My Edinburgh: Mathew Baynton - Why the Fringe is a good place to wear a gimp mask


Yesterday, in Edinburgh, I was walking alongside a lady wearing high heels and a gimp mask. Her, not me. No-one walking past batted an eyelid. She had no flyers in her hand or any evidence of being in a show. I think she’d worked out that Edinburgh in August is a great place to be if you want to dress up oddly and not get funny looks.

The Fringe is where it started for me in 2005 with my short-lived comedy group Piggy Nero. We specialised in pun-based titles that put people off coming: The Bubonic Play, Hello Dalai... that’s it, we stopped after two. We did it all ourselves, the stage management (dangerous), the flyering (soul-destroying), the press (again, soul-destroying) and ploughed all our own money into it. I really felt my dreams hung in the balance.

It just about worked and, at the time of writing, I do have a career. So it’s nice to be back, and in a play (Holes) by someone else (Tom Basden). He’s made a kind of poetry of pettiness and constructed something packed full of gags but with a terrible darkness that creeps up on you by the end. It’s very possibly my favourite thing I’ve ever done. Even better than ‘Barista’ in the Danny Dyer vehicle City Rats.

I’ve seen a lot of shows but I can’t possibly cram in everything that I’d like to and it's exhausting trying to. It’s nice to do non-festival things too, like going to a cinema, restaurant or art gallery. Or putting on the old mask and going for a potter.

Holes, Secret seaside location, meet at Assembly George Square, 23, 24, 25 August (0131 623 3030) 

Mathew Baynton's Must-sees:

Liam Williams (The Tron, 10.20pm) bowled me over. Smart and silly in equal measure, he manages to be misanthropic but warm at the same time. And I loved Daniel Simonsen (Pleasance Dome, 8.20pm). His show was quite rough around the edges but he just has funny bones. I’d rather see a shambles from someone like him than a lot of the more slick acts around who are kind of indistinguishable from each other.