An American in Scotland

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Farewell to the Fringe

Monday marked the end of the Edinburgh International Festival’s alter ego, the Fringe. Several newspapers suggested that the festival is suffering some sort of identity crisis and will soon be overtaken by copycat festivals springing up across the U.K. In spite of all this journalistic doom-mongering, however, the BBC reported that this year’s events drew the biggest audiences so far, with 1.5 million tickets sold for the Fringe and International Festival ticket sales approaching £2.5 million (the EIF runs for an additional week).

Last weekend, Gareth’s friend Andy flew up from Wales and we spent most of it running from one end of Edinburgh to the other, managing to catch six comedy shows before he flew back on Sunday.

Although I was amazed by the amount of energy Charles Ross expended while acting out the entire Star Wars Trilogy in an hour, I think my favorite was the Dutch Elm Conservatoire in Prison. I guess it was the opening sequence, when two of the five guys stripped down to micro-pairs of denim shorts, that won me over. Not that the Village People-esque attire was particularly attractive on their less than ideal physiques, it was simply the unexpectedness of it that grabbed my attention, while the the show’s singing, dancing and comedic banter kept me entertained until the end. I suppose I should mention that it was about a group of prisoners who plot to keep a new warden from ruining their utopian prison existence.

Other acts that deserved a mention were Jeff Innocent: Eco Worrier, Ian Stone’s Embrace the Chaos and Brendan Dempsey: England Expects.

Jeff Innocent’s show was about his attempts to incorporate all things pro-environment into his life. As a fellow tree-hugger, I appreciated the message and could relate to his worries about the planet and the future. I guess the only reason his show wasn’t my favorite was because I felt the humor level ebbed and flowed a bit. Obviously, humor is subjective, and Gareth said he enjoyed Jeff’s show the most.

I think Ian Stone stood out because he pushed the boundaries more than the other comedians I’d seen (I was particularly impressed by the Princess Diana jokes). Unfortunately, I happened to be the only American in the room, so he aimed all the anti-American jokes in my direction. I think I was just tired of mentally shouting, “Look – it’s not my fault! I didn’t vote for him, okay?”

Brendan Dempsey’s show was polished and funny – I especially liked the bit about Scots and warm weather. I guess I just needed it to be a bit more off-the-wall and unique.

As an Edinburgh resident, I’m both sad and relieved to see the festival go. But come July, I’m certain I’ll be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the program tome in my mailbox.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fringe has always been the best part of the festival. The main festival tends to be full of stuffed shirts...

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Duncan said...

The festival is great, but living and working the center of town I always breath a sigh of relief when its over

6:18 pm  

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