Final Fringe Blog.

I still have three shows to go. But this is definitely my final blog of the Fringe. Tickets are selling well for this weekend, and I just want to concentrate on enjoying it.

I came up here with a few ambitions. To remind people that I can still craft an Edinburgh show, to sell more tickets, to enjoy the performance experience. Job done.

This Fringe is just vast. It always frustrates me when people try and reduce it to ten funny jokes, or some sort of leftwing v rightwing imagined battle. It has long been a far more complex, gloriously rich, dazzling and diverse artistic showcase. The Free Fringe, for all its internal political problems, has evolved into a behemoth, bringing comedy to a far wider audience and , I believe, making paid acts up their game. Reading the reviews, there seem to be considerably more 4 star than 2 star reviews. The nominations for the Fosters Comedy Award are notable not just for the intense creative ambition of the nominated shows, but also for the brilliance of various shows which narrowly missed out. No wonder they, yet again, took their time.

There are some on the club circuit who believe that the Fringe is an entirely pointless exercise. Try telling that to Seymour Mace, a much admired Fringe veteran whose perseverance has been richly rewarded with a nomination, or to George Egg, a circuit stalwart whom I first saw in 1995, and whose debut show this year was so original he has been selling out night after night. The Fringe is not just about discovering  telegenic youth.

Apart from my usual gripe, that there are some journalists who would not cross the North Bridge too see a show with no PR, if their lives depended on it, I am finding it hard to find negatives. I love it here. I love being associated with the Stand, an organisation run with friendly professionalism, and respect for the customer. This has been much my favourite room of my Edinburgh career. And indeed, it has been my favourite month. Right now, I have literally no idea what direction my standup is going to take in the next two years, as I feel I may have reached the natural end of the autobiography. but I will be back X

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Hello National Press.

Since I stopped paying for an expensive PR person, the nationals have not bothered to pay a visit. As a result, I have fallen in love with the more unfashionable publications which seem to be able to pick shows to review without the need for coke-addled freeloaders to bully them into seeing their clients’ shows.

Which is fine. But a small part of me misses the “Oh my god. He is gay and he likes football” years. And the Daily Mirror seems to be giving out five star reviews as readily as Kate Copstick gives out rape apologies. So nationals, if you are reading (It seems unlikely given that you were up in the Loft bar till 4am), here is some possible angles/reasons for seeing me.

  1. A lot has been written about the left vs the right in comedy. What about those who feel instinctively leftwing, but are too lazy to do any of the required reading? Where is our feature?

2. Of the eleven professional quizzers in the UK, two of them are doing a show at Edinburgh. CJ de Mooi is in a play at C venues. Maybe a double interview. There is no Business like Show Quizness. There is your title.

3.       I am one of two comedians up here (the other is Jimmy McGhie), who went to the same school as Nigel Farage. Perhaps an interview where we lie about our memories of him?

4.  Of the many British Asian comedians up here, I might be the only one who suffers from sleep apnoea. I am happy to discuss my pain.

5.   I’m a feminist. A passionate, unconditional feminist. I respect women so much that I would never, ever doing the appalling disservice of sleeping with one.

6.    The Chaser meets Chase and Status. I have not really thought this one through.

7.      My Dad, my nephew and myself all have the middle name Kumar. The same as the surname of celebrated comedian Nish Kumar. An angle?

8.       Perhaps it could be all about you. “I crossed the North Bridge and survived to tell the tale”

9.       Harry Hill, Mike Wozniak and myself are all alumni of Britian’s lowest achieving medical school. Is laughter the best medicine? It has been a couple of months since I last answered that question.

10.      “What’s happening bright people ?”

Despite appearances to the contrary, I am still alive, still doing comedy, and enjoying my show hugely. You’d be welcome any day.

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So far so good with the shows that I have seen. It has been varied.

Gurpal Gill.          Good hearted character comedy about India’s Strongest Man 1982.

Puddles Pity Party        Giant clown belts out pop classics to great effect.

Funz and Gamez          Inspired adult show for kids, now a firm Fringe favourite.

Tom Ballard                   Entertaining tales about growing up gay in Australia.

Ronnie Chieng              Richly comedic alpha male posturing.

Michael Legge                Fear and loathng in Kavos. Wonderful.

Chris Kent                       Brilliant Irish storytelling around his recent wedding.

Gein’s Family Giftshop       Last year’s triumphant sketch stars repeat the trick

Geoff Norcott                    Yes, Tory boys can be very funny.

Matt Reed                           Enthralling true story about being stalked

Andrew Lawrence             Sporadically brilliant, always fascinating rightwing outsider.

Adam Hess                 Hyper energetic jokes and storytelling from a future superstar.

Bridget Christie           Tory-skewering done with precision and passion

Jo Neary                         Beautifully observed character comedy.

Steve Hall                       Skilful and heartfelt ruminations on family.

Joseph Morpugo            Dazzling. Just dazzling multimedia comedy.

Loving this Fringe so far. What I will say is that anyone still stuck issuing falsehoods about how the Fringe is nothing more than one big lefty love-in is an absolute bellend.

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On Friday night, I got home about 3 am, after a bracing evening’s drinking. I checked my pockets, as I usually do as an anxious tic I could not find my phone anywhere. My new iPhone, purchased that morning, was nowhere to be seen. I rang it from my landline, and heard nothing. I tried to use iPhone tracker. I of course had not set up iphone tracker on my phone as it had only just been bought.

And that was that. My Fringe was over. I knew only too well the difficulties of replacing a lost iPhone from previous experience. The lost time, the lost apps, the lost contact numbers. Usually I would cry. I didn’t cry, I just felt sick and numb, hoping against hope that if I went to bed, when I woke up the phone would just be sitting there. Whose stupid idea was it to come to the Fringe anyway? I’m too old, too tired, reviewers ignore me, half the audience just want to know about the white suit, the weather is miserable, the festival is just so vast and unwieldy that it was always unrealistic to think I could make a difference. Time to accept that I am Mr Light Entertainment now, and move on.

At about 320 the landline phone started ringing. There were only three people that I knew of who had the number. My agent. The estate agent. The woman who rings up about missold PPI. Or so I thought.

“Hi. I found this phone in the back of my cab, and it seems you have been trying to ring it”

I’m not too old. I am 45. I am not tired, I am sleeping well. I have two 4 star reviews now, so at least two reviewers give a shit. I love my audience, a mixture of Chase fans and Fringe fans who seem to be really enjoying the show. The weather was wonderful yesterday, which has helped audience figures. The Festival is vast and unwieldy, and that is exactly what makes it great. As I ambled through the streets of Edinburgh last night on my way home, listening to The Day Before you Came on my new, recovered iPhone, while admiring the stunning beauty of the city, I couldn’t help think about the mild-mannered Edinburgh taxi driver whose kindness, honesty and diligence saved my Fringe.

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Edinburgh does terrible things to your mindset, and it is important to stay strong. Saturday to Tuesday were four of the best shows that I have ever had at Edinburgh and I was on a high. Who needs reviewers? All I need is an enthusiastic audience and a well-delivered show. I certainly do not need the validation of reviewers.

I need reviewers.

A week into the fringe, and to the naked eye there are several shows which have developed a momentum thanks to a selection of outstanding reviews. My show is certainly not one of them. In theory I have had six reviewers in, I am not convinced they have all claimed their tickets, and my early Fringe excitement is morphing into tetchiness. Over the last few years I have had a recurring dream that I am at Edinburgh and that I have been completely ignored. I was rather hoping that it would be the Jack Wilshire recurring dream that would be played out for real, rather than this one.

At this point, perspective is everything. The show is going well, and I could not be happier with the product. There are hundreds of other comedians with more reason to moan about their misfortunes than me. I have written next weeks QLL summer league quiz. The Greggs a few doors down does 300 calorie sandwiches, which will really help my diet. I’m three days away from dim sum with my sister and brother-in-law. And what is more,  I have achieved something that i have never achieved in London. I have successfully organised an appointment for an Apple store technician to look at my misbehaving iPhone.

So it is fine, really. All is fine. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I have had a full night’s sleep, my batteries are recharged.

Today’s recommendations.

Caimh McDonnell                   1320 Cabaret Voltaire

I have a penchant for talented club comedians who do the business every weekend, taking up their 1 hour passion pieces to the Fringe. Caimh has always done the business.

Jim Smallman                            1755 Just the Tonic at the Caves

The beautifully told tale of a man, his beloved daughter and his porn star wife, Jim’s preview was one of the outstanding ones that I saw.

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Hottest Guys at the Fringe 2

Great. It turns out that a lot of very emotionally needy men are peeved that they didn’t make my original list. Men that have never put out in any way, suddenly want validation from an elderly gay. To be fair, a lot of them are hot and were unlucky not to make the initial list.

It’s all there, on the poster. He is effortlessly hot.

King of the gays, Glaswegian comedian Larry Dean. Pleasance 1730. 

Chris Martin. Not that one, the hotter one. Laughing Horse @Free Sisters  2045

Stu Goldsmith. Has been known to dabble. Canon’s Gait 1655

Right, I am done with this. I have tickets to sell.

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I have been here for a week. I have only got sporadically drunk, I have maintained some sort of approximation to this 5;2 diet which has seen me lose weight with alarming slowness.

I have been good and seen lots of shows. My own show is in very rude health, not least because Kevin “Eggheads” Ashman was there yesterday. After one of my on stage anecdotes, he turned to the people sat next to him and said “It is true. I was there”

During the first week, you get a stark reminder of the advantages having an expensive PR person brings you. I had one in 2006 and 2007, and it worked a treat. Now that I can’t be bothered with one, I sit and watch other people get reviewed en masse, while I twiddle my thumbs waiting for some press validation. If there is a media or industry buzz, then it is certainly not about me.

But the nice thing is, for the first time, I don’t really care. The show is going well. People are coming and enjoying. And that is exactly what I have always craved. Pleasingly, the book selling is not doing too badly either. I feared becoming Merchandise Man, but it offers a nice excuse to chat to the public post show.

I am calm, I am not hungover, and I am pacing myself as befits the fact that it is still very early days.

Today’s tips………..

Mark Silcox    Mash House 1240

He is a middle-aged Asian man doing slightly baffling and yet very funny character comedy. He is not like anyone else you will see on the Fringe. And it is free.

Peter Brush          Just the Tonic at the Community Project    1855

  Young Leeds-based comedian who has been making waves for quite a while, with his understated and beautifully crafted jokes. Peter comes recommended by just about every comedian who has ever worked with him.

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