Last week we welcomed Alex Salmond to Slaughtered at the Abattoir bar. He was drinking a bespoke non-alcoholic cocktail, FYI.
What a truly great bloke! Sam Simmons and James Nokise (below) got on with him like a house on fire. Lewis Schaffer went directly into agent provocateur mode and got called a “eejit”. “I used to run the country, ye know,” Alex pointed out to him at one point. Alex is teaming up with Des Clarke and John Bishop for a show about The Donald. I think we have not seen the back of Big Eck The Entertainer. Which can only be a very good thing.
Some comics have decided that there are more important things than a full house. Lewis Schaffer now curates his audiences. “Groups are not good,” he says. “If they want to leave they have to have a big committee discussion about it. I go along the queue and sometimes I just say, ‘I don’t want you in my show.’” Mostly he weeds out the hopeless drunks and those who obviously have no idea what queue they are in. Smart move. Sajeela Kershi tells me she has had occasion to do the same thing at her Nasty Women show. “One woman in the queue said, ‘Are they going to be funny? I am very particular about the comedy I see.’” Sajeela politely explained that she was equally particular about who she had in her audiences. While the Free Fringe and all who followed it have revitalised, even arguably saved, the Fringe, performing in a room next to a bar can be challenging. Fringe-goers can help by refraining from attending shows when their alcohol level has risen from “jolly” to “irritating bastard who has lost the capacity to realise that when you are gibbering to your little chums during the show we can all hear it and we hate you”. Just a suggestion.
Dave and Carole Chapple are Fringe regulars and generally have some crazy plan for their August. This year they saw 70 shows in 70 venues in seven days to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Fringe and to raise money for mental health charity Mind. You can still donate to their fundraising at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/DavidChapple1963
The list of Fringe casualties grows as we near the end. Mama Biashara’s Big Benefit missed the talents of Phil Nichol (v poorly and unwell) and Hannah Gadsby (below) who had to rush to a dentist in great pain. I received a picture of the offending tooth in a dentist’s tray, post extraction. It is now my screensaver.
The Grouchy Club has been a blast, sat in the Counting House with John Fleming. We had one guest who, in the aftermath of surgery for a brain tumour, had come to the Fringe to meet her birth mother who was doing a show. You could see the same thought bubble above the heads of all the performers in the room: “Great story for a show...”
Yesterday we invented – using as a paradigm the wonderful Brian, The Man At The Barrel – the Comedy Concierge. Every big venue needs one, advising, directing, helping bemused punters through the egregious choices available. Book yours for your venue next year through me.