Get a taste of the Edinburgh Fringe from London
Enjoy the Fringe from your sofa with Ben Williams' guide to experiencing the festival in London
The Edinburgh Fringe is the greatest arts festival in the world. Now that it’s all kicked off in the Scottish capital we’re itching to soak it up. But alas, for the time being we’re stuck down south wondering who is being discovered, who’s dying on their arse and who’s sleeping with whom. Fortunately, there are many ways of getting a taste of the Fringe without leaving the comfort of smoggy London, or your own home. Here’s how…
On the box
TV-wise, the BBC is doing Edinburgh proud this August. As well as broadcasting ‘The Culture Show’ and ‘The Review Show’ direct from the fest, on August 31 BBC3 is hosting a 60-minute ‘Comedy@TheFringe’ highlights package, featuring the finest funny folk to grace their ‘tented village’ over the month. More ‘best of’ programmes will be shown throughout August (dates to be confirmed), and on August 17, via the red button, there’s an eight-hour ‘Comedy Marathon’. This mammoth show, expected to be an anarchic affair, will be aired live from 9pm to 5am. You don’t get much more ‘Fringe’ than watching comedians fuck about in a makeshift venue until the wee small hours…
The Beeb has once again got you covered here. Turn to page 40 of the Fringe brochure (available from many London theatres and some Waterstones and HMV stores) and you’ll see a whopping double-spread of BBC Radio shows being recorded throughout the festival. Many Radio 4 favourites, including ‘Loose Ends’, ‘Front Row’ and ‘Just a Minute’, will have Edinburgh editions, and, via the young hip station known as Radio 1, Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw will be broadcasting their ‘Fun and Filth Cabaret’; a shambolic late-night bizarro-fest.
Staying with audio, podcasting is now huge at the Fringe, and they’re all free! Some of our favourite regular podcasts, ‘Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown’ and ‘Do the Right Thing’, are recording festival specials that are likely to be even more ramshackle editions than usual. Cutting US mainstay Greg Proops records weekly episodes of his hugely popular topical offering ‘The Smartest Man in the World’, which will no doubt be filled with festival gossip. The Underbelly venue is providing a proper mix of what the festival has to offer with its daily ‘Podcalf’ (see what they did, there?). Five guests – from sketch acts, to stand-ups, musicians to actors – are given a chance to strut their stuff. For proper comedy fans, sharp stand-up Stuart Goldsmith is recording his fascinating ‘Comedian’s Comedian’ show, interviewing comics about the secrets behind their stand-up. The Podfather himself, Richard Herring, isn’t giving up on podcasting duties during August, uploading a daily showcase of up-and-coming comics and interviews with Edinburgh celebs. And there are more interviews from The Sun’s mega-afro’d comedy columnist Tommy Holgate as he hosts chat show ‘Tommy Talks’, featuring banter with big-name comics and a ‘dance finale’. Each show will be available as a podcast from www.thesun.co.uk/comedy, with many videos being uploaded there too.
The BBC’s TV coverage isn’t the only way to consume audiovisual entertainment from the Fringe. As well as The Sun’s vids, online production company ComComedy is filming short interviews and live sets from tons of comics, and musical comedy trio Jonny and the Baptists have a fun concept to keep an eye on. Each day they’ll be performing a new topical song, filmed either during their live show or somewhere in the city, and then posting it online. British comedy bible Chortle is uploading a three-minute clip of a festival favourite each day. In fact, Chortle is a brilliant source for Edinburgh news in general, with trustworthy reviews and gossipy diary pieces. Twitter’s presence is unavoidable this year. Don’t forget to follow us, @TimeOut_Comedy, for daily reviews and updates. Our Cabaret editor, Ben Walters, is taking in every single cabaret show and will be tweeting from @not_television, and our Theatre team will have festival fever at @TimeOutTheatre. We also recommend following Jay Richardson (@jayirichardson) – The Scotsman’s chief comedy critic – who not only provides his own opinions and reviews, but is a useful curator of all things comedy.
However, if you’ve taken in all of the above and still don’t feel the slightest bit Fringey, that’d be because you’re not pissed. Yes, the festival is a gathering of the world’s finest artistic performers. But it’s also an excuse to stay up until dawn, having consumed copious amounts of overpriced lager, and then begin the new day with a hearty bowl of Scott’s Porage Oats and a bottle of Irn Bru. Congratulations, you are now officially Scottish.
For full details of this year's Edinburgh Fringe festival, visit www.edfringe.com.