The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was great as usual, I hate the crowds but love the carnival-like vibe. Ended up seeing the following shows, some booked (fucking booking fees) some just walked in last minute:
- Sid Singh: Table for one
- Stand up. Never seen him before, we just went because it was the first thing available at the time. He was alright but the show needs some more substance.
- Tarot: Work in progress
- Sketches. This was Gein's Family Giftshop show this year, they had us pick which sketches to save and which ones to bin - the two categories were named "remain" and "leave". The vast majority went into the remain pile, unsurprisingly. Incredibly funny trio, my face hurt by the end from too much laughing. The sentient toilet sketch has me chuckling every time I poop now.
- Laughing Horse Pick of the Fringe
- Stand up. This was a panel show where 5 comedians do a small part of their routine in turns; it's a great way to sample the shows, highly recommended for the beginning of your Fringe holiday. It's usually in the Three Sisters down in Cowgate, a venue which seems to have been turned around somewhat, judging from the fact that for the first time the floors were not horribly sticky and it was not teeming with cunts - although maybe they just cleaned it up for the Fringe. I don't remember the names of all the comedians, but the ones I remember are Joe White (funny), Jay Sodagar (pretty funny) and Andrew Silverwood (not very funny, needs to work on his delivery). The compere was Sam See, I did not like him very much - most of his jokes were aggressively about race (white-people-are-le-bad kind of stuff), which besides being trite in 2023 is quite rich coming from someone from Singapore, a country with modern slavery.
- Police Cops: The Musical
- Comedy theatre. They are now a staple of the Fringe and this show was the same as last year's with some improvements (better stage etc). One of the funniest shows you can catch at the Fringe, I fully agree with Stewart Lee's comment "It takes brains to be this stupid". They all master physical comedy, but then also kill you with the silly props they have concocted. Very impressive that they were able to make a whole musical and act it out, they are obviously crazy talented. The subtitle to the show cracks me up every time it reoccurs to me: "Big Guns. Big Muscles. Bigotry."
- Simon Evans: Have we met?
- Stand up. He was recommended to me by a friend and in the beginning I thought we had made a mistake: besides us, the audience was all >65 and the start of the show sounded like it was old people's comedy. However he picked up pretty quickly after that and it got a lot better. I enjoyed it and would see him again (my wife did not like him though, said something about it being male comedy - maybe she has a point).
- Courtney Pauroso: Vanessa 5000
- Comedy performance. If you go to the Fringe you need to attend a show of this kind, or your experience will be incomplete: Vanessa 5000 is a sex robot engineered to provide the most satisfactory experience for its customers (sponsored by Taco Bell, among others). Pure late-night Fringe. The show was gripping and very well-structured, I was holding onto my chair to see where she was going with it. When she went into goblin-mode I was genuinely sweating (and laughing so hard my face was hurting again). Some bits of the show have already become catchphrases for me and my friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to take data ANALysis seriously ever again. Courtney Pauroso is not only funny but clearly very clever and talented (she can shred too!)(kind of)(look, it's not a music show). Whatever show she's doing at the next Fringe I attend, I am watching it.
- Larry Dean: work in progress
- Stand up. I have been following him since my first Fringe (he had not even been on TV at the time) and he's one of my favourites of all times. The combination of being glaswegian and gay is quite formidable, so he'll say the most demented, wickedly funny and outrageous things you might hear. He talked a lot about personal and even quite vulnerable stuff in this show, and about how he's thinking of getting tested for autism (just a formality, after his monologue on sunscreen). The show turned my wife into a fangirl, she absolutely loved him. The venue was some dungeon-like danceroom in the Hive and it had one of the worst smells ever - something to think about next time you book a show.
- Young-ish Offenders
- Stand up. Two lads from Cork - Mark O'Keeffe and Richy Sheehy - they took turns on the stage in the Brass Monkey, with Richy also playing silly songs on his guitar. Apparently he went viral some time ago because of a football themed song, but I'm not in those circles so I didn't know him. The name of the show comes from the fact they auditioned for Young Offenders but were turned down. There were maybe just a couple of weak moments (brief) but I really enjoyed them overall and would like to see them again. I lost it when Mark referred to the death of Queen Elizabeth II as "when the old lady died".
- Alcohol is good for you
- Stand up. This was another panel show like the Laughing Horse one. The comedians were all pretty funny at the show we caught (unfortunate for the girls sitting next to me, who seemed startled by how loud I am when I laugh), but I don't recall any names other than George Zacharopoulos (really funny) and Richy Sheehy, whom I had just seen a couple of hours earlier. There was also an estonian guy (maybe the weaker one of the bunch, but still funny - could also be a cultural thing) and a scottish guy who works for the council (funny). This time Richy sang a song about how to tell whether the cocaine is good; this was followed up by some australian comedian talking some more about cocaine while visibly being on the stuff (he did improvise a rap pretty well though, I guess the confidence boost helps). The compere was Kyle Legacy and he was incredibly funny - too bad he didn't have his own show at the Fringe. Someone to keep an eye on.
- John Robertson's The Dark Room
- Comedy game. It's the 10th year for this show at the Fringe but only the first time I caught it. Big mistake on my part, because it was a riotously funny experience and one that you could repeat endlessly. Members of the audience are called to play this text-based videogame, led by John Robertson who is dressed and looks like a character out of Mad Max. Each game begins with "You awake to find yourself in a dark room..." and you have to find the light switch by choosing between a series of often silly actions (don't know if it's supposed to continue after that - we did not even get to the light switch!). I loved that one of the options at some point was "play a different game" and he had a whole other game ready called "The Dark Lighthouse" or something like that. The God of Shadows bit also had me in stitches, despite or perhaps because of how stupid it was. John Robertson is extremely talented at running the show, especially since the audience was full of dweebs, ill-adjusted zoomers and assorted idiots who were trying to be funny and failing pretty badly - but he always managed to turn it around. It was very cathartic to shout "Ya die! Ya die! Ya die! Ya die!" at these cringe baskets when they invariably died in the game. There was a second show shortly after the one we attended and, honestly, next time I'll be booking both.
That said, yesterday I made pomegranate molasses from pomegranate juice - it was a pain in the arse. Even finding the juice was non-trivial. This all started because in Edinburgh we had lunch in BABA (middle-eastern cuisine, highly recommended) and some dishes were topped with pomegranate seeds. We thought "that's fancy, we should do that". Later I was flipping through the cookbooks of the friend we were staying at (thanks friend) and I came across a recipe for aubergine fesenjan that I promptly stole. The recipe is essentially this one, which besides the pomegranate seeds has pomegranate molasses among the ingredients. Now, I am ignorant so I did not know that August is outside of pomegranate season both in the northern and the southern hemisphere, so I could not find pomegranates in any form other than in those terrible snack boxes with just the seeds which cost nearly a fucking fiver each; I reluctantly bought one and they are horrible - serves me well. The fesenjan thus turned out good but not great - I need to try again when pomegranates are in season. Anyway, now I have a jar of the molasses stuff and I don't know what to do with it besides fesenjan (chicken fesenjan maybe? that's the original recipe after all); tonight I am putting it on some halloumi and tomatoes with mint, but other than that I have already run out of ideas. I found some more thin courgettes at the market (I am getting obsessed), along with some interesting-looking fresh onions - I wonder if I can combine these with the molasses. I suppose Google can still handle searching for combinations of ingredients without recommending me a courgette delivery subscription or some company that happens to rhyme with "pomegranate"; I'll have to give that a try.
During the Edinburgh trip I started reading Moby Dick - it was a little hard at the beginning, for the sentences have tons of subordinates (quite unusual in english), but once I got used to it I started really enjoying it and now am fully hooked. The only issue is that I can't really read it in bed, as making sense of the sentences requires concentration, but that's my prime reading time; I will have to find some other time for it. I was also pretty happy that I finally found a novel by Tennessee Williams in a second-hand bookshop ("Moise and the World of Reason"); while his plays are easy to find, novels and short stories are not. If it weren't for my wife who pointed out to me the bookshop, I would've walked past it completely oblivious; that's the way things always are.
The weather is a little better in that it's sunny in short intervals, but I still do not see myself going to the beach anytime soon. I like clouds and rain, but even I have to admit this summer was stolen from us (obviously the summers under COVID restrictions were great instead).
p.s. I think I struck a chord with my wife with that comment I made half-asleep on the 8th, about her being hot, because she brought it up out of nowhere that evening. Nice