Brian Ferguson’s Festival Diary: Happy birthday to the Stand Comedy Club

Ukulele Death Squad. Picture: Contributed
Ukulele Death Squad. Picture: Contributed
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They’ve never been one for blowing their own trumpets too loudly, but it would be remiss not to give a big shout out to The Stand Comedy Club as it celebrates its 20th anniversary on York Place.

It is fair to say the centre of gravity of the Fringe has shifted dramatically in the intervening period. Director Kenny O’Brien puts its characteristically bluntly in his introductory rallying call for audiences to help The Stand mark its birthday: “We’re having a party. You should come over. It beats being squished to smithereens in the Old Town.”

If that wasn’t enough an of advertising board, Stand 2, off St Andrew Square, promises “the best wee room for stand-ups on the Fringe – ace comedians, affable stable and a decent attempt at air-con.”

Sunshine on Leith continues

While King Creosote was attracting a full house to the new-look Leith Theatre for the first night of the Edinburgh International Festival’s “Light on the Shore” series, the Fringe was also extending its reach into Leith.

Adelaide combo Ukulele Death Squad have adopted the area as their spiritual home in Edinburgh after the Leith Depot came to the ­rescue over a venue crisis last year.

The group have returned the favour this year by ­backing the Save Leith Walk campaign against a development which would see the popular live music venue demolished. Their cult following in the area is likely to be further bolstered after being given special permission by Hibs to serenade fans arriving for their big European match against Norwegian outfit Molde.

Their next encounter, at the Book Festival tomorrow, will be with Nick Cave fans, at the German graphic designer and cartoonist Reinhard Kleist’s tribute to the Australian singer-songwriter. The Ukulele Death Squad, Carla Lippis and the Zephyr Quartet will all be providing the soundtrack while Kleist creates visual representations of his most famous songs.

Maureen Lipman

It’s been more than half a century since Maureen Lipman made her debut at the Fringe and she seems to be relishing reinventing herself in her first appearance at the festival since at the age of 72.

The guest of honour at the first Scotsman Fringe First Awards ceremony of 2018 told the packed audience she was “trying to go out on a limb” with a show which mixes monologues with music, song and her take on the #MeToo debate.

She drew a comparison between returning to the Fringe fray and the “comfortable” TV documentaries contemporaries such as Judi Dench, Timothy West and Larry Lamb have appeared in lately.

“I’m on the balls of my feet,” she said.