A walking bath, an army of increasingly inventive flyerers, and a performer shoving a sparkler up her bum. It can only mean one thing; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has begun. It’s a free world for everyone; a juggler can decide, however questionably, that a good busking spot would be on a traffic island between the tram lines on Princes Street, and a journalist can accidentally wear a clashing blue blazer and pink shoes and have nobody bat an eyelid. Not that that necessarily happened.
August in Edinburgh is the only place in the world where you can forget you’ve seen someone contort their body through a stringless tennis racket. Can you imagine if your mate casually whipped that out at the next game of tennis? “Aw mate d’you remember that time Jimbob went all wack on us and shimmied through that racket?” It would never be forgotten, and yet on the streets of Edinburgh I only had time to huff at the surrounding crowd blocking my path. “Eh just another randomer squishing limbs through an impossibly small space. Don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
This is my first year covering the Fringe in a somewhat professional capacity – lol who am I kidding – and it started off with a press launch at C venues, where I was told that a café in one of the Pleasance venues distributes free breakfast for the media. After unashamedly asking around every café at said venue I have come to the conclusion some witty wizened journalist has been pulling my naïve newbie leg. Unfortunately I cannot remember who told me. On an unrelated note I do feel quite passionately that the glasses at wine tasting events in general should be a lot smaller, maybe even shot glass size, as to ensure maximum taste opportunities. It’s hardly a wine tasting if you only drink two different wines.
However, this disappointing breakfast experience aside, the Fringe has so far lived up to its brief; to employ an assortment of slightly or wildly insane people to do slightly or wildly insane things and allow them to be slightly or wildly successful in the process. The whole spirit of the Fringe is to have a few performances of utter glory and a few of utter crap, to take part, have fun etc etc and disgrace yourself on stage, whether as a cast member or audience participant.
I live in almost perpetual fear I will be singled out to be called up on stage, and with good reason, just yesterday at another press launch an 82 year old comedian asked me if I’d had a bikini wax lately, all in front of the high-flying members of my intended future profession. At least I’ll be able to pursue my dream of being a horse whisperer without guilt now.
For Edinburgh residents, the Fringe is Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Strutting around the streets wearing my press pass like it’s a flippin’ glitterball it’s not hard to see why non-artistic people think Fringe-enjoyers are all massive twats. It’s as if all the arts councils of the world have come together to take a giant artistic dump on the streets of the city, clogging the high streets and closes alike with an unavoidable stench of hipsters and artists and wannabes and other undesirables who usually exist to be scoffed at.
In my eagerness to describe the whole ordeal, I have managed to completely fail to mention any of the acts I have previewed in the past few days. Snippets of two acapella groups, All The King’s Men and Aquapella, performing at C venues, went down well at the press launch, while JuUnk, an enthusiastic drum-banging bunch of elfish people (better than they sound, honest), caught my eye/ear at Just the Tonic. Sketch show Mixed Doubles at the same venue also intrigued me – funny in a much more smart and subtle way than the average bonk-on-the-head crass humour of the Fringe, certainly worth a look up.
More from the launches of the Underbelly and the Assembly later, I’m about to miss my bus. Au revoir mes amis.
Image © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
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