Who Did We See At The Edinburgh Fringe 2017?
No more saccharine slabs of Scottish tablet for elevensies (probably a good thing); no more meandering around The Burgh's picturesque, Granite-lined streets and over 'surprise hills' to visit shows at the Pleasance, the Gilded Balloon, and the Underbelly; and no more relishing the fact that absolutely everything is 6-8 minutes away, in stark contrast to the hour-long fate of London commuters.
The Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - the famous festival of the arts - has come to a close, ending with a resplendent firework display to mark 70 years of bringing together both hopefuls and veterans of the comedic, musical and theatrical worlds. Every August, we send two lucky Speakers Cornerites to Scotland's capital to suss out the freshest talent on the comedy scene - and, this year, Anna and I (Lucy M) were the chosen ones to check out what's happening on the comedy scene!
If you've ever picked up a Fringe magazine, you'll know that it's a weighty item harbouring an overwhelming catalogue of all the acts performing in Edinburgh throughout the month. With our comprehensive schedules in hand at the airport (I spent my flight explaining my rather long and colour-coded list of comedians to a slightly nosy man), Anna and I donned our sun-and-rain-and-everything-in-between-appropriate layers and headed off to collect our tickets for upcoming shows of all shapes and sizes, some of which would be ideal for corporates, and others which might be more suited to a great night out.
Check out just some of our finds below:
Stuart Goldsmith filled a jam-packed room with pure, unadulterated laughter for an hour, happily sharing his musings on a range of topics, from Trump and drones, to his entertaining family life. The winner of the Leicester Comedy Festival Best New Show 2017, and Comedian’s Comedian Podcast host, Stuart describes his show as "just the funniest stuff I've ever created. OK?" I'm inclined to agree, having seen him confidently parade around the stage firing out jokes, pausing occasionally to make audible 'improvement notes' on his memo voice recorder to great comedic effect.
Harry & Chris
Uplifting. Wholesome. Brimming with hilarious wordplay. Musical comedy duo Harry & Chris ("'Chris and Harry' doesn't have the same ring to it," Chris confidently chimed at us) combine rap, melody and improvisation to eulogise about everything from pandas to robots to vegetarianism. Able to entertain an audience without a hint of potential offence, this pair of performers are perfect for the education sector.
Comedians candidly discussing their mental health seemed to be a bit of a theme at this year's Fringe. In what might appear to be an oxymoron, Juliette Burton's thoroughly feel-good comedy show 'The Butterfly Effect' was inspired by some of the darkest moments of her life during her struggles with OCD, anorexia and depression. What this taught her was that conducting small acts of kindness every day can make a huge difference to your mental state - not to mention the lives of others. To encourage us all to do the same, Juliette asked everyone in the audience to pick out of a hat a 'dare' to do something kind, written by a previous audience member, and to replace it with our own suggestion for a future audience member to choose. Why? So that we can all start butterfly effects of our own!
"Joy Provision, Joy Provision... JOY PROVISION". As the title of her show, and the aggressively repeated lyric of her entrance song would suggest, Pippa Evans is all about bringing joy into life - using her skill for improvising songs! As well as hosting awards before, including the 2016 Conference Awards, she is also a core member of the Olivier Award winning Showstoppers. Overall verdict: this master of ditties will bring laughter to your soul, even if you don't want it.
"Honestly, honestly, Ayesha - do I look like a badger?" Churning out her eerie impressions of Ed Miliband worrying about his eye makeup before entering the House of Commons, and of the other many politicians she encountered during her time as an advisor to the Labour Party, Ayesha Hazarika is brimming with hilarious insights into behind-the-scenes at Westminster. As Ed's former special adviser and Harriet Harman's ex-chief of staff, she is well-acquainted with the big issues of our times and the political players involved, drawing humour from her experience as an Indian woman in a white male world to point out what still needs to be addressed.
Comedian Tiff Stevenson, who has appeared on TV favourites such as The Office, entertained us in her show 'Bombshell' with quips on Brexit, Trump, terrorisim, and why we should all imagine ourselves as '10s'. Although clearly coming from a left-wing political slant, Tiff, interestingly, claimed a sense of disconnection with liberalists, riling against, what she perceives as, their obsession with language at the dispense of content or intention. Sharp, aware, and experienced, Tiff's set hit key topics relating to politics, women and self-motivation.
We also asked Anna for her thoughts on some of the acts she saw:
A former banker turned comedian, Eshaan absolutely shone on stage: "If you’ve liked my show, I’ve been Eshaan Akbar; if you haven’t, I’ve been Romesh Ranganathan". His witty rapport with the audience put you at ease with his sometimes risqué jokes. He kept his topic around the hot news items of the current day; Brexit, the Trump wall etc and of the past; his mum’s love of Margaret Thatcher, all drawing back to his own childhood as a nerdy Asian boy at a private school. He was on-point and hilarious – a real one to watch.
I have not stopped chuckling to myself about this show, or quoting bits of it to anyone who will listen. Not that they will understand it that is, because most of the show was spoken in mock Chaucer prose! John-Luke Roberts put on an outstanding and often baffling absurdist comedy show. His main narrator – the poet Chaucer – appeared on stage in merely a rug before a quick change into multiple characters who ranged from a floating galactic mythical head, a fortune telling Vampire to Britney Spears. Whacky I hear you say? Spot on.
I was a little bit apprehensive about going to Alice Marshall’s show entitled Blood as, well, the name doesn’t inspire much confidence of a good time. In fact, blood featured very little. Alice broke down four characters with excerpts of video about her getting over a break-up. Her character acting was superb and ranged from a Miss Havisham-esque old dear who stole drinks from the audience, to a turquoise feathered bird attempting a mating dance narrated by David Attenborough. Need I say more?!
This gig took place in a room large enough to only hold about 16 audience members - intimate or what?! Jon Long took this in his stride and delivered ‘stand-up comedy with songs’ in a personal and beguiling style. His mix of story-telling and audience interaction was perfect, and the hilarity just increased when Jon ended his set by donning a cassock to sing his final song. The songs were fun, funny and even had sections for the audience to sing, which for me was right up my street. Ten out of ten feel good fun.
There are no words to describe Alasdair Beckett-King. He is a king of comedy as his name suggests. Polite, captivating and in control, Alasdair delivered a slick, inoffensive, leg-slappingly funny show. His humour was subtle with an old school approach and great fun. He will confound you with his appearance, quick quips and assured delivery. Finalist in the Assured Moose Award 2017 at the Fringe.
So there you go! What a week. We braved all the weathers, hills, and caffeinated drinks to sort through at least some of the many varied acts on offer at the Fringe and find out who's making jokes about what in 2017. We're looking forward to seeing where they'll go next!
Ending the trip with a classic bakery item before back to the land of Sherlock, tea and crumpets
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