Rob Gilroy

Rob Gilroy: Making A Stand #18

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So intrepid comedy fans, the time is here; it’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – possibly the biggest, comedy-heavy arts festivals in the world. And I’m not there.

I’m fine with it, it doesn’t bother me. To be honest; it hasn’t even crossed my mind; I’ve been far too busy with lots of other things that I’m doing.

If anything, I’m a little relieved that I’m not at the festival.

To me, the festival would have been nothing but a distraction this month, and if there’s one thing I don’t need it’s a month-long, incredibly unenjoyable distraction.

There isn’t even a little niggle in the back of my head.


Nope. I’m a-O.K with it. Better than O.K, actually, positively delighted.

Nothing would make me more miserable than to be up in that god-awful Scottish village with a bunch of drama school drop outs.

Yes sir-ee, I’m well shot of the lot of them.

Last year I was very unfortunate to be able to take a one-man show up to the Free Festival (I’m not made of money and if you’re going to spend while you’re up there then you’re better off swinging by the Pizza Hut buffet lunch, a least you get something out of it.)

The show was, if I do say so myself, genre-defining and utterly incredible, and despite one idiotic and clearly jealous reviewer (not that I’m bitter) the show was a rousing success, which I can quite happily and honestly state, in prose, a year after the fact.

It was a triumph and yet I chose to walk away at the peak of my game.

Why? Because this year, the whole festival has fallen victim to ‘The Man’. It will never reclaim the glory days of 2012.

I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go there now, certainly not the British media and casting agents –  probably best give it a miss this year, eh?

You don’t want the well to go dry, do you?

Why not come back next year, bigger and better and show those two-bit wannabes and lobotomised reviewers a thing or two? Sounds like a plan. 

Nevertheless, I expect a lot of incredibly misguided Giggle Beats readers may be going up, so I thought I would draw on my experience of the Fringe to give you a little ‘Edinburgh for Dummies Guide’.

Not to be confused with ‘the Guide to Edinburgh Dummies’, which is a very detailed and moving account of the sheer number of shop mannequins that frequent the Scottish town – a recommended read.

If you are going to Edinburgh this year, despite the fact that its bubble has clearly burst, here are a few handy things to bear in mind, a sort-of survival guide for the Fringe. Think Ray Mears surrounded by Guardian readers.

Scottish People – Not as many of them around as you may think. If you’re coming for the sense of national culture and highland identity, as opposed to the over-priced and under-quality shows, then you’ll only be disappointed.

What’s traditionally Scottish about a Bella Pasta? The whole thing smacks of commercialism, and where has that got any of us? I ask you!

Don’t be fooled; just because their shortbread is made to look like a Westie, it was actually made in a factory near Tadcaster.

Flyers – If you thought those people that accost you on the street and try and guilt trip you into texting some money to a tiger or adopting an old foreign woman were bad – these are worse.

You’re not saving endangered species* you’re just being corralled into the biggest massacre of national forests known to man.

Are you really telling me you’d sacrifice God’s own plants just to get your hands on a leaflet about an hour of entertainment from some one who occaisionally appears on The One Show? Get a grip.

*Unless it’s a flyer for a student production; in which case they are endangered, but there’s little point helping them out as they’ll all be dead by 2016, anyway.

‘Comedy’ Shows – The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed the ‘inverted commas’ in that heading.

This, I personally think, reflects the somewhat flimsy grasp on the nature of humour held by certain performers.

Take for example, this: last year I went to a show in an art gallery, I watched a ‘comedian’ dressed as a member of gallery security, sleeping for forty five minutes.

No jokes, no message, no finale. Just sleeping.

Now forgive me if it’s my artistic ignorance but that, dear friends, was not a comedy show. If it was then maybe I need a lesson in comedy.

That or I should take up reviewing for a, naming no names, national broadsheet newspaper (The Times).

Ghost Walks – They’re not real ghosts, just out-of-work actors dressed up.

Upside Down Purple Cow – Let me make this clear – these aren’t real creatures, despite what Scottish people put in their food.

For a start Vimto-coloured bovine would be a very rare species and thus worth a lot of money, and secondly it would be cruel to participate in some sort of ‘tipping’ ritual.

This is actually a venue at the Fringe and, if you ask me, one of it’s more garish ones.

If you’re wanting to be edgy then why not try putting on an hour of thought-provoking, satirical comedy that goes unappreciated by audiences and critics alike?

The Fringe Programme – Like a who’s who of fame-hungry, talent-less nobodies all vying for your attention. An Argos catalogue of desperation. Makes me sick.

Idiots – There are a lot of these around. Unfortunately it’s very hard to tell who’s who.

They can take many forms – rival acts, punters who don’t pay, people who take your flyer while genuinely seeming interested and then not showing up, the public in general and the lowest of the low – reviewers.

Haggis – it’s not a burger, it’s not a shepherds pie, make your bloody mind up!

The Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award – An outdated institution which doesn’t nurture talent, but crushes it instead like a can of the aforementioned cheap beer.

And while we’re on the subject; who really trusts the opinions of a gassy lager manufacturer over that of crisp, bottled, bubbly water makers?

It should never have changed from Perrier. The day the music died.

So there we have it – that should help you navigate your way around Edinburgh this summer.

Unless, god forbid, a ridiculously epic tidal wave comes in off the coast and floods the town, rendering it uninhabitable, like the Kevin Costner film; Waterworld.

Just imagine the devastation; a watery Royal Mile littered with broken portable stages, the corpses of an acapella group still dressed as Five Guys Named Moe, a reviewer on a spike, and a faded purple cow, now the right way up, drifting off to Aberdeen.

We can but dream.

Rob will be performing at SOS @ 3MT (3 Minute Theatre) in Manchester on Saturday 3 August and at Alfie’s Chat Show Thing at The Stand Newcastle, on Monday 5 August. And he’s fine about it.

If you are at the Fringe, he recommends that you avoid all the other guff and just stick to these shows:

Gavin Webster at The Stand
Silky at The Stand
Symour Mace at The Stand
Jonny Pelham, Si Buglass and Lee Kyle at The Stand
Simon Donald at The Stand
Brethren of Levity at the Yurt Locker @ Free Sisters
Shall We Just See This One? – Graham Oakes and Nicola Redman at the Yurt Locker @ Free Sisters