Because I felt much better last night, I decided to go out and see a show. I really want to see Greg Davies’ first solo stand-up, Firing Cheeseballs At A Dog, but it is all sold out, so I tried the “text Greg Davies and beg” option. He couldn’t sort me out.Nor could he sort me out for tonight, Saturday. I can see it isn’t going to happen.
Because what we’ll still call the Perrier shortlist is announced next week, performers are now trying to stop themselves speculating about who might be on it, and whether it might be them. Gary Delaney keeps being mentioned on the grapevine, which makes me happy; so does Greg. (Some say it’s better to be nominated for, or to win, Best Newcomer, if you qualify for that category, and Gary does. Even though it’s Greg’s first show, he’s on TV and has been up many times as part of the Perrier-nominated We Are Klang, so loopholes may need to be sought.) I found myself at the Pleasance Courtyard at 9.30 talking about the spectre of the Perrier over pints we had idly planned not to have, with Justin Moorhouse and Andre Vincent, who’s back, but not at our flat this time. (He’s up for the Fringe Society AGM, as he’s on the board, and a very authoritative figure he cuts.)
Vinny was stung by the false hope and cruel inconsistencies of the Perrier in 2002, when his atypically personal kidney-cancer show, Andre Vincent Is Unwell, was seen as a safe bet for the prize, but didn’t even get a nomination. He doesn’t think he should have won, he just wishes he hadn’t got caught up in the hype. (Tom Wrigglesworth was nominated last year for his Richard Branson show – he is our most successful flatmate in terms of the fickle conventions of the Perrier award.)
Anyway, I kept it local and wandered up the road to see Sarah Millican, Perrier (as I still call it) Best Newcomer 2008, who very kindly put me on the door for her totally sold-out run of Chatterbox at the Stand. It’s pretty smart to do a space that’s too small for her growing reputation, in that it’s always packed, and at the Stand, that means people standing, aptly enough, which Sarah has found to be conducive to a good atmosphere for her kind of quite-rude but personable comedy. I really like the Stand: you’re never too far away from the action, and if you’re lucky, or brave, enough to take one of the tables or stools right up against the stage, you’re really up close and personal. Sarah’s skill is to deliver well crafted, carefully composed gags but disguise them as at-the-checkout gossip; warmth spreads through the room instantly.
I was between two notably “older” couples in the queue. The nice couple behind me, he dressed in his best white shirt, asked if there was a bar, which rather suggested they were not comedy club regulars. He ordered two glasses of Shiraz at the bar – which there was – and, on being informed that the Shiraz didn’t come by the glass, only by the bottle, he went mad and bought the bottle. I liked his style; he and his wife were up for having a lovely evening, and my guess is that they did. If you can appeal to an over-50s crowd, as Sarah does – the kind who I’m sure feel shocked by the bluer references and swearing but at the same time feel included by her friendly delivery – you’ve got it made.
I saw Sarah last year at the Pleasance, and perhaps as a result of the improved venue, plus an even more self-assured set, I enjoyed Chatterbox even more than Typical Woman. The response was so effusive and infectious. She is a natural. I walked up to the Dome with her after the gig, and she is clearly enjoying her Fringe.
I have enjoyed mine, too. This morning was the last of 16 performances of Secret Dancing. Although I am looking forward to laying in bed tomorrow morning, I shall miss my routine of going to Foodies for a leisurely breakfast of bagel, smoothie and coffee, and a go of their luxurious, fragrant toilet, then an unhurried walk back up Holyrood and Cowgate with the blackboard of Bannermans and an already-forming queue coming into view. I appreciate every single person who chose to spend 12.30-1.30 in my company these past two weeks. We had perhaps the longest queue of the whole run this morning, which I would have savoured more if we didn’t have a last-show tech emergency: the jack-plug adapter through which I play my music from the MacBook into the PA (and which Charlotte uses for her PowerPoint presentation in the show afterwards) had been half-inched during a gig by Lords Of Bastard last night. Tattooed Chris, who runs the venue – and plays in Lords Of Bastard – had to go out and buy a replacement. This introduced some unexpected tension into the pre-show period. But he was back by 12.20 and we opened the doors to my fullest house of the run.
I feel terrible for those that must have been turned away. It seems likely that I could have done all three weeks of the Fringe. But I wasn’t confident enough to risk it. Also, homesickness set in after a week – imagine how I’d feel in the third week!
A great show, with four volunteers, including Helen Arney and James Hingley, making a memorable climax. I went out on a high. Inevitably, I had no time to relax and enjoy the post-coital satisfaction of finishing my first solo Edinburgh, as I had to dash off to meet Richard Herring in Caffe Nero to spend out latest batch of loyalty cards. Then on to the GRV for the penultimate podcast show.
This is what Gordon Hodgson, our unofficial photographer, could see, because he allowed less obsessive people get in front of him in the queue. We really do appreciate his loyalty, coming to every single podcast, as has Cockbongo, bar about one. We got some stick from @liquidcow on Twitter about the apparent rustling and banging on the mics, but hey, this is what you get when you record them live. It’s as it happens, man! Deal with the truth!
Here’s the blurb, kids:
Family entertainment is the order of the day for C&H Podcast 130, live from the GRV in Edinburgh, where David Milliband’s banana is gazed upon with wonder and confusion. Richard Herrin was eclipsed by the much nicer Richard Herring, who was not only nice to the entire tattooed family in the front row [see pic below], he offered his own hand in marriage to their mum, Corinda, so that he could be a thoughtful stepfather to her children, especially her son’s girlfriend. Meanwhile, Andrew accidentally says the rudest thing, and is booed once again under false pretenses. (“Please make the pain stop.”) There is a scientific biscuit survey, an impression of a giant reading a tiny newspaper, and an impromptu version of Mr & Mrs, sponsored by Bose/Boze. It’s almost suitable for the afternoon. [see also: Michael Legge's lovelies Nicola Woolhouse and H20Sarah in bottom pic.]
I like the idea of Michael Legge, the theatrical dandy, having an entourage/bevy of international beauties from as far afield as Finland, Canada and Yorkshire. When I texted him last night, he told me he was out with “celebs”, and proceeded to ignore my texts and messages. He’s changed.
It was one of the best podcasts, in my opinion, or at least it felt that way on the plastic chairs, largely because the audience were a bit noisier and feistier. Maybe the affection in Richard’s harassment was more apparent. Maybe the news was funnier. Who cares? Let’s not deconstruct it, we’re not Stewart Lee.