Tuesday, 11 August 2009

*Guilty face*

Woops, I have missed a few days. Shall I tell you why (in case you haven't already guessed)? Alcohol. Alcohol and late night shows that involve alcohol. Woops. If it were any other time or place but the Edinburgh festival I'd be a wreck but I don't have time to be a wreck, too much to do and see. So, it seems if you have the will power and enthusiasm you can run on 4 hours sleep and struggle through hangovers. Who knew?

I've see some bloody great shows over the past few days. I've seen Jon Richardson, School for Scandal, Glenn Wool and the midnight show at Just The Tonic at the Caves. Jon and Glenn's shows are the best solo shows I've seen so far at the festival. It's nice to be able to relax in a show and know that you are in very capable hands. They were both a pleasure to watch.

School for Scandal was wonderfully silly. There were lots of messed up lines, forgotten words and quarrels on stage. They clearly had a lot of fun working together and performing. There was lots of giggling on stage as well as in the audience.

Last night was the midnight show at Just The Tonic and it was the best late night show I've ever been to. The line up was Andrew Lawrence, Seann Walsh, Pete Firman, David O'Doherty and Tiernan Douieb as compere, for a fiver! All the acts were brilliant despite it being the early hours of the morning. The crowd were really happy and lively, not the usual drunks who heckle and chat the whole way through like you get at most late night shows. I'm not sure how I managed to stay up for it, let alone stay out after, for a drink. I was out drinking until very late the night before and had been suffering all day but I managed to pull myself together.

After I've finished scouting today I'm seeing Elis James and then David O'Doherty. I'm very excited about both. I saw a very early preview of Elis' and loved it and have been dying to see David's new show for a while now so it should be a good one. I don't plan on staying out too late tonight but I'm sure that's subject to change depending on what offers I get.

I'm writing this in between shows so it's only a short one. Hopefully I'll have more time over the next few days.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Ed blog #6 8th Aug

Yesterday things got really busy. I've started scouting now which means I'm rushing between shows again. It feels more like Edinburgh. I like scouting, you see some dodgy stuff but that just makes it great when you find something good.

The one show I saw yesterday that I pre-booked was Jamie Kilstein. I bloody love Jamie Kilstein! I love him so much. I want to sit down with a drink and chat to him for hours. I find comfort in everything about him; his geekyness, his views on religion, his political views etc. He's also bloody clever and funny. I'm still smiling just thinking about the show.

My brother left today and my friend arrived so I finally went out for a drink with people. It was all a bit rushed and I only had three beers but I drank them bloody quickly which means this morning is a bit of a struggle but it feels good to be socialising. On top of that I've got a lunch with some lovely people today so that makes me happy.

We left the flat to go for a drink at about 11.30 last night and it was bloody mental. we had to walk along Cowgate to get to where we were going to, it was heaving with drunk students, horrible creatures, stumbling out of one bar to find even cheaper drinks somewhere else. In London I try to avoid the center on a weekend for exactly the same reasons. As I'm writing this I'm very aware of how grumpy and middle aged I sound but I don't care. If I ever turn into one of those types, shoot me.

I'm expecting today to be a good one, lunch, a bit of scouting and a couple of shows I've booked tickets for (Tom Basden and Jon Richardson). Good times.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Ed blog #5 7th Aug

Still no rain.

Today was lovely, managed to get out of the flat at half one today and met a couple of friends. We sat in the Pleasance Courtyard for a couple of hours and had a good chat and a giggle then went our separate ways to see shows. More people I know are arriving so hoping to be bumping into a lot more people from now on.

I saw Fergus Craig's show today which I've been very excited about for a while. I've seen him a few times but only ever short sets and he's always left the stage with me wanting more. Well, today I got a while hour of him and really enjoyed it. His show (his first solo hour) is called Fergus Craig Still Watches Neighbours. The show is about his affection for the soap and how it has given him comfort at different stages in his life. He points out that very few people have never seen any Neighbours and most people around his age or younger have been through at least a phase of watching Neighbours regularly. A lot of people can relate to his affection for it. It's strange to realise how much of a big part the show plays in our lives. Throughout his show he plays us clips from Neighbours and adds his own slant to it, he also plays us home videos of himself at different stages in his life. His show is full of silly quips, voices and faces which have the audience laughing the whole way through. It's also, strangely, quite touching. I was very impressed with his show, it's unlike any other at the fringe. I'm predicting good things for Craig, he's a brilliant performer.

The other show I saw today was Jason Byrne. When I used to tell people that I'd never seen him live before, they would gasp. Everyone gave the same response: "You HAVE to see him." I was expecting great things and was not wrong to. I'm very familiar with him so knew what to expect. He has brilliant energy on stage. He enjoys himself and the audience definately do too. He's great with the audience and there is a lot of audience participation. At one point he sawed an audience member in half as another stoof on stage in a wig and a feather boa singing some magical style music to accompany the madness. He switches from sillyness like that and chatting with the audience to telling us stories from his life. Mostly about his inadequacies as a child and a husband/parent. He is hilarious, non-stop. He doesn't allow the audience time to breathe or calm down and he definitely doesn't do either himself. A great showman.

I start scouting tomorrow which means I'll be alot busier and won't be able to write about what I've seen as much. Also, my brother leaves and takes with him the computer which is going to make blogging hard but I'm determined to continue. If anyone out there thinks they know how to fix a netbook that can find the interent and says it's connected but just won't let me access any sites and is in Edinburgh at the moment, let me know. I will love you forever.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Ed blog #4 6th Aug

It didn't rain again today.

Had another lazy morning lying around the flat. First show I saw was the lovely Tiernan Douieb's. I'd seen a couple of his previews but he assured me he'd done alot of work on it since then and had changed things around. Even if he hadn't I still would have gone. I really enjoyed Tiernan's show, I liked it from the very first preview he did. He reminds me of Josie Long a bit with his enthusiasm for the little things in life, the show is joyful. I took my brother to see him and he described him as instantly likeable (I'm training him up) which is exactly what he is. it's his first hour show up here and it was his first show today. He was clearly nervous but he did really well.

Pete Firman was bloody infuriating in many ways. Firstly, they were half an hour late letting us in (I believe it was Denise Van Outen's fault, don't ask). That is annoying enough in itself but we were going to see Adam Hills afterwards which started 35 minutes after Pete Firman was due to finish so we had to run out sharpish, missing a bit at the end, in order to jump in a cab. Another reason why it was infuriating is because I JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW HE DOES THE BLOODY MAGIC TRICKS! I think I've got some of them worked out but there's others which just baffle me. As always, he was very entertaining although I think I prefered last year's show but maybe it was down to the room. Still, a brilliant performer.

We did make it to Adam Hill's show with a couple of minutes to spare. I've always been in awe of his talent to completely abandon all prepared material in order to persue something with the audience. He started this evening by doing a flashdance style dance and soaking of an audience member with Irn-Bru. Bizarre and brilliant. He's a great comedian but what I really enjoyed about his show was the little sentimental touches he added in. He's had three good friends die in the past year, all of which he describes as 'inflaters', people who make everyone around feel good and happy and make them laugh, and he urges the people in the audience to do the same. It is something which could easily become cheesy and lose and audience but he doesn't dwell and switches it back to helpless laughter really quickly. It's a nice touch. He's another one who is instantly likeable. How can you resist his twinkly eyes?

As I'm writing this I'm watching the fireworks from the castle whilst Auld Lang Syne is played on the bag pipes. I bloody love Edinburgh. Tomorrow is my last day of exclusively watching shows I've picked. Once I've started scouting I won't be blogging about them, it's not fair (and probably not allowed) but I'll be blogging about any shows I've chosen to see and am not feeding back to others on. I also might have some other stuff to tell you about rather than just shows I've seen as when my brother goes back home I can start going out drinking in the evenings! Not that I want him to leave or anything, it's just different kinds of fun is all.

Ed blog #3 5th Aug

It was sunny in Edinburgh today which was brilliant but also strange. I took my raincoat with me just in case, I have no faith in the Edinburgh weather.

I started seeing shows today, they're still all previews, some shows haven't got started yet. I was seriously expecting tiny crowds but was really pleasantly suprised. The first show I went to was Brian Gittins: Roadside Cafe Owner. I've seen Brian before and know I like him but I've only ever see him do 15-20 minutes slots before. This was a whole hour of unadulterated Gittins and his first show in Edinburgh (or as he puts it, his dayboo). As expected, I loved it. He's a character act, an anti comic and very silly, not usually my cup of tea but he does it so well and his Okey Cokey with audience members makes me hurt I laugh so much. Well worth checking out if you are up here. Support the new talent.

The next show I went to see was another character act who I saw for the first time at last year's Fringe and really enjoyed, Ivan Brackenbury, the hospital radio DJ. His show was still very much in the preview stages. This show it involves two other people who he obviously hasn't had much chance to practice with yet so it is incredibly shambolic. The character is so brilliant though and he's a brilliant performer so you forgive the shambles and enjoy the jokes that did work. This year, in order to add some variey, as he's been criticised for his shows being to similar, he has a woman giving birth to triplets on stage, this involves quite an impressive mechanism which failed him slightly yesterday. It all added to the charm. No doubt once it's been practiced a little more and everything is brought together properly it'll be another great Edinburgh show.

The last show I saw was Andrew Lawrence. His show this year is called Soul Crushing Vicissitudes of Fortune! Do you have any idea what that means? I don't. I've always loved Andrew Lawrence. I love his venomous rants and the outrageous abuse he hurls at people (not audience members, people in his everyday life). To call him a misanthrope isn't enough really. He doesn't just dislike people, he despises people and he tells you in a very long winded, articulate and foul way. Despite all this (and his 'rapists eyes') I find him very likeable. Amoungst all the rage and vitriol there are glimmers of something lovely. He tells you all about the downsides of being a stand-up comedian, the low income, the awful audiences, the travelling, the reviewers etc but then tells you how much he enjoys being up on stage in front of nice audiences. He always seems genuinely pleased to have had a good audience in. He is a grumpy man, he admits it. it's just the way he looks at the world. In my opinion, he is someone who deserves alot more recognition than he gets. His shows are always well thought out and prepared, I, and the rest of the audience, are always laughing the whole way through, sometimes uncontrollably. I prefered last years show to this one but it is still a show I'd highly recommend. The hour flew by.

I feel a lot better now I've started seeing shows, it feels like Edinburgh now although I'm not used to the big gaps between shows, I'm used to being rushed off my feet. I didn't really do much other than see shows. I had a lazy and relaxing morning waiting for shows to begin so not much else to report on.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I interupt the Edinburgh blogs to bring you this (because it annoyed the fuck out of me)

I have just read a friends blog about this article in the Guardian by Shazia Mirza http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jul/25/sharia-mirza-atheists. It's made me quite angry. I have to admit that I've never been a fan of hers. She's always come across as quite smug and self righteous. It's important for me to like the person I think the comedian is and she has never presented herself as particularly likeable to me. I saw her show in Edinburgh last year and it didn't go anyway to changing my mind about her. This is just my opinion however. It would be unfair of me to judge everything she does just by my initial impression of her. I have disliked people in the past only to do a complete U-turn and change my mind because I've have heard about something they've done or read something they've written. My point is, I don't dislike her for the sake of it. This article is just an example of the reasons that she is not my kind of person.

She has written about (amoungst other things) Camp Quest. To be fair to the Guardian they have placed a small paragraph before her article pointing out her mistakes. She claims that "Richard Dawkins has even set up a children's atheist summer camp". He hasn't. Camp Quest was started up in America, Dawkins had nothing to do with it. She also states that " These kids are aged eight to 15". They are not. The camp takes children ages 8 to 17. This point is very minor but it just shows the extent of research she has done into Camp Quest before writing the article. She's got some very basic and easily checked out facts wrong. The thing I find the most amazing is her describing Dawkins as "the Nick Griffin of atheism". I understand that Dawkins isn't to everyone's taste, it took me a while to come round to him but to compare him to Nick Griffin is outrageous. Check out the Camp Quest UK website here: http://www.camp-quest.org.uk/. They tell you on the website that they'd prefer not to be labelled as an 'Atheist Camp' as it's broader than that. From what I can tell its more a celebration of science than anything else.

I follow a few people on twitter who sent their children to Camp Quest this year and all of them, once their children were returned to them, were talking about how much fun their children had whilst there and were singing their praises. The children even got to meet and chat with A C Grayling. I wish that I was either A. young enough to go myself or B. had children to send. Also, her speculation that the children who attended Camp Quest would be jealous of the other children's stories of Disneyland is ridiculous. The camp hardly lasts the whole summer, from what I can tell the camp lasted little over a week, leaving plenty of time for the children to have some good old fashioned fun as well (but lets be honest, who wants to go to Blackpool anymore?).

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ed Blog #2 4th Aug

Today was our full day in Edinburgh without any shows to see (not even the previews have started yet) so I set about doing alternative things, some necessary and some just for the sake of it. The first thing I did was run across the road first thing in the morning and book myself a hair cut which was neither quite necessary but also not just for the sake of it. Then, my mum, my brother and I walked up to the Royal Mile for breakfast. This was strange as the flyering hadn’t started in earnest but there was the odd peculiarly dressed people advertising shows.

I booked all my tickets for the shows I’m seeing in the last week I’m here which was much more successful (and cheaper) than I anticipated. Only one show was sold out so I got most of my wishes. The only problem with booking the tickets was that I’m pretty much going to be alone during the days in the last week so all the shows I booked, I’m going to see alone. To avoid confusion and repeating myself too much I told the guy at the counter before I began booking that I was getting a lot of tickets and all of them were just one ticket for each. He, however, didn’t quite understand the concept of one going to watch a show alone so kept on asking at regular intervals if it was still just the one ticket I wanted for these shows. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to be mean but it just kept on drilling the point home that I am going to be on my own for most of my time during the last week. I hadn’t even really thought about it before this moment. It didn’t occur to me as a problem. Sure, I’ll be alone but I’ll be doing the thing that makes me the happiest in the world, seeing live comedy. Some of the acts I know well, some are new experiences, either way, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. However, his lack of grasping the concept of being alone made me think for minute if I’ll be ok. Not for long though, I soon snapped out of it. I saw what felt like a million shows mostly by myself last year and I loved it. It’s not like I’ll be spending the evenings by myself. With any luck I’ll be drinking ridiculous amounts with lovely and funny people every evening until I’m due to go home. So there, Fringe box office man. Ner! That was the necessary thing.

The just for the sake of it thing was the underground vaults, ghosty type tour of Edinburgh. It has been recommended to me by a few people so all three of us went along. I’m not very good with scary stuff. I’ve never been a fan of horror movies and I’m not one of those who get pleasure out of being scared. I know full well that no such thing as ghosts exist but for some reason the wuss in me’s heart rate still speeds up. Even though I know what they’re saying is a mixture of folk tale and pure unadulterated fiction on behalf of the tour company, even though I can spot when they’re being suggestive in order to get the experiences, feelings and reactions from their audiences that they need, I’m still agitated and would rather not be there, especially when they switch off all the lights and blow out all the candles. I obviously need to go to a few more Sceptics In The Pub meetings. All in all I think the underground tour of one of the other areas that focuses on the social history of the place sounds far more interesting and worthwhile but that is just me.

We start seeing shows tomorrow which I am very excited about although I’m slightly concerned about the crowd sizes, I don’t want to make up the entire audience but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Edinburgh blog #1 3rd Aug

The day is finally here! I’m in Edinburgh! 2 days earlier than truly necessary but I don’t know if I could have sat at home for two more days without being incredibly bad company. Today (and by today I mean yesterday as I’m posting this tomorrow. Confused? I am) was a little bit stressful. I had a relatively early night as my mum, my brother and I were catching the 7 o’clock train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Very early but it meant we had a good amount of time in Edinburgh once we got there. We mean to use the extra two days to actually see Edinburgh rather than it being a blur either side of us while we are rushing from one show to another. So we got to the station in plenty of time, got on the train, had space for our bags and sat down in our reserved seats 47, 49 and 50, round a table, waiting for the train to leave. It was all going very smoothly. After a while a man got on the train and told me I was in his seat. We got the tickets out and it seems we had been double booked.

Never mind, there’s loads of spaces and we’ll just argue with the ticket man when he comes around.

The man was very friendly. We left the tickets on the table. The train left the station. We were on our way with only a fairly minor hiccup. I glanced at the ticket, wondering how they managed to double book us. We hadn’t been double booked. The friendly man was right. I was sat in his seat. I was sat in his seat because we had got on the wrong train. We were on the wrong train because the train we were booked onto was leaving an hour later from Kings Cross. My mother had decided to assume that we were supposed to be on the 7 o’clock train instead of doing what any other normal person would do and checking the ticket (it’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last).

Ok. Calm down. The next stop is Stevenage which isn’t that far away. If we can get to Stevenage before the ticket man comes along then we might get away with not having to pay the whole train fare again. Let the friendly man know we were wrong and he was right.

We got to Stevenage before the ticket man got to us.

Phew. Get off the train, all we have to do is sit on the platform for an hour and wait for the next train. Simple. Just to be on the safe side lets ask the man if the train we are supposed to be on goes from the same platform.

He was another friendly and helpful man.

He doesn’t know, it’s only his first week but he’ll go and ask someone if it goes from here and if we have to do anything else. He comes back and tells us that we might have to pay the fare from London to here but he won’t tell if we don’t. All we want to know is if the train we’re supposed to be on goes from this platform. He assures us it does, wishes us a nice day and gets on with his day.

At this point I was laughing about it. I had to laugh otherwise a stream of obscenities would have erupted from my mouth.

The friendly man comes back with a little book full of train times. He is making sure that our train is definitely coming to this platform.

As I said, he was very friendly and helpful.

Ah, the train we are supposed to be on doesn’t stop at this platform, in fact it doesn’t stop in Stevenage at all. It stops at Peterborough. The next train to Peterborough is at 7.46 from this platform. It is now 7.38. It’ll take about 30 to 35 minutes and the train we’re supposed to be on leaves Peterborough at 8.46. We should have plenty of time. Thank you very much friendly, helpful man.

I am not laughing at this point. So we got to Peterborough with about 12 minutes to spare. We were feeling slightly awkward at the prospect of having to kick people out of our seats seeing as we fucked up. We decided mum could do the evicting, after all, it was her fault. I had been quite stressed for quite a while and it wasn’t easing at all. I was imagining all the other things that could go wrong with this journey. The train pulled up. We got on, dumped our bags on the ever growing pile of suitcases and headed for our seats. Sure enough, there were people sitting there.

Mum is telling them that they are in our seats. They are looking puzzled, not what we expected. They pull out their tickets and tell us that they have booked these seats, 47, 49 and 50, round a table. The first thing mum does is check the time of their train, 8 o’clock, as it should be. Oh dear.

The problem was that they were 24 hours early, they had booked for the 4th, not the third. I began to feel a little better about our fuck up. At least we’d got the right day. They got out of our seats which I felt a little bad about although by this point I was pretty sure that they were doomed seats and didn’t want much to do with them.

You’ll be pleased to know the rest of the journey went smoothly. We got to the apartment fine, got a bit of shopping, I unpacked and all three of us then had a nap. We were all completely wiped out by the stress of the morning. We’ve just got back from having a Chinese meal and I’m planning on going to bed pretty soon after I’ve finished this. I aim to blog everyday although knowing me there will probably be a few gaps but I’m hoping by telling you that this is what I aim to do, I will feel obliged. Hopefully, my following blogs won’t be as stressful and will be about joyful thing, late nights, good comedy and interesting people. Fingers crossed.