COMEDIAN Steve Gribbin on the perils of festival flat-sharing and Rob Savage, roadie to singer Vanessa Knight, shares a few backstage secrets.
‘At the Fringe, friendships can be broken on the wheel of poor hygiene.’
The last thing you need when emerging from the funereal fug of a hangover is the sight of a rotting ready meal congealing in the top of your communal fridge , almost taunting you with its fetid decomposition.
And yet many Fringe performers will awake to such a sight due to the perils of flat-sharing, where friendships can be broken on the wheel of poor hygiene (toenails in the cheese, anyone?) and the social grace of a rugby club urine-gargling Neanderthal.
Choosing an Edinburgh flatmate, I would say, is more important than deciding who you will spend the rest of your life with.
The difference between “soul-mate” and “arsehole-mate” is wafer thin, akin to the sheen of scum they leave around the bath, like a liquorice necklace of ignorance.
Many post-murder interviews with the residents of a neighbourhood where a serial killer has run amok begin with those immortal words: “You think you know someone…” and Fringe flat sharing throws up that conundrum.
How can someone you used to think was such a good bloke/laugh/woman possibly think that building a Jenga tower of rancid washing up humming with fat bluebottles would be acceptable behaviour?
And then there are the weird ones, who appear at your shoulder as if by magic to murmur in your ear: “I think disembowelling is fascinating, don’t you?” forcing you to sleep, with the chair wedged up against the door, in a cold sweat at every creak of the floorboards.
Or the annoying one who tunelessly whistles every hour, day and night, or insists on slamming doors and stomping up and down the stairs like an elephant having a temper tantrum.
Good job this year I’m sharing with my wife.
• Steve Gribbin: Gribbostania is at the Stand Comedy Club IV, 8.10pm, until 26 August.
‘Vanessa has started wearing her sunglasses inside.’
I CAN tell it’s festival time again. Not only because I’ve spent the last 24 hours driving and carrying heavy equipment, but also Vanessa has started wearing her sunglasses inside, a sure sign she is getting into what I call “performance mode”. This is a curious phenomenon undoubtedly observed in many shapes and sizes during the Fringe. I find artists exhibiting performance mode fall into one of three categories: the Manics, the Divas and the Meek. The Manics get hyperactive. These are the ones backstage shadow boxing, jumping around and waving their arms in the air. For the non-arty types like me, these are the most tedious, you can usually hear them coming, periodically blurting “Woooo!” The trick is to avoid them until they tire themselves out.
The Divas get shouty. Pretty much anyone they encounter is a target for their rage. Expect an odd strop and plenty of stomping around to make sure everyone knows who the star is. These people are best dealt with a delicate touch. The answer “no” is not in their vocabulary. Use it at your peril, you get them what they want, when they want it or be blamed for everything that goes wrong.
The Meek mainly sit down, perhaps sobbing, occasionally vomiting, but nearly always trembling. It’s easy to confuse the meek with someone suffering from hypothermia. Conveniently both can be treated with a blanket and a cup of tea.
Am I going to tell you which one Vanessa is? Nope, that’s my problem. All that matters is that she pulls it together before she makes it on stage. The complexity of the music she creates using her loop pedal and plethora of instruments requires a cool head and steady hand, characteristics I’m yet to see her fail to deliver.
• Vanessa Knight, Jazz Bar, tonight, 17 and 18 August at 8:30pm.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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