Thursday, August 23, 2007

A night on the cobbles

Last week for my birthday a few of us went through to Edinburgh for a bit of a live comedy fix. All-in-all we had a very good time and went to see an interesting combination of shows.

First up wee-n-sarcastic and I went to see a comedy sketch show called Two Left Hands - we were just hanging sround the Pleasance courtyard trying to decide what to see and the person flyering for this show was the only one who made a decent effort to tempt us. The show was a series of English-seaside-town/seaside-holiday-based sketches written and performed by "Smack the Pony" writer Leila Hackett and random television presenter Charlotte Hudson, and was being shown in the tiny hut that was the Baby Grand at the Plesance. The show started off with a rather poor sketch about the two girls trying to perform a burlesque style dance routine, but things did generally improve after that. A lot of the sketches were quite predictable once you saw the opening premise, but that didn't stop them containing some funny material. One of the main pieces running through the show was based on Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson in which Barbara had fallen on hard times. wee-n-sarcastic loved this having been forced to listen to "I Know Him So Well" many times as a small child. It was a reasonably funny set of sketches, but I suspect many people might not have had that much of a clue who the two people were - the main thing I knew about Elaine Paige was that she went to secretatial college with my mum. Overall it was a fairly enjoyable show and amusing enough that we didn't feel robbed of our entry fee.

Next up was the main event that we'd come to see and had pre-booked tickets for - Stewart Lee in his show "41st Best Stand Up Ever" - performing in the big upturned inflatable purple cow that is the Udderbelly. A couple of years before some of us had gone to see his show "90s Comedian" (and in fact we feature in the DVD of that show, which he was trying to flog during the course of this show!) and it was very good, so we were expecting something of similar quality from him. Before the show Lee wandered around outside the venue with his backpack, occainsionally on his phone, and generally looking confused - or maybe he was trying to size up his audience (consisting, as well as us, of such comedy luminaries as Mel and Sue and Armando Iannucci.) The show's main theme was an attack on TV and how Lee is now officially, actually, beyond a shadow of a doubt, 100% proven to be, undeniably, the 41st best stand-up ever! I don't think there was actually that much material in the show, but it was all delivered really well in classic Stewart Lee style (that's about as good a description as I can come up with - it was done in the style of himself - inciteful I know!) For some reason when doing an impression of his own mum it came across very much as if she was in fact Richard Herring. I don't know if Richard Herring bases his performance on Stewart's mum or vice versa, but it was very funny none-the-less. Overall a very good set, with some properly hilarious parts, from someone who's still pretty high (41st best) in their game.

Finally, at the request of ellielabelle, adren-junk and wee-n-sarcastic, and somewhat trepidatiously on my part, we went to see Eurobeat in the rather large venue of the Grand at the Pleasance. As the name suggests this is a spoof of Eurovision. My trepidation proved ill-founded, because after a couple of minutes of the show (and after an introduction by none other than Terry Wogan himself) a smile formed on my face that stayed there for about one and a half hours. In terms of a spectacle the shows production values were really high. The style of the event, the costumes and the choreography were all excellently done. But what made it were the songs and the performers. For true bizarreness and camp kitschiness you can't beat the real Eurovision itself, but the Eurobeat songs really did capture the Eurovision feel without feeling too forced or derivative (obviously they were quite derivative, but when done so well it was still very impressive). There was even an inteactive element to the show with everyone being given a country to support at the start and a text vote for the winner at the end. It did have some comedy moments, but in genaral was just great fun with the whole audience getting into the spirit of it. Very enjoyable even for a non-gay like me.