Everyone’s a Critic

The Coin-operated Girl

Miranda Kane is a funny lady. Lucky for us, her first attempt to be a performer didn’t work out and she ended up becoming a high class escort. I say “lucky” because this gave her plenty of material for her show and gave us plenty of laughs. Ms Kane claims never to have left a customer unsatisfied and I was no exception. From talking us through the call-girl’s essential kit to setting up her own website to online reviews (it’s true! people will review anything online these days) to a list of the most popular requests she has received, Ms Kane kept her audience engaged and amazed and amused. And she saved the best for last regaling us with the tale of “Gerry” who used to phone her every Tuesday at 11am because that was when the bin men came! Let’s just say Gerry had a thing for bin men and I shall leave the rest up to your imagination.

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The Colour Ham – £11

By all accounts, The Colour Ham was the big noise at the Fringe Festival a couple of years ago and they returned with fanfare in all the review magazines. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what the hype was about. Billed as a “magical-comedy” show, I found it a bit too light on the magic and a bit to heavy on the “bumder” jokes. The running theme of the show was rediscovering things that they thought were cool and magical when they were children but this got a little lost in the middle. The last trick was really good – one of those that leaves you wondering “but, how did they do it?” – but this wasn’t enough to redeem a frankly mediocre show.

Rachel Parris

Rachel Parris proved hard to track down. First time around I showed up she was fully booked and the second time was the one day in 3 weeks that she had off! So third time lucky, to see a show that had been reviewed with 4 stars. Ms Parris spent the hour showcasing songs that she had been “commissioned” to write by companies such as Disney and X-Factor. Intertwined in these was a narrative of her personal story of what amounts to a pre-30s breakdown. You know the stuff, friends getting married, having babies and/or successful careers whilst you seem to be going nowhere. “After you’re 30, you’re basically dead” was my favourite, written for her best friends’ husband’s 30th. There is no denying that Rachel Parris has a talent for both comedy and composition. Suffice to say that I went on Youtube later to listen to her songs again. Good stuff!

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Blues & Burlesque

This was the first of the (many) shows that I saw by mistake, because other shows were booked out. The Free Fringe works on a queuing principle, so it’s just not possible to show up for the more popular shows at the last minute and expect to get a seat. Thwarted in my attempts to see “Austentatious” I ended up in the bar downstairs, squeezed in at the door to be tittilated and entertained by the Blues & Burlesque trio. It was kind of strange being tittilated whilst sober on a Saturday lunchtime but nonetheless a good time was had by all.

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53 Minutes about 52 Sheep

Another accidental viewing! I squeezed into the tiny room next door to Austentatious for an hour of comedy with a quirky Danish man with a crazy name – Vladimir Pustelnik. This show was better than I had expected from the name. There was a section in the middle that lost me, but he pulled it back together again. This was another comedian going through a pre-30s crisis. We’ve all been there – well, those of us over 30 have – and there’s plenty of comedic value to be gained from watching all your mates get married and have babies and careers whilst you wonder when you are going to grow up yourself.

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Austentatious
Finally! Fourth time lucky! The pianist was amazing.

The audience suggest the title and the one that was picked was Ties and Greyness. To give them their due, the cast members didn’t miss a beat when they heard the name. I’m not sure that I would be able to come up with the plot to a Jane Austen novel entitled Ties and Greyness but they pulled it off. Some cast members maintained their Austenesque facade better than others.

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The Soil
The Soil received rave reviews in many of the festival publications so I was surprised to get 2 tickets for the price of 1 on the day of the gig. Hailing from South Africa, this a capella trio treated us to some beautiful songs interspersed with a bit of their background. The gig was in a lecture theatre which was a formal setting, that spoiled the atmosphere a bit. They did get the audience dancing at the end which was quite an achievement. I did feel that the reviews had been a little over generous in their assessment of The Soil. The opening of the concert was a bit slow and there didn’t seem to be much variety in the beat boxing. However they do have beautiful voices and were very entertaining as people so they definitely have the foundations to go places.

Family Gien Gift Shop
Oh dear, this was awkward. Having showed up too late to see Joseph Morpurgo (of Austentatious) I was disappointed and found myself downstairs in the pub watching Family Gien Gift Shop. If this were a gift it would be a novelty pair of socks that play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”: not that amusing and not good for much. This was one of those shows where you get the feeling that the writers are trying to be edgy, but instead they end up revealing themselves to be ignorant and crass. Unfortunately there were of course, about 3 people there so it wasn’t possible to make a run for it halfway through. I even gave them some money because I felt bad for them, having hardly any audience. Fifteen-year-old boys might have liked this but I didn’t!

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Facta non Verba (or why I may never finish this blog)

August is Festival month in Edinburgh and as I have no gainful employment my friend Helen pointed out to me that I should make the most of the chance to see as much of the festival as I can.  And write a blog about it.

Now the first bit I can do, but as I realised the other day when Helen and I were discussing the good old days at Mount Carmel school, I was never very good at completing assignments.  I usually lost interest at the boring bit where you get back to school and have to write about what you did on the trip to the farm/castle/outdoor museum.  And this is kind of an assignment, even if it was invented by my friend in order to lift me out of job seeking blues.

So whilst I can promise to complete part 1 of the assignment (i.e. go to lots of shows), part 2 may go the way of my GCSE Geography fieldwork on Birchwood Shopping Centre or the write-up of my Silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition.  But that’s OK because as anyone who went to Mount Carmel knows it’s deeds that count, not words (facta non verba).