• Edinburgh roundup

    16 August 2010

    Had a frantic few days in Edinburgh, as is usual when I'm up there for the Festival -- I like to pack plenty in!! We flew in on Wednesday and immediately went to our first show, by a group called Pappy's -- very funny, not quite as good as they were last year, but lots of laughs nonetheless. Brendon Burns was a disappointment later that night -- he just didn't do it for us this time. We'd seen him a few times before, and enjoyed his sets, but this year's show fell flat. What didn't disappoint, though, was a lasagne pie -- it shouldn't work, but it's oh so tasty, a regular Edinburgh treat whenever I'm in town!!

    We saw six shows on Thursday -- you can find the names of them all, along with the marks I gave them, on my Twitter page. The highlight was Bo Burnham, a 19 year old comedian from America, who absolutely blew everyone away. I've been going to the Fringe for 11 years now, and it's rare for a comedian to completely overshadow everything else that I see in any given year, to leave me gobsmacked and wondering if he really WAS that funny and polished or if I just dreamt it!!! Off the top of my head, I can recall being affected that way by Johnny Vegas one year... by Daniel Kitson another year... and by Jason Byrne the first time I saw him. I've seen lots of shows where I've laughed lots and come away thoroughly pleased, but few that linger in my memory long after the Festival dust has settled. Bo Burnham is up there with the best I've seen, a young, lava-hot stand-up who is currently the brightest spark in the field. I don't know if he can sustain it long-term, but right now he's at the top of the game -- I felt honoured to catch him in action.

    We saw five shows on Friday. The biggest disappointment was "Penelope" by Enda Walsh. We've seen and loved his other two plays, and were looking forward to this one, but although it was well acted, and had good moments, overall it dragged a bit. Highlight of the day was Hans Teeuwen, one of my favourite comedians of the last few years. I caught him at Edinburgh when he was there for the first time a couple of years ago, and have now seen him three more times since then. He's very quirky, not for everyone, but I think he's a comedy genius.

    On Saturday morning we went to see Daniel Kitson's latest one-man show, and it was absolutely beautiful and charming. As I said above, I saw Kitson do stand-up at the Festival several years ago, and he was amazing. But he put that behind him since then to focus on warm, witty monologues. They're always a pleasure to watch, but this one was especially infecting, and moved me to tears on more than one occasion! Luckily I was able to wipe those tears away in time for my own event a few hours later!! This was my eleventh year in a row at the Festival, and it's always a highlight of my touring year. Once again I managed to fill out the main tent, which always stuns and delights and awes me. I vividly recall my first trip to the Festival, and getting about 50 fans -- which was a great turn-out at the time. To be now getting ten times that number each year is unbelievable. I read an extract from the first Mr Crepsley book, Birth of a Killer. Then I answered as many questions as I could. And then I read out a condensed version of the short story, An Affair of the Night, which you can find in the Extras section of my web site. And then I signed for almost 4 hours -- they had to move me twice, to clear up space for other authors who were signing!! It was a magnificent day, as it always is. The only slight disappointment was that I found out afterwards that a few fans had not been let in because they turned up late. Rest assured, that was NOT my doing. As far as I'm concerned, latecomers are never a problem at any of my events, and I would never stop someone with a ticket from entering. We've rooted out the guilty parties and chopped off their heads, so it shouldn't ever happen again!!!

    I went for a lovely meal on Saturday night with Garth Nix, Louise Rennison and Barry Hutchison -- it was my first time meeting Barry, and he was just as excellent company as Garth and Louise, both of whom I know quite well from meetings over the years. My publicsists, Geraldine and Sam, and chief editor Mario were also there, along with Bas of course, and a most marvellous time was had by all!!

    On Sunday we decided to climb up to Arthur's Seat. It was a longer climb than we had imagined, and the clouds parted, so we had to do it in the heat. We almost made it to the top, but had to turn around with the end in sight in order to make it back in time to our last show of the festival. We were both exhausted afterwards, but it was nice to get in some of the incredible Edinburgh sights and scenery while we were there! The last show was a Best of the Fest gig, with five different acts. None made an especially big impression, although Bas quite liked Caroline Rhea, who starred in Sabrina some years ago. After that we had a bit to eat, then caught the plane down to London, to dream about Edinburgh again until this time next year...

    Today I caught up with some office bits and pieces. I had meant to do some work, but I was still tired after my trek up the hills of Edinburgh -- and then I got stuck in a lift in my block of flats for over 40 minutes!!! I'm not claustrophobic, but it was VERY hot in there, and I swear the walls started closing in on me before the end!!! Luckily I was able to play Sudoku on my mobile phone to pass the time! Later, to calm down, I went to see The A-Team at the cinema. Noisy, good-natured fun, no classic, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Watchable.

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