edinburgh fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Matt Parker (Humble Pi, 2019)

Maths and stand-up is a strange formula – but one that clearly has an abundance of puns if you put your mind to it.

One performer who has put their mind to it is Matt Parker. Like many performers at the Fringe, he’s Australian but lives in the United Kingdom. His early days at the Fringe saw him appear in ‘multi bill’ shows, with two other scientists, taking 20 minutes each… before he stepped up to a full solo show.

One of those hours was in 2019, with Humble Pi. Based on the book of the same name, it brought ‘mathematical mistakes and errors’ from history to the stage, with hilarious results… all backed up with proof.
And so lets regress (ahem) back to 2019, back to the Pleasance Dome, and back to, roughly Humble 22 over 7.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Rich Batsford (Classically Chilled Piano, 2015)

Popping up for a single week at the Edinburgh Fringe – something that was becoming a more popular option in recent years due to the cost and complexity of the Fringe – Rich Batsford brought his piano to the Festival.

Was this a rock n roll hour of gags and wordplay? No. But it was a master at work. The Fringe is more than stand-up comedy, and our Fringe interviews always try to get the same balance. And this certainly was it – Batsford could capture the room in the same way as any Perrier nominee, could twist his tales with a look, and bring out emotions with a few flickers of fingers over the piano keys, along with

Myself and Nick Awde caught up with Batsford in the podcast studio to talk about Batsford’s show, his approach to music, and the power of a silent moment.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Lady Carol (Lost and Found, 2014)

Lady Carol, a Fringe stalwart then and now, back on the touring circuit of cabaret and festivals and the like, returned to the Fringe in 2014 with a mandolin and ukulele in tow,

Billed as a show with songs of spirited spite and tales of melancholic mischief, Lost and Found, has 30 songs, and 30 stories, and of course, you can’t get all of that into a single hour. The random nature guaranteed something different for every audience, kept the show fresh for the whole month, but perhaps made it difficult to review as presented…

…but this is a show where the performer, rightly, comes first and comes highly recommended.

In the days before he got a bus, Bob Slayer had a bookshop. That bookshop was a Fringe venue. And in that venue was Lady Carol, so let’s head back to 2014 to be lost and found.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Jess Robinson (Impressive, 2016)

Performing regularly since 2004’s appearance on Dead Ringers, various roles in the audio adventures of Doctor Who from Big Finish, and one of the “we need a voice” actors called on by the Horrible Histories troupe, Jess Robinson has been in the business for well over a decade before making it to the Fringe.

2016 saw impressionist Jess Robinson’s third show at the Edinburgh Fringe. I,pressive opens with a promise of 99 voices in the first 5 minutes before a gentler pace kicked in and a storytelling hour took over… with a bit of help from both a live band and many of those aforementioned 99 voices.

Since then there are more accomplishments, and Robinson has picked up a Gold Medal for ‘Best Entertainment Podcast’ in 2021 with Stars in Your Ears.

But now, back to 2016, back to Impressive, and always remember: The show is finished, don’t try and get tickets.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Carey Marx (Intensive Carey, 2013)

Carey Marx’ Fringe in 2013 is the sort of one-line elevator pitch that Hollywood loves – ‘I had to cancel my show in 2012 because I had a heart attack… let’s talk about that in 2013’.

Marx was already an accomplished storyteller who had that delightful ability to keep the story on the straight and narrow but twist everything else just a little, under the surface, and capture the audience. Intensive Carey – which is still a fabulous pun nearly ten years later – did just that.

The Fringe is also family, and knowing that Carey was absent in 2012 meant that so many people – including myself – were delighted just to have him back. This show, just as many others, started in an incredibly relatable place. So let’s go back to 2013, go back to welcome Carey back to the Gilded Balloon, and experience some Intensive Carey.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – James Seager and Les Enfants Terribles (Vaudevillans, 2016)

Everyone at the Fringe is inventive, but one group is very much associated with that in my mind, Les Enfant Terribles. Formed in 2002 by James Seager and Oliver Lansley, they have brought many shows to the Fringe over the years, from psychological World War One horror, through Piratosaurs, to 2016’s vaudevillans;a classic murder caper mixed with a variety show.

James Seager popped into our studio that year to explain it… although that year the studio was a shed next to a double decker bus that had been renovated to be a theatre on wheels. Oh and Lucy Evans joined me from Edinburgh Student Radio Fresh Air FM as well.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Jeff Innocent (Eco-Worrier, 2006)

An artist at heart with a long and varied list of interests, Jeff Innocent went on a stand-up comedy course in 1996 – led by alt-comedy legend Tony Allen – and he’s not stopped since then. Jeff has carved out a place in the UK stand-up scene like no other, as well as working as a writer and actor.

In 2006 he brought the show Eco-worrier to the Edinburgh Fringe – environmentalism remains a strong part of his ethos to this day – and it’s interesting to be reminded of how the path looked some 16 years ago.

So we return to the Stand, with Jeff Innocent, and listen to 2006’s Eco-Worrier.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archive – Little Soldier Productions (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, 2014)

The Fringe is not just a recruiting vehicle for Live at the Apollo, there’s more to comedy, more to the fringe, than that. You can have theatrical performances that bring the art of clowning and farce to the stage alongside pathos and examination of the human condition.

In 2014, Little Soldier Productions brought its first production to the Fringe, the aforementioned Don Quixote show, which took massive liberties with the story, twisted reality and fantasy, and ignored any semblance of structure… in other words did a Don Quixote to the classic Don Quixote structure.

And it paid off. At the Fringe, it was awarded The Stage’s Award for Acting Excellence, and since then it has seen over 130 performances in 5 different countries. Little Soldier has gone on online talks, presentations, workshops, and five more shows, including “Nothing Happens (Twice)” which graced the stage at London’s Soho Theatre this summer.

Once the podcast team stumbled over the show, we couldn’t wait to get everyone from the show into the studio and on to the podcast. In 2014 we were broadcasting live on community radio as well as publishing the podcast, which meant rather more energy in the room from myself and co-host Dan Lentell from the Edinburgh49 website.

So let’s go back to the Zoo Southside, to the cellar of the Zoo, in 2014, and find a tiny windmill from Little Soldier’s “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archive – Tim Fitzhigham (Flanders And Swann, At The Drop Of A Hippopotamus, 2016)

There are Fringe performers, there are Fringe stalwarts, and then there is Tim FitzHigham

This Gentleman Explorer has spent decades at the Fringe, bringing shows about his madcap activities that he has attempted in the previous twelve months…most notably he was the first person to row across the English Channel in a bathtub, held the British and European record for the longest Washing Line, and was part of an obscure show called “Alex Horne: The Taskmaster” in 2010. I wonder what happened to that?

Anyway, 2016 saw a much calmer FitzHigham in Edinburgh. Although not quite ready to present his latest daredevil moment, he once more joined with Duncan Walsh Atkins to bring their loving tribute to Flanders and Swann to the Fringe for its tenth show.

Part tribute, part let’s do some funny song, part ‘let’s not forget about these titanic comedians’, FitzHigham and Atkins continue to present their showcase of the comedic music from Michael Flanders and Donald Swann at the Fringe,

Tim joined myself, and co-host Paul Levy from FringeReview, in 2016’s Podcast Studio to talk about the show, his love of Flanders and Swann, and their importance to the cultural landscape.

So let’s go back to The Cabaret Bar, to 2016, and enjoy At The Drop Of A Hippopotamus.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archive – Adam Kay (Bum Notes, 2012)

I’ve talked before about the podcast archive giving us a window into the past when the recognisable names of today were still figuring their artistic life out. That’s very much the case with Adam Kay. With ‘The London Underground’ song becoming the breakout viral hit of 2005 (or at least as viral as you could manage in 2005) he started his appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe.

We join his story in 2012, where his mix of songs and storytelling settled into the ‘Fringe Favourite’ list, with multiple years of sell-out shows in Edinburgh and across the United Kingdom.

It was his first book, ‘This Is Going To Hurt’, that started this new period in his career. It was a Sunday times bestseller, sold over one million copies, and won numerous Book of the Year’ awards. Kay adapted the book for the recent seven-part BBC Series, with Ben Whishaw taking on the now fictional role of Dr Adam Kay. His third book, ‘The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out Of Patients’, was published this year, following on from 2019’s ‘Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas’.

Back in 2012, much of this was ahead of Kay. It’s August and his job is to get through the Fringe. In this interview we talk a bit about his life as a Doctor in the NHS and the move into performing, when going with a ‘big four’ venue was the right choice for him, and how the Fringe can benefit him for the whole year.

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