Free Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe

So we are well into August and that means my birthday has passed (quietly without major incident) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is underway.

Last year I had just finished a work contract so was relatively flush money wise and in no immediate hurry to get another job, this gave me the opportunity to enjoy the Fringe to its maximum, I believe I saw over 50 shows last year.

This year my situation is somewhat different, not so flush on the monetary front and looking for a job, so less free time and ready cash 😦

Prices for shows can vary from as little as £5 up to £20 or £30 (or even higher) but probably the average show price I would guess being around £10-£15 (this is a wild estimate based on no research what so ever). However there are deals out there, there’s the 2 for 1 deals on the first Monday and Tuesday (6th & 7th this year) and there is the Half Price Hut plus there are lots of free shows at venues and on the streets.

I do enjoy wandering up and down The Royal Mile and seeing a combination of the street performers and the venue performers creating a chaotic kaleidoscope of entertainment. It also provides lots of photographic opportunities and challenges.

On Friday while taking a wee rest from my wanderings a young lady was standing nearby promoting a free comedy show “starting in 20 minutes” just down the street, so I decided I had nothing to lose but an hour and headed down into The City Cafe

John Hastings – Unrelentless

The Basement Cellar of the City Cafe is a smallish venue downstairs under the main cafe, it works well for a small crowd providing a fairly intimate area for a one man comedy show. I’m not a big fan of stand up comedy normally and didn’t have high expectations, but I did enjoy the show which was mostly a series of anecdotes from his life (supposedly). I chuckled a few times and didn’t really cringe or flinch, there weren’t any children in the audience during the show I saw but I was a bit surprised at some of the language used for an afternoon show (started 16:15) which is supposedly rated as a PG show, perhaps the comedian thought it safe to add some more adult material with no children in the audience. Worth stopping in if you have an hour kill.

PBH’s Free Fringe

There’s an interesting story to the “Free Fringe” which can be read at the link above it runs alongside the official Edinburgh Fringe Festival and provides mostly comedy shows for free at numerous venues across Edinburgh.

On Sunday I was at a loose end so I thought I’d head up to the Kil-der-kin bar for a couple pints and catch another free comedy show. If you haven’t been to the Kil-der-kin it’s a pretty nice pub, being at the bottom of the Royal Mile below the Canongate Kirk it’s a little off the main tourist area and quieter than pubs further up the Mile, it also has three “Cask” Ale taps that regularly change, mostly providing good real ale from some smaller Scottish breweries. The shows are held in a small side room away from the main area, seperated by a curtain.

Comedy World War II

Every night (I think) this show is on and promotes 3 stand-up comedians, although it is advertised as a war, this is just a gimmick. The show is hosted by “Christian Schulte-Loh” a German comedian who has his own free show, appropriately called German Comedian. Christian was arguably funnier than the three comedians that followed, although this was possibly because he managed to get a rapport going  with a group of swiss women in the audience.

The first comedian up was Bobby Carroll who I thought was the funniest of the three, although not great and not good enough to make me want to see his show. The second comedian was not funny at all and apparently does not have his own show (I’m not surprised). The third and final comedian was David Mulholland who I did not find particularly funny, although he did admit none of the material he used were in his actual show.  Obviously with different comedians being featured each night, you might be luckier than I and see some funnier comedians. It IS worth noting that most of the audience were not from the UK and did seem to find the show funnier than I did. (I did say I’m not a huge fan of stand up comedy).

Almost immediately after this show was another, I had enough time to take a “rest break” and order another pint from the bar before heading back to see the next show:

Byron Bertram – Guilt Ridden Sociopath

I had actually seen Byron performing at Hunter Square on Friday afternoon, where he did some fire juggling and escaped from a chain and straight jacket (fairly run-of-the-mill street performance, although he was quite funny). His live comedy show is much more brutal, certainly not suitable for children and reasonably funny. His style reminded me slightly of Dennis Leary in that he would go into a long rambling litany of quick fire observations and comments before hitting you with the punchline, not to everybody’s taste but quite clever when it worked. The rest of the audience had a mixed reaction some were in virtual hysterics others were obviously not so impressed. Not a bad way to kill an hour with a decent pint of beer.

A couple images of Byron’s street show :-







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