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Bye, Bye Edinburgh was a little bittersweet Jim Sweeney was doing his talking bits around interviews that were going to be edited in later of other peoples memories but this was his memories of his time at the fringe. It was bitter sweet as he explained his MS had progressed to such a stage this would be the last Edinburgh Fringe he would attend. It was great to hear his memories from arriving as a wide eyed 19 year old with a friend playing to a very empty house and the reviews in Scotsman through his growing fame and progressive illness. I was glad we had gone to see Paul Merton's Impro Chum's and he had been performing that night. If I want to see him in the future I will have to go to London. I will be interested to hear the end product that includes interview with Paul Merton and Barry Crier.

Front Row

Aug. 16th, 2007 11:00 am
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Front Row is a programme I would never normally listen to but it was reviewing festival things so was more relevant that usual. It has a range of guests from all the festivals. The interview with Jamie Bell about Hallam Foe was really interesting, as was the review of a play dealing with a relationship between a teacher and pupil. It was a novel idea because it only shows a weekend of them together and leaves the audience to decide what happened and to make their own moral judgements.
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I have always like improvised comedy and Paul Merton has been one of my comedy heros for a long time so combining the two was always a big hit. He and the rest of the company where on really good form. They performed some great sketches including Suki Webster using water to cover her fellow players. Jim Sweeney made up an interesting song about not being thrown out of a hot air balloon which based on the idea he was in a wheel chair.

They took several suggestions from the audience being rather fair to make sure not just the loudest voices got heard.
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Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis were a great afternoon tonic. They were only doing two shows this year and the venue was full to the gills. The weather made the whole room hot and sweaty.

I have only seen these two once on stage as the front of men of The Now Show on their own they were a lot funnier. The first part of their show was dedicated to various retelling of the old joke "Why did the chicken cross the road". I admire Steve Punt so much for being able to keep on going while Hugh Dennis was doing his physical comedy in the background anything from his well known Velociraptor to a drunk man with a map. He was beaten in the end by Steve's pointing out we were living on an island on the map. They also talked about other gigs they have done. Another very funny show.

On the way out we met Reginald D Hunter who was doing a piece in Nicholas Parsons show.
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My annual trip to see the Shakespeare for Breakfast didn't disappoint this year they did Carry on up the Avon taking the usual odd mix of characters in a modern day situation and just play around. This year it was a plane crash in the spooky woods with Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, Nurse and Cleopatra all being played with by Puk. I felt a little sorry for King Lear who's walking stick was a little on the short side. The nurse was very good a stereotypical blond all bouncy and bubbling.

I really like the way they mix real Shakespeare speeches with tongue in cheek acting. I haven't seen King Lear yet so I didn't recognise any of his parts but the others were easy to place.
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Finally I got a half day off work so I could see John Hegley's afternoon poetry show. His show always multi level with a few old favourites such as Luton Bungalow but also many new poems along with a new song about his grandfather joining the American National Guard. He also read a couple of his poems that have been changed when published in America that made some of the rhymes no longer work. He also had his swing back this year luckily no one was sitting directly in the way when he started to swing.

Another musical show in the evening The Ukuelele Orchestra of Great Britain As the name suggests they are a band who all play a range of tunes on their Ukuleles including one of the them who places a very large base Ukulele. Some of the tunes were sung in the round which were amazing to hear six people all sing different songs all in perfect harmony. I already had a CD of theirs and will probably get more songs soon.
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Tuesday I saw the bank production it was an excuse to meet up with some long missed friends as much as to see what they were doing this year.

Almost Haunted left me a little blank it was funny in places but they almost didn't play it up enough. I would have liked them to be even more over the top impressions of their parts or very serious as the balance wasn't quite there all the time. The air head heiress was good as was the over the top agent and as always Charlie stole the show by just walking on state. Not as sure about the weird head of the company or they producer they lacked something to push the character into the extreme. Got a chance to catch up with my friend and PA mentor Finn who I haven't seen in about a year over a non alcoholic cocktail in Bar Kohl a really good vodka bar.

Killed a little time in Starbucks on George Street drink one of their oversize mugs of coffee and thinking over everything I had seen so far before bumbling off to see Rich Hall. He was his usually cutting edge self. His take on the whole 72 Virgin was it was actually a 72 year old man called Virgin that would offer them soup. He also talked about the leaders in the USA but did make a point he was getting bored with Bush and he was leaving in a year anyway. He also talked to a few of the audience members worked. I like his view of the world and so tend to find it very easy to laugh at him.
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Monday was maniacally busy day after finally getting to bed around 2am. I did a full day of work before starting a night on the fringe. My high light so far was the first Monday show The Penny Dreadfuls It was recommended we sat at or near the front as some the the scenes happened on the ground. The four boys/men Humphrey, David, Jamie and Tom were just side split-tingly funny. They played off each other really well. Such scenes as Specimen 626 and flying achieved by two of the cast piggy backing had me laughing so hard my sides hurt and I still couldn't stop. Was also impressed at the professionalism in a couple of scene where I am sure no one would have blamed them for loosing it. I did feel slightly sorry for Humphrey when a mistimed slap caught him across the cheek but he had a wonderful come back. I would like to go back to this show again. Also got another free badge.

Raced off to see Jo Caulfield Goes to Hell. A show ere she lists all the major things that annoyed her. I had heard her on radio 4 but her live show was even better. I agree with her point about Clinton Cards. I also liked her idea of how to put off suicide bombers of 72 OAP virgins on offer in heaved. Got a free greeting card from this show for "Go to hell day" which she decided was 15th September.

I ended with Reginald D Hunter F*uck you in the age of consequence. He is a serious potty mouth but it fits well with his act and his larger that life stage presence. He is a very tall board man who last time I saw him was the headline act at a Thursday night stand show. The venue was much bigger but that just seemed to allow him to spread more. He was the most dirty minded focused comedian I have seen so far. I like a bit of smut and barefacedness. He has no problem talking about himself and his situation in life making jokes about what he had seen and done.
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Sunday I saw a comedian I had never heard of but his show had already sold out and Liz rated him very highly. I don't know how to describe Daniel Kitson he was a very down to earth and obviously somewhere in Yorkshire probably close to my home town. He talked to things that touched memories in me, maybe not always funny but warm and comfortable. Fire works on the cricket grounds to like Parkin (a weird heavy ginger cake). He also make me wish to go visit a beach near Liverpool that has metal figures in the sand that get covered at high tide. It felt like he was sharing a secret with just me instead of a busy Sunday night fringe crowd.
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Friday night was a complete change of pace seeing the very talented Mitch Benn and his band. I have heard many Mitch Benn songs on the Now Show but never on their own one after another. He came on to the Mr Benn theme music which I think was just so funny. His band were distracting actrative his new drummer was a tall good looking dark man and Kirsty Newton I think would look good in a sack, but they just became part of the background when Mitch started to sing. The songs are not just funny because of the words but he also does impressions of the singers style as he sings about them.

I really liked "Happy Birthday War" and "I might just have to murder James Blunt." He also talked briefly about being a dad and made up a song on the spot about House Insurance Rising. After the show I bought a CD which he signed and got the first of my collection of badges for this year.
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My first show of the fringe was an unexpected late addition and unexpected addition. Tease with a Twist was spotted by Liz and suggested as we are still searching for a Brusquest Show to equal the wonderful Go Go Burlesco. Being such a late addition meant seeing it either early or late we decided on early. It was a good show but the scenes were a little long. The three dancers were all curvy real women and they danced they obviously knew how to move but some of the stopping to talk parts lost the energy. I am sure that the talking part will get better with more runs through but I would rather see a fan dance or other classic Burlesque art.

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