The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Joe Wells Doesn’t Want to Do Political Comedy Anymore! 20th August 2019

Joe WellsOur first show of the day is one of the best reasons to come to the Edinburgh Fringe – it’s Joe Wells Doesn’t Want to Do Political Comedy Anymore! at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Sneaky Pete’s, at 12:05 on Tuesday 20th. Here’s the blurb: “The news is too horrible to joke about, so Joe’s looking for a new shtick. Support for Frankie Boyle, Stephen K Amos and Alexei Sayle. Writer for BBC1’s Have I Got News for You. As seen on BBC3’s Quickies. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘A genuine hidden treasure of the Fringe’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Recommended’ (Heat).”

We started catching Joe Wells at Edinburgh a few years ago as a word of mouth success, and, boy, was that word of mouth correct. If you like your comedy intelligent, incisive, and on the nose, he’s your man. Check back around 1.15 pm to see if he’s as great this year as in previous years (no pressure, Joe). By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Spank! 19th August 2019

SpankNow it’s time for the show that we look forward to the whole year round. It’s the amazingly wonderful James Loveridge and the totally fantastic Evan Desmarais presenting Spank! at Belly Dancer @ Underbelly, Cowgate, at 23:55 on Monday 19th. Here’s the blurb: “Spank! returns for an incredible 16th year with hilarious hosts, awesome comedians and gratuitous nudity. Showcasing the most exciting comedy and cabaret on the Fringe, don’t miss the ‘best wild night out’ (Scotland on Sunday) at the festival! ‘Comedy and legendary party night… if you haven’t experienced this night, get down there right away!’ (Time Out). ‘It’s raunchy, raucous and ridiculous. Utterly and absolutely hilarious’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘Everything you could hope for in a late-night comedy showcase… absolutely must-see show’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Atmosphere is electric… you just don’t quite know what is going to happen next… superb’ ***** (One4Review.co.uk).”

This will be our first of three visits this week, and to say we’re excited is to say a very considerable underestimate of how we’re feeling. Check back around 3am (or maybe early on Tuesday morning) to see who were the guests, who got naked and how much fun we had. By then the first preview blog for Tuesday should be available to read too.

I can’t resist a Spank! An excellent night, with everyone on great form. James and Evan were the hosts with the most, introducing the always reliable The Establishment, the amazing James Phelan, the unique Lost Voice Guy, the sassy Sikisa, the hilarious Tony Cantwell, the smart Ginnia Cheng and the one and only Dulcé Sloan. Great audience input from young psychologist Dr Harrison and 20 year old student Toby who did the naked promo in aid of testicular cancer research. A brilliant night out!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – 3’s Comedy – Adam Knox, Luka Muller and Peter Jones, 19th August 2019

3s ComedyFor our first show on Monday – and hoping we get up in time for it – this might be just the right way to start the day. It’s 3’s Comedy – Adam Knox, Luka Muller and Peter Jones at Hollywood @ Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, at 11:35 on Monday 19th. Here’s their blurb: “3’s Comedy brings together Adam Knox, Luka Muller and Peter Jones, three of the rising stars of Australian comedy for a whole new hour of hilarious stand-up. As seen on the TV, as heard on radio and as bumped into on public transport on the way to gigs all across the world. Knox, Muller and Jones are guaranteed to make you laugh.”

I don’t know any of these chaps so this is a bit of a punt but, who knows, there might be comedy gold mined here! Check back around 1pm to see how much we laughed. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

And first failure of the day… arrived with 20 minutes to spare but it was already full. Get here early for this one!

Instead, we’re going to see Bollywood and Birmingham to Berlin and Brexit, at Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, with Dharmander Singh. Here’s hoping for a good one!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Bi-Cycle, 18th August 2019

Bi-CycleIn a change of plan, as the show we were going to see in this slot had received a swathe of rotten reviews – and life is short – so this comic play sounded like a great alternative. It’s Let It Go Productions’ Bi-Cycle, at Underbelly, George Square – The Wee Coo at 14:40 on Sunday 18th. Here’s the official blurb: “Whether you’re a die-hard in the gym or an after-work spin class hack. If you’ve ever felt confused about your identity, not enough or attempted to find your soul through fitness to no avail! Come ride with Bi-Cycle, and find it! Enter the shiny boutique spin studio and be taken on a ride by the chiselled and imperfect instructor, whose damaged and motivated soul will, hopefully, guide you, hopefully, back to yours. A spin on self-worth, sexuality and spin class. ‘I actually feel more alive after watching that!’ (StageWhispers.com.au).

We’ve recently started doing Spin classes (at our age too) so I’m hoping for some recognisable moments of humour! Check back around 4.00pm to find out what we thought. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

Sammy gives us a fantastic workout both physical and emotional with his amazing spin (geddit?) on sexual self-discovery. Hilarious and heartwarming and brilliantly performed. Well worth seeing!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Shakespeare for Breakfast, 18th August 2019

Shakespeare for BreakfastI thought I’d make our earliest start of the week on the first morning whilst we were still not that tired – and it’s something we’re really looking forward to, Shakespeare for Breakfast, at C Venues – C Viva, at 10:00 on Sunday 18th. Here’s the official description: “The Bardic Breakfasters are back! C’s sensational Shakespearience returns, for its 28th sell-out year, with free coffee and croissants! A pleasing plethora of pentameter, puns and pastry. Perfect for hardened fans of the Bard and blank verse virgins alike. This year they take on the classic Romeo and Juliet. ‘A bouncy and boisterous take on Willie’s work’ (List). ‘Well worth getting out of bed for’ (Independent). ‘No holds Bard (FringeGuru.com). ‘Irreverent humour… clever’ (Stage). ‘Side-splitting… glorious’ (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘Full of fun’ (RemoteGoat.com). ‘Sizzling’ (Scottish Daily Express). Free coffee and croissants! Book early.”

This will be the fourth time we will be seeing this fantastic company give us their unique slant on the Big Bard. Last year it was Taming of the Shrew, the year before Macbeth, the year before that A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this year it’s to be Romeo and Juliet. You just know it’s going to be ridiculously funny, as always. And a free croissant. Check back shortly after 11am to see just how funny it was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

What can you say? The regular team pun the hell out of the Bard with their brilliant Montabrews v Cupulets Coffee Shop war. Unmissable as always, the best morning comedy you can get!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Funny for a Girl, 17th August 2019

Mary BourkeWe don’t normally do more than four shows on our first day – which means our last show of the day is Funny for a Girl, at the Stand Comedy Club (Stand 1) at 22:00 on Saturday 17th. This is how it’s described on the website: “We’ve selected the funniest women we could find at the Fringe and brought them together for an evening of comedy you’ll never forget! ‘An amazing evening of the most hilarious women I’ve seen in a very long time. When BBC producers say they can’t find any funny women they obviously haven’t been looking hard enough’ (Evening Herald, Dublin). ‘A fascinating range of different comedic styles. Even Christopher Hitchens would find these women funny’ (GQ). ‘Our girls are clean and won’t rush you’ (Watford Gazette).”

The comedy brains behind this show is the brilliant Mary Bourke, whom we’ve seen many times before. Who knows who else will be on the bill, but I’m sure it’ll be a great laugh! Check back around 11.15pm to see my initial feedback as to how much we enjoyed it. By then the next preview blog, for tomorrow morning’s first show, should be available to read too.

Brilliantly funny line up, with Mary Bourke on terrific form, introducing the feisty Mary O’Connell, streetwise comic/poet Sarah Callaghan, and hilarious comedy magician Mary Muden. Great atmosphere, dynamic range of performers, and a packed house enjoying terrific late night comedy. Definitely recommended!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – Singalonga Pub Quiz, 17th August 2019

Singalonga Pub QuizOur next show sounds a little unpredictable and messy! It’s Singalonga Pub Quiz, at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Fingers Piano Bar at 18:40 on Saturday 19th. Here’s what it’s about: “Do you really need to read this blurb? Look at the title! It’s a singalong pub quiz where you can test your knowledge whilst singing your favourite hits. It’s an evening of silliness and songs with random points awarded by your quizmaster, song leader and cabaret maestro, Mister Meredith. So unwind and embrace ‘the sheer pleasure of a room united in song’ (Time Out). On Mister Meredith: ‘One of the greatest cabaret performers of his generation’ (ScotsGay.co.uk) On Singalonga Pub Quiz at The Poodle Club: ‘Would highly recommend’ ***** (Jackie O’Shea, Google review)”

I know from a friend that it was Mr Meredith who hosted a recent nudist singalonga show in London, so I do hope we’re not going to be asked to get our kit off! Should be a lot of fun though. It’s an hour long, so check back around 8.00 pm to see what it was like, and by then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

Well, that did exactly what it said on the tin! A good fun pub quiz in great atmosphere and a chance to get your vocal cords exercised. Didn’t win, but it didn’t matter. Get there early; plenty of people were turned away as it’s very popular.

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2019 – 54 Shows in 8 Days! First Show – Apollo Take 111, 17th August 2019

Edinburgh fringe 2019Greetings, gentle reader! I hope you’re ready for this, as it’s time for me to pester you with loads of blog updates over the next week, as, if you subscribe to my blog, you will get constantly emailed telling you we’ve been to see yet another show at the Edinburgh Fringe – and I’m very sorry about that. This is our sixth visit to the Edinburgh Fringe, and we’re looking forward to it as much as ever. In 2014 (just a weekend visit) we aimed to see 20 shows and managed 19; in 2015, we planned on 52 shows and hit 50; in 2016 we set our sights slightly lower, planning to see 47 events, and managing 45, and in 2017 we aimed for 51 and achieved 49. Last year we planned on seeing 54 shows (a record) and achieved 51 (also a record!) This year I’m hoping for 53 shows… but I wouldn’t bank on us catching all those early morning ones….

As in previous years, I’m proposing to prepare a preview-type blog post in advance for each show we’re seeing and then add my instant reactions in the few minutes I have afterwards, between shows. I think it’s worked well enough in the past – because it would be impossible to write a full post about each show, there just wouldn’t be time! I’ll try to make it so that there’s always one preview blog on the go at any one time, so you always know what we’re seeing next.

Apollo Take 111So our first show for this Edinburgh week is Strickland Productions’ Apollo Take 111, at Zoo Southside Studio at 16:15 on Saturday 17th. Here’s the official promotional blurb: “’One small step for man, one giant leap for… Line!’ Its 1960s America and a small-town government employee’s life is about to change forever when he is tasked with landing men on the Moon. The only issue is that he doesn’t have a clue how to do it. With the help of an elusive director and the most difficult group of actors on the planet, watch him try to mount the largest scam in history in this hilarious modern farce exploring conspiracy theories, 1960s American pop culture and why we love believing nothing in history’s ever right.”

This sounds like it should be a complete hoot if it’s done well. I’m not prone to being a conspiracy theorist, but I can see the appeal! It’s 50 minutes long, so please check back sometime after 5.30pm to see what we thought of it, and by then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

And if you’re up in Edinburgh, have a brilliant Fringe!

This went to levels of lunatic surrealism that I wasn’t quite expecting! Some funny lines and engaging characterisations but it didn’t really gel for me.

Review – Chris McCausland, Speaky Blinder, Underground at the Derngate, 8th June 2019

Chris McCauslandWe saw Chris McCausland at one of our earliest Screaming Blue Murder shows, back in 2010, and really enjoyed his material and style. It’s been a long time in the waiting, but when I saw he was returning to Northampton with his Speaky Blinder show, that had been a great success last summer in Edinburgh, buying a ticket was a bit of a no-brainer.

Jon LongBut first we had a (too brief) warm-up session with support act Jon Long, who was completely new to us but what a find! A very engaging chap with a warm, inclusive (but never threatening) style, a gentle but deadly delivery, and armed with his guitar to strum a few comedy songs that compliment his spoken material. It wasn’t long before we were all singing about dildos together, that’s how relaxed he got us! Very entertaining material, and a very comfortable and friendly vibe to his act. Will happily see him again.

After the interval, Chris McCausland took to the stage. If you don’t know, he’s been totally blind for many years, and when we saw him several years ago I thought it was fascinating how his disability played a relatively small part in his material. Today that has changed somewhat, and although the gig included plenty of jolly, flippant remarks and jokes about his domestic arrangements with his wife and his daughter, you get a much greater sense that he wants to give us some serious and thought-provoking observations about how his disability affects his daily life.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a sad or downbeat show. Quite the reverse; although he never overlooks an opportunity to increase awareness of the issues relating to blindness, he presents it all through the medium of comedy, and it’s one of those shows where you rarely stop laughing. He’s very open about all aspects of his life, including how he loves his wife almost as much as he loves Mohammed Salah, and his warm and engaging personality totally wraps us up into his world so we’re completely on his side all the way through.

An intelligent, reflective but also very funny hour of comedy. Messrs McCausland and Long are currently touring the country and I’d really recommend you see them!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 31st May 2019

Screaming Blue MurderTime for yet another Screaming Blue Murder – and the screaming comes from the intense heat of the Underground studio, bad enough in winter but positively radioactive in summer! Nevertheless, that didn’t stun our senses as once again we enjoyed three fabulous acts, two magnificent intervals under the genial guidance of our loving MC, Dan Evans.

Dan EvansThis week Dan had to endure (I mean enjoy) the company of some marketing ladies from Avon – I don’t think his idea of anus lipstick is going to catch on – a few young likely lads in the front row with their deadpan father, and the Melton Mowbray branch of the Leicestershire Wives Society. From little acorns great oaks of mirth grew. I don’t envy his job but Dan was on top form as always.

Mark SimmonsTwo new acts (and one old favourite) for us this week, the first of which was our opener, Mark Simmons. And what a find he is! A quiet, subtle-laddish style but brimming with confidence and with 100% winning material, none of which I’d heard before. The majority of his humour comes from a mixture of pun and wordplay, and he delivered it with such dry originality that Mrs Chrisparkle and I were in hysterics the whole way through. I loved his mini-stories about premature ejaculation at an orgy, and what happened when he brought two girls home; there’s also his one joke that involves the C word, which works brilliantly because the punchline is so mild in comparison with its lead-up; and his discovery that cats in France have their own social media site. A little surreal, but with great connection to the audience, we thought he was terrific and would love to see him again.

Alasdair Beckett-KingNext up, and also new to us, was Alasdair Beckett-King; if you ever wondered what Simba looked like once he’d grown up, look no more. Resplendent with his flowing locks and curls, Mr B-K gives us an insight into the life of a full-on Ginger, with some very funny – and refreshingly clean – material. Switching up the erudite level a notch or two, he has a sequence where he discusses Blake’s Proverbs of Hell, but don’t be put off, his own selection of Proverbs are fresher than anything 18th century. Smart, witty, intelligent humour and he went down really well with the audience.

Mary BourkeOur headline act, and one we have seen many times before, was the endlessly surprising Mary Bourke, whose ability to create new material every time you see her is astounding. She has a wonderfully faux-strict style, like a headmistress who won’t accept any nonsense from you lot but inside has a heart of gold. I loved her take on how you scare people in Crouch End at Hallowe’en, and was delighted to realise she has the same attitude to Peppa Pig as us; indeed, she gives that hideous little hog the same middle name that we do. Unbeatable as always.

And that, sadly, is the end of the Screaming Blue Murders for this season; I think each and every one has been a sell-out which is fantastic news and a testament to just what cracking value and quality it is. Reconvene in September? Really annoyed that I have to miss the first autumn show on 13th September because it’s going to be immense. Book it now whilst tickets are still available!

P. S. I did get a name-check from the stage during the course of the evening, but I’m sure it was meant out of pure affection…. That’s what I’m going to tell myself anyway!