You will quickly notice there are a ton of comics who seem to have all graduated from the same comedy school; who always open with the “I know what you’re thinking, I look like so and so’s hungover brother...” kind of jokes and then move on to their black, gay or life as a parent jokes. But there are beings amongst us who are just funny, simple as that. They have the heart of a musician and the ear of a poet. Find them. Go see a comic who has no choice but to be one because it’s who they are, not what they are trying to be. I will tell you the names of four of these rare jesters at the Fringe this year: Jo Caulfield, Paul Foot, Rick Shapiro (above) and Nick Sun.
An art form unique to the Fringe and growing in popularity is the live chat show format. Artists love them as they provide an opportunity to plug their shows, audiences love them because they are unscripted and a chance to sample the goods. Dabster Productions’ live “Podcalf” at Udderbelly (daily at 1pm) is one of the best. The amiable and hilarious host Richard Melvin’s knack for mixing the likes of Sarah Millican and Tim Minchin with Fringe newcomers creates an afternoon’s hour of national broadcast quality entertainment (Melvin has more than five million downloads of his consistently #1 comedy podcasts).
For those new to Edinburgh, I have a secret for you – the music scene native to this city is bubbling under the radar and producing some of the best artists in the UK. It’s a big reason why I moved here from New York City last year, to witness the emergence of the Edinburgh scene.
One place you’ll be able to bear witness to this is Queens of Antifolk every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday at 8pm as part of the Alternative Fringe at The Hive (15-17 Niddry Street). Over the years the Antifolk scene has produced such amazing artists as Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson, Michelle Shocked and Laura Marling. The ladies scheduled to play Queens of Antifolk such as Depresstival, Erin K, Teen Canteen and Emily Scott are all as talented as their forerunners – this is your chance to see them for free.
Lach’s Antihoot at the Counting House Ballroom (38 West Nicolson Street) every night (except Mondays) from midnight until 2am is New York City’s longest running, most infamous open stage ever featuring the best songwriters, comics, poets, magicians, and burlesque queens at the festival. You may even get a chance to perform yourself. Over the years everyone from Beck to Jeff Buckley has played it and everyone from Bob Dylan to freaking Meryl Streep has hung out there. It’s free this year with a full bar to boot.
Don’t just come to the Fringe, be absorbed by it. Let your heart’s sense of wonder navigate you into secret caverns of mad treasure. With that in mind I suggest you wander by Summerhall and discover any one of the macabre and delightful events they have on offer. The huge venue housed in Edinburgh’s old veterinary hospital is an attraction in itself – a Tardis of art, theatre and magic well worth a day’s exploration.
As well as hosting the Antihoot, Lach will perform his solo show Up The Anti!, Wednesdays to Saturdays, at the Alternative Fringe@ The Hive. www.lachtoday.com