My Edinburgh Fringe festival 2018

Mark Thomas

Its been 11 years since I really went to the Edinburgh festival. Back then I was running BBC Backstage and via some smart people decided to put on the Edinburgh TV Unfestival. I got to a few events but never really got going. So 11 years later, with my partner I was back.

The comedians make a living from word of mouth, I felt it would be wrong not to write a quick summary of what I thought of each one.

Friday 3 Aug

  • Abigoliah Schamaun: Do You Know Who I Think I Am?!  – Underbelly Cowgate at 21:00
    She was great, very funny and the smart deconstruction of comedy was just awesome. Well worth it
  • Werewolf: Live – Underbelly Cowgate at 22:50
    I saw this and just had to be there, werewolf has so much potential to be funny and this 8 person game with the audience was hysterical. Hate getting voted off first and there was a weird sense of something going on. So I raised the stakes with black lives matter which really got things going. If you love werewolf, you will love this. Good stuff!
  • Hate ‘n’ Live – Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters at 0015
    People put topics in a hat for the 4 comics to hate on, what could go wrong? Well ask Chris McGlade, who took it too far and had to be told not to sexually attack the audience. It was uncomfortable to say the least and I did notice some people leave. Luckily Leo Kearse and Nick Elleray kept things enjoyable. Sure Hate’n’live could be fun but that night was so-so, even with jokes about who pays on the first date… Wonder who put that one in the hat? (my partner said laughing to herself)

Saturday 4th Aug

  • Robin Morgan: Honeymoon – laughing horse at 1600
    Recommended from one of my partners friends, it was enjoyable mainstream comedy, nothing edgy, just nice. Well told too.
  • Kevin Quantum: Vanishing Point – Cow Barn in Underbelly Bristo Square at 18:45.
    This was likely one of the worst things I saw the long weekend. Kevin was good but not a derren brown or penn & teller. The magic was further spoiled by sitting in the front row. But it could have been worst I guess.
  • Chris Henry: Around the World in 80 Dates – Clover in Underbelly Bristo Square at 20:10
    Ok Chris was funny his comedy did strike home with me but it wasn’t as good as some of the other acts on the other days.
  • 2 Girls, 1 Cup… of Comedy – Just the Tonic at The Mash House at 23:15
    It was another good comedy stand up from two women.. Things were going well for the second one till someone threw up at the back. The already hot room started to smell badly. Good fun regardless

Sunday 5th Aug

  • Mark Thomas – Check Up: Our NHS at 70 –  Traverse Theatre at 10:00
    I hated waking up early and I was cursing Mark Thomas for a 10am start especially after 2 girls 1 cup less than 10 hours before. But Mark Thomas was incredible and likely the best of my weekend. Thoughtful, funny and something to take away from the 90mins.
  • Brexit stage left – Cannons gait at 1610
    Reasonable free gig with some good laughs, nothing about brexit however. Wasn’t bad but nothing noteworthy for me
  • Good Grief – Tolbooth Market at 1730
    Such a good stand up story with a audience of me, my partner and a stranger. The storytelling was told very well and really took us for a ride around her life. Deserves a watch for sure!
  • Holt and Talbot: Mansplaining Feminism – City Cafe at 2000
    Oh boy, this was funny and I get the whole point. It was like the guilty feminist’s opening played out over a series of comically role play. Fun and interesting.
  • Terrible Sex Tips: Live and Uncut – Grassmarket 4 at 21:10
    Remember when I won 2nd prize at Smutslam? Well the host Cameron took to the stage with her sex tips or rather a deconstruction of the sex tips you get in magazines and other places. It was a rallying cry for diversity of thought, communication and emotional intelligence. Next to Mark Thomas, I think it was one of my highlights from the fridge. Lots to take away for anybody.
  • Kitchen Party Action – Laughing horse Espionage at 2245
    In a cramp almost bunker like room only saved by the massive fans, was some good standup comedy. Nothing too much, just standup which makes you chuckle and laugh even when its so late. Glad we saw the 6ft 5inch comic on a stage which gave him about 1-2 inches of headroom. Good show lots of and smiler
  • Best of the Fest – Assembly Hall at 0000
    Things on Sunday were going great, so I decided to pay for the best of the festival and see 5 acts on a big stage. Didnt enjoy the MC (Charlie Baker) but the acts got better and better. Here’s who was on stage… Felicity Ward, Lloyd Langford, Catherine Bohart, Christ Kent, Fin Taylor. You can see why they were chosen the best for the day.
  • Late nights LOLs – Laughing Horse at 0130
    I thought after coming out the Assembly hall I should do one more before heading back to the Airbnb. So on the way back I went to the laughing horse for some free but not great comedy. The 5 comedians tried but to be fair it was late and lots fell flat. Heck  it was 2am by that point

Monday 6th Aug

  • Eat sleep shit shag – City Cafe at 1345
    Certainly a fun show in a very hot and busy venue. She was relentless with the jokes and comedy, I think in a cooler room she may have more of the audience clapping and laughing. It was good but I wouldn’t seek it out especially.
  • Sara Barron: for worst, Just the tonic at 1540
    This was great comedy, a bit for everyone and really refreshing to before the train ride back to Manchester. Highly recommended for those endless laughs. Another one of my best from the weekend.

Can the rest of us have our planet back?

Cutting edge comedy from the BBC's Now Show. Found via Richard Sambrook's blog.

If you missed Marcus Brigstocke's comic rant against the Abrahamic faiths on The Now Show, you can find it here. It's seven minutes in total – but the first three are inspired. Strangely not as many complaints as one might have anticipated – that's the benefit of being even handed I guess….

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Stephen Colbert, the court jester in the know

If looks could kill

If you've not seen Stephen Colbert at The White House Correspondents’ Association event, stop and go and check it out. Sarah downloaded it on Sunday and it came down really quickly over the torrent network. But you can also check it out on YouTube, part 1, 2 and 3. We watched the whole event from start to finish including the stuff missing from youtube (says it all really, not good enough to get onto youtube maybe?). So generally the whole thing about the old place where the press correspondents currently report from really sucked and went on too long, I wanted to say give it up the joke is so dead now. Then Bush did his thinking Bush and just Bush routine. It was ok, but to be honest it got long in the tooth again really quickly and was it only me or was Bush's timing really bad. Don't get me wrong I know he's not a comedian but the other guy is and should have added more pace to the whole routine. Funny enough the mainstream press loved the whole thing. Well enough said really?

Then Colbert took the stage and like that best man who says all the wrong things at a wedding who makes everyone cringe so much. Colbert plunges into grounds which no one thought even he would do in front of Bush.

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First views on channel4’s IT Crowd

The IT Crowd

So the IT Crowd is now available online for people wanting to check it out. The official site is or you can download directly from Channel4 using this link. Slashdot has a overview of comments.

So my own view is that its not bad, its got some funny scenarios but I don't see how there going to keep it up for more than 6 episodes which would be fine. There's quite a lot of taking the piss out of geeks, nerds and IT staff generally but to be fair this also applies to the non IT Staff trying to use computers (like the boss who thinks his computer is now voice controlled). Its certainly more mainstream than I expected which in this show is actually a good thing because its very accessable, even if it reforces the very obvious stereotypes. The IT Crowd feels really British, I can see why it got a bad review generally. The laughter track seems like a typical shown to a audience affair rather than American canned. For those interested in watching it on TV, its on Friday on Channel4. Expect it to be bit torrented everywhere really soon. By the way, I'm currently downloading Beauty and the geeks which Sheila recommended.

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Tale of two paths, Outsourced vs The IT Crowd?

The IT Crowd

The high-rise towers of Renham Industries are full of go-getters, success stories, and winners… apart from in the basement. While their beautiful colleagues work upstairs in fantastic surroundings, the I.T. department – Jen, Roy and Moss – lurk below ground, scorned by their co-workers as geeky losers.

Channel4's attempt to bring geeky humour to the mainstream? Maybe. Who can tell but I douht it will be as good as what the amatuers can do. Kevin Rose and friends are doing there own titled Outsourced. And is expected to be a true taste of geekyness. At the moment the only geeky non news type shows I can think of are, The Scene and that old BBC show Attachments (which I can not find via the BBC site. But you can buy the VHS here). So generally anything would be a improvement on whats currently there. But I am worrying that the IT Crowd will simply recycle the same geek stereotypes and make the whole sitcom about laughing at geek culture. Don't get me wrong nothing wrong with laughing at ourselves but there are limits. I guess its like the whole arguement about Little Britian and many other sitcoms. But to be fair if you look at the Office (the orginal british version) its got stereotypes but it doesnt take the piss out of a group of people. Little Britian does not take the piss out of people who are gay, just that one guy who thinks he's the only gay in the village. Anyhow I'll reserve judgement till I actually see the sitcom which you can sign up and watch online before the broadcast at the end of this month.

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Jon Stewart Live in London for only one night

And even more book signing

I posted a entry about a evening with Jon Stewart a while ago. And just got back from a fantastic evening. Jon was on top form and had everyone clapping and cheering on a lot of sadly amusing blunders and failings of the American government, Mainstream media and people generally. I wont go into too much detail except to say after the performance my wife Sarah had a chance meeting with Jon Stewart while I was in the toilet. All I can say is that she was glowing all the way home afterwards. Bless…

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