EDINBURGH FESTIVAL 1993 / Fear in Lothian: It can be the best of times, but it's more interesting when it's the worst of times. Sophie Barker asks a few regulars about their worst Edinburgh
Sunday 08 August 1993
My worst experience was in 1985 when I was street-performing on the Mound in a
double act. The difficult thing about street performing is that there is no set stage space, but having done loads at Covent Garden, I thought it would be fine. We were using lots of props in the act, it was supposed to be great comedy, but we only had 10 straggly people watching us 15ft away and they weren't interested at all, which made it very lacklustre. Then about 20 tourists wandered between us and the audience, as if we were a piece of the street, which completely destroyed what was left of our show. It was the ultimately humiliating experience.
George Sq Theatre, 13 to 21 Aug.
Journalist and singer
In 1975 I went to the festival with a cabaret act called Instant Sunshine, which I left
only three months ago. We performed in a church hall, in which the chairs were tied together in rows for fire reasons. We had an unexpected visit from Princess Margaret. Her detectives came to check the place and said that a row of chairs would have to be untied because Margaret's bum was too big to fit on a single seat. She still hasn't paid.
I've been going to Edinburgh for 10 years now, and I have a complete trauma every year. When I first went to the festival, I used to cycle up the Mound literally spitting blood. I had to Blu-Tack my own posters up and by the next morning they would be covered up with Lenny Henry posters. Another time, I played in a church full of ladies with hats and galoshes expecting the Perry Como Hour. They sat and tutted all the way through my show and then queued up for their money back and wrote rude letters about me to the Scotsman. Once, I was doing a show with Rory Bremner. He went on immediately before me, and all the producers left the room to offer him TV shows, so that by the time I came on no one was watching. Last year, a fire alarm went off when I was getting
changed. I had to go outside in my knickers, and it was pissing with rain, which made my thighs go a mottled blue colour. That same time, my daughter came with me. She had measles so I spent most of my time sitting in the children's ward.
Pleasance, 11 Aug to 4 Sept.
Comedian and actor
In 1986, I was doing a show with Mike Myers, who played Wayne in Wayne's World. As part of it, we showed a Super-8 movie which we had shot ourselves. Because there was no sound, we did the dialogue and effects live. Once the film got caught in the projector and started to burn. You could see this flame on screen getting bigger and bigger. The audience thought it was part of the show. The next day we had to find someone to edit the Super-8 so we
could carry on doing the show as it was meant to be. Another bad experience was when I was part of a show called the Anonymous Ten. We played in the Fringe Club, a sweaty dive full of actors trying to get off with each other. There was a disco, which drowned out most of what we were saying. The audience wasn't interested anyway, they looked really rough, and pretty quickly the Anonymous Ten became the Anonymous Three.
Hill St Theatre, 20 to 29 Aug.
One year a bloke poured a pint of his own urine over my head. I was wearing a new suit. He told me it was a tribute to my act. It was warm urine, that was the thing.
Arthur Smith's latest play 'Sod',
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