Edinburgh Diary: The grand finale
Sunday 28 August 2011
*Festival organisers are concerned that next year's Fringe could become a victim of the 2012 effect.
The Fringe and the Olympics will overlap for 10 days; takings are usually down in Olympic years, but producers fear that it will be worse in 2012 as having the Games on UK soil means that foreign visitors are more likely to go only to London, and locals will be locked in front of the television. One concerned promoter suggests that what Edinburgh needs is a mighty panjandrum who has the power to make hotels, venues, bars, train companies and airlines offer enticing packages to lure locals and outsiders alike to the Scottish capital. "The trouble is," he says, "there's as much chance of that happening as Boris Johnson winning the 100 metres hurdles."
*Talking of the 2012 diary, the Edinburgh Film Festival, which used to run in the festival season but was moved to June in 2008, may be back in the August fold next year. The June move – to give the festival a more distinct voice – has been disastrous both in terms of ticket sales and attracting quality films, and the festival's governing body has discussed a return to an August run. Candidates to be the new artistic director were interviewed last week – I'm guessing those who said they were available next August are now on the shortlist.
*Overheard 1: at the ticket office, where a couple decided against seeing Dream Pill at the Underbelly, about two African sisters who have been trafficked to become sex slaves: "Weren't there loads of plays about that last year?" Yep, that's right, rape and child prostitution was so 2010.
*Critics reviewing stand-ups play a game of comedy bingo, where they gain imaginary crossings-off for multiple repeats of subjects for jokes. This year the winning line included paedophiles, Nando's, porn, pass the parcel, Grindr, Katie Price, pubic hair (length of and styling), cankles, hash tags, big fat gipsy anything and – a worrying development – sweaty male comics getting down to their undies.
*On the other hand, I reward myself with quality bingo – esoteric subjects for jokes from which I learn something, which this year included Cicero, Pushkin, the National Railway Museum in York and Sir Howard Grubb (who perfected the submarine periscope). A much shorter list, sadly.
*Overheard 2 – at Tim Supple's six-hour One Thousand and One Nights at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. At the interval a silver-haired man said to his wife: "I took a tactical shut-eye two hours in. Glad I was awake for the orgy scene, though."
*There are two Fringe sports competitions between comics and industry types (which includes critics, promoters and agents) and things ended all square this year with the comics winning the golf by five strokes, and the industry winning the footie 7-3.
*The winners of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards have a lot to live up to. Previous recipients of the awards, formerly known as the Perriers, have gone on to great things; Tim Minchin (2005 best newcomer) has been acclaimed for his score for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda: The Musical, which transfers to the West End in October, while Daniel Kitson (2002 winner) has sold out the run of his monologue It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later at the National Theatre in London, in October, where Tom Basden's (2007 best newcomer) first play, There is a War, is playing.
*Best heckle was the parting shot of a woman walking out after 15 minutes of comic Nick Helm's show at the Pleasance, in which he says his dream is to write a great Fringe show: "Better luck next year, love."
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