.
So perhaps next year, eh?
A set time and place for comedians and associated hangers-on (among which, of course, I include myself) to meet for a regular schmooze in the Gaucho Club or the Grouchy Club at the Fringe – for a whinge and a bitch.
Or not. Fuck it! Who would turn up?