I tried stand-up once and it was horrible. Being used to the open-armed cabaret audience I was surprised to find that comedy punters were a lot more ‘Go on then, do your jokes’ than ‘Yay! Jokes!’ Not exactly how a life-long jazz fiend had imagined her first gig at Ronnie Scotts, but I limped through with a basket of fruit on my head and had a nice time getting pissed with the acts who were off of the telly afterwards.
My respect for a comic who can nail it went up one-hundredfold that night, and whilst stand-up is not always my bag owing to the boy’s club/lowest common denominator vibe of a lot of mainstream TV routines, I’m always pleased to hear from a truly interesting take on the world and snort-laugh uncontrollably in support of a zinger. Despite almost enitely avoiding stand-up at the Fringe in favour of intense theatre I did find a good'un for you.
Lost Voice Guy’s “Hated By The Daily Mail” t-shirt made me warm to him immediately, and his solo show ‘Disability For Dunces’ was enjoyable and, best of all, totally daft. I love a silly sausage, and Lost Voice Guy aka Lee Ridley has appealing self-deprecation down, and despite a bit of an energy dip in the middle and a few tacky Hitler jokes I left ‘Disability for Dunces’ impressed by his work.
The premise is a Q&A session on the most outrageous, stupid and rude questions he has been asked about having cerebral palsy, or as he put it “a disability FAQ for stupid people”, and incorporates pop music, tech jokes with his Lightwriter and iPad and the joyous pupetting of a smashed-up vent dummy named Ian Duncan Smith. I felt both welcomed and challenged, occasionally directly insulted, and his connection to the audience was genuine and playful.
Opting for a pan-generational attack, he delivers a dizzying rant encompassing Bond villains, the Green Cross Code, Middle Ages burnings, Kanye West, religious curses and, of course, Edinburgh’s famous inaccessibility which told the audience exactly where they stood in his opinion; “the general public are totally stupid”. Fluffy disability confidence training this is not, and all the more memorable for LVG’s prankster vibe.
Towards the end of the show there are a couple of highly quotable jokes that I won’t spoil for you as LVG is on tour round the UK and will appeal to dunces, disabled folks and comedy fans of all stripes. So, get on it, tour dates here.
Thrilled as I am to be representing Dao at the Fringe this year, from even the briefest glance at the programme I can tell I'm going to be a whimpering, knackered mess by the end. There are so many performances and events by and for disabled artists this year that I'll need equal amounts of speed, spirulina and 'shut up, you have the coolest job going' to keep me going.
Unlimited and the British Council are in town, and shows touching on everything from mental health to mortality can be found across comedy, theatre, dance, music, events and cabaret. I'll also be getting jacked up on professional development at events at Zoo Southside, Summerhall, Forest Fringe and Fringe Central.
Colin Hambrook and I will be up reviewing and schmoozing from August 23rd-31st so if you see us do please say hello.
A few of my top tips and tantalising treats for your dance cards are as follows:
Dive Cabaret: Last year the lineup included some of the most riotously profane signed poetry imaginable, and as DIVE organisers Annabel and Annabel have started working with local disability social network Get2gether I'm hopeful of meeting some new pals AND expanding my pornographic BSL vocabulary.
Good for: queer cabaret, inclusive programming, dirty thrills.
iF Platform: A gorgeous collection of leading UK disabled artists covering heaps of styles and approaches curated by Stopgap. I'm particularly looking forward to Jo Bannon's Alba; her sensitive style and chic aesthetic make my heart sing. Touretteshero's Backstage In Biscuitland looks like an absolute scream, and our man Rowan James' Easy For You To Say looks like it'll ring my bell politically, despite my mild allergy to beat-boxing.
Good for: connecting the regional dots of the UK's rich scene, assured quality.
Black- Le Gateau Chocolat: The first solo show from international operatic drag star Le Gateau Chocolat promises a soulful look at what a picnic it is growing up black, gay and depressed in Nigeria. Having seen Gateau as a cabaret performer many times I am already in love with his voice and adorable stage presence, and Black is top of my list for confessional one-handers.
Good for: knee-tremblng vocal talent, testing the resilience of waterproof mascara.
Abnormally Funny People: Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Abnormally Funny People has a rotating all-star cast of stand-ups bringing you their best bits every night, including Gareth Berliner, Eshaan Akbar, Liz Carr and Tanyalee Davis. This is where mama keeps the juice; go at least twice.
Good for: variety, famous faces, songs and laughs.
Bryony Kimmings- Fake it Til You Make It: Bryony's previous work on sex, celebrity, feminism and drunkenness make her something of a performance pin-up of mine. Partnering with her fiancee Tim to present a work on severe clinical depression, masculinity and love with her trademark humour looks to be another in a long line of hits for her.
Good for: fantastic aesthetics, frank humour and live-art influences.
Guerilla Aspies- Paul Wady: I'm a sucker for a spoof lecture, and Paul's whip-smart daftery should do really well to promote his book 'Guerilla Aspies- A Neurotypical Society Infiltration Manual'. Aimed at preaching to the unconverted but with plenty of insider jokes for his fellow aspies, Paul is on a mission to help you 'see things our way'.
Best for: TED lovers and haters, slideshow junkies, fact-finders and newbies.
Euan's Guide: Not a show but a resource listing and reviewing venues for accessibility. You can also get helpful info from the EdFringe website.
Anything I simply MUST see? Stick your recommendations in the comments below please, and I'll get back to trawling the programme for even more goodies to check out.