Five local comics' guide to the Edinburgh Fringe
Local(ish) acts ask each other local(ish) questions about their Fringe experiences, definitely not ripped off from a well-known radio programme which rhymes with 'main attraction'
The Edinburgh Fringe can be like marmite to locals (although that smell's just the yeast from the Brewery). Amy Matthews (AM), Stuart McPherson (SM), Christopher KC (CKC), Gareth Mutch (GM) and Daisy Earl (DE) ask each other how best to survive the Festival.
DE: We both started on the Scottish comedy scene – do you find there’s a difference between Scottish and English audiences?
GM: I’ve not really experienced that much of a difference. I’m maybe more comfortable in Scotland as that’s where my humour has come from and I gig here more often, so it’s what I know. I’ve been very lucky to go on tour with Tom Stade and Iain Stirling, so getting to play The Lowry in Salford and Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre with them has given me experience of playing in big rooms all across the country. I don’t think my jokes are place-specific. Everyone knows their parents and knows someone who doesn’t like scary films; audiences are pretty similar.
DE: What’s the worst show you’ve ever done?
GM: Easy. I did a Fringe preview two years ago in Dunfermline for my show Mutch Ado About Nothing where all the audience thought I was doing a one man Shakespeare hour. That’s not what they got. Instead, it was an hour of dick jokes & personal tales of woe. Instant regret for everyone involved. So bad, it made it into last year’s show.
GM: This year you won Best Newcomer at the Scottish Comedy Awards, so you’ve obviously had a successful 2018-19. What have been your highlights?
AM: The last year has been so much fun! I genuinely didn't expect the award so that was a pleasant surprise and made me a very happy bunny. Being on TV with BBC's Comedy Underground was great. Supporting Alfie Brown for his Edinburgh tour date was lovely and I felt very lucky to open for him. Beyond 'firsts' and milestones though, I just feel like I've found my thing. I've spent so much time finding creative outlets throughout my life, it's great to have settled on one that I love and can do for a job.
GM: Comedy can be a tough slog of an industry and we all at some point face the idea of stopping. What or who has made you keep going?
AM: As well as celebrating the success of comedy peers, I guess I’m very lucky to have a partner who does this weird and wonderful job as well. People often think comics going out with comics is a nightmare (Lou Sanders once asked me if my boyfriend was a comic – I said yes and she retched) but he is a great stabiliser. I had an awful gig once and I came home, he understood, he kissed me, accidentally burped in my mouth and it came through my nose. Supportive. Lovely.
AM: What do you do outside of performing on a Fringe day?
CKC: I like to walk around a lot during the festival because of the atmosphere. It makes me feel part of it. I like how frequently I bump into fellow comedians, like crossing corridors with work colleagues, except you don't awkwardly put on a benign smile, look them in the eye and sheepishly say 'Hi!'. It is surprisingly an enjoyable experience with small chat, finding out their recommendations for shows and seeing how theirs are going.
AM: What 3 things get you through the Fringe?
- 1) Piemaker: It’s like Greggs, but better. My go-to place for a quick bite or after a great/bad gig. Vegan friendly and open late during the festival.
- 2) Casio F-91W: An ugly, cheapo plastic watch, which is worn by most comedians for an invaluable feature: Stopwatch. Means you can be on stage and realise how long that one person in the front row hates your guts. Oh! And it tells the time.
3) Water: It is important to stay hydrated.
AM: What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve spent money on during Fringe?
CKC: A navy-blue single bed sheet. Not for the purposes you’re thinking, ya dirty! I naively didn't realise I needed a projector screen for my show. I did the next best thing, thinking it would suffice, by buying the cheapest bed sheet I could find in some retail park and hung it up. Because the sheet was cheap and had such a low thread count, the projection shone straight through it and all the audience saw was a dimly lit bedsheet for the majority of the show. Absolute disaster.
CKC: What is your go-to eatery place you frequent most at the Fringe?
SM: Hello sweet Chris. May I first apologise for not being able to attend your housewarming barbecue. I know I text, but it’s nice to have it publicly noted.
Big love for the phrase ‘eatery place’, by the way. My favourite is Ting Thai Caravan on Bristo Square. I was originally going to call my show ‘Mun Tod’ after the name for sweet potato fries on their menu. I love it. I always piss about for ages looking at the menu before ordering the same thing: green curry, fried rice and Mun Tod. Always delicious and good value for money.
CKC: What is your favourite Fringe show you've ever seen?
SM I’ve been lucky enough to see tons of amazing shows through the years but I’d have to say James Acaster’s show Recognise at the Cabaret Bar (before they made it look like an IKEA) still stands out as the best. I never knew what to expect going in and was just blown away by how consistently funny and unique it was. I’d never seen anything like it. It was before I started stand-up and, whilst finding it inspiring, it also set an unattainably high standard that I find creatively stifling to this day.
CKC: Have you any memorable flyerer interactions from the past?
SM: My most memorable flyering moment was probably 2 years ago when I flyered an American woman so badly, and apologetically, that she decided to take all the flyers and start flyering for me on my behalf.
SM You will have now done Festival runs as both a visitor, and as an Edinburgh local. How do they compare, and which do you prefer?
DE: I definitely prefer doing the festival as an Edinburgh local as it is much, much, MUCH cheaper! But I have to admit now that I don’t live in Edinburgh, I get even more excited about coming back. Edinburgh is an incredible city, especially during the Fringe, and bumping into Scottish acts really makes me feel like I’m back in my comedy home.
SM: Do you have any safe havens in (or outside of) the city to escape the noise of the Fringe when it gets too much?
DE: I have an incredible safe haven which I don’t want to show off about too much – it’s my Grandad Scotland’s house. He is the most adorable man in the world (that is objective fact!!) and watching cowboy films with him and eating Tunnocks teacakes is my ultimate happy place and the perfect antidote to Fringe nonsense.
SM: What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent getting through the 12 feet of pavement at the bus stop outside Lidl on Nicolson Street?
DE: 2 hours 43 minutes.
The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews, Monkey Barrel (Monkey Barrel 5), until 25 Aug (not 13), 1.10pm, £3/PWYW
Stuart McPherson: Mr November, Monkey Barrel (Monkey Barrel 5), until 25 Aug (not 13), 1.55pm, £5/PWYW
Christopher KC: Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Rice, Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market (Bothy), until 25 Aug (not 12), 4.15pm, £6
Daisy Earl: Fairy Elephant, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Nip), until 26 Aug (not 12), 4pm, £7.50-£9.50