Anyone that knows me (and I apologise for that profusely) knows that I love love love Edinburgh Fringe month. I love the atmosphere, I love the vibe, I love the sheer multitude of shows to see and all the open air street food and bars. I figured that this year, I would try and keep some kind of track of what I saw and did over these wonderful 4 weeks.
First of all, I hopped off the train at Waverley and used the machine in the station to pick up my ticket that I had pre-booked for the first show. I’d recommend doing this if you have tickets, or using the booth on the mound at Princes Street – makes things a lot smoother having your ticket in advance!
Having done that, I ventured into the Cowgate for a quick look at things – busy. even on the first official day of The Fringe – and head up towards the Gilded Balloon. My show wasn’t for an hour or so, so I had time to pop into The Doctors for a quick drink. I always like The Doctors, and I always end up in here watching whatever sport is on to get out of the rain and plot where I’m going next.
From there, I headed off the food and drink stalls outside the Gilded Balloon itself. The courtyard attached to it has two bars, a prosecco stall, and various food options from burgers to pizza and a deli style counter. Just outside though is The Cheesy Toast Shack, a crepe stall, a creme brulee van, and a donut stall.
The Cheesy Toast Shack is amazing and I’d highly recommend them to anyone. The New Yorker is insanely good – I mean, it had sauerkraut in it, and I ate it! I’m not a fan of that, but it really worked in this sandwich. Go and get one, you won’t regret it. I did realise that I was within walking distance of Illegal Jacks, so that’s a future plan as well.
As for the first show? Brendon Burns and Craig Quartermaine in Race Off. It was superb – I won’t give away a lot of what the show is about as you have to be there to really get it. It’s hilarious in places, it’s possibly very awkward to hear in places, but that’s part of the charm. What they talk about is important, and the way they treat it is done in a way that the awkwardness is necessary, and the welcome relief of a laugh when it comes is intensified.
Both men are at home on the stage, even if their styles are at opposite ends of the spectrum; Craig is smooth, calm and laid back to the point – whereas Brendon is the human personification of a can of energy drink! I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would recommend it to anyone that likes a healthy slice of intelligent, thought provoking comedy.
Off I toddled after that, with no plans – so I decanted back down to the Cowgate and planted myself in Underbelly to plan what to see next. Sadly, Underbelly is a great venue but mobile signal isn’t great – using the app to plan needs that, so I didn’t stop there long, and headed across to the Cowshed. I love this venue, there’s no pretensions about it – hay bales and rocking chairs are your seating choices, with the odd barrel and a a punk band on when I was in.
Looking at the stash of fliers and the app, I decided to go try Two Plus Ones at Just The Tonic and headed along in that direction, not before stopping in at The Free Sisters for a comfort break and to see what was going on in there. By the time I found a cash machine that was free – hell with paying £1.99 to get my own money! – I arrived at Just The Tonic, bought my ticket and a beer to take in to the show with me.
Two Plus Ones are three guys who do quickfire sketches and visual comedy; quickfire being the word. From the start of the show until the end, it was non stop. I wouldn’t say everything hit it’s mark entirely, but there were more than enough genuine laughs to recommend it. I even got roped into the dreaded audience participation and ended up on stage for a few minute. I can’t see myself making a career out of entertaining at this point in my life, and I was glad I’d had a drink or I would have probably ran screaming from the building!
After that show, I had a tough choice. I really wanted to see Colt Cabana and Brendon Burns wrestling comedy show, but doing that would mean I’d have no train home. Could I find something to do between 11.30pm and 5am when Waverley opened again? Luckily, the app told me there was a live show on back up at the Guilded Balloon from 1am to 5am. Score!
That sorted out, I headed off to the Cabana and Burns show at Monkey Barrel. Saw Colt before the show and pointed out his calling me out on Facebook about train times led to me pulling an all-nighter, so he’d better be funny. Thankfully, he was. With special guest John Robertson added, the dynamic between Brendon Burns – even more hyperactive than earlier – and Colt was spectacular. The hour flew in and I’d highly recommend this to any wrestling fan, or anyone looking for something different.
Also happened to bump into Darius Davies outside handing out fliers for his show and had a brief chat as he was on his way to a show as well. Check out his Road To Wrestlemania show too, peeps!
Arriving back at the Gilded Balloon, I had a slice of pizza to refuel, and picked up my ticket for the late show. Hosted by John Hastings tonight, we had 5 acts and a live band to close out the show until 5am. Hastings was an amazing host, working with and against several people in the crowd who had been pre-beveraged, shall we say, and rolling with whatever he saw. I’ll be checking out his show in the future too, I think.
We had 5 acts to watch – The Aunty Donna, Tiff Stevenson, Kai Humphries, Sarah Callaghan, David Correos took to the stage and all of them seemed to be having a great time. David Correos was sheer insanity, possibly topping even Brendon Burns for insanity! I’d happily see anyone from that show again, but The Aunty Donna were spectacular and rocket to the top of my “MUST SEE” list now.
They’re hard to describe, but physical, musical and visual comedy all wrapped up in madness and hilarity comes close. I loved them and they got some huge reactions to their set. Seriously, go see them. They’re like nothing else I’ve ever seen before – and that’s rare these days.
Closing out with reggae from Irie Yo Yo, and regular trips to the bar for Blue Moon, I left at 5am and headed back into the world, arriving at Waverley in time for Starbucks opening at 5.45 for a much needed coffee, and the train home at 6.30.
I got home at 8 and then headed back out at 11.45. I must be mad… but that’s the Fringe effect for you.
Brendon Burns & Craig Quartermaine: Race Off
Two Plus Ones: Big Night In
Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches
Late n Live @ The Gilded Balloon: John Hastings, Kai Humphries, Sarah Callaghan, David Correos, Tiff Stevenson, The Aunty Donna & Irie Yo Yo