I am sharing a flat – and offering up The Grouchy Club, daily – with the Boswell of comedy, John Fleming, who is having a dreadful Fringe.
“Yet another day of excellent, well constructed, well performed shows,” he cries despairingly, sinking on to the sofa at midnight. The lack of the comedic disaster he craves has affected his brain. I found him chasing an irritating fly around the place a few days ago, trying to kill it with Soft’n’Gentle deodorant spray. Anyone who knows of any truly awful shows, do tell…
I bump into Alfie Brown (pictured above) in Brookes Bar. He has come up to fill an empty space on the Free Fringe for a couple of weeks with work in progress. I ask how his mum is doing – no mere social nicety, she is Jan Ravens who has her first solo show running here this month. Great, he tells me. Which is a relief as “I have grown enough bristly bits to cope with bad reviews myself, but with mum… I feel that if anyone gave her a bad review… I’d have to kill them.” I meet them later as he chaperones her around The Loft and, judging by Jan’s happy look and the fact she is adding extra shows all over the place, Alfie’s skills as an assassin will not be required.
The Fringe is taking its toll. Phil Nichol, a man who generally accounts for at least 25 per cent of the Fringe on his own is really quite “crook”, I hear from Puppetry Of The Penis’s Simon Morley. The stress of having his three-hour late show The Asylum pulled because residents complained about noise. In Blair Street? Gosh. Anyway, after hospital attention, he has pulled out of all performance except his own five-star solo show until further notice. Chicken soup and good wishes can be delivered to The Monkey Barrel.
The ridiculously talented Vikki Stone (pictured below) contacts me in desperation. She is bringing her amazing piece Concerto For Comedian And Orchestra for one night only to the Fringe on 27 August. She is self-producing and says: “I either have to sell tickets or a kidney to pay the orchestra and, quite frankly, I’d rather keep the kidney for the time being.” I think you know what you’ve got to do, people.
Disaster at The Abattoir as recording equipment failed to materialise for my Slaughtered At The Abattoir podcast. Dominic Holland, Andrew Doyle, Elf Lyons and Glamrou and Crystal from supergroup Denim sat patiently waiting. And drinking Espresso Martinis. As disasters go, it was really quite pleasant.
There was a flutter of excitement as Dominic told the group he has his sons here with him doing his flyering and helping with front of house. Sadly for the young ladies of Edinburgh, they will not be getting flyered by Spider-Man (aka Tom Holland). Dom has two more, younger sons. So roll on Batman, The Early Years. Elf left to “flirt outrageously” with the lucky people upstairs and the ladies from Denim to buttonhole judges in the adjacent Comedy Awards gathering. “We told them how good a bit of diversity would be for the Awards,” explained Iraqi Muslim drag queen Glamrou. Let’s see...