Friday

Edinburgh Fringe Day 16 — Tickets for Arfur and Half-Price Food.

I'm trying to get to see Arthur Smith. We performed together at the Bath Comedy Festival back in May with Tracey Collins and James Michael Alderson and had a great time. Arfur is doing his 'Sings Leonard Cohen' act, part two, starting today. But for some reason it's getting to be a bit of a challenge to get tickets.

I tried online but for some reason the Edfringe website decided that it totally hated me and everything my debit card stood for, so I decided to go into town and buy them at the Fringe office on the Royal Mile.

Before that, though, I had to get over my excitement at my first review. It's for a site called TVBomb and I remember the young man who came along a few nights ago. I think it's an excellent review. It includes some good constructive criticism too. Here it is:


There is a great need for a performer like Maggy Whitehouse – an outspoken, slightly sweary female Catholic priest (don’t worry, she explains how this is possible) – it makes a refreshing counterbalance to the Robin Ince/Brian Coxatheist axis that has been in unchallenged ascendancy. Not that she’ll be taking them on directly anytime soon, mind you. As she herself admits before the performance, she’s not in Edinburgh seeking stardom, just an experience.
Hers is a light intellectual humour of the QI or Radio 4 variety, ripe for the knowing smirk rather than the belly laugh. More conversation than stand-up routine, it would play well to a village hall or provincial studio theatre, if not perhaps the sparse pub back room crowd she faces here.
Given the setting, it would of course be tempting for her to fall into the ‘funky vicar’ stereotype. Thankfully, despite the occasional cursing and insistence on how much she loves alcohol, she stays just the right side of that. Instead, material includes a nice dissection of the Catholic church’s stance on homosexuality and an interesting anecdote about her near namesake Mary Whitehouse’s knickers from her time spent in TV broadcasting. Yet not everything is that accessible. A decent working knowledge of religion is a distinct advantage in audience members and, even then, it is easy to lose the thread during her lengthy alternative readings of Bible passages.
She could also afford to be more confident at the mic. There are some good lines which would be enhanced if only she seemed sure she was going to get a laugh. A little more light and shade to her delivery would help too, so that the boundaries between gag, anecdote and theology lesson leap out more.
By no means, then, is this a show for everyone, but the Fringe is a richer place for people like Maggy Whitehouse going against the comedy grain. Who would have thought that religion would become the new ‘alternative’?

Thank you TV Bomb.

On the way in to town, I stopped off at a couple of charity shops I'd spotted on the road into Ryrie's (as you do) and found a lovely brand-new tee shirt in a shade of pink I'd never even have looked at before I'd done Carol Tuttle's Dressing Your Truth online course a couple of months back. Also, the perfect belt for my denim outfit. And I saw a couple of shops with comedy posters on the walls and windows and was able to add a couple of posters for my show. Hooray.

All my brochures and posters were delivered straight to Ryrie's, where they (with the other performers' stuff) are kept in the cellar with the beer kegs. We're meant to get permission to go down there (health and safety, I expect) and some of the staff will go for us but some of the staff won't so we go through the creaking door halfway up the stairs and clamber down into the depths of hell ourselves.

First you have to do a limbo dance under a bar across the top of some raggedy steps, then you have to duck so as not to bang your head and, when you're down there, you have to try and avoid not only a maze of silver barrels but also the drips and treacherous puddles from the lack of damp proofing.

This time, as I was down there, the grumpiest of the staff turned up too (the assistant manager) and did a sort of 'hurrumph' of annoyance when he saw me. A bit tired of his ongoing surliness I smiled at him and said, 'would you mind my asking if you find us performers a bit of a pain?'

He replied, 'yeah, a bit.' So I said, 'How ironic to have to pay £300 just to be a nuisance to the people at your venue.' I didn't say it nastily, I said it just to give him the information. He looked surprised.

'You pay to be here?' he said.

'Yes, I thought part of that money went to Ryrie's for rent,' I replied.

He shook his head. This was all news to him. 'You pay to perform here?' he said again.

'We do. And on top of that we have to pay for transport to Edinburgh, accommodation and food,' I said. 'It's a labour of love.'

He shook his head again and then gave me his first ever smile. When I got back to the pub later it was to be informed that soft drinks were free for performers ... and that we could eat there half price. I think that's a win.

Anyway, the next thing I did was take the tram and then walk to the Royal Mile to get my tickets for Arfur, only to find an enormous queue. If I'd stood in it long enough to get my ticket, I'd have missed my own show.

Somewhat discouraged, I returned to Ryrie's, only to find the Lunchtime Ferrets and sundry friends and relatives were my audience for the night. This was an utter, utter delight because these people know how to laugh. They didn't do the quiet chuckles of the polite middle-aged people who are my usual audience, they did guffaws and snorts and bellows of laughter. I had a ball and, I think, so did they.

Back home in my little turquoise sanctuary, I made one final bid to get tickets online for Arfur. After lying to me that there were still tickets for tomorrow and then spitting me out at the very last moment because that show is now sold out, the site graciously condescended to allow me to get me one for Sunday. I'm proud of my perseverance ... but he'd better give me a hug when I get there...

Oh, and finally, in response to FB friend Jane Clement's anxious enquiries, yes I did get the flannel. It was reduced in price at Boots. We Taureans do like a bargain.





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