My Edinburgh: Alan Davies, Comedian


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The Independent Culture

The first time I went to Edinburgh was in 1986 when I was at The University of Kent and we did a musical version of Aristotle’s 'Lysistrata'. 

It was a bit like 'Oklahoma!' but set in Greece and we wore fake phalluses under our trousers made out of wire coathangers and stockings. I’ve come a long way since then.

The nice thing about Edinburgh is that it’s unlike anywhere else. When you come out of the theatre, you're part of the biggest art festival in the world. It has changed a lot in the last 10 years, I go nearly every year and it's always different.

Sadly, my favourite venue - the old Gilded Balloon - burned down. I had the best time there in 1994, doing a show. Phil Kay was on before me and Fred MacAulay was on afterwards. Two years later, Rich Hall was there doing Otis Lee Crenshaw, which I went to virtually every night. It was fantastic.

Listen to word of mouth reviews. The only way you can navigate your way around the festival and see a number of good shows is if you listen to two or three different people saying a show is good. Always be wary when someone is telling you a show is brilliant that they don’t have one of their friends in it.

I've done that a few times and it turned out to be crap. If you're going for the whole run, pace yourself. And if you're seeing a new performer and you're not sure, try and sit quite close to an exit for an easy escape.

Alan Davies, Life is Pain, touring nationwide from 5 September

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I will be seeing Sue Maclaine doing 'Still Life' because she is an old friend of mine. I did say be wary of a review from someone who has a friend in a show  but she is very good. It’s her one-woman show at the Whitespace Gallery about Henrietta Moraes, Francis Bacon's model and muse. Sue plays Moraes and you can draw her as the show goes on. Aside from that I'm like everyone else and judging it on recommendations so I'll be watching some new acts but I may sit near an exit.