Filled in a questionnaire for some Fringe magazine. I went for FUNNY and INFORMATIVE answers. My answers got a bit butchered and edited shorter when it went to print, probably due to space restrictions...? Anyway, I've put up both versions here. Which one do you prefer?
Do you remember your first impressions of Edinburgh when you came the very first time?
I’ll never forget coming out of Waverley Station in 2001 and seeing a man in full Highland dress; the kilt, the sporran, the little dagger in his socks … I was SO excited to see my first real American Tourist.
I also remember the 1st flat I stayed in. A classic Edinburgh tenement. Being a Londoner I couldn't believe the high ceilings and huge windows. But all the flats had the same odd room arrangements; a huge kitchen (a kitchen you could slaughter a cow in) and a tiny, tiny bathroom. I put it down to some sort of Calvinistic modesty. A decent Scotsman or woman shouldn't be spending time in a bathroom: get in, wash your sinful bits and then get out again quick!
Walking over North Bridge late at night and looking up to the Castle, I thought I'd never seem anything so beautiful; it was like being drunk in Fairyland.
Is there anywhere that has disappeared that you miss?
Bodos Bar, opposite The Stand Comedy Club, a perfect post-show hang out. Shona, the bar manager, played great music, and even though it was probably the biggest dive bar in the whole of beautiful Edinburgh, everyone, including the visiting comics, loved it with a passion, and I still miss it terribly.
What is your Guilty Edinburgh Pleasure?
Comic's guilty pleasure in Edinburgh are usually doing something healthy. The Victorian Swimming baths at Warrender Park Road or the Commonwealth Pool are just two of the many swimming baths I feel guilty for never having been in.
Paying extortionate prices for cocktails with a great view is more my style. I recommend The Tower on Chambers Street. Or Harvey Nichols bar, on the top floor. The ladies toilets are beside the exit lift, perfect for doing a runner before the waitress brings the check.
Ever done the staying up all night and having a pint at Penny Black's at 6am thing?
I went for dinner at my friend, comic JoJo Sutherland's house, and was still there drinking when her husband went to work at 8am the next morning.
I also met JoJo for a quick drink after my show, which turned into seeing the dawn breaking from the Loft Bar at The Gilded Balloon.
I've just realised, JoJo Sutherland is my guilty pleasure.
What do you really look forward to doing when you come up?
That view, looking down from the city to the sea and across the Forth to mountains. And it's exactly how I like my countryside, seen from the comfort of John Lewis.
For all the newbies this year ... what would you warn them about?
Avoid the Royal Mile. It’s full of young drama students handing out their leaflets. They’re all so positive and excited and full of hope. They obviously haven’t realised yet that all that awaits them in death is cold, dark emptiness forever. They have no idea we are all alone in the Universe and God doesn’t exist. Bless ‘em.
Don't read read reviews of you or your friends. They will get into your head. Just concentrate on being really 'present' when you do your show.
Things will go wrong. Posters will get lost, leaflets will have the wrong time or venue on them, your room will have sound bleed, your techie will fall asleep, shows will over run so your audience have to leave half way though to get to their next show, your flat mate will get nominated. But just remember, enjoy it. You are taking part in one of the most wonderful Arts Festival in the World. You are a comic doing comedy, and to me, that's the dream.
The size of the poster does not reflect the size of audience you can expect. It just reflects how much more more money you have spent.
If you are a newbie audience member - word of mouth, talk to people in the bars and queues, ask what they have enjoyed. See a big queue and join it, especially if it's free fringe. Go and see at least one type of performance you've never seen before. Burlesque, magic, mime, dance, sketches, opera, drama anything….
I love eavesdropping on audiences as they leave the venues …. “£12 to sit in a damp, stuffy room with no air-conditioning? And £5.10 a pint? What a f**king ripoff!”
If you ever need a break from all the wonderful comedy and theatre and dance, I like to head up to Hunter Square and indulge in a bit of people watching. It’s fantastic. Tourists, students, buskers, fire-eaters, jugglers, pickpockets, and plain-clothed policemen, all packed into one little area. It’s like a live version of Crimewatch UK.
Or go watch the crowds of pensioners leaving the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and all trying to board their coaches at the same time. It’s like an extra-long episode of Walking With Dinosaurs.
What would be in your Edinburgh Survival Kit?
Thick skin, a liver transplant and Vitamin C tablets.
Remember, it's summer but not as we know it. Last August I saw two young women walking across The Meadows. One was wearing boots, leggings and a raincoat; the other was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. I just thought, “At some point in the day, you will both be wearing the right clothing.”
Pack a raincoat and suntan lotion.
And where is in your Edinburgh Little Black Book?
Leith. All of it.
Explore Leith Walk, Bernard Street, Constitution Street and The Shore.
Great bars for food, atmosphere or history: The Lioness of Leith, Nobles, The Port 'o' Leith, The Central, and The Carriers Quarters.
And you must visit The Leith Dockers Club on Academy Street!!
In June I went to see a play in The Dockers Club.
The play was exceptionally good but my highlight was the pre-show announcement...
"In event of a fire, please quickly finish your drinks, take your empty glasses back to the bar, use the side exit and assemble across the road, outside the boxing club."
You don't get that at the poncy Traverse Theatre!! Dockers Club, I salute you.
I also recommend The Kenilworth on Rose Street. The last time I was there it was only after ordering my food I realised I was sat directly opposite the door to the gents toilets. Every couple of minutes another man would enter or exit giving me a clear view into the gents. Not a pretty sight when you're trying to eat. It put me straight off my plate of chipolatas.
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