Festival Diary: An unexpected Fringe encounter in a walled garden

The Fringe has taken me to a few unexpected places over the years.

A forest glade, a rocky beach and a football stadium were among the venues I visited last year, while one of the most memorable theatrical experiences over the years unfolded in a tenement flat on London Road.

It was just around the corner from there this week that I had my most surreal encounter of the Fringe so far after a mysterious approach via Twitter to appear as a guest on a show.

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Daffodil Tramples The Fringe, one of this year’s unsung online offerings in the festival programme, was not nearly as scary as it sounded, although it was still a hot seat experience when I was there due to the unexpected return of the Edinburgh sunshine.

Alan Anderson has snapped up The Stand Comedy Club's famous cowboy backdrop for The Rotunda Comedy Club in Glasgow.Alan Anderson has snapped up The Stand Comedy Club's famous cowboy backdrop for The Rotunda Comedy Club in Glasgow.
Alan Anderson has snapped up The Stand Comedy Club's famous cowboy backdrop for The Rotunda Comedy Club in Glasgow.

Guests drawn from around the world of the Fringe are interviewed by an unseen talking tortoise in a walled garden where he lives year-round hidden away off Windsor Street.

Chats with previous guests including Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy, Traverse and Lyceum bosses Linda Crooks and Mike Griffiths, and Tattoo production manager Stevie Small can all be re-watched on the official Daffodil website, where you can also see who else is booked on or simply enjoy the live stream from the garden, which can be viewed 12 hours a day until 27 August.

Considering there are more than 3500 shows on at the Fringe there have been a disappointing lack of PR stunts and wheezes so far.

The Stand Comedy Club generated a fair amount of publicity for itself when it announced plans to auction off its iconic cowboy stage backdrop after decided that its toy gun had to go due to complaints from customers who find it offensive.

The tectonic plates of the Fringe had shifted somewhat by the time the auction came around this week thanks to the plug being pulled on comedian Jerry Sadowitz after an “unprecedented” number of complaints over the opening performance of his show at the EICC.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Alan Anderson, founder of the Scottish Comedy Awards and promoter at the Rotunda Comedy Club in Glasgow, pounced at the opportunity to snap up what he described as “the second most iconic artwork in Scottish comedy after Billy Connolly's banana boots.”

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Anderson must have had a chuckle to himself as he revealed news of his successful mission and had a dig or two at The Stand for replacing the painting with a new version of the cowboy without his gun.

Questioning how triggering a “cartoon gun” was for audiences, Anderson said: “If you go to the British Museum the Elgin Marbles feature friezes of war and mutilation carved in stone. 6million people visit every year. Triggered?

“If you visit the Bayeux Tapestry you see 70m of images of death and invasion. Triggered?

“If you visit Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum you see a real live weapon of war ... WWII Spitfire hanging from the ceiling. Triggered?

“Comedy clubs should not be safe spaces for all ideas. Comedy clubs are where comedians should shoot down the ideas and actions of both the establishment and themselves.”

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