Edinburgh Fringe 2008 Blog: Part One
Alex Skinner 04/08/2008
Monday 4th August 2008
Phew! A frantic start to this year's Edinburgh Fringe and one vital word of advice: Plan ahead! Avoid the awkward box office routine away from the regular folk. This will avoid disappointment and won't make you look like a disorganised fool.
We kick off with a gamble!
Stephen Grant: Second
For the first ten minutes of the act Steve Grant ran riot on a computer, mistyping and generally indulging in tomfoolery. It was funny for the first five minutes but soured after time passed. He then dwelled on critics and reviews of previous
shows. This was fine but a little self involved.
The first half hour needed to be strengthened and thankfully, he managed to pull it around. There is the essence of coming second and always trying. He sets the mood with a self view that is overly self-deprecating. From there we get the nitty gritty of his Royal Mail theory about sending 1st and 2nd class stamps a-la 'A Timewasters Guide'. Laughs-a-plenty until he enters a more fragile side when explaining about relationships gone wrong and how banks are out to get him, seeping into an overly self-centred show. The horrid view of 'It is awful to be on your own…' got my goat. It is a bloody good goat though.
You come away remembering the examples of where he has finished second in his career. Taking bad career advice he turned down the role of Gareth Keenan for 'The Office' and instead was used as a back-up for Richard Hammond on 'Top Gear'.
Grant hits user friendly targets and pours himself into his shows enough for people to appreciate. The Scotland bashing I didn't expect and didn't really see the need for. Maybe his ex was Scottish?! He then rights some of history's wrongs characterising some losers in history. Ending on a high to get the message across, Grant is on the level and spans a family styled fun set, but that's it.
I then swindled over to see Rick Shapiro's insane surrealist style throwing so many thought patterns, random words and funny muddled ideas it is indeed wild. I don't think you can find anyone as raw, random and abrasive than Rick. Before the show he was mellow with a stack of mixed notes all over the place. Rick even borrowed my pen and wrote some new stuff on his hand. There were five people in the crowd, he graced the stage and came to life.
Rick Shapiro: Wild Card
A surreal gibbering pleasure, Rick Shapiro has no boundaries and wants honesty in people to shine through. This is tested when talking about women, being a sex addict, and more on women. On the honest rant about sex the stand out line 'I would get so far in I would see a Bosnian Soldier' gives the sense that he has had some harsh break-ups, but therein lies the strength of his act.
Shapiro stays true to his roots, is anti-materialistic throughout hard to the core. Muddled ideas by the bushel, he is a joy to watch, whether ranting about different classes of people, or doing a 9/11 impression. Rick is an amazing comedic artist who has energy mixed with off-the-wall
grace. This show is an edgy alternative (yet insane) delicacy.
Running like a whippet to get to the show booked earlier, in all my fury I fall and hit the deck. Looking like an exhausted bleeding haemophiliac, I manage to pick my ticket up for a newcomer.
Dan Atkinson: The Credit Crunch and Other Biscuits
By the title you don't know what to expect. At the end of the act you still don't. In essence, this is a weak show title. Dan starts with a video about him growing up and gives a fun watered down synopsis of the credit crunch from the 1980s to the present day. This works before Atkinson's entrance as he sets the scene breaking the silence with recoiled tails of London and how Yorkshire folk see the big city. He wanders down uncertain routes that don't link well with the show.
Culminations of estranged topics are then touched upon: the first paedophile joke, followed by a run through of banks, mobiles, hippies, distractions, and ork to name but a few. All in a blink of an eye, Dan wanders through more of the same in no general direction offering no real solutions or messages. The mix continues with wooing girls, shit night-club scenarios, stag do's, thrush, drinking and St Andrews rich folk. The stand out material is evident in his decreasing social circle with friends having children. The show is purely mixed around shallow comedy. Hey, it's just a bit of fun.