Reviewer Johnny Tait
I saw a flying Elephant, a 24 foot dancing Giraffe and a Lion tamer swallowed whole by the Lion. No I had not just left the Swan in Stratford upon Avon after an all night drinking session (Who remembers those days?) I was at the Brighton Fringe festival.
With festivals of this kind now popping up all over the place my vow this summer is to get along to as many of them as I can. One to see if it would be worthwhile putting a show of my own on at a festival of this kind myself and two too just enjoy the general atmosphere.
Having visited the Edinburgh fringe for the first time last year I was disappointed with the buzz in the streets at Brighton. There wasn’t one.
In Edinburgh the entertainers literally get on the streets and sell. With buskers every where you look and performers dressed in colourful costumes trying to convince you to see their show.
In Brighton this did not happen. The only part that showed any festival spirit was the pop up space behind Saint Peter’s church where the animated animals were performing.
That aside it seems that stand-up comedy is the most popular form of entertainment at these festivals and I had been invited to perform by a friend of mine. So I thought the best way to find out must be to experience it for yourself. The Venue was a small 100 seater room above a pub, it was Monday night the time was 6.30 pm and there was just one person in the audience. The compere Joe Bains did 10 minutes then introduced me on, so there was I performing to one person when low and behold another four walked in. Now there was a grand total of five in the audience. It could have been worse, what if I started with five and finished with one?
The next performance was Tuesday at the same venue at the same time, the venue was packed and so it should have been, admission was free and I persuaded Charmaine Davies and Paul Traynor to do a short spot. I would describe what happens at these festivals as busking for comedians, the audience pay nothing to get in but are encouraged to put money in the bucket placed by the exit door after the show.
By pure coincidence Charmaine, Paul and myself all began our careers as Redcoats though not at the same time and we had never worked together before.
Paul Traynor is an extremely likeable character and his warm personality came across as he hit the audience with a barrage of witty one liners.
“Stand-up comedy is no place for an attractive young lady” Who said that? I didn’t! Charmaine instantly grabbed the crowd with her very clever well delivered style. It was easy to see why Jo Brand chose Charmaine to be her supporting act when she played London’s west end.
The show we knocked together was as enjoyable for us as it was for the audience, though with the price of drinks in Brighton the bucket money did not go very far once we hit the bar.
I feel the organisers and participants need to put in a lot more effort in order to create the festival atmosphere.
The Edinburgh fringe festival is the largest festival of arts in the world. But is there room for many others in the UK.