Saturday, 14 August 2010
Postcards From The Fringe.
Barry Cryer snogged me. . . . I say snogged but really it was a hug. Two hugs. And a kiss on the cheek. And I told him he was the comedy God of my kitchen, my radio guru, my life-line of hope and humour, my inspiration.......and then I returned to my seat before Security could escort me from the premises. I was on the terrace of the Loft Bar at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh, watching Barry from afar, plucking up the courage, or consuming a sufficient quantity of wine, which ever came first, to approach the High Priest of Hilarity. Top moment: watching Bazza deep in poetic conversation with John Cooper Clarke. Yes, JCC is still alive, hair quaffed high, weaving his way Bambi-like between the talent...... black-clad skinny jeans on skinny legs, ochre skin stretched over ashen face ........ (a little JCC homage there).
I had spent the day, as I had everyday while on my sojourn in Scotland, walking the length and breadth and length again, of Edinburgh, flyering (the technical term for thrusting unwanted flyers advertising shows, in front of a potential audience) for the show I was co-producing. And I had discovered a hitherto unknown talent for it, I could be spraying perfume in Selfridge's any day now. Perhaps it was the unusual offer of 'make a million before lunch.....' or the fact that a middle-aged woman with glossed-lips (the average age of my fellow flyerers was about 25) was asking 'can you afford to miss this opportunity?' Or perhaps it was because I was neither a youth in a dragon costume or a bloke in blue Lycra. Or decked out in full Victorian kit. Anyway, we had built a show, and they were coming.
I'd never been to the Fringe Festival before, never been to Edinburgh, and it was great. The city nestles against the craggy grey rock, over-hung by Aurthur's Seat, billowing beneath a big sky; clouds puffed high over the hills into the blue. You can see the sea. The streets were swelled by the anoraked couples, back-packed, clutching their fat, fringe programmes and spiral-bound note books, taking notes, traversing the North Bridge looking for The Traverse Theatre, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Beyond, Pleasance Beneath.........assembling at The Assembly, going under the comedy radar for underground comedy at the Underbelly. And everywhere the gaily coloured, brightly painted talent, towering above the castle turrets: fire-eating, stilt-walking, fast-talking boys and girls, rolling-up to roll you over in shock, horror, awe and hysterics, while tattooed blokes with bald heads strain to view the Tattoo. In Edinburgh you're never more than ten feet away from some bagpipes.
It was a little overwhelming for a fringe virgin. It took me a couple of days to find my feet and not feel physically sick when trying to wade my way through the mighty listings guide, the size of the September issue of Vogue. But I did see Doon MacKichan's moving and hilarious fight with the fates: Primadoona, the wickedly funny Checkley Bush, Rachel Bridge, Sordid Lives, New Art Club Big Bag Of Boom, Viva Cabaret and the jaw-droppingly talented Meow Meow put the glamour back into crowd-surfing (if ever you get the chance run, kicking and screaming to get a ticket), and Nicky Hobday Conquers Space: a girl, a gorilla suit, some balloons in a cave, a perfect end to a perfect Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Top Tip: don't think about it, just have a go.