Fun Times at the Edinburgh Fringe
I lived in Edinburgh for more than 4 years between 2007 and 2011 and in all that time I went to a grand total of 3 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This was mostly because I hate people, especially dithering tourists, and there’s no greater concentration of them than at the Fringe. But this year so many friends were talking about the shows they were going to see that I finally caved and decided I would ‘do a day at the Fringe’. And boy am I glad I did, we had an absolute blast. So much so I started thinking about trying to fit another day in before it ends….
The fun times were mostly due to three absolute belters of shows, but I think also because we were prepared for the day. My top tips for a day at the Fringe are as follows:
- Unless you want to go for a ‘pot luck’ experience, decide what kind of shows you want to see, put some time into browsing the Fringe guide, and buy your tickets ahead of time.
- If you’re not sure about spending a whole hour with an act you’ve never heard of, try out some of the ‘Best of….’ or ‘Review of….’ showcases.
- Space the shows out with at least 30 minutes between if they are in nearby venues, and at least an hour if there’s a bit of a walk. Make sure to put in time for food.
- Figure out where and when you’re going to eat. The street food vendors at George Square were great, I had a great burger and some particularly excellent dumplings.
- When walking between venues find routes that avoid the busiest of streets, particularly Princes Street, the Royal Mile and the bridges.
As for shows, here’s what we went to see, all three highly recommended!
Best of Edinburgh Showcase - ****
Pleasance Courtyard Café Bar, 13:20, £12/£10
I knew I definitely wanted to catch some comedy while we there, but the times for all the acts I had heard of clashed with the other shows we wanted to see. So, I decided that instead of placing all our eggs in the basket of an unknown comedian we’d try out one of the showcases. Turns out that was a great idea! This showcase has a host and four acts, with a different line-up every day. When we went the acts were Geoff Norcott, Chris Kent, Milo McCabe as Troy Hawke, and Masud Milas, with host Sally Anne Hayward. All the comedians were really funny, but my stand-outs were Kent, Hawke and Hayward. Kent’s 10 minutes were some of the driest, deadpan humour I’ve ever witnessed, the character of Hawke started as a slow burn but ended with a glorious bit about bingo as an extreme sport, and Hayward worked the crowd perfectly with a great mix of prepared stuff and ad libs with the audience members. Milas was also great but came across as a little nervous which meant a few of his jokes didn’t hit quite as well as they could have. Overall, a fantastic show and a great way to see a mix of acts.
Myra DuBois, We Wish You a Myra Christmas - *****
The Wee Coo at Underbelly George Square, 16:00, £11/£10
Going to see drag queen Myra DuBois was one of our motivations for heading to the Fringe. We’d seen her as support for Bianca Del Rio, and thought she was hilarious, so were keen to catch her full show. And boy, it did not disappoint. A mix of stand-up, singing and audience participation, Myra’s Christmas themed show was an absolute hoot. We made the smart/stupid decision to sit in the front row of the small space which meant we were prime targets for the many parts where she drew in audience members. Quick witted, with double entendres aplenty, Myra had the crowd joining in without hesitation. Although I don’t think even she was prepared for the answer to her question about what my Maw had got for Christmas (answer: tickets to a beer festival called the Beavertown Extravaganza….) She even managed to win over a gentleman who looked like he’d been dragged to the show and was determined not to enjoy it. He was laughing loudly with everyone else long before the end. I genuinely cried off all my eye make-up, I was laughing so hard. If you have a chance to catch Myra before the Fringe ends I heartily recommend you do!
Briefs: Close Encounters - *****
Assembly Hall, 19:15, £19.50
Browsing through the Fringe Guide, the photo for Briefs caught my eye and once I’d read the description I decided it was something I needed to see, despite it being a bit more expensive than a lot of the other shows. Spoiler: it was worth every penny! The all-male troupe from Down Under brings to Edinburgh a cabaret show that is filled to the brim with comedy, drag, circus skills, burlesque, and acrobatics, as well as all the glitz, glamour, and tiny briefs you could possibly hope for. It also helped that the crowd was 100% there for it, which only added to the high energy of the performances. I’ve often been disappointed by cabaret shows in the past but here every part of the show was constructed with so many layers and so well performed that it was nothing but thrilling. I can honestly say it was one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen: I laughed, I cheered, I was amazed and more than a little aroused, and was absolutely buzzing by the time we left. I’ve also got to admit that watching a show that was so out and proud in the main hall of the Church of Scotland Assembly building was gratifying in itself. Briefs is another must see if you’re still planning a trip to the Fringe. I’ll certainly be checking the programme next year to see if they’re back!