Brian Ferguson’s Festival diary: Karen Koren | Gilded Balloon

AN AUDIENCE with Karen Koren is always an experience, but I felt an extra frisson of excitement venturing into her Greenside Place offices.

Karen Koren, who showered our Arts Correspondent Brian Ferguson in pink glitter. Picture: Toby Williams
Karen Koren, who showered our Arts Correspondent Brian Ferguson in pink glitter. Picture: Toby Williams

There was a distinct back-to-the-future vibe, with preparations in full swing for this weekend’s 30th anniversary gala at the Playhouse, as well as a 1980s-themed day at the venue yesterday.

Pride of place in the office was reserved for the giant pink numbers, to which staff were putting the finishing touches.

The comedy queen obviously felt my attire needed brightening up with some of the left-over pink glitter.

She sprinkled it over me like Gilded Balloon magic dust – which a day later I’m still finding in some very strange places.


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THE Gilded Balloon offered the first taste of an annual Fringe ritual – slowly melting into your seat in the middle of a performance. It was so hot during Willie and Sebastian, Andy Gray and Grant Stott’s latest theatrical double act, that I was convinced some members of the audience – most of whom had a good few years on me – would start passing out around me.

The sight of Gray in his underpants clearly sent temperatures rising even further, especially for some of those on the front row.

Making eye contact with Gray – in glorious form as playboy Willie Donaldson – was merely the cue for him to move in even closer.

Unable to resist his urge for ad-libbing, he quipped: “That’s one in the eye for you, eh?


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THE countdown is on for one of the most bizarre Fringe fixtures – the annual wrestling showdown at The Pleasance, masterminded by sketch duo Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez.

Olesker, a former pro-wrestler himself, broke his ankle when he launched a one-off bout, featuring real wrestlers and specially-trained comics, in 2011.

But it is back for a fourth outing next week and will this time draw inspiration from the cult Japanese film Battle Royale.

The pitch is simple: “No teams, no captains and no allies – it’s all against all, as 20 wrestlers and comedians go to war, and only after 19 entrants have been thrown over the top rope will a champion be crowned.”