For the second year running I visited the Fringe and took in ten free shows, plus a paying gig in the absurdly funny John Luke Roberts.
Out of the ten freebies, there was a single dead turkey, a mad women on acid, a rank game show that was purposely rank for (ahem) comic value and a former favourite resting on their laurels, but with six shining stars (including one Pick of the Free Fringe show featuring six top dogs) and only one real stinker, I am happy that our pickings were sufficiently rich and worthy of the neatly folded notes and weighty coins thrown into exit buckets.
Without giving too much away, here is my lowdown of the best that I saw.
We started at the iconic Voodoo Rooms, site of three venues (The French Quarter, The Speakeasy & The Ballroom), a wonderful building where seven acts were to be viewed over my 3 day visit.
Elvis McGonagall, Full Tartan Jacket, got my latest Fringe off to a brilliant start.
A snarling Scottish poet now based in Waitrose country down South, waxing lyrical on all the topical political heavyweight lightweights, supermarket snobbery and many other subjects.
His razor sharp wit was delivered at Usain Bolt speed with all the accuracy of a German penalty shoot-out. A tough act to beat in my pecking order and an 8/10 rating from yours truly.
Next up we had the best known of the performers, Porky the Poet, aka Phill Jupitus.
The long-term team captain from the hugely popular TV show Never Mind The Buzzcocks did not disappoint with personal poems from his life of music devotion, fatherhood and comedy.
Phill is in fact doing three different shows each day at this years’ festival but sadly we missed his stand up show due to a late bus, leaving us to witness the dead turkey instead.
8/10 for Porky, 1 for the turkey.
James Farmer was Scaredy Cat, using his feline friends to illustrate the traumas he has experienced so far in his young life. James is a comedy writer for several hit TV shows and he showed a great comic delivery and a well thought out series of topics to weave into a lively set. No Fringe pussy this and 7/10 in my eyes.
I fell completely in love with the next performance & performer. Harriet Kemsley performed Slutty Joan, an energetic windmill of laughter tinged with sadness and lots of underwear.
Harriet has enough energy to power a lighthouse and she left me both clapping enthusiastically and wanting to give her a huge hug (in a non-creepy way, honest!). Well, I am no authority on comic tour de forces, but if HK is not a household name in a few years I will be very surprised. 9/10.
Over at Banshee Labyrinth Peter Brush will make you think about snails in a different light and you will be very careful what you pray for in the future if you see him perform.
He purposely comes across as an unassuming geek for his act, but beneath the surface he is a very clever and engaging comic. His act is not guffawingly (is that an acceptable adjective?) funny, but Mr Brush will have you tittering heartily. I would definitely be happy to see him perform again. 7.5/10.
My final snippet concerns the aforementioned Pick of the Free Fringe over at the Cabaret Voltaire venue. The whole show was great fun with a couple of stand-out acts in my view. The compère named David glued the five acts together brilliantly and got the audience warmed up expertly.
The star turn in the show in my opinion was ex- Religious Studies teacher, current atheist from Hull, Kevin Precious. I only wished that I hadn’t run out of time meaning that I could not see his hour long show entitle Holier Than Thou. 7/10 as a whole, but 8/10 for KP.
There are over 1,000 free shows at the Fringe and a meteor shower of talent to go along with just a few dungheaps. The atmosphere is brilliant and everybody should experience it at least once.