I can't lie. My year of comedy appeared to become slightly derailed around July. I won't make excuses either, I'm not that kind of gal. I just needed to get back on the horse, so what simpler way than to head up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival? That didn't seem like an extreme reaction at all. I'm taking this year of comedy thing extremely seriously.
With boyfriend in tow and accommodation booked we arrived in the glorious Scottish capital to blazing sunshine and heat. First unexpected box ticked. After a short stroll we reached the Randolph Rooms, our home for the next few nights. To say it was easy or cheap to find accommodation in Edinburgh in August would be a big fat lie (well actually I suppose it was relatively easy just not that cheap). Although in comparison to the rest of the city, the Randolph Rooms was fairly priced and the central location was perfect. Add to that a room and ensuite that rival the size of your entire London flat and we were a happy pair.
After dropping our bags it was straight back out to dive head first in to fringe madness. It really does literally take over the streets, everywhere your head spins is a fringe venue, a pop up bar, a caravan selling cakes, another fringe venue, a pop up cinema, a craft stall, another fringe venue. You get the idea.
Fringe Tip 1 (stolen from a fellow fringer): "Download the app" she said. Not wanting to seem behind the times, I dutifully acquiesced and was glad I did. Sign in to your account to check your pre-booked shows and planner. You can also search for what's happening nearby - awesome if you're winging it and want to check what's nearest to your crafty lunchtime pint.
Fringe Tip 2: Double check you're at the right venue before chilling out completely. I know, I know. You're thinking what kind of fool am I, but it can happen to the best of us (even if you have been pre-warned). You spot the Gilded Balloon so you stop for a drink then realise the Gilded Balloon at The Counting House is actually two streets away and you need to be there now. Not to worry, we just made it, collecting some chaps from Newcastle along the way (I love it when you're not the only lost ones). Finally in the correct venue, the laughter could begin and Ed Gamble (Stampede) was first on our list. The place was packed (always a good sign) and Ed was already warming up the audience as the remainder crammed inside. Chatty, personal and topically hilarious, he honed in on the absurdity of modern fads to which many of us seem to fall foul. With self deprecation, fast paced wit and an undeniable matey charm, Gamble is an extremely funny guy (oh, and he knows a lot about cauliflower).
After a brief respite, we headed off to Lunch (not the edible kind) this was Luke Courtier’s show combining stand up with a guitar and an upper crust accent. I think the fringe is the place to dip your toe in to new waters, so with no preconceptions, we gave it a go. For me personally, it didn't whet my appetite for more. A series of musical musings interspersed with rolling monologue taking us along the culinary delights of modern pretentious lunch engagements. It was clearly clever and Luke played the audience well in a small and enclosed venue, it was just a shame for me that I didn't feel I could completely get on board.
Fringe Tip 3: Get to the cash point. With a plethora of pop up bars and food joints, it's far easier to be dealing in cash. Not everywhere wants your plastic. Plus if you are enjoying 'free' shows, it's only fair that you pay up something when leaving. These guys are working their butts off!
Rounding of the first fringe day was Nish Kumar (Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud) over at the Pleasance Courtyard. It was another (unsurprising) full house, filled with humorous political insight that was sharp, hilarious and on the money. Nish pulled no punches, obviously covering Brexit, racism and working in stories about Prince and David Bowie, as all great comedians should. If you haven't seen Nish, get up to Edinburgh now (go on, there's still time).
With day one complete we meandered back to our bed and scored the unexpected bonus of seeing the Military Tattoo fireworks from our bedroom window. What can I say? This place just keeps on giving.