Stepping into the centre of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival is a lot like walking around a fresher’s fair in your first week of University.
You’ll feel vulnerable at first as unrelenting leafleters enthusiastically pounce on you, urging you to buy tickets to “the best show you’ll see today!” Before you know it, you’ll have collected a library of different flyers, many of which you’ve taken purely out of politeness with no intention of actually going to the gig (even if you did promise the flyer guy you would). Nevertheless, it’s pretty handy if you’re not too sure of what you want to see, particularly if you’re a first timer. It’s not all frantic flyer pushing though; there are plenty of street performers to enjoy amongst the chaos, from musicians to escapologists.
Comedy-wise, this year’s Fringe has showcased some solid stand up acts, some of whom have been on the circuit for a while such as Tom Ward and Sean McLoughlin. Ward’s kooky persona is enchanting from the outset, and Sean’s dry and unique sense of humour takes his audience on a fascinating journey. With McLoughlin describing himself at “mid-level” in terms of fame, it is surprising that neither of these funny men has hit the big time yet, but success is doubtlessly on the horizon for them both. Comedy isn’t just a boy’s club though; Scottish lass Jay Lafferty provides a shock value that can’t help but amuse you. The seemingly demure young woman repeatedly surprises the audience with unexpected profanities and crassness.
If stand up isn’t your thing, there are still many options on offer. St Andrew’s comedy troupe ‘The Big Time’ put on a quirky and at times bizarre but ultimately hilarious sketch show. Covering topics from Slytherin to fossilisation and product placement, it’s anything but predictable yet manages to maintain an air of relatability with the audience. Interactive shows are also available for those who like a bit of audience participation, such as Hambone where the central ‘millennial lad’ character, Jim who loves the Gym, invites members of the audience up on stage to get involved with various stunts – strange and amusing in equal measure but perhaps not one for introverts. If you prefer something a bit artsier, Raton Laveur is a dark yet captivating spectacle. It’s an hour long play featuring just two actors, and although it takes a while to warm up, the big twist is worth the wait. (Tip: Use the quote “I hate Chad” for half price tickets).
Despite playing host to many newcomers, the Fringe has also seen many headline acts performing this year from John Bishop and Ruby Wax to Lee Nelson and Jason Manford. But if you’d like to dip your toe in the water by going along to some free shows then head to Just the Tonic @ the Tron or the City Café directly across the road where there’s stand up acts on all day at little to no cost. The latter also put on taster shows where various acts perform short 20-minute snippets of their material so that you can decide whether or not to watch a full show later that day – perfect if you need some inspiration. And if you still don’t know what you want to see, there are hundreds of bars and restaurants to peruse while you figure it out.
Basically, whoever you are, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has something for you!
Words: Kate Dooley
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