Edinburgh festival Diary: Boris Johnson divides opinions on the Fringe

Edinburgh is clearly not the place for anyone looking to escape politicians and politics this month.

Fringe operators have clearly worked out politicians are good for box-office business.

After one of its acts went viral in performing to an audience of just one, The Stand Comedy Club was quick to post a video of a vast lunchtime crowd queuing round the block – to see none other than Jeremy Corbyn at the New Town Theatre.

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Boris Johnson, one of the few political leaders who has not been booked for a festival appearance as yet, is being lampooned in several Fringe shows, including Boris Live at Five at the National Museum of Scotland.

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Will Barton’s portrayal of Johnson may have deliberately set out to offend as much as entertain, with its goading of Scottish independence supporters in the audience of the tea-time show, jibes at Ruth Davidson and Alex Salmond, its description of Scotland as “the a*** end of Great Britain” and heckling of latecomers as “SNP extremists”.

An early straw poll revealed the show’s audience was divided roughly 50-50 on the question of Scottish independence.

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Its content may have proved too much for some to stomach given the show provoked more walk-outs than any other Fringe show I can recall.

Keeping a watchful eye on the comings and goings was Max Mitchell, a Conservative councillor in Edinburgh and festival fan, who balances his work at the City Chambers with a side hustle working with the Gilded Balloon’s front of house team.

Will Barton is starring in the Fringe show Boris Live at Five at the National Museum of Scotland.

A last-minute hitch to remember

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Last-minute hitches are the stuff of Fringe folklore – but Jack Mosedale’s plight seems slightly more dramatic than most.

Due to appear with Laura Curnick in their comedy double act Mother, he was forced to rewrite the whole show they had planned in a day after she was forced to return home from Edinburgh due to personal circumstances.

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Mosedale and director Katie Pesskin took on the challenge despite the fact he had only performed five minutes of stand-up on his own before.

The duo’s Fringe posters for their Underbelly show have been hastily redesigned to promote it as a “one man, two hander,” with the tagline: “His comedy partner had to leave, so now he’s going it alone."

Mosedale said: “Katie and I have mined a lot of comedy out of the challenge of it all and actually ended up with a show that’s very funny in its own frantic, absurd way.”

Capital’s musical birthplace

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With the number of Fringe shows tipping over the 3,500 mark at the time of writing – up more than 300 since the official programme went to press – the number of shows and events on offer is growing by the day.

One of the most notable late additions is a belated, but timely launching for a new book that seeks to stake a claim for Edinburgh as the birthplace of live music in Scotland.

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The Fruitmarket Gallery is playing host to a special event promoters and music industry champions Born To Be Wide have lined up with Jim Byers and Fiona Shepherd, co-authors of Edinburgh’s Greatest Hits, for a celebration of the city’s music scene, past and present. The event on August 22 will be rounded off with guest DJs playing their favourite tracks by local acts.



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