Ruby Martin, part of UCLU Comedy Club’s sketch group The Gower Line, looks back on her experiences at this year’s Fringe and shares her pick of the shows
To some, Scotland may be the unlikely host of the world’s largest arts festival. However, every August, Edinburgh is invaded by hundreds of thousands of performers and tourists from all over the globe. This year, I was one of the many attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the sketch troupe, The Gower Line. As a tourist I was extremely excited, but as a performer, I must admit, the prospect of doing a three-week run at the Festival was slightly daunting. Not only was it the longest run I have ever done, I had no idea what to expect from the audience, especially as we were competing with thousands of other shows every night
I was captivated by Edinburgh straight away. The city is beautiful, combining new sensibilities with old aesthetics as it bustles with activity. It has the cultural allure of London but with prettier buildings. If you are looking for traditional Scottish fare, you won’t be disappointed as Edinburgh’s tourist industry provides many whisky shops, tartan specialists and an abundance of bagpipes (an instrument I can only now truly appreciate).
In addition to the yearly attractions like the castle and the museums, the festival provides a packed itinerary of fun and engaging shows to see, many of which are free. These range from zombie based comedy to a science talk about improvisation. The sheer amount of shows means that there is something to cater for everyone’s taste.
However, I wasn’t there just to watch, I had a show to run. After weeks of rehearsing and preview shows, I thought I would be prepared for anything. I was wrong. We ran out of flyers two weeks into the run, a gang of drunk men decided to heckle our show for 45 minutes straight, and one of the cast members had to have an emergency root canal 15 minutes before the show started.
However, the unexpected was not all bad. A drunk man gave us £40 for the show, and we met an adorable puppy on its very first walk on the way home. And then there’s the countless numbers of comedians and TV personalities you encounter. Walking past the likes of Stewart Lee, Aiden Gillen and Mark Watson will make you feel like you’re finally part of the performance crowd!
Many of the shows I enjoyed at the Fringe will almost definitely be coming to London, so here are a few I think you should catch if you have the chance:
Casual Violence, Om Nom Nominous/ Great Fire of Nostril: The delightfully dark sketch troupe weave together stories of love, revenge and baked goods in their latest offering.
Kieran Hodgson, French Exchange: An excellent character comedian, Hodgson tells the hilarious and heartwarming tale of a school trip and what he learnt from it.
Racing Minds, Aaaaand Now for Something Completely Improvised: The improv group put together an inventive and entertaining story based entirely on your suggestions.
Kate Smurthwaite, Leftie Cock Womble: Feminist and funny Smurthwaite makes you laugh and think in this intelligent and humorous show.
Beta Males, Happenstance: Smart sketch comedy that tells a story whilte also sending up police shows, farces and bears along the way.
Daniel Kitson and Gavin Osborn, A Variety of Things in a Room: Kitson’s brilliant and madcap brand of comedy interspersed with the charming and comical musical stylings of Osborn.
The Gower Line, TBC: Described as “refreshingly silly and very clever”, UCLU Comedy Club’s sketch troupe, I am sure, will have much more to offer over this coming year.
Make sure you read Pi’s review of Ruby’s show here.
Featured Image Credit: Kim Traynor