That time I fell in love with Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Woops, I’m a bit late with posting about my first Edinburgh Fringe experience. I mean, in short: WOwWww. I was told a million times before I went “Edinburgh during festival season is the best place in the world.” That’s a big shout, I thought. But they weren’t wrong. I did feel like I was in the best place in the world in Edinburgh on an August weekend. Edinburgh really is as magical as I thought it’d be. Every time I visit Scotland I am shocked by it’s beauty and feel incredibly lucky to be able to travel to it so easy and quickly.
My boyfriend Paul and I went on the train from Kings Cross, coffees in hand, feeling a bit “Harry Potter” (not sure why – the combination of the train station and JK Rowling living in Scotland, perhaps?). The view on the train was amazing (especially on the way back as it was sunnier then). I recommend taking the train so you can look out of the window and lap up the windows and have a little day dream.
We stayed in the Ibis hotel which was walking distance from everything, the train station, the Royal Mile, everything. I loved that about the city, not having to get any transports – I love discovering new cities on foot. The city’s festival roots go way way back. The beautiful place has been the world’s leading festival city since 1947, when the International Festival was founded as “a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” (how can you not just love that quote). It was this same year that the iconic Fringe and International Film Festival were founded. I also popped along to the Book festival and heard some thought-provoking chats from a wide range of authors.
I saw some AMAZING comedy shows – here are my favourites – I saw mostly female comedians:
1. Mae Martin
Mae Martin is as lovely on stage as she is off stage. There was no hiding behind the curtain, or big Rocky theme tune grand entrance. It’s always an intimate exprience during Mae’s gigs, as she mingles with the crowd way before she’s due on stage. Anyone that assumes you have to hide behind a big “character” on stage obviously hasn’t been swept away by the powerful charisma of Mae. She is hilarious but in an extremely relatable “down the pub” sort of way.
2. Brigitte Aphrodite
Brigitte Aprodite is a punk pop poet – in theatre-land it doesn’t get much cooler than that. Her debut Fringe show My Beautiful Black Dog describes itself as “gig meets theatre meets a tidal wave of glitter”. And that’s exactly what it was. The audience were encouraged to cover themselves in glitter before the show started. The beautiful show was made a reality through Gemma Cairney’s production company Boom Shakalaka Productions. Brigitte’s fragility on the stage resulted in a teary audience as she chronicled her suffering of depression through music, rainbow costumes and glittery props. You leave the theatre ready to take on the world.
3. Tania Edwards
Tania’s opening line was owning up to sounding a bit posh: “I know, I know, I look like I should be galloping in on daddy’s pony”, but Tania Edwards is far from boring posh girl. She cuts daggers with her new set Electrifying: with sharp one-liners and poking fun at current affairs while sipping on a beer. Tania’s set covered feminism, racism, sexism, marriage and the pressures of wanting to get pregnant at a certain age.
4. Jo Caulfield
I had the pleasure of seeing Jo Caulfield’s stand up as part of Set List Live described as “comedy without a net” an iconic improvised night of comedy where the acts have no idea what their script will be for the night. Set List is famous for having some seriously incredible names on the stage in the past (for example king of comedy, the late Robin Williams) so we knew were in for a night of laughs.
5. All Made Up
All Made Up are an all-girl comedy group who performed a show all about social media and our odd addictive behaviours. As a social media editor myself I obviously found this one super interesting, as well being a hilarious comment piece about how addicted we’ve all become to our iPhones apps. The group improvised some art-house poetry to whatever was #trending on Twitter that day, or asked the audience to write some embarrassing Facebook statuses they’ve read and the girls would act them out.
6. Massive Dad
I must describe this comedy trio are sketch-comedy geniuses. Massive Dad is made up of Stevie Martin, Tessa Coates and Liz Kingsman. This year they performed Massive 2.0 Step Up 2 Massive Dad (which is, you guessed it, the name of their second show). Each sketch is hilariously based on real life, turning the mundane into something painfully funny, or based on something totally mad like a police drama set in 1870. There is often a suggested side-glance lurking underneath many of their sketches, for example, why chocolate and yoghurt are marketed so weirdly to women. It’s totally off-the-wall and I was the most impressed by how they managed to keep a straight face through any of it.
(This photo is of me and Stevie from Massive Dad extremely hungover.)
7. Bella Younger
You might recognise this funny lady from her Instagram account @deliciouslystella, documenting a tongue-in-cheek weekly food diary. Instead of kale, green smoothies and quinoa, she is leading the backlash on smug foodies with pints and crisp sandwiches. Bella’s show is called Champagne Socialist and is described as a show about “the politics of family when your family is in politics and you find yourself on the wrong side of the picket line”. Bella’s show pokes fun at posh people in politics and how even though she is incredibly posh herself and related to a lot of near-famous Tories, she’s off on her own adventure, managing to turn it all in a set of sarcastic jokes. A brave and brilliant show.
8. Adrienne Truscott
I was lucky enough to see Adrienne’s first show Asking For It in London last year, branded as a “comedy show about rape” and it was the perfect blend of giving the audience slight discomfort and comic relief around a serious topic. There was always going to be a suspense surrounding her follow-up show: how could this be followed? Did it have to be? Her second show was totally different, and the stage and her script took a few steps back, stripping away any sort of previous “gasp” moments from the audience. The show was called One Trick Pony and had “trigger warning: This show is not about rape” on the poster. The performance included voice-overs from Internet trolls commenting on her previous show. She discusses cultural appropriation at festivals and questions why she is labeled as a “gimmicky feminist” when essentially all she’s doing is cracking a series of random jokes (“would a man ever be called gimmicky?” she asked.) I always enjoy watching Adrienne on stage, but I couldn’t help but pine for the bold statements of the last show.
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic