If you’ve ever been to Edinburgh, you’ll know of its beauty. The landscape is filled with stunning castles and elegantly designed buildings, along with bagpipers and kilt wearers which give you little thrills of the Scottish culture.
All of this almost makes up for the weather because it is definitely as rainy as they say. But what better setting than the birthplace of Harry Potter to host the biggest arts festival around, you may encounter extreme weirdness but you won’t be disappointed.
As always, this year’s festival celebrated the good, the bad and the train wrecks which we are all happy to say we witnessed.
Example? If you ever attend the Fringe there’s a show called ‘Late ‘n’ Free’, which is a free version of ‘Late ‘n’ Live’, a popular variety show with a mix of different comedians and acts. Now obviously, the standard of the free version is going to be worse. With this in mind, when the headline act stood on stage for a good five minutes in silence, looking as if he’d rather be at his own mum's funeral than there telling jokes before begging to be booed offstage so he could ‘go home and cuddle his girlfriend’ even we were unprepared.
You may wonder if this was all part of his act, that he was really some sort of comical genius who liked to make his audience as uncomfortable as possible before laying the jokes on them? A similar idea crossed the mind of the audience resulting in a few titters of laughter before they were yelled at by the comic to ‘stop with the pity laughs’.
So how could this terrible act topping off a very average to bad night of comedy be salvaged? By a man on a stag, who had nothing to do with the so-called entertainment coming onto the stage, taking the microphone and reciting a speech from Henry V; completely naked of course. And the compare did nothing to stop it as this got the first genuine cheer of amusement of the night.
‘Late ‘n’ Live’, along with some other typically renowned shows helps to give an insight into the possible comedic stars of the future. A few names to look out for could be Matt Kirshen, Jimmy McGhie and Abandon men, an improv singing group who cleverly make up songs based on suggestions from the audience.
Watching big names such as Jack Whitehall however, proved why the big names are the sell outs of the circuit and deserve the success they have achieved. Alongside the train wrecks, it’s always good to have a laugh where it’s actually intended.
Of course, the Fringe is not just about comedy, and much of the wonderfully weird comes from plays and live music. This, like the talents of the comics, ranges from well thought out and funny interpretations of a modern day Macbeth (the general age of this group also proved that the fringe is definitely not just for students) to self-pitying, one man shows, aiming to be a deep and meaningful insight into life after love. It wasn’t. Luckily, it was free.
If you’ve ever seen the booklet for the Fringe, you will know the phrase ‘there’s something for everyone’ has never been more true. Each trip can be tailored to individual taste. A musical entitled ‘Fresher the Musical’ was hilariously upbeat and funny for a second year university student like myself, but the 70 something’s opposite didn’t seem to find the jokes about anal sex all that funny.
There are always some must see shows that have been praised by the critics. This year, it came in the form of ‘When the Birds Fell from the Sky’, a 15-minute interactive piece in which people are given earphones and blindfolded with ‘new eyes’ before being placed in a strange world featuring scary clowns and calming green fields among other things.
It plays on all your senses as you follow the instructions given by your headset and have everything from alcohol to lavender sprayed in your face. It was very odd, but fully deserved the credit it got for being a uniquely brilliant experience and sums up the wonderful insanity that goes on at the Fringe.
So what is it that really makes the Fringe brilliant? In my opinion it’s all about the people; the hecklers at the terribly bad late night comedies who get more laughs than the acts, the slightly scary Scots who shout at you for standing at the wrong side of a bus stop (also true) and as you walk around the beautiful town the numerous street performers who keep you entertained no matter how bad the weather gets.
So is the fringe weird? Yes. Will you meet with some form of crazy? Yes. Will there be hours you look back on and be horrified you wasted watching something dreadful? Yes. But if you ever get the chance to go, you’d be an absolute fool to miss the madness.