There is much to be said for visiting the Fringe early, before the festival has really got ticking; the increased chance of tickets before the media becomes saturated with write ups and the opportunity to personally spot who to watch out for in comedy over the next year. Reviewers can inform your experience, but there is nothing quite like sourcing the best comedy on offer for yourself!
Scotland’s capital felt less unseated by the festival this year compared with others, with the referendum competing for the spotlight. The lively festival posters cosseted literature concerning the impending vote, and nationalistic attire mingled with the usual fancy dress. Considering the festival’s prestige, it is easy to forget that the initial intention was to give burgeoning talents their big break.
The Pleasance Courtyard did not disappoint, with promotional material readily available in a manner that would be an irritation in any other city. The idiosyncratic Fringe experience was found instantly at the ‘Best Of’ show offering a snapshot into the festival’s talent. This buffet style delivery whets the appetite, sparking instant regret that I would not be at the festival for a longer period of time. Packed into this hour-long show included an improvised five piece song on an unsuspecting audience member and a self deprecating ‘neanderthal’. Whilst the wise compère (indirectly) pointed out that stand up comedy takes courage, the more memorable lesson to take away was never wear a football shirt to watch comedy when it is not a match day!
The Royal Mile was its usual bustling self, yet the day’s highlight could be found on the quieter York Place where an intimate audience were entertained by Alexis Dubus’ Cars and Girls. Time Out described Dubus as a performer who “keeps getting better and better”, however this was unbeknown to me who went in with a totally impartial mindset. What followed was a witty monologue describing the twists and turns which accompany impromptu travelling and the obstacles in the life of a young twenty something. This departure from the usual protocol of self-deprecation and exaggeration of human flaws for a subtle brand of comedy was equally uplifting. Certain audience members were left eager to uproot yet confident that such formative experiences will come in their own sweet time.
Time spent at the Edinburgh Fringe, however short, is never a wasted trip. The street performances and general atmosphere guarantee a spectacle whether on a shoestring or unlimited budget. With around 3000 shows to choose from, each day offers something different and exciting. For many hoping to crack the arts world the Fringe is a catalyst, there is no reason why it cannot be the same for a punter eager for some fresh insight. Roll on the next couple of weeks!