After all the excitement of the Games, it took me until the last week of the Edinburgh Festival to make it east for a jolly. Here's my cut of this year's Fringe.
Baby Wants Candy
Baby, Wants Candy. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly regressed to calling myself 'Baby' and speaking in third person (although, hanging out at the Fringe can do that to you). In fact, this is an entirely improvised musical comedy, and one of the funniest shows I've seen in a while.
Very simply, an audience member shouts out a title, in my case 'Superstar Gynaecologists and the Guinea Pig Parade' (really) and the cast members and the fabulous Yes band create a story from nowhere. For the next hour, they make up a show as they go along, without any verbal communication between them. It's just all so unexpected. Even the performers don't seem to know what will happen next.
The troupe started out in Chicago, but have since toured the world (this was their second time at the Fringe) and have now performed over 2,500 completely improvised musicals. Take that, Andrew Lloyd Webber! Despite the sheer number of, well, new numbers, Baby Wants Candy doesn't seem to be losing it's voice. In fact, far from it, it does something I suspect lots of other shows would love to work out how to do, it makes people want to go back night after night, because you'll never see the same show twice.
The Spiegeltent is now an important part of the Fringe clique, and no show more so - within it's walls - than La Clique. A naked mix of comedy, cabaret and nudity. This was the second time I had seen La Clique, the first in Lon-don, on a date. The production was compelling, the date less so. So, I was excited about seeing it again, especially because in the years since I've developed a circus habit of my own.
La Clique was one of the original circus cabarets to show off during the Fringe more than 10 years ago, and it's been integral in giving the festival an aerial edge; there's now a dedicated section in the programme. As such, it has a lot to live up to. The show itself is made up of a number of different acts, from magic to contortion, music to sexy cavorting.
However, good cabaret is about more than swinging around in your altogethers. It's about rhythm. And this time around, La Clique, didn't quite hit the beat. It's still an incredible spectacle and for most of the audience, who seemed pretty well oiled, it was certainly a brilliant night out. Maybe I'm just a purest when it comes to the circus, but if you have to divert the naked eye so much (with nipple tassels and such) perhaps you're missing the trick.
Itison Very Best of the Fest
This thrifty Scottish show, where you get five comics for the price of one, is usually great value for an increasingly expensive Fringe. I went along on Saturday night to the final offering of Stephen K. Amos, Richard Herring, Alun Cochrane, Josie Long and, the glue that kept the funnies together, Martin Mor. A gaggle of gags if you like.
Topping the bill was Stephen Amos who was suave, slick and super talented. His jokes are also the sort that work surprisingly well on friends. A wee bit like the toys you used to get free in cereal packets: as well as giving you a good belly laugh-full, he leaves you with some perfect take home comedy too.
Often with a comedy mash-up, there needs to be one potato. And, on the night, sadly that was Richard Herring. He started strong before he, perhaps broken by Edinburgh, dissolved into fizzing fury at the audience. I always wonder if that isn't Stand-Up 101, don't slag off the crowd until they wish you were a tomato they could throw at you. Ouch. Alun Cochrane was up next, cosy, colloquial and naturally funny in his bones.
Then finally, squaring things off, was Josie Long. She was honestly, absolutely, politically cute. Which may appeal to her, as the crux of the comedy was about growing up and being a 32yr old female. I hear you Josie. I strongly resent any notion that women aren't funny (the adage that is so often trolled out) but Josie did make one, badly timed, lady comic moment. Other than that, she was brilliant. Period.
Wee Bird Recommends
Flicking through what to do this weekend? Well, if you're as mad about movies as Wee are, we have just the thing. This weekend, at Tullibole Castle (just 30 minutes from Glasgow) is JAM: Just about Movies. It's the T in the Park of the cinema world, with camping, special screenings, outdoor theatres and Q and A's with movie greats.