Brian Ferguson’s Festival Diary: Karen Koren’s ‘not dead yet or retiring’

A still very much alive Karen Koren who picked up a lifetime achievement award. Picture: Toby Williams
A still very much alive Karen Koren who picked up a lifetime achievement award. Picture: Toby Williams
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If you are a stand-up itching to get going for almost a month of bad behaviour, boozing, boorishness and bitching there are surely worse places to ease yourself in than the Scottish Comedy Awards.

Previous winners Mark Nelson and Richard Gadd, and host Scott Agnew, were the targets for some of the more outrageous on-stage digs at the no-holds barred ceremony at Le Monde, where all notions of political correctness were clearly left at the front door.

It was left to Gilded Balloon founder Karen Koren to bring a bit of decorum to proceedings, possibly for the first time ever, with a well-pitched acceptance speech for her lifetime achievement award – or “achivement,” as it was described on the somewhat haphazard big screen behind her. She brought order to the rabble before telling them: “I’m not dead yet and I’m not retiring.”

• READ MORE: 18 Must-sees: Scotsman critics pick the festival shows they’re most excited about

It has become a running joke that the passing of the Gilded Balloon mantle to her daughter Katy has been the longest handover in the history of the Fringe.

Katy finally stepped into the limelight on her own at the Gilded Balloon’s own press launch for the first time since becoming joint artistic director of the comedy empire.

But it was not long before her mum – described by her daughter as “a warrior of a woman” – was taking yet another bow to roars of approval.

Britain’s Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy, booked by Gilded Balloon before winning the competition in the spring, was probably the hottest name to grace the multiple opening launches. He set the tone for his style of humour right away by declaring: “I do find it ironic a disabled comedian is playing one of the most inaccessible cities in the world.”

A pre-Fringe walk down the High Street for a sneak preview of the new street theatre arena was an early test of nerve upon being confronted by the first wave of flyering teams to descend on the Royal Mile.

• READ MORE: EIF 2018 Opening Event review: Five Telegrams, Festival Square

But I had already been flyered at the beginning of the week in the unlikeliest of locations – in the back of a black cab.

It seems only fair then to give a shout out to Theatre Alba’s promenade production for children, The Garden of Delight.

Written and directed by Clunie Mackenzie, whose taxi-driving husband has been pressed into promotional duties between fares, is being staged in the grounds of Duddingston Kirk.

Which is just a short cab ride from the city centre…