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This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Filed under 'fringe'

August 31, 2006

High Street, Edinburgh

High Street, Edinburgh

August 26, 2006

Fringe Review: The Phone Book Live!

future historians Aug 21, 2006 by Rod Begbie

A dumb idea, but one that's certainly in keeping with the traditions of the Fringe, The Phone Book Live is a daily fifteen-minute show which asks a different Fringe performer each day to prove that they are talented enough to achieve the old adage: To read a page from the phone book, and make it entertaining.

The night we went, it was Tony Robinson from off-of Blackadder, Maid Marian and Time Team. His historical experiences from Time Team paid off, as he spent the first five minutes excitedly telling the audience about this historical significance of the phone book -- That instead of one census every ten years, now there's a new phone book every year giving the names and addresses of people, so future historians will be better able to research us. After this excited ramble (which the host of the show was happy to let go on, since in his own words, "I only had some questions with bad puns based on Time Team and Blackadder"), Tony read names and addresses from the "P" section of the Plymouth phone book, asking audience members to imagine who these people were, and to describe the history, career and life of the phonebook members of Plymouth.

It was a great show for a fiver, but of course, varied greatly depending on who was performing. Other nights, I'm told, performers read the phone book in the voice of Mavis Riley (that'd be Les Dennis), or sang them (Mitch Benn).

A fun experience, for a great cause (the phone books are auctioned off each night in support of Childline), and a perfectly-Fringey way to start the night, ★★★★☆

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August 24, 2006



Ron Jones holding forth on massively important topics, at 3am in the C's bar.

Joy & Larry Tish

Joy & Larry Tish

Joy taking part in a late-night improv show, so she can now add "Performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival" to her resume, if only on a technicality!

Ron Jones

Ron Jones

Our chum Ron Jones in The Black Jew Dialogues.




Possibly the funniest thing in Edinburgh, from someone who hasn't even bothered to head up north.

Fringe e-ticket Tent

Fringe e-ticket Tent

A vast improvement over the mile-long queue at the High Street box office -- You just surf the Fringe website on one of forty PCs, order online, then pick your tickets up at the desk.

August 21, 2006

Fringe Review: Jim Henson’s Puppet Improv

Fantastic puppeteering, so-so improv Aug 20, 2006 by Rod Begbie

I was a huge Muppets fan as a kid, and possibly even more so as a teenager, once I got to appreciate the tremendous skill involved in the puppeteering, and Jim Henson's incredible vision.

I'm also, as a result of watching so much great improv comedy in Boston and at the Chicago and Toronto improv festivals, greatly pained by bad improv. Literally. I curl up in my chair, cringe and groan, and squeeze Joy's hand tight as I watch some half-assed troupe miss offers, fuck up structures and spiral round helplessly on stage, unable to find an ending.

Which meant I had an interesting time at this show!

The structure of the show was a straight-forward short-form improv show. Hosted by The Groundlings' Patrick Bristow, he'd call out the names of the puppeteers to play each structure, get a suggestion from the audience, then away the puppeteers would go.

It was fantastic to see the Henson crew in action. On either side of the stage were two large screens, and above head height at the front of the stage was a camera. The performers worked as if they were creating a TV show -- Puppets held overhead, watching themselves on monitors. While it was great fun to watch the performance on stage, the real magic was the way they used that 4:3 video "stage". Characters ran off-screen and on. Came forward to the camera to mug to the audience, and in one memorable scene when hotdogs attended a "Magicians Anonymous" meeting, "appeared" and "levitated", by using and abusing the limitations of the fixed camera.

In short, all the great stuff that Henson, Oz et al pioneered back in the sixties, when they broke down the proscenium arch and explored the strengths of the cathode ray tube.

On the other hand, the improvisation was weak. Some of this was down the the cast being puppeteers who'd had a little improv training. But it was also hurt by the audience suggestions, which a better host would have been able to filter.

The best example of this was when the audience was asked for the title of a new game show. The loudest idiot in the crowd called for "Show Us Your Tits!", and that's what we got. The improvisation was dull: the "host" puppet didn't do much other than introduce the "contestants", then ask them to show their tits. However, the puppetry was sublime, as a beaver, an insect, and by divine intervention, a goat puppet with _udders_, gave their stripteases. (Stripteasi?)

As Joy pointed out afterwards, if there hadn't been puppets, it would have been a pretty crappy improv show. But for me, the delight of seeing the Muppet performers in action, cracking each other up, demonstrating their skill, and giving you some idea just how much fun they have making their movies and TV shows, it was completely worth it. ★★★★☆

Fringe Review: Rich Hall

Disappointing Aug 20, 2006 by Rod Begbie

I've been a big fan of Rich Hall for years, but his show can be hit or miss depending on the night, his mood, the audience, or the weather. Sadly last night's show wasn't great.

While his interaction with the 11-year-old in the front row (and his father, but not mother) was entertaining, the show sagged towards the end when Rich seemed to be desparately reaching into the audience to find any inspiration to cap the night.

In the end, while there were some great gags, it just felt a bit like watching any American stand-up. No panache, no great wisdom... just disappointing. ★★★☆☆

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June 8, 2006

edfringe.com : official site of the edinburgh festival fringe

The programme for this year’s Fringe is out. Now I just have to decide what I want to see when we’re in Edinburgh in August. Decisions, decisions…

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About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.