Clarke's Column at Edinburgh Fringe: Review

Scottish comedian Des Clarke brings his unique perspective to all things Fringe in this first of three columns

Feature by Des Clarke | 12 Aug 2008

They used to say that being a Scottish performer at the Fringe was a bit like the story of Sting’s song ‘An Englishman in New York’. Basically, you stuck out like an ugly person on Hollyoaks. There’s no link now though. Well unless you practise Tantric flyering - that’s where you keep going for hours but in the end no one actually comes. Nah, the only sting you get these days is the tax bill at the end of August.

Mercifully more and more Scots are performing and attending the Fringe than ever before. Even my home town of Glasgow seems to have in some part defected to the East this month. I often believed that a fellow Glaswegian at a festival show was someone who got on the wrong train or just wanted in out of the rain for an hour. Not any more pal.

The start of August used to resemble a scene reminiscent of the Highland clearances. For the historically lacking, that was when Scottish crofters were forcefully driven off their farms by English landowners. Not a closing down sale at a carpet shop in Inverness.

Now, though, the festival’s homegrown contingent has gone from empty seats to Arthur’s Seat and it’s a real shot in the arm for the Scottish comedy circuit. In years gone by the native comics have been cast as the real fringe performers in Edinburgh, on the outside looking in like a tabloid investigator at a sex party. But those days are gone now - and in the past they must remain.

At past festivals many a sassenach reviewer has poured hot water on our comedy Scotch for being too broadly spoken and a wee dram hard to understand. Well to those diluters we have the bottle to say now ‘what a pile a keich... c’mon get aff... we’ll set aboot ye!’

Established Fringe generals like Lynn Ferguson, Danny Bhoy, Jerry Sadowitz, Janey Godley, Rhona Cameron, Raymond Mearns, Bob Doolally and Arnold Brown have been flying the flag for years and lead the charge once again. Marching behind are a rearguard of new festival footsoldiers such as Scott Agnew, Susan Calman, Will and Greg – the list goes on... praise be to the big yin!

So anyone not of a Caledonian persuasion who wants to find a true reflection of Scottish life should come and see wan ae oor folk. We won’t try and sell you shortbread, haggis or the unfeasible existence of a sea-faring highland lady monster. Just good comedy in a local accent.

You never know, we might just send you homeward to think again...

Des Clarke - Desire, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 Aug (not 13), 21:20, £13.50- £12.50 (£12-£11)