Edinburgh Fringe: A Place To Forget About Real Life
This blog post is an attempt to sum up the reasons why I love Edinburgh Fringe Festival so much. When I was in the middle of the madness I kept scribbling down bullet points on my iPhone notes to try and explain exactly why it makes me so happy but it turns out it’s quite hard to describe without sounding cheesy. Last year I was lucky enough to travel a lot through work and this blog; and looking back it was definitely my favourite trip of the year. So I was very happy that I got go back this year too.
Huge thank you to the team at Ed Fests who arranged my trip for me and allowed me to be totally immersed in the multitude festivals of which the Fringe is just one. I explored The International Book Festival, Edinburgh Arts Festival and the International Festival too. Edinburgh is an extremely busy and exciting city during August and there is SO MUCH TO SEE AND DO.
Maybe it’s why I forget about real life – it’s miles away from the mundane real world and you are so busy you don’t have time to think about much. You are totally immersed. I hardly had time to tweet (I know.)
It’s overwhelming too. You get FOMO every five seconds. You worry if you’d made the right choice. You see amazing shows. You see shows that make you cry. You see OK shows. Regardless of whether you’d give it one star or three stars, you feel inspired each time and full of love for these people who put their heart and soul into shows for others, normally at their own cost. It’s one of the pure environments of people making things and selling things they believe in. They only criticism (and quite a big one) is that it’s quite clear that a lot of the drama students are from similar privileged backgrounds.
Even though a lot of people complain about the phrase “hustle!” when it comes to working and getting what you want in life, I truly believe grit and determination are big big players. Talent only gets people so far.
You HAVE to put yourself out there, and that is what the Royal Mile represents. It is a sea of people who are hustling for your attention; they believe in the work they’ve created and believe it’s worthy of your time.
They want you to come see their show. It does away with any Britishness around being too shy to shout about Your Thing. You get mobbed by people waving flyers in your face.
The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Fringe in general is all about word of mouth. So yeah, hustle for your audience, but equally it’s a great opportunity to do GREAT WORK and get rewarded for it. If your show is good, people will tell their friends. If it’s not that great, people don’t say anything. As you were.
So I’m going to shout about the shows I really enjoyed. And I REALLY RECOMMEND getting up to Edinburgh any time during August, so dip into the Fringe, and any of the other festivals happening during the month.
We enjoyed hanging out in the Pleasance Courtyard area mainly because you never know what might be on. There is a constantly manned information desk which is so helpful and a box office where you can buy tickets as and when throughout the day. Some are good to book in advance if you’re desperate to see something, but we also really enjoyed stumbling across new stuff, too.
So, what did I enjoy seeing?
HEY GIRL HEY – Michelle Wolf is your new best friend. You know, she was one of the only stand-up comedians that we saw who didn’t pick on the audience. You know how refreshing that is? As part of the audience you feel you are on the same page, you are her pals. This doesn’t distract from how funny she is. It’s just that, you don’t fear her, you laugh along with her. Plenty of tampon, period and bad/guilty feminist jokes which I loll’d at a lot.
We accidentally found ourselves seeing Al Porter who I’d never heard of before. This is the fun thing about the Fringe is you really do stumble across things. We found ourselves in a pub-like venue, with bar stools and a stage, listening to a very very funny and witty 23-year-old Irish comedian with plenty of hilarious anecdotes. He delivered his material like he’d been doing stand-up for 50 years. It was all very old school. I felt like we’d been transported back in time. His jokes came out almost too fast to digest them because he is SO quick and SO funny I ended up having delayed laughter. I can’t recommend him enough, and shouted about how amazing he was to every friend I bumped into in Edinburgh. He also went and got shortlisted for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. See, I’ve got good taste, promise.
Best of Edinburgh Showcase
I loved this so much that we went twice. It’s a lunchtime compilation showcase where a bunch of comedians are hand-picked from across the Fringe to perform bitesize performances to a crowd, with a new line-up every day. My favourites were Lloyd Griffith, Des Bishop and Jo Caulfield.
This is kind of similar to the Showcase but each comedian only has 3 minutes so there are loads more of them. It’s a really entertaining way to figure out which acts you’d like to go and see more of, it’s like they are pitching to you to see their shows in an elevator pitch. It was hosted by Ed Gamble who was brilliant – you feel like you’re getting a stand-up set from him in between all the other acts.
Maria Ferguson: Fat Girls Don’t Dance
Maria Ferguson performed in a one-woman autobiographical show called Fat Girls Don’t Dance. This show was all about body image, changing shape and sizes and how women are perceived in the entertainment industry, especially dance. It had funny moments, with Maria being really into Garage music and she’d even throw chocolate bars into the audience. It was also painfully sad at times and I really enjoyed the mix of emotions throughout. It was incredibly relatable with a lot vulnerability. Moral of the story: No matter our size, we are the same person inside.
Fat Rascal Theatre: Buzz
The venue of this musical was located up some flights of stairs in a youth centre which kind of looked like an abandoned school, but it didn’t matter where we were once the music started playing. This was testament to how well the show was performed, we could have been in a cupboard or a huge West-End stage. Fat Rascal Theatre performed “Buzz: The Musical” all about the history of the vibrator. They sang into Dildos. They had great chemistry with each other. I also learned a lot about science and history; it was like a really funny history lesson but with funny songs.
Alice Marshall: Vicious
Alice Marshall’s show was a great mix between funny video footage which kept the audience engaged between acts and a brilliant onstage presence. The theme of the show were “arseholes that we meet in real life”. She played the character Especially in the context of our love lives. My favourite part was when she did a BRILLIANT impression of Cheryl Cole. In one of the reviews is says she has “the spirit of a young Catherine Tate” and I couldn’t agree more.
Sleeping Trees: Sci Fi?
Now, I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi I must admit, but we saw a funny and VERY ENERGETIC performance from comedy trio Sleeping Trees. It had been described as ‘The birth child of Monty Python and the League of Gentlemen’ and it definitely hit that nail on the head. Totally impressed with how many characters each of them played each while being totally believable at the same time.
I loved the story line of this show. Vanessa, a scientist goes looking for her long-lost father. They use clever symbolic props and in particular I loved how they managed to convey Vanessa going under water. The sound-track is awesome too. David Ridley’s music and composition is one to watch.
I really recommend going to the Fringe Festival, it’s one of my favourite places to go during the Summer.
Find out more about Edinburgh Festival City here.
“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