Aug 24, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: meeting a dog at the Edinburgh Fringe


I came to the Edinburgh Fringe to chug Windowlene and get inspired. And I'm fresh out of Windowlene.

Today got me fired up about my own show. I saw seven things and they were all great. Well. Sort of. Anyhoo, it led me to a conclusion about my planning process, which I shall share at the end of this blog post.

I caught a bunch of stand-up comedians. Tony Law was in typical free-wheeling mode with added shadow puppetry... which was also free-wheeling. With this being Tony, the puppetry didn't really need to lead anywhere. It was just fun to watch.

Speaking of not particularly leading anywhere, Simon Munnery's on form this year. 'Renegade Plumber' made me want to central heat my tent. I even got to meet his dog (pictured). Like me, Munnery has props, and he isn't afraid to furrow a particular niche thought, such as his long technical explanation about inventing a new water heater.

I caught Richard Gadd's show during which he runs. A lot. On a running machine. This was a frenetic, dizzying work with a solid emotional payoff. He got a standing ovation. The audio track must have been huge fun to work on - and hugely time consuming. I don't think I'll run in my own show. I'll be doing well if I even stay standing upright.

I've seen some amazing comedy this year, but Brian Gittins had me laughing the most. His show was on the BlundaBus, brought to the Fringe by quickly-expanding newcomer promoter Heroes. Brian was, in short, terrifying. Okay, we were packed in on the top floor of a double-decker bus, but this truly was close-up comedy. Volatile, awkward, and superbly silly.

If Brian Gittins isn't winning the big comedy awards, the system's knacked.

And now non-comedy stuff. I saw a show about Siri. I've never used Siri. Did everyone's phones become sentient? Not quite. Siri, a one-woman and one-digital assistant show, was a compelling tech nightmare that felt very real. Too real. She had two projection screens - one translucent, leading to a deeply sinister big-face moment.

I saw a mind-reading show, which was great fun, but I could have explained everything that happened in the room. Especially as I saw the mind-reader asking the audience questions before the show. "Your name's Sally Smith and you were born on 31st October." The audience goes "wooo". Yeah. He, in disguise, asked her. She was next to me in the queue. Pah.

Luke Wrights Frankie Vah was an accomplishment. Effectively, it's a one-hour poem disguised as theatre. The narrative was bound in 1980s left wing politics, with all the frustration, fire and fury that entailed. At one point he acted out someone performing at their first open mic night - whimpers of recognition from me.

What else? Puppetry, plumbing, running, bus, big-face, fakery and fire. I think that's it. Enough for one day.

I've had numerous thoughts about my own show today. I need to work harder. I need to be better. I need to match my game with all the amazing people I've seen. But most of all, I'm left with one over-riding thought:

There are no rules. I've seen naked Chaucer, a fake Q&A, a tape-faced man, a treadmill tragedy and I've thrown raisins into Brian Gittins' face. There are simply no rules. Just do what works for you.

I'd imagine that's Simon Munnery's dog's mantra for life too.

I've more Fringe to go, but I'm taking it easier today. I may catch one show. Maybe three. To be honest, I'm now desperate to return home and do show writing. Stay tuned.

(This blog post is dedicated to Domino, the wonderful woof-dog who is my boarding companion during my stay in Edinburgh. Hello, Domino, if you're reading.)
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