By you time you read this the Edinburgh Festival will be getting ready to shop up for another year and drained comedians, like dead eyed soldiers that have seen action, will be quietly, sombrely packing their kit, like the unloved raggy dolls they are, and heading back to their civilian lives. For some it will be a return to the grind of circuit gigs and telly writing, for more the iniquities of temp work and supply teaching will be curling its frustrating finger, like a parent calling their child in for their bath. After a brief, beautiful bloom of a month’s constant gigging, vinegary chips for your dinner and nights that reluctantly end at four in the morning, performers return like sarcastic Persephones to the dark, dank realms of the real world.
If you’ve had a good festival and appeared in a well received show in a big venue, then Edinburgh is an experiment in mini celebrity; people unheard off outside of the sweaty, incestuous embrace of the comedy circuit, are reviewed in the daily papers and websites, their faces are plastered over the city’s hoardings, their passes get them into the private bars; they even have their own harem of teenage drama students flyering for their show. It’s bit like being a cross between a medieval monarch and an X Factor finalist for the month, but with more literary fiction references and self doubt. The festival is a month long office party and, without meaning to be crude, one bad STD, could knock out the entire comedy industry; however, it is a world as class obsessed as any Jane Austen novel. A whole Edinburgh etiquette has to be observed by performers’ in this casually, regimented society. Much like a Regency ball, successful comics can only be approached if they have made eye contact with you first, any drunken misdemeanours will be noted at the next night’s gatherings and shameless networking and social climbing will be recognised and, depending on how successful the person is, condemned or invited over for a drink. Any hopeful Becky Sharpe armed with only a venue pass and a glint in her eye, will hope to bag herself the next big thing, after all a single comic in a big venue with an eight o’clock show is usually in want of a girlfriend. If she succeeds she may unfortunately discover that her Edinburgh prince turns into a London pumpkin once the train leaves Waverly station and eleven months of grotty stag night gigs await their royal return.
Former ladette, Denise Van Outen is appearing at the festival this year in the show "Blondes". Blessed with a glorious singing voice and the face of an angel, her actual comic timing is leaving a lot to be desired with her show winning the dubious honour of containing the worst joke of the festival. Sad for her but confirmation that’s there’s more to being a comic than reeling off jokes written by other people and being known for being a bit of a laugh. The thinking behind it is clear as a smug TV producer’s glass of gin, Denise, the cheeky Essex girl, come on she was hilarious on The Big Breakfast, how hard can it be? Quite hard indeed as the legions of comedians can attest to over even smugger folded arms and indignant, rolling eyes. It was always going to be hard for a successful, glamorous TV presenter to have a go at stand up even in the gentler confines of a one woman cabaret style show. Nobody wants to hear a stunner complain about the hardships of being beautiful, we don’t want to know about the highlights we’re more interested in the dark roots. If she’d spilled her guts about being a "babe" approaching her sell by date, her failure to crack the US, with younger, skinnier girls snapping at her heels, screaming at the crowd that Cat Deally had stolen her life, now that, that would be stand up.
In need of a good joke is fellow blonde Melanie Griffith after admitting herself back into rehab for the third time. It’s reported that people close to her got suspicious when the fifty three year old became obsessed with the colour yellow insisting that everything and everyone in her presence wore the uplifting colour. Yellow, which ironically represents good health, was also the favourite colour of Vincent Van Gogh, who also became obsessed with it just before he shot himself. Let’s hope favourite colours are all Vincent and Melanie have in common. Although, it might be nice for Melanie, at this tough time, suddenly discovered a genius for expressionistic oil painting and it would be lovely for Vincent to realise, that he wasn’t dead afterall, but in fact married to Antonio Banderas. What a turn up for the books that would be? Hang on- "And it was all Yellow- The Mel and Vincent Story" I think I’m on to something, if we could get Coldplay involved, there’s definitely a one woman Edinburgh musical in that. Now, has anybody got Tess Daly’s number?