In the middle of August we three travelled all the way to Scotland to the Edinburgh Festival. We were lucky enough to stay with a friend, but I have previously stayed in a hostel with a few friends and found it to be a good option. If there’s enough of you an entire room can be overtaken, but remember – weeing around the perimeter as a form of territorialism is a bad idea.
Edinburgh’s looks are enough to make you fall in love with it. I lived for four years in Bath and it has the same Georgian style buildings and hills framing the distance, but there’s so much more to it than lovely but sleepy Bath it feels almost like a graduation.
You go out with a plan to see three shows and end up seeing twice as many, sometimes only from sitting in a pub and hearing about a free play/comedy act in that very venue.
Yesterday we three wearily returned from the Edinurgh Fringe Festival, drained but delighted. Expect an overview of the festival shortly, but for the time being I wish to share with you a personal highlight.
Back in 2001 I witnessed a sight so strange my mind couldn’t process it. It excited me mentally, physically and maybe even sexually. It was a live performance of Simon Munnery’s show ‘Attention Scum,’ and I was left fascinated ever since.
This year, 2011, we ventured to the festival to watch the shows and do some research, along the way encountering a vision of Jesus and accidentally coming on to an actor (again, more on that later). One of the shows we saw was Simon Munnery.
He made his entrance wearing a bubble blowing top hat, urging everyone to clap hands and sing a song with him. We were sitting right at the front (as we did with Stewart Lee, more later) and he gave Steve in our group a picture of an airship to hold up for the audience. How can you not love him already?
What followed was a mixture of personal comedy, silly songs and character monologues, my favourite being his speech as Sherlock Holmes revealing the less than impressive truth behind his status as great detective and man of science. His grasp of the peculiarity of Victorian vernacular left me jealous.
His outlook on life is very sweet and infectious, and when I cornered him afterwards brandishing one of our business cards he seemed genuinely pleased. All in all, I’d like to lick his eye and give him a cuddle all at the same time. Go see him!
I have my writing heroes including Neil Gaiman, Helen Dunmore and Sarah Waters. However the side of me that writes and performs for Braintree Ways is fascinated by comedy and those who enact it including Andy Kaufman, Eddie Izzard, the South Park pair, Peter Cook and Monty Python.
One person I saw at Edinburgh who intrigues me at the moment is Stewart Lee. I used to watch Lee and Herring as a child but his current stand up on programmes such as The Comedy Vehicle is fascinating (and funny).
In the first clip he breaks the fourth wall by mentioning a grandad and then declaring him not to be real, along with explaining the nuts and bolts of stand up to the audience and in a fake interview. This made me feel firstly as if I was watching something almost Brechtian and, secondly, intellectually pretentious enough to use Brechtian as a description.
The second clip is one of his repetative tangents which reminds me of my student poetry era. I’d go to various venues around Bath where the smoke would turn your eyes red and various people took turns in reading out their scribblings to live music. Stewart Lee’s rantings make me think of 50s/60s era beat and performance poets. See for yourself.