September 01, 2011
Jane and I have returned from what felt like a week long (but was actually a 2 day) talent-scouting trip to Edinburgh. With comedians now selling out stadiums (stadia?) more comedy coverage on TV (BBC3 had an area at The Fringe this year) and Edinburgh ticket sales hitting a record 1.88 million, it’s an exciting time for comedy, but we were also on the look-out for new cabaret talent.
It was an exhausting couple of days trying to cram everything in, but a good place to find inspiration on any Edinburgh festival trip is The Royal Mile, so we headed there in-between shows to do some talent spotting. Dodging the flyering drama students, living statues and the millions of a capella groups, we stumbled upon a rather good balloon modeller in front of his impressive 12 ft balloon sculpture of The Loch Ness Monster. Making sex education fun, he told the story of his conception through balloons complete with sperm, fallopian tube, ovary and genome. Having had a quick look on his website I've discovered he's travelled the world with his balloon modelling: creating a balloon fashion show and some incredible installations too...
There were so many shows with a lot of buzz around them that we didn't get to see but would have liked to, including Andrew Maxwell (I've never seen a poster with so many 5* reviews stuck to it), Chris Ramsey, Sheeps, Nick Helm and winner of The Fosters Comedy Award Adam Riches. It's a pain when there are shows you want to see that all seem to clash with one another. But here is a round-up of some of the shows we did get to see...
Best of the Fest - Cabaret
On Wednesday afternoon, we took shelter from the rain in The Speigeltent and settled down for some afternoon variety. Compered by a cheery yet hungover Carl Donnelly - we were treated to a number of acts...
Former street performer and Finalist in ITV's 'Show Me The Funny' Stuart has a brand of clean, observational comedy that, coupled with his likeable personality, would see him work brilliantly as a compere for corporate and private events. He was perfect for this daytime mixed crowd and warmed up the audience before the next act.
Having seen some great reviews of Ali around, I was looking forward to seeing him perform but being dragged up on stage to be his magical assistant left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth (anyone who knows me will tell you that being on stage is my biggest nightmare!) Luckily he didn’t make me do anything too embarrassing; I got off quite lightly compared to the poor man who was later dragged on stage by cabaret artiste Gloria (Mooky)
Putting my traumatic experience to one side, Ali’s polished routine incorporated goldfish and carrots together with the usual card based trickery. The trick involving swallowing razor blades and spitting out blood went down particularly well, particularly with the young boys in the audience.
I discovered after Howard Read's performance, that he has a successful kid's show on BBC1. Having not been warned beforehand, I'm ashamed to say I found the first few minutes a little bemusing, until realising that I was watching a smartly crafted kid's stand-up routine. Accompanied by his animated sidekick 'little Howard' (projected on the screen behind him), Howard made jokes about mistaking poo for slugs and other such purile pursuits. All of which left the adult audience laughing politely but would no doubt kill in a room full of 7-year olds. It's a bit of a strange decision to put a children's performer slap bang in the middle of an otherwise adult-targeted line up, but with frequent requests for children's entertainment at events, we could be giving Howard a call soon.
On Tuesday night we were treated to Le Gateau's moving operatic rendition of Radiohead's 'Creep' and next up today was the enigmatic, ukulele wielding singer Lady Carol to give us her rendition. With charming inter-song patter, a haunting voice and an impressive vocal range akin to Jeff Buckley, we were left with our hairs standing on end. Her yodel-tinged sing-a-long version of Minnie the Moocher was particularly incredible. I could definitely see her performing for a corporate or private client doing a 20-minute cabaret spot, I would even happily listen to her music on my ipod, not something I can say for many of our musical cabaret artistes!
Gloria - Mooky Cornish
Mooky Cornish is a cabaret artiste/clown who we'd been introduced to previously thanks to her appearance in La Soiree. Her simple yet captivating performance involves a willing audience member and some well placed cue cards to form a dramatic duologue that had the audience in stitches (partly due to the stooge ‘Dave’ ...)
So, with heads buzzing full of cabaret ideas we headed back into the streets of Edinburgh to be man-handled by what we hope were performance artists but were more likely hobos.
More reviews coming soon!