What Makes The Fringe Beautiful?

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After a hectic and bustling Edinburgh Fringe run, Ethan reflects on the festival, performing, and other such stuff.


This year was the first time I had ever been to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As a working class child, I had heard about it, because of the television, but had never thought I’d be able to go: it’s expensive, it’s far away, and I didn’t like paying for art because I thought it was better when art was random, bizarre and free – like all the “shows” I put on in my living room, for my family, or the comics and books and things I wrote, for my family.

Drawing and writing 15 copies of a comic book as a 5 year old is tough, but doable: with enough dedication and a lifetime of feeling rejected by other humans, you find the time to do ridiculous things quite easily. I envy the young of today, with their fancy photocopying machines.

I had never been to the Fringe, and, to be entirely honest, I had no intention of ever going; my constant fear of rejection manifested itself most as the rejection of other things I thought I’d never be able to reach anyway, so I snobbishly jeered at the Fringe. If I couldn’t imagine myself doing something, it was stupid and pointless and fuck you if you think I’m going to listen to music that’s not in Welsh, traitor.

By the time I was at university, though, I’d lost a lot of my childhood fears, I had enough friends to not feel rejected any more, and – most important of all – I had enough money to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it, and enough drive to do it all before the Sun went down. And then came back up again. So, naturally, I joined the Revue, and – I would say the rest is history, but it makes me feel old, so I’ll just say: I became an avid member of the Revue, performed as much as possible, eventually joined the committee in two separate roles, applied myself to them to my own detriment, and helped put on two Fringe shows without having ever been there. That’s much easier than calling myself old, or using such a clichéd phrase as, “the rest is history, my dear Watson, the name is my Bond, you have my cutlery set”.

Before I went to the Fringe, I was thinking I’d hate the experience. Or at least never want to go again. How wrong was I? Very wrong. Yes; I answer my own questions so you don’t have to. Now I’ll rebuild the fourth wall via dance. So, as I was saying, I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the Fringe: free comedy every moment of the day, lots of meeting new people, enough performing and too much flyering – which, if done correctly, can become a performance in its own right, which is obviously a good enough reward in itself for performers like me and, say, Charlie Chaplin. Both of us have the bad posture that comes with dancing, both of us perform unspeakable sexual acts, and both of us are dead in the year 3459 AD.

I enjoyed the Fringe so much, I even decided to write this for only half my usual price – and have a wank. Maybe I’ll ejaculate every time I hit the enter button on my keyboard. You won’t ever find out. Unless my photos get posted alongside this article – it shouldn’t happen, as the nudes are only for the new committee and not the public eye, but you never know what’ll happen when you click the send button. I guess that’s what makes sending nudes so thrilling.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Fringe. I thought it was beautiful. Why? I’ll answer my own questions again: I thought the Fringe was beautiful because it rekindled my sense of absurdism, anarchy and chaos. I thought the Fringe was beautiful because it brought me enough inspiration for a decade. I thought the Fringe was beautiful because it leveled everybody; the big names and the small were equal. We performers were all equals, and spoke to one another as such. We could all suffer a packed audience, or enjoy an empty room, in equal amounts. Our egos were incapable of surviving the Fringe, so we all left them in Leith before arriving. It was refreshing.

Most of all, I thought the Fringe was beautiful because of the people who made it all work – the spectators, the performers and the underpaid staff alike. I’d gladly return to such a place, where I could feel like I was part of something bigger than just making jokes on a stage. Although, making jokes on a stage is still fun, so do book me regardless.

I enjoyed the Fringe, and I hope you did or do too. If you’re still there, please see Sam & Tom, Siân and Zoë, LoveHard, Hurt and Anderson and Sketch Thieves too; double acts and sketch comedians need to return to the big time, because I’ve had enough of stand-ups, such as myself, keeping them down, normally by using a big rake. Also, do try to see Bec Hill, Jenny Collier, Siân Docksey, Phil Jupitus and anyone else I saw that was good (I’d list more names, but I’m already having to name people I didn’t actually see but heard good things about, as a lot of the stuff I saw was one night only, strange shit that you can’t ever see, or unsee if you were there).

So, yeah. I enjoyed. Thank you.

Right, Dylan, how do I turn the voice recorder off? No, I’ve tried that. It didn’t work; the light’s still flashing. What? Won’t that delete what I’ve recorded? Oh, OK. I’ll try it! Now squeeze the pink button? Oh! There. It’s off. That didn’t take as long as I’d expected, so maybe we could go hang out, yeah? I don’t know. What is there to do in Llanelli? Um. Let’s think. Uh, wanna go see how many drunks we can get run over in town? That’s normally a solid two hours. I heard Nathan killed four old men last week, so I want to beat his record tonight. He won’t do it to women; he’s a feminist. Gives me an advantage as I’ll happily get any gender run over. Even the – what? The light’s still flashing? Shit – it’s still recording! Fucking heck! Turn it off! Quick! It’ll ruin my approachable character! Turn it –