Binge on Fringe

A VIRTUAL Edinburgh Fringe has been created, with shows available on a website. Which isn’t the same thing as being in Scotland’s capital in previous summers. That’s because the annual event isn’t really about performers strutting their stuff on stage. (Or in a public toilet cubicle, if a stage isn’t handy.) The fun lies in the pomp and passion that usually hits the streets.

With that in mind, we now attempt to recreate that buzz by recalling our favourite tales and jokes from previous times.

A venture we’re ideally suited to undertake. After all, you’ll always find the Diary dangling off the ‘fringe’ of this page in The Herald.

Standard problem

A FAVOURITE Fringe gag from Richard Pulsford: “After six hours of learning basic semaphore I was flagging.”

William the Conqueror

IN the summer of 1972 a jobbing folk singer called William Connolly (Billy to his mates) dipped his toe in Fringe waters with a musical play he co-wrote called The Great Northern Welly Boot Show. It had already played Glasgow where it didn’t quite work. But it found plenty of fans in Edinburgh.

Though it almost didn’t get the chance. The props belonged to Glasgow Corporation, which commissioned the original show. To get them to Edinburgh they had to be borrowed (nicked) from a warehouse.

Audiences loved the manic daftness, though a certain critic was less impressed.

“It’s crap,” he sniffed. “But it’s good crap.”

Fawlty belief

IT’S always exciting when a huge star hits the Fest. In 2018 a gangly performer called Cleese arrived. Alas, it wasn’t that bloke from Fawlty Towers, but his daughter Camilla.

However, fans of Cleese Snr. still had something to be excited about. Camilla’s show was called: ‘Produced by John Cleese’ meaning he was clearly involved backstage. Alas, that also wasn’t true.

The title referred to Cleese’s amorous involvement in his daughter’s conception. It wasn’t a funny walk he was doing that night…

Dated education

ANOTHER Fringe funny. "I've got an Eton-themed Advent calendar,” said Ivo Graham. “All the doors are opened for me by my dad's contacts."

Dishing the dirt

FESTIVAL regular Jason Byrne’s first gig was a charity event in Dublin. Arriving on stage with a huge badge on his shirt saying “I am 1”, he proceeded to bombard his audience with an unceasing deluge of filth, thinly disguised as humour. His mum, who was in the crowd, wasn’t amused. Nor the many nuns and priests watching.

Peachy keen

THE late Peter Cook will forever be associated with Edinburgh as one of the Beyond The Fringe performers who stormed the city in the 1960s. With restaurants still offering limited fair at the moment, we recall the time Cook played the proprietor of an eatery called the Frog and Peach, where all that was on offer was “a really big frog and a damned fine peach”.


AND finally… A Festival gag from creepy comic, Emo Philips: “I picked up a hitchhiker. You’ve got to when you hit them.”