I went with my ladyfriend over two days. First and second day of the festival.
First thing we saw was a couple of blues guitar players. It was in a jazz lounge. Nice venue, laid back atmosphere, just a couple of dudes doing their thing and not in the usual flamboyantly homosexual Fringe Festival way. In case anyone is unaware, the festival is organised, run, staffed, and attended almost entirely by homosexuals. The vast majority of the acts are homosexuals doing homosexual things. So these two guys jamming together, cranking out some mellow music was a welcome change of pace.
Second thing we saw was a mentalist. I should mention that my ladyfriend picked out everything that we saw except the blues musicians and a theatre thing that we went to later in the day.
So this mentalist. Holy crap. I knew it was going to be bad. Before I booked it, I said, "You realise that there's a risk of being called up on stage, right?" She said "we'll just sit in the back." I suspected that this was going to be a small venue and indeed it was. There were nine of us there with this mentalist and his girlfriend.
I won't bore you with the details. My ladyfriend did indeed get called up and there was some sleight of hand. He exchanged a normal 5p coin for a bent 5p coin and claimed that it was the power of the mind that bent it. She genuinely didn't realise that he'd done it. So good for him.
Less good is anything where I have to get involved. We all had to write something down. Our dreams and what's stopping us. He wasn't just a mentalist he was also a motivatational speaker. So I put something stupid down because I didn't know what to write and it's nobody's god damn business anyway. I also gave him a false name. He asked for everyone's names.
So...it got awkward. I won't elaborate. But this is why you need to choose appropriate venues for your entertainment. I don't like putting myself in positions where somebody else is going to feel uncomfortable by my actions. People are very self-centered. When somebody is acting oddly, their first reaction is, "What am I doing wrong?" instead of "This guy obviously has a problem."
So it was bad. But good for the mentalist for getting out there, trying to entertain, trying to change lives. He also mentioned his crippling depression. You know. That's another reason not to put yourself in situations where others may feel uncomfortable.
Next thing was a play. Gay. This is what I chose. It's based on famous murder in Chicago from 100 years ago. The murderers were possibly gay but I read a book on the subject and saw a Hitchcock film that I think was at least loosely based on the events and no mention of homosexuality.
The play, on the other hand, was ENTIRELY about how much fudge packing these two alleged homos engaged in. A lot of creative liberties were taken.
Last thing was an acrobatic troop. Where were they from? Eastern Europe, I bet. No, Australia. Well, anyway, pretty gay. The warm up was the muscular young men in the group getting undressed. Why is this happening? The women also did it but the only one I remember is the woman with big legs and buttocks. Not really what one expects from an acrobat but good for her.
The acrobatics themselves weren't overtly gay. It was just them doing shit. Human pyramids and whatnot.
So that was the first day. Really stressful trying to find venues. We didn't go to the first thing on the list because I couldn't find the place.
Next day, we saw a lesbian grrl power "comedy" one person show about how womyn have vaginas. Really bad stuff. I suspect that I had less body hair than anyone in that audience. We get it, lady. You have a vagina. You also have feelings. Sometimes the feelings lead to biological reactions in your vagina. Do you have anything else that you can talk about? What's the most interesting holiday you've been on?
And hearing this woman's public school girl accent as she's talking about all her "hardships" was infuriating. She allegedly became some sort of prostitute for reasons that were never made clear other than "feelings". Just ask your father to send you some money, you dumb bitch. You don't have to rent out your vagina in some weird Eyes Wide Shut party.
Then we saw another one woman show but this was about life in New York. It was a Puerto Rican woman and half of the show was in Spanish. When I later mentioned this to my ladyfriend, "I couldn't even understand half of it because she was speaking Spanish" she said, "She wasn't speaking Spanish. That was just the character's accent." It's hilarious because I assure you that that woman was speaking Spanish. But my ladyfriend just thought it was heavily-accented English.
Anyway, the play made absolutely no sense for the first hour. Just random shit happening. But by the end, it all comes together so that's good writing. I don't know if it was based on real events or not. And not gay so points for that.
Next, we saw a two woman play. I think it was written by a young American woman. It starred two young American women. It was like watching a play written by and performed by school children. There were 11 of us in this tiny venue.
The play was about nothing. Young woman gets a date with a hunky male model, male model postpones date, it's later revealed that the male model is gay. That's it. 45 minutes of that drivel.
Again, for all of these shows, kudos to the thespians. You can only work with the material you have. But much of the material is poor.
Then we went back to that jazz lounge and saw a folk singer. He was good. Another fine time had at that club. I wouldn't mind going on a regular basis.
Then we topped off the festival with some delicious stand up comedy. That's the big draw of the festival. See your favourite comedians live in person. Craig Ferguson was there, Lee Nelson, and then there was this guy who I never heard of but my ladyfriend said she saw him on tv before and he was okay so off we went.
It was crude, sexual comedy throughout. The male equivalent to vagina comedy.
Again, there was the risk that you'd be called out by the comedian to be the source of his humour. Fortunately, we sat towards the back so were spared.
The problem is that I don't find much stuff funny. Even in the privacy of my own home, I'm not laughing at stand up comedy. Certainly in public, with the added anxiety that that brings, I'm not going to laugh. And then add this weak material to the mix.
But I don't want the guy to be uncomfortable. There were maybe...60 people there. So it wasn't huge but reasonable group. He can see, "What's that bald guy doing not laughing at any of my jokes?" I tried to smile politely at some of the masturbation comedy but...man.
The woman behind me loved it, though. She was guffawing at every god damn joke.
It's just fake. She was either a plant or hoping to have sex with him after the show. If you like 9 out of 10 jokes, I can go along with that. But she was laughing at every single joke. They can't all be hits.
It was a reasonably young guy and so much hack material. "Give me a cheer if you're from Edinburgh!" "WOO!" "Give me a cheer if you're not from Edinburgh!" "WOO!" Desperate for approval. And he'd do this same crap where he asks everybody to cheer by giving two opposite propositions on more than one occassion.
Also, "So what's your name? What do you do for a living?"
Who gives a shit? It's another hack comic let's try to pump up the crowd trick. Has it EVER resulted in comedy. I didn't come to the show to find out that Calum works as a systems analysist. Who gives a shit?
Also, "Is this your girlfriend? You're really punching above your weight."
You know, how about some NEW material about how you want to have sex with various wives/girlfriends of members of the audience. I'm sick of the same old hack bullshit.
It got me thinking, though. I should do a show where I do nothing but ask the audience their name and what they do for a living.
"Oh, data entry. That's interesting. What's your favourite type of data to enter? Numbers. I see. Is this your girlfriend? I'D LIKE TO FUCK HER RIGHT IN THE ASS!!! Who here likes butt sex? Give me a cheer! Who here doesn't like butt sex? Give me a cheer!"
I do that for 60 minutes.
I went so far as looking up the cost of booking a venue for the Fringe. It might be as cheap as £2000. I don't know if that's for the full three weeks or what. But I could do it. And this show could be a hit.
And believe me, there's absolutely no quality control for putting on a show at the Fringe. They take absolutely everybody.
So next year maybe.
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