FOMO: the Curse of the Edinburgh Fringe

My girlfriend recently told me about a conversation she had had with a friend during which they both agreed that they suffered from FOMO.   Learning about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – was a liberating experience, especially learning that it was a shared condition.  And what a lifelong curse it’s been.

FOMO leads to budgetary problems, unnecessary student drinking and manys a night out that would probably have been best avoided, but you just had to be there in case something amazing happened.  That feeling you get when you ask your jittering self why you had coffee with those two boring oddballs when you’d already just had a cup.  FOMO did that.  I suppose suffering from FOMO is the opposite to being misanthropic, but it may make misanthropists of us all yet; FOMO earns you unwanted friends!

Anyway, if you’re a fellow FOMO sufferer, there’s nothing worse than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to exacerbate the condition.  Hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS, of shows going on all around Edinburgh, crowds of revellers on the street, open air bars.  I could probably go to several shows a day for the entire festival and would still suffer from FOMO.  There is, to be frank, never enough time or money to see everything you need to see.

But, relief.  It’s over and I enjoyed it despite the psychosocial menace of it.  Thanks, Edinburgh Fringe for another good year and by all accounts a record-breaking one in terms of ticket sales.  Goodbye Fringe, hello again Edinburgh.

Here’s my final review from this year’s Fringe, first published, like the rest, on The Skinny’s website. A great Australian comic called Adam Vincent.  He gets three stars from me because although the show is good, it’s a bit too sleepy for the Fringe if you ask me.  But the show was very good and I would recommend it.

Adam Vincent @ Assembly

Adam Vincent’s masked, apparently slumbering, presence on the darkened stage as the audience enters lends a feeling of nervous anticipation to this intimate venue. He rouses and addresses the audience in a hushed voice: the subject is the half-life of the early morning wake-up and commute; the soporific tone is set.

Don’t be under any illusions: this is stand-up and Vincent has a story to tell, a hilariously uncomfortable account of being drawn into to a medical crisis on a plane, with interspersed gags and cutting criticisms of modern life.

Vincent is a great, likeable story-teller. His relaxed delivery and eye-to-eye engagement draws the audience in. He has fresh material and he avoids that tired image of injured masculinity so many male stand-up acts adopt, instead telling us dryly about his marriage and why he loves his wife.

As interesting as Vincent is, the audience reaction is somewhat sedated; the well-cultivated soporific atmosphere may just be too good at certain points in the show for a fatigued Fringe crowd. But Vincent should be commended for his fresh approach to stand-up and his excellent use of this small venue. This show has slow parts but by the end you’ll be glad you bought the ticket.

Susan Calman’s show is worth a look

Here’s another of  my reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe, first published on The Skinny’s website. Great local act.

As the gathering crowd winds through the Underbelly’s stairways and passages, you can’t help noticing the eclectic mix of people here to see Susan Calman. Her opening lines reveal her readiness to deal with this very mixed crowd indeed, as she energetically quizzes the audience about which of her various jobs – from radio to stand-up – has drawn them to see her at the Fringe.

And from this early point on she has somehow, almost miraculously, drawn the diverse audience together and on she goes through her tight, well-written set, sharing a mock, self-deprecating obituary she’s apparently written for herself while drunkenly reflecting on the course of her life. The gags touch on manners, size-ism, feminism, relationships and the potential comic pitfall of Glasgow.

Glasgow can draw stand-up acts towards well trodden paths and Calman’s show does touch on the usual stuff like alcoholism, stabbings and alarming mortality rates; luckily she also adds her own colouring of the subject. Her audience could have been a difficult one to balance in terms her shock value versus local charm, but she clearly has enough charisma and a lively banter to keep everyone completely entertained.

A show well worth seeing.

Absolute Best of Absolute Beginners – not quite true but quite good

Here’s my review of Absolute Best of Absolute Beginners.  A decent bunch of Scottish stanp-up acts battling against a venue that’s more like a hot lab than a theatre, but they shine through and earn an easy three stars from me.  First published on The Skinny’s website. Lots more Edinburgh Fringe reviews available there.

These guys are really up against it. In a Fringe dominated by international acts and TV celebrities, it can be difficult for local talent to shine through. Add to this a venue that’s all flourescent lights, that familiar sweaty warmth of Fringe stages and an indundation from the heavens just before the show went up. But from the midst of adversity, Absolute Beginners brings a decent show that has audiences laughing and cringing with just about the right intensity to send you back out into the rain with a smile on your face.

Don’t be fooled by the name either: some of these locals have experience under their belts, and you can tell. You won’t find a bad act here, but look out for Matt Winning for instant laughs and Eddie Cassidy for a hilarious take on that most Scottish of comic subjects: drugs. There’s a total of eight comedians in rotation of five per night. The quality is mixed, but on the whole it’s worth the effort. A good show to see if you want to catch a glimpse into the home-grown scene.

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