The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Gilded Balloon Press Launch

Have I told you that we love comedy?  Yip, we’re big fans of stand-up comedy. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the mother festival of all arts festivals in the world and comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe, her favourite child.

At the Gilded Balloon Press launch, we get a glimpse of their line-up for this year’s Fringe. But what is The Fringe? Read on.

FRESH, NEW AND FUNNY

Yay! We have something other than old buildings, playparks, homeschooling or road trips to blog about.  Something that doesn’t even revolve around the children if you’ll believe it.  

It’s not our “niche” either. Oh wait, that’s right; we don’t have a niche 😝. We’ll blog about anything that takes our fancy, thank you! The Fringe is one thing that did just that.

No, seriously; It’s nice to write about different things and we’ve loved our road trip of the UK, but 6 months in things can get predictable. A change of not just scenery but the topic is a breath of fresh air and that’s what we got last night at The Gilded Balloon Press Launch for The Fringe 2018.

OUR COMEDY FLAVOUR

When it comes to comedy, we prefer clever, mostly clean stuff.  Love. Love. Love. Michael McIntyre. We’ve not seen him live yet, but it’s on the ol’ bucket list.  His brand of funny is addictive.  He sees the humour in every-day mundane things and makes us laugh to the point of crying about it because we can relate.  

Our other favourites are the crew from the 8 Out Of 10 Cats, a British comedy panel show hosted by Jimmy Carr. We’re long-time big fans of team captain Sean Lock but more recently also of fellow team captain, Jon Richardson. We actually enjoy most of the British comedy panel shows.  In almost ten years of watching these comedians, we’re still big fans and that speaks volumes.

Jason Manford, Sarah Millican, and Nish Kumar are hilarious.  From what we’ve seen, their sets are not completely based on profanity, twisted shock tactics and cheap below the belt humour. Yes, you get the odd PG18 content, but it’s not constant rubbish dumped into our ears as many lazy comedians resort to.

Milton Jones! I want to wrap him up and keep him in my pocket all day for when I need a laugh. Just looking at his face gives me the giggles.  His crazy one-liners are legendary.

WHAT IS THE EDINBURGH FRINGE?

The Fringe really is the biggest arts festival in the world.  Last year The Fringe ran for 25 days and featured 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows in 300 venues.  Ticket sales increased 9% from the previous year and reached record sales of 2,696,884 by the end of the festival.

It’s on every year in Edinburgh during August and this year it runs from 3 to 27 August, starting tomorrow (at the time of writing this post). Many performers and shows started out at The Fringe and went on to become famous.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE EDINBURGH FRINGE

In 1947 a small number of acts arrived uninvited to the Edinburgh Festival and performed on the outskirts of Edinburgh to appreciative crowds of festival-goers.

The next year someone wrote a review about these acts and said that it’s unfortunate that they were so far out on the ‘fringe’ of the city.  The term stuck and so did the ethos of no criteria or invitation required to perform at The Fringe. Still today any performer can show up and take part.

USEFUL FRINGE INFORMATION

Ticket Prices

We didn’t check all show prices, but tickets for the majority seem to vary between £6 to £12,50 and some are more expensive.

Many shows are free and some venues have adopted the PWYW system that allows you to Pay What You Want when you exit the show.

To buy tickets, find out more about ticket options, tips to plan your trip and to download the program visit The Fringe website.  

You can also download the free app to your phone.

Food

When it comes to food and drink there’s almost too much to choose from. We walked past every food van to make sure we see all the options and we couldn’t pick.  

In the end, we sampled eats from a few vendors and shared to try it all out.  

A Chicken and bacon bagel from one van, a small serving of spicy Thai beef & cardamom stew on rice, savoury cheese and pepperoni crepe. The slow-roasted pulled pork on a soft bab with applesauce and a rich gravy from the Aporkalypse van was our winner.

For dessert, we shared a warm sticky toffee Belgian waffle. Each dish cost between £4,50 to £8. What I didn’t see on any menu were fried mars bars.  It’s on my list of things to have in Scotland and I’ve yet to find somewhere in Edinburgh to try it.

General Advice

If you go to The Fringe, dress in layers.  The weather can change quickly to cold and rainy, but venues can be hot and stuffy.

There’s plenty for families to do and enjoy at the Edinburgh Fringe festival including many kiddies shows. However, the comedy scene, in general, is mostly not geared towards families. You’ll find a great play park near the University and plenty of acts suitable for children.

Balloonatics at the Edinburgh Fringe
Karen & Katy Koran of The Gilded Balloon

THE GILDED BALLOON PRESS LAUNCH

We were given tickets by a friend for the Gilded Balloon Press Launch held the night before The Fringe kicked off at the Gilded Balloon theatre.

The Gilded Balloon was started in the ’80s by the promoter, Karen Koren.  It’s now one of the largest and well-known theatres of the Edinburgh Fringe.  

Tonight’s press launch was the first official on-stage appearance of her daughter, Katy, as Creative Director. Katy welcomed the press and general audience and took the opportunity to thank the Gilded Balloon staff, production team and its supporters before the show started.

“I’m not retiring. I’ll be the one behind the desk with my feet in the air while Katy does the heavy lifting”. -Karen Koren-

I’m sure the guys who sat at the front tables with the long lens superzoom cameras will be writing the real in-depth reviews on each act; the hallowed journalists who I’m forever begrudging their writing prowess.

I’m afraid we only have pics here of some of the performers taken with my humble Samsung Galaxy Note 8 for you to squint at and compare to profile shots borrowed from the Gilded Balloon website.

Notably, the stand out feature of the night is the variety. The acts could not be more different from each other with music improvisation and cabaret acts to strong individual classic stand-ups and silent circus-esque comics.

As with most stand up comedy shows, the majority of acts are not family-friendly and you need to be thick-skinned to not come away feeling slightly insulted or harassed by some of the content. We were ‘unscathed’ but we overheard someone who sat nearby saying they felt “a little insulted” after the show.  

Comedians speak their mind.  They are brave creatures in a way because they often bare their souls and show strangers who they really are. Yes, they’re funny and most stick to the lighthearted stuff, but it often gets dark and you should be prepared for that if you go for the first time or maybe your 100th.

THE LINE-UP

Below is the line-up.  We’d pay to see most of their shows. Others were sadly forgettable and left us wondering if some were told about the press launch last minute because they came across as slightly unprepared.  Each act had only 4 minutes to showcase their goods; a teaser to leave the audience wanting more. Tough job! Not one we’d want.

By the way, the ‘compere’ is like the hostess or master of ceremonies who introduce the other acts and keep the audience going while promoting their own brand at the same time.

1. Laura Lexx (First Half Compere)

She has super energy about her. A likeable character with sharp off-the-cuff whit. We get why she was the compere and we’d go see her show, for sure.

2. Gamarjobat

Funny guys, brilliant and original, who put on a silent clown-like circus act. We’re queueing already!

3. Justin Moorhouse

He didn’t have green hair or a clown face for his 4 min taster, but he still made us laugh ranting about the little monsters 13-yr olds can be.

4. Lost Voice Guy

Lee Ridley, star of Britain’s Got Talent has a Sold Out Show! A brilliant mind caught in a disabled body.  He made Brendan laugh; really laugh out of his tummy and that doesn’t often happen.

5. Ana Anastacia

An over-the-top cabaret act. We love Ana Anastacia’s amazing voice and left curious about the full show. Might buy a ticket if we get the chance.

6. Ben Hart

Brilliant Magician. West End star and multi-award winning magician. He was one of our favourites plus his show is family friendly with a rating of PG12. We’d definitely like to see more of this guy and I know the kids will love him.

7. Zoey Lyons

Fuuuuuuunny! In a different league all on her own. Yes, we’re definitely buying tickets. Loved Zoey’s set.

8. Notflix

Improvising singing comedy act with a band.  Maybe they’re brilliant given a stage and more time to showcase their talent, but in the allotted 4 minutes, it was hard to see.

9. Janeane Garofalo

You may recognize this American actress.  She hit the mark, but much of her references are from across the pond and went over our heads.  She comes across as a scatty conversationalist with a brilliant mind and I’d love to know what she’s talking about.

10. Scott Gibson

Lots of swearing. That’s what I wrote down during his show and he even politely warned the audience about the swearing himself.  B definitely wants to see his show.

He’s angry-guy act is hilarious and I’d love to buy a ticket too but I’d want to push the parental guidance button to beep over the swearing.

By the way, I’ll sign up to join your army of fat people any day, Scott.

We’d only be great over a short distance, but we’d be great and the catering will be out of this world.

Scott Gibson on his army of fat people

11. Jay Lafferty

Classic stand-up comedian. Jay was the friendly compere for the second half of the show.

12 Masie Adams

Classic stand-up comedian.

13. Murray Hill

Comedian from New York making his debut at The Fringe.

14. Louisa & Bernie

Her show is called Politics for bitches and she did her set with her gorgeous dog, Bernie, who had lots to say for himself.  We’re not sure if Bernie is part of the main act, but I’d like to see her show anyway.  

I was intrigued because she seems to touch on the more serious topics of life that are hard to talk about and I’d love to hear what she makes of it all.

15. Hot Brown Honey  

Sheeeeesh! Get ready for an in-your-face culture lesson.  

They seem a bit hangry, but the dancing and the singing! Just awesome. Book front row tickets for me next time, please? I’ll quietly sneak out before the scary part where they turn into The Beast.  But my greatness, they have enough sass, rhythm and opinions to entertain and educate the world. And they’re in a league of their own.  

DO. NOT. TOUCH. THEIR. HAIR. Kapish?

By the way, Hot Brown Honey were all fully clothed during their show. They, in fact, wore full combat style camo suits. Don’t know what the naked poster is about?!

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is like the Klein Karoo Arts Festival in Outdshoorn, but on steroids!#travel #edinburghfringe #kleinkarookunstefees Click To Tweet

CONCLUSION

We can’t describe the vibe of The Fringe to you other than amazing and worth any amount of travelling involved to get there.

Like Brendan said; for everyone back home in South Africa – it’s like The Klein Karoo Arts Fest in Oudtshoorn on steroids.

The numerous beer gardens are clean and beautifully decorated with flowers and fairy lights all around.  

Staff posted at each entrance make sure it stays safe to keep it fun for everyone. There are restrooms in abundance; little queueing girls! The ground is covered with artificial grass carpeting which is brilliant to sit on and for when the weather turns bad.  

It’s easy to get a cab, they’re clearly visible all over the city. We used Uber to get in and out of town from our Airbnb.  

The Edinburgh Fringe is so well organized that anyone who has even the smallest amount of festival spirit can have a fabulous time out there.

Enjoy!

Lindsy & Brendan

xxx

Loading Likes...