I was chatting with Simon Munnery (right)about small audiences – not that he is an expert on that. He told me Eugene Cheese of the Chuckle Club would cancel if there were fewer than 30 in the audience. Unbelievable now. It has been something of a slow start to the Fringe but comic types, if you have not brought a show to Edinburgh that you would be glad to perform to a turd in a bucket and Mrs McGinty’s cat then you have brought the wrong show. I spoke to Simon Morley of Puppetry Of The Penis, who is keeping it in his pants for a show at Monkey Barrel, and he is finding it “humbling” playing to small audiences and doing the bucket thing. But playing he is. So enough with the cancelling because there were only two in the room and the lighting wasn’t right. I have seen Joey Page with two of us in the room and it was a blast. Phil Nichol played to only a handful when I saw it and it was mindblowing. The show must go on.
Punters at the Festival should be aware that there is more than one speccy bloke with a beard in Edinburgh. The Fringe’s regular Frankie Boyle look-alike Richard Brown has shaved off his beard to reveal what looks like an eight-year-old child hiding underneath, but there is always another. And, while one might not see the advantage in looking like Frankie, I was trudging down South Bridge when I heard a beardy, speccy bloke behind me telling his mate “an’ she thought I was Frankie Boyle! It was the closest I’ve come to getting’ ma hole in three months.” So step away from the razor…
Offence at a comedy festival is taken like Jägerbombs in a Wetherspoons. The ever-charming Trevor Lock was telling me he was accused of “triggering” a woman in the audience during This Is Your Trial. In the dock was a lady accused of ballroom dancing with her dog. Trevor asked what she might have been wearing. There were, he says, pointed fingers on the way out. Moving on, the lovely Martha McBrier (left) has been playing the didgeridoo in her show which is a cultural no-no. As the email taking her to task came from a white American sociology professor, I thought I would ask Craig Quartermaine – currently the quiet but powerful one in his show Race-Off, with Brendon Burns – who is indigenous Australian, and he confirmed the taboo. In the process of our conversation I succeeded in exposing my own absolute ignorance of First Nation culture and tribes and I genuinely offended myself.
We are far enough into the Fringe for venue staff to have settled in and got to grips with their – frequently thankless – job. I had a delightful experience at The Caves the other night, where front of house staff are a joy. Gilded Balloon have their usual bemused but sweet gang, although their Museum staff are particularly lovely, Underbelly seem perfectly efficient and Brian at The Counting House is an example to all. Down at the Pleasance Courtyard, someone needs to explain to the staff (and possibly to the performers) that the audience have paid for tickets which are not numbered. This means they get to sit in any seat that they want. Performer wants the front filled up because it is better for them? Not important. We, the audience, are the important ones. Free venues work perfectly well without someone with a walkie talkie treating people like sheep being dipped. Just saying.