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There's no particular need in the world for another Fringe guide but I want to write this so what the heck.

1) What is the Fringe and why would I want to go?
Basically, over three weeks in August in Edinburgh there are a bunch of different festivals- film, books, international theatre and music, jazz- but the Fringe overshadows them all. It's the biggest arts festival in the world by quite some margin, featuring nearly 3,500 shows over three weeks (on any given day there are probably only 2,500 performances. People need a day off now and again.) There are a LOT of venues, mostly smallish rooms in cellars hastily transformed for the occasion. More than half of the shows are comedy, but that still leave a lot that aren't!
It's one of the main engines of the British performing arts scene, and shapes pretty much everything about how live comedy works here (performers work up an hour-long show for the Fringe and then tour it; winners of the Best Comedy and Best Newcomer awards get a lot of opportunities.) It's an immersion into a different world, with its own priorities, vocabulary and time zone. Also, Edinburgh is an amazing city.

2) OK, I'm sold, that sounds cool. Why are you doing a guide specifically for a middle-aged person?
Because teenagers may be able to see 8 shows a day, drink 20 pints a night, sleep on the floor for a week, and not break themselves, but I can't. I have handy hints and tips if you can't either.

3)Is there any need for the whole guide to be in Q and A format?

My main points, I suppose, are to cover some of the issues that you wouldn't necessarily realise when you first think about going, and to strongly suggest you keep in mind what you already know about what keeps you happy.
now read on... )
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Am feeling mighty-ish; I have not only worked out how to answer a phone call on my new phone (weirdly non-obvious) but also how to get rid of a "new voicemail!" icon that hung around after listening to the voicemail, and have put a screen cover on without getting bubbles underneath it. Should really go and use the feeling to power necessary chores like gathering up toiletries for travel, but am watching a slime mould devour a lichen instead [1].

Podcast plug! I went and watched a live recording of No Such Thing As A Fish on Friday night, and it was very funny. In a couple of weeks you can hear about what links the Sphinx and a koala's pouch; why the appendix is the Helm's Deep of the body; the foreign dog hairspray scandal; the glass delusion; sea otter archaeologists, and other diverting and edifying tales. (You will sadly miss the live special features like their Top Ten Rejected Facts and Andy Murray's interesting presentation on the Casio watch. He was so gleeful about it! Also seeing them at the end shilling- "We have merch! We'll sign anything! Feed our egos!")

[1] on telly. Though I'm not ruling out there being slime moulds in the coal hole.
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OK so this is not a review of the Reeves and Mortimer tour, Read more... )
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Hello folks!
I've had a good break so far, including seeing the Christmas "panto nativity" Alternative Comedy Memorial Society gig ( photos), getting 14 books for Christmas (so far have only read a 1950s cookbook, Step Aside Pops, You're All Just Jealous of My Backpack, and partway through Ancillary Mercy and This Is Improbable Too- must do better), ice-skating (didn't fall over!), going for a pub lunch and a walk by a recently-flooded beck, and having a massage/swim/steam room day. I've just had a bagel with brie, have a pot of tea steeping and some chocolate to eat, and have four more days to do Nothing At All in. Lovely.
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A month since I was in Edinburgh, you say? Tra-la.

Sunday (a very good day)
Read more... )
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As usual- fairly sketchy, mainly to trigger my memory.
Friday (arrived in the evening)
Read more... )
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Back from Edinburgh! Wish I was still there! (I was definitely planning to not go next year. Maaayyyybe just for a weekend?)

Amount of booze, coffee and doughnuts consumed: Less than last year. Though probably only because the doughnut van wasn't there this year.
Sleep deprivation: About the same as last year
Poor planning leading to much dashing from old town to new town: Quite a lot less than last year, well done my spreadsheet skills!
Shows seen over three full days and two part days: 22 (of which 1 dance, 1 acrobatics, 20 comedy- 3 of which were instances of Alternative Comedy Memorial Society)
Days without a sore throat that hurts every time I laugh: 1
Shows missed: 4 (Decided to get up late and miss a morning one; decided to go to bed early and miss a midnight one; previous show badly overran; couldn't find venue. Like, I defy someone to walk down Victoria Street and find The Liquid Room, it DOES NOT EXIST.)
Performers making reference to the same army recruitment ad: 2
Most times seeing same performer: 3 (in own show and two mixed bills)
Unexpected onstage male nudity incidents: 2 (with a further 3 extremely revealing male skintight bodysuit incidents)
Unexpected onstage hats with rabbits on: 2

Plans to write up gigs properly: *out of cucumber error, please reboot*
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ARGComFest, second bit (I realised my notes on scraps of paper are a bit out of order so I've already done a lot of the Sunday. Less to type!)
Read more... )

Full-length Alternative Comedy Memorial Society at the Soho Theatre. Themes: Japanese wishing festival! Python quotes! Buttplug!
Read more... )

OK, so typing this out mayyyyyy have made me decide to go to ACMS an extra time in Edinburgh, necessitating dashing from the Pleasance to the Stand's yurt in St Andrew Sq in half an hour. IT'LL BE FINE. It's not like the bridge will be crowded or anything.
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I went to ARG on Sat and Sun and then to the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society on Monday night. About 17 hours of comedy over three days, mostly a bit weird. Very much my kind of weekend.
Philosophers quoted: Wittgenstein, Derrida, Zizek (twice). 

ARG day 1, fragmentary notes of some good bits:
Read more... )

Tl;dr: I had a lovely time, and you should go and see Joseph Morpurgo's show.
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So I managed to get leave midweek and have a few days in London; did sort-of-sightseeing that involved lots of eating dim sum and accidentally getting people Christmas presents, and mainly went to see comedy things that I was very excited about, and they totally lived up to expectations. (NB: as with Edinburgh stuff, this is a transcript of scribbled notes and may not make sense to anyone who isn't me.)
Alternative Comedy Memorial Society )
Here are a whole bunch of photos and short video from lots of Soho ACMSs, including the 4/11/2013 one I was at. (And here are some five-minute films they did for Channel 4's Comedy Blaps, they're funny.)

Austentatious )

I also went to see The 39 Steps on a half-price ticket for the matinee, and that was excellent fun as well.

Thom Tuck- Straight to DVD )
tl;dr- Laughing is good. And if you get a chance to see an ACMS or several, TOTALLY GO IT IS AMAZING.

Part 3

Aug. 23rd, 2013 12:13 pm
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Edinburgh notes

Friday )

Sat 16th
Really exhausting day- badly planned, with 6 gigs going New Town-Old Town-New Town-Old Town- West End-Old Town. Some very good stuff though.
Saturday )

Sunday )

Part 1

Aug. 21st, 2013 03:49 pm
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Notes from Edinburgh shows; this will be tl;dr for most people and somewhat incomprehensible for the rest, probably; it's as much to remind myself of what I saw as anything else. That being said, here we go...
Saturday )

Sunday )

Monday )

Tuesday )
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So I spent 8 days at the Edinburgh festival and went to 49 events, featuring well over a hundred performers. List post! (I'll post brief notes from the gigs later with a cut so non-comedy-obsessives can skip it.)

Days that went entirely to plan: 2 (not bad!)
Things I intended to see but completely forgot about because they were free and therefore I didn't have a ticket to remind me where to go next: 2
Things I missed for other reasons: 4 (misread time on ticket, left stuff at hotel and had to fetch it instead of going to next gig, realised I had overestimated my stamina for walks at 10 in the morning, realised it was too far from the next gig)
Things I walked out of: 2 (one too loud, one turned out to be audience-walks-around-performers and my joints hurt)
Days it rained: 4
Days of rain that coincided with days I had hopefully put on sandals: 3
Most alcohol drunk in a day: 3 units (not in my twenties any more)
Most servings of fruit/veg in a day: 3 (oops)
Most coffee drunk in a day: 3 cups
Doughnuts eaten: 9 (but six of them were those mini ones)
Least hours of sleep in a night: 5 (not in my twenties any more)
Paracetamol: 8 (see above re: joints hurting)
Number of times crossed North Bridge: at least 20
Number of people killed for getting in my bloody way and blocking the bloody pavement, don't they realise there's a whole bloody festival's-worth of people behind them trying to get somewhere, for god's sake: 0 (excellent!)
Number of free shows attended: 6
Number of non-comedy events attended: 4 (Japanese theatre, Baroque music, meditation, circus)
Number of shows featuring at least one woman: 24 (Shows that didn't were a mix of solo male stand-ups, showcase things with changing line-ups that didn't have women that day, and all-male sketch groups)
Number of shows featuring at least one person of colour: 3 (two of which weren't comedy.)
Amount of beer spilt over my bag: 1/4 pint
Shows where an audience member was chucked out: 2 (both for drunkeness in the middle of the day)
Favourite things seen in the street: A chap flyering in a dragon costume and carrying a chihuahua, a woman telling a children's story about a tiger eating somebody's mother and meeting a gory end.
Show I most regret missing: Voices In Your Head
Best show seen on a whim: Squidboy
Performers/gigs I hadn't seen before but will definitely try to see again: the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, Set List, School Night, Mischief Theatre, Casual Violence, Beta Males, Theatre Beating, Late Night Gimp Fight, Jigsaw, Giraffe, The Horne Section, Croft and Pearce, Birthday Girls, John-Luke Roberts, Caroline Hardie, Mike Wozniak, Rachel Parris, John Robins, Chris Coltrane, The Boy With Tape on his Face.
Badges won for being best audience member: 1
Times I wanted to come home: 0
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I had an excellent time at the Edinburgh Festival! The hotel had claimed to have free wifi but that turned out to mean "Free for gold members or people in suites, £15 a day to peons such as yourself, budget scum!" (I paraphrase their little bit of paper) and in a choice between carrying my tablet around all day to try and find wifi in cafes or carrying extra water, the option that stopped me getting dehydrated won out every day. So I have no idea of what happened in the news or my friendslists' lives last week, and I'll need extract my brief notes from the tablet tomorrow to try to do a sort-of-review post.
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So tiiiiired; hotel room for last couple of days was spartan to the point of amusement (mirror right height to use sitting down; no chair), but not having a fan was a Bad Thing.
Was on visit in Camden to go to ARG Comedy Festival (some photos of acts), 32 Edinburgh previews over two days. (I saw... 14, I think?)
Very brief reviews after the jump, see above re: tiiiiired )
Really looking forward to Edinburgh now!
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I have been to Glasgow. It was nice. I exchanged an incorrectly sold cable at the Apple store and had a large hotel breakfast.

(largely unaltered from notes done when v. tired)
Read more... )
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I think I need to give up on even pretending to do book lists. Sorry if you're interested. It just seems to be too much of a faff to keep track, what with realbooks and kindlebooks. I have read some things between October and now! I expect I will read more things!
Perhaps if I just blog about things that I particularly enjoy, that might help. Um. Recently I've liked How To Be A Woman and Mark Steel's In Town, Martha Wells's The Siren Depths, the second Ruritanian-with-vampires from Sherwood Smith, Blood Spirits, and a whole lot of Tamora Pierce's YA. Seanan McGuire's new Incryptid book has just arrived, that should be good.

Also, I have seen things. A rather presemptuous production of Dr Faustus with the middle two acts rewritten- it was quite good, I liked the staging, but Marlowe could write better than the new scriptwriter; Milton Jones's tour, which was excellent, I particularly liked the opening where he played his own grandfather, and the overhead projector gags (with callback during his main set); and Tony Law's Maximum Nonsense which was just brilliant, I loved it so much. Rich Hall impression! Not being able to play steel drums! Anti-banter gags! Space Bear! 1,000 elephants! Everyone should totally go and see him. Or buy a DVD.


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