British Comedy Guide

Published: Thursday 31st August 2017

Edinburgh Fringe tickets.

Edinburgh Fringe Extra

So the Edinburgh Festival 2017 happened. It wouldn't be the Fringe without a few hiccups, quirks and stunts though - here are some of the funny and interesting things the BCG team heard about and saw across the three weeks...

Sarah Bennetto's piñatas

Sarah Bennetto.

We thought we had a stressful train journey up, but it was nothing compared to Sarah Bennetto. Her Edinburgh accommodation fell through at the last minute, meaning she had no postal address to send her props to. The result? Having to bring 27 piñatas on the train with her. Actually two trains, "I discovered shortly into my journey that my train was NOT direct to Edinburgh. The train only stopped for thirty seconds and I had piñatas stuffed everywhere up both ends of the carriage. It was all a bit heart-attack-y. I had to enlist the help of strangers at Preston to ensure I actually made it onto the Edinburgh train."

She shared her journey on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtag #27donkeypiñatas if you want to see the full saga. Once she had settled into her hastily found new accommodation, Sarah told us how her reports had been received: "It went kind of viral - people were both kind and empathetic and laughing at my pain."

Laughing Stock's flight issues

The Laughing Stock at Edinburgh airport.

Meanwhile sketch group Laughing Stock encountered cancelled and delayed flights... meaning they missed their planned photocall. So instead they staged a photoshoot in the Departures lounge - look at those happy faces!

The Elvis Dead... on drugs

Rob Kemp.

Rob Kemp came away from Edinburgh with a Best Newcomer nomination and three major award wins (Malcom Hardee, Amused Moose and Comedians' Choice)... all for The Elvis Dead, his show mashing up the music of Elvis with the horror film Evil Dead 2. Early in the run though, things were less smooth: he had to take a trip to A&E... resulting in a memorable performance in which he had to sing whilst on (legal) drugs. Rob explained to us: "Having landed awkwardly on my back, I had been looked at... and had loaded myself with painkillers and throat-saving hot toddies."

Kat Bond - suffering for her art

Kat Bond.

Leaping out of a rubbish bin to reveal herself covered in purple bruises and scrapes was an odd way for Kat Bond to begin her very peculiar but charming character-based show about loo roll. It wasn't until the end of the hour though that the source of her 'binjuries' (as she calls them) was revealed. As a finale, she gathered a selection of audience members to lift her aloft in triumph and stuff her back in the bin. Rarely does a performer receive such brutality or abuse from their audience willingly. We saw the show in Week 2 and by then she already had more battle scars than could be easily counted.

Ellyn Daniels projects herself

Ellyn Daniels projecting her flyer. Ellyn Daniels.

With 1000s of shows in Edinburgh, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, but several comedians came up with good ideas. Ellyn Daniels projected herself on to several landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle. Her motivation was actually a green one. She explains: "After seeing so many flyers gone to waste on the streets of Edinburgh and in piles on our own apartment floor, we started brainstorming another way to advertise our show that would be more environmentally friendly."

Ellyn Daniels show flyer projected near Edinburgh Castle.

Car flyer

We hope whoever owns this car was actually involved in the show it ended up advertising...

Losing It flyers on a car.

Olaf Falafel's animated flyers

Our favourite flyers of 2017? Definitely the artwork by Olaf Falafel. A single flyer by itself may not look that notable, but put them all together and something special happens. Check out this video:

Annie McGrath's arty poster

Annie McGrath wins in the classiest poster category. Having completed an art foundation course, she decided to put that to good use by painting her Edinburgh Fringe artwork. Elegant coffee shop Thomas J Walls doesn't allow Fringe posters on its walls, but having an original painting appealed to them... and so they hung up her advert.

Annie McGrath painted Edinburgh poster.

Michael Brunström's 3D poster

Michael Brunström created 3D posters to promote his show Parsley. If you look closely at the picture below you'll notice there's a real bit of the herb stuck on there:

Parsley on Michael Brunstrom's poster.

Ross Spaine gets endorsements

What do you do if you're a new comedian without any reviews yet? Ross Spaine had a solution:

Ross Spaine: Darren! I Am Not From Earth.

Kevin James Doyle's condoms

Kevin James Doyle.

Kevin James Doyle's fine show was titled 30 Year Old Virgin, so what better promotional item to give out than a branded condom?

BCG actually witnessed Edinburgh's most polite drunk in his show. After loudly joining in, the heckler got the hint and kept impressively quiet before nodding off, unconsciously murmuring, and eventually graciously accepting Doyle's suggestion that, yes, he perhaps should head off, with a handshake. Unprecedented.

Naked men!

John-Luke Roberts.

Some notable man nakedness enlivened this year's festival: John-Luke Roberts played bawdy poet Geoffrey Chaucer, albeit with some intriguing form of todger wrapping; and Barnie Duncan, playing DJ Juan Vesuvius, got a bit overexcited on Manchester disco biscuits.

Mess!

2017 was also a year for messy shows. Natalie Palamides, named Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, left an eggy mess each day on the floor of the Pleasance bunker; whilst it must have taken Adam Larter ages to clean up all the props he left scattered around at the end of his show - it looked like a bomb had gone off in a cardboard factory.

The comedian who probably made venue staff groan more than anyone though would be Narin Oz. Her work-in-progress show was titled #DirtyWoman... and, as the picture below shows, that title is quite apt. Speaking to us mid-festival she reported: "People are now lobbing dirt at me!"

Narin Ozenci.

Joz Norris in a tangle

Joz Norris had a messy stage area of a different kind. His wonderfully compelling show was basically one huge web, which he spent much of the hour constructing around himself. He and Mat Ewins concocted a unique idea for the next-show changeover too, but perhaps the most memorable bit was the Nasty Baby, created by puppeteer Jenny Anderson (who has released a making-of blog)

Joz Norris. Copyright: Thomas Compton.

Musical finales

Tom Ward. Copyright: Steve Ullathorne.

On to a couple of splendid musical finales: Tom Ward cranked out a Manchester rave classic using some nifty equipment, in character, while Adam Larter's bonkers hour concluded with a popular sitcom theme sung over an indie-rock classic - which worked remarkably well.

Music was notably absent in the last week of Phil Nichol and Kirsty Newton's new cabaret concept The Asylum though. Their late-night show was turfed out of the great Monkey Barrel venue due to council action in regards to the noise. Newton explained at the time: "Apparently we are just too loud."

Fire alarm

It's traditional for a fire alarm to go off at some point during the festival to disrupt proceedings. This year it was the turn of the Pleasance bells to sound out, resulting in a mass evacuation of many shows. As documented on Twitter, that didn't stop Tom Allen though...

The history of Edinburgh

Tony Law's History Tour - Edinburgh 2017. Image shows from L to R: Eleanor Morton, Tony Law, Joz Norris.

The Fringe isn't just about laughing, it's about learning to. Well, sort of. Joined by his assistant-in-training Eleanor Morton and musical minstrel Joz Norris, a group of twenty history fans survived the waves of flyers to follow Tony Law as he gave out his teachings in a special one-off event.

Someone on the tour reported back to us: "Eleanor did a good job explaining some of the recorded history of the sites. Thankfully Tony, a time traveller, was able to fill in the bits the history books have missed out, such as the smoothed skinned octopus creatures that lived under Edinburgh. One poignant moment saw a beautiful interpretive dance by Tony to accompany the history of the Heart of Midlothian, all backed up with the mystic sounds of the Harmonica."

Good giveaways

Paul Revill.

The best giveaways? Sofie Hagen's 'Slutty Mom-Mom' badges went down well; and Tom Goodliffe offered free coffee, which is a good way of keeping your audience alert. Alasdair Beckett-King gave out cards with nice compliments; and Jessica Fostekew handed out a beauty product to every audience member which was a lovely timed callback to something earlier in her show.

Meanwhile Paul Revill had a splendid Fringe with the genuinely revelatory debut Revillations, but the free Revels chocolates at his Revill's Selection showcase raise a question: He bought those Revels in bulk beforehand: so what on earth did the checkout person think when they saw the name on his card?

Harvester gets in on the gag

Mark Simmons getting his Harvester 'for being brilliant' badge. Image shows from L to R: Mark Simmons, Unknown.

Mark Simmons took a top 10 spot in the annual Dave's top jokes of the Fringe list with the gag: "Combine Harvesters. And you'll have a really big restaurant." This has since lead to unexpected benefits... a representative from the Harvester chain turned up to his show to award him 'for being brilliant'. Simmons is now on a quest to become the official face of the restaurants.

Language difficulties

Russell Hicks.

US improv comic Russell Hicks suffered a dramatic walkout when the couple in the centre of the front row stormed off after he jokingly insulted the guy, because he didn't speak a word of English (so, er, why go to a stand-up show?).

Tiernan Douieb's woes

Tiernan Douieb.

Tiernan Douieb's return to the Fringe proved eventful: during the show BCG attended, his insulin pump got caught in the mic stand - awkward - while the next day's audience included a pet dog which some drunk latecomers then tripped over. Follow that, jester! Actually it was a lovely, informative show in a fascinating room: Waverley Bar is where Billy Connolly played his first ever gig.

Dogs

Juliet Meyers: This Flipping Rescue Dog Has Ruined My Life. Juliet Meyers.Talking of dogs, they were everywhere this festival. Juliet Meyers performed with one on stage in her show This Flipping Rescue Dog Has Ruined My Life (for the record, she loves her Portuguese Podengo really).

Meanwhile Sandra Hale's audience on a Sunday actually featured two separate dogs, which must be rare. But did the panting punters put anything in her bucket?

Troy Hawke finds art everywhere

We love Milo McCabe's Troy Hawke character. His show this year, performing as Troy, was full of laughs. The lounge lizard's video about the art on display at the festival is worth a watch:

Most elaborate gag of the festival?

Sketch group Gein's Family Giftshop had a super impressive 3 second gag in their show which involved an inordinate amount of manpower and a lot of patience for all involved in executing it. We can't really explain it here as it would ruin the joke should they also manage to include it in their tour... but the picture we took as we filed out with the rest of the audience perhaps helps us give some credit to the gag's two main unsung heroes.

Ballboys in Gein's Family Giftshop 2017 Fringe show.

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