Last weekend I headed up to Edinburgh for two days of comedy at the Fringe Festival. This is the second year I’ve been to the Fringe, and I managed a little better this time, getting to ten shows over the two days. Here’s a little about what I saw.
Let’s start with the ones that worked best: out of everything I saw I’d put three shows at the top, and those are The Commission, by Rachel Parris; Hurricane Diane, by Diane Spencer; and Contains Scenes of an Adult Nature, by Brett Goldstein.
This was the second time I’d seen Diane Spencer – who was the best of the performers I saw last year – and she pretty much lived up to expectations this time around. Rachel Parris’ free show of musical comedy was the first thing I saw this year, and it was pretty great, got me off to a very good start. Brett Goldstein was the last show I booked, after seeing it mentioned in an article on the BBC, and it turned out to be a smart and funny hour about sex and internet porn, with some real points to make about sexualisation in our culture.
Not far below those three, I’d place Vikki Stone’s Definitely, Felicity Ward’s Irregardless, and Omid Djalili. To be honest I had high expectations for Omid Djalili that weren’t quite met – he was the biggest name on the list of shows I saw, but parts of his act felt very predictable and safe in comparison to others. Still, he’s good at what he does. Vikki Stone put on a very well crafted show which built upon itself and the points it made about celebrity and reality TV into a very funny ending with a great piece of audience participation. Felicity Ward did well despite what seemed like a less receptive small Sunday night crowd.
Nat Luurtsema’s free standup show was pretty good, but didn’t quite match up to the ones above.
On Sunday morning I went to Shakespeare for Breakfast, where a group performed their take on The Taming of the Shrew, but starring Princes William and Harry, and Kate and Pippa Middleton. It was a pretty fun show.
Finally, there were the more disappointing end of the list. These shows weren’t bad, they just didn’t quite work out as well as I hoped. Firstly, one of the things I most looked forward to was seeing a performance of the musical Avenue Q at the Assembly Hall; unfortunately this was almost ruined by the awful, awful seating at the venue. I had a seat directly behind a pillar, and could barely see half the stage at a time. The show itself was good, but hard to enjoy that way.
The very last thing to mention is Drei Zwei Eins Mit Flange Krammer, a free show I watched to fill time on Sunday. This one wasn’t bad, but it was very hit and miss on the jokes. Full of deliberately awful puns, and with some outdated cultural references, this’ll work for some people more than others.
And other than a few street performers, that was everything. Unfortunately. I was left wishing I’d been able to stay for longer than two nights, and I might try to arrange three or four next year. There is far too much going on at the Fringe for you to ever see all the shows that look good, and two days just fly past.