Monday: a slowish start because I needed to be just down the road at the monolith of comedy a couple of streets away (I’ve found a shortcut and halved the walk to the Gilded Balloon) that is the Gilded Balloon and George Square – they’re actually completely separate sets of venues but as they’re only really separated by a road crossing between them, I regard them as one big area. However, having found that shortcut, I then spent half an hour wandering up and down various roads nearby desperately searching for somewhere that sold bread. I’d found little bitesize bits of cheese but getting the bread to go with it proved difficult.
So, show one – in the Big Purple Cow, which has moved because there are building works where it should be – was Austentatious, an improved Austen novel, which meant you didn’t have to know the first thing about Pride & Prejudice, which is good because I don’t. But I’ve been reading Thursday Next recently and it pops up occasionally in there and as I was in a Thursdayish mood I thought I’d go. I’m glad I did, it was funny.
Show two – just a couple of hundred yards away from my front door in the Underbelly on Cowgate – a lovely sort of vertical labyrinth that looks like it may once have been prison cells and smells of wet rock. The internet won’t tell me what it used to be. Anyway, it makes a useful shortcut between the upper and lower streets and I went to see Giraffe – “give us a cheer if you’ve seen us before!” well, I was the only one. I like a bit of sketch comedy every now and then, especially in a room shaped like a train tunnel that smells like a forgotten cave.
Third up was Fred MacAulay at the Assembly Rooms but some idiot went into a shop, spotted some chocolate milk, thought “ooh, I fancy that” and then drank too much of it and consequently had to go home and lie on her bed whimpering for a bit.
At half past nine I went to see Aisling Bea. I was feeling a bit better – better enough to go out but bit like someone very heavy had sat on me. Everywhere in the Gilded Balloon is hot, so Aisling had made/had had made lots of paper plates with “YOU’RE HOT. I’M A FAN” written on them and then, because apparently she’s a maniac, as we all came in and took out seats, she was dancing t the front in a full morphsuit over her normal clothes. I’d have died of heat exhaustion long before the last person came in and then she fumbled her way over, more or less completely blind in the thing, felt her way to the front row and then shoved a piece of card and a microphone at me. I panicked and shoved it at the person next to me – fortunately not quite witnessed by Aisling herself – and let her do the whole “welcome to the stage” bit.
And then you’ll never guess who I met at the bottom of the stairs when I came out of the show.
Tuesday morning was my earliest yet. I had Shakespeare for Breakfast and when I left the building, it struck me that there were a lot of people standing around outside reception – more than are usually smoking out there and most of them weren’t smoking. I caught the word “fire” a few times and when I went out through the gate, there were three or four firemen and a fire engine with its lights on. I don’t know what had happened but as I walked up the road, watching constantly over my shoulder, people started to go back into the building opposite mine, so I don’t think it was anything major.
Shakespeare for Breakfast this year was Hamlet. I don’t know much about Hamlet – I’ve picked up a little bit from… you’ll never guess what – Thursday Next again – and I know a teeny-tiny bit because it seeps out into life – “alas poor Yorick” although I don’t know who Yorick is and “the play’s the thing” – but they don’t exactly stick to the script (they don’t stick to it at all!) and they throw in jokes and quotes and some I definitely recognised from other plays and other places so I really don’t know which ones are actually from Hamlet but assuming they stuck even slightly loosely to the plot, I now have the vaguest idea what happens. And they also provide croissants and tea/coffee/juice, so you can get fed and entertained.
Next job was to find an optician. An arm fell off my sunglasses on Monday. People are always telling me that the screw is coming out and I either tighten it up with my fingernail or I ignore it because it doesn’t actually fall out. Well, it fell out! I thought I was going to have to retrace my steps all the way back to the Big Purple Cow before it dawned on me that the missing arm might still be in my hair and it was but on Tuesday I had to go and find an optician to reattach it, because the sun is really out here and my retinas are getting destroyed every time I leave the building. The nice lady in the optician put in a new screw and tightened the other one and cleaned them with something that smelled of strawberries but it won’t be permanent because she thinks the thread inside the arm is gone – I’m inclined to agree, given how often the screw slides out. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on it in future.
Next was The Noise Next Door. I genuinely had no idea what to expect. I knew the name but I knew nothing about them and I wasn’t entirely expecting improv. The singing was a little less of a surprise. I enjoyed them, it’s always nice to go and see something new and enjoy it.
It wasn’t worth going home since the next show was in the same building three-quarters of an hour later (I have timed it; from the gate of my building to the gate of the Gilded Balloon is five minutes and two seconds, but it’s still not worth it). The next show was Get Your Own Back Live. Dave Benson Phillips has been doing this show for about the last three weeks – having appealed for any kids at the Fringe to get their own back on adults and only had responses from adults, he’s been doing an adults-only version on stage. But today was a special edition and he was very excited. On the Blue Team was captain Stephen K Amos and Will Seaward. On the Yellow Team was captain Ed Byrne and Patrick Monahan. Ed himself told me he was doing this and asked if I remembered it, so it would be rude not to go – and also, I was hoping to see him gunged, in which I was not disappointed. Dave was clearly not expecting anarchy, disobedience and misbehaviour on the parts of four comedians, all competitive and all apparently reluctant to be gunged (and Stephen forgetting very regularly “it’s a family show!” and using words Dave’s five-year-old son in the audience shouldn’t know yet). Cheating happened, trashtalk happened, fights broke out regularly, cold beans were eaten (I hated that bit), balloon animals were made very badly and then Ed and Pat were stripped of their shoes and socks, put in the chamber and thoroughly gunged. And had to stay there while the audience made their way out, because they were dripping and their feet were covered in gunge that they couldn’t track all over the stage. Photos were taken with soggy gunged comedians (not by me, but I did watch. The whole thing was hilarious.
The final show of the day was a second attempt at Fred MacAulay, a much more successful attempt and I’m very pleased that I didn’t just write him off. Fred of “boo!” fame lived up to the boo, delighted to shock and disappoint septuagenarians fans from the radio.
Tomorrow I have a lunchtime show and on Thursday, if the weather’s ok, I really should climb Arthur’s Seat. If I put it here, I kind of have to do it.