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The Kwerky Guide to...The Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

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Wildly Exaggerated: The Kwerky Guide to...The Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Kwerky Guide to...The Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

It's August. And August has been the saddest month of the year for me for the past three years and counting. Because it's Edinburgh Fringe time. And I'm missing it. AGAIN.

If you've never heard of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I have nothing more to say to you. Next you'll be telling me you don't know what Eisteddfod is! Geez! You people should be embarrassed to call yourselves The American Society for Reunification with the United Kingdom! Wait, what? Oh... Just me? OK.

The Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. If you're not going to believe me until you see a bunch of crowd-sourced dates and statistics supporting that statement, you can check out the Wikipedia page. As for my personal relationship to the Fringe, well...we're very close. [Editor's note: Kimberly has never been anywhere near Edinburgh, let alone during the Fringe.] I found out about it back in 2008, when I happened upon that year's Guardian Fringe podcast (Live at the Gilded Balloon - still on my iPod). I was floored by the variety of people they trotted out to be interviewed and do snippets of their acts. Some were famous, some were not, some were hilarious, some were not, but everything was NEW. There's a spirit of innovation at Edinburgh - people come with concept shows where they do their act while cooking for the audience, or play 12 different characters, or do sketches set only in the Victorian era. It's fantastic! And everyone I absolutely worship as a comedy writer today has done at least one Edinburgh show, and a lot of them still go back every year.

If I ever get my damn passport renewed, maybe I'll get to go see it BEFORE I DIE.

But I digress. This is supposed to be a Guide To... post, so I'll tell you everything I know about Edinburgh, all of which was gleaned from podcasts, as well as the Twitter feeds and blogs of performers *at* the Festival. Where I am not. I can't emphasize that enough. I'm in Atlanta.
Atlanta at sunset - HDR
This is my town. Pretty, huh? Image graciously yoink'd rockmixer's flickr account on a CC license :)

Coastal Edinburgh
This is Edinburgh, according to the internet. I wouldn't know;  I've never been. Image graciously yoink'd from kyz's flickr account, also on a CC license.

Things I Know About the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
1. There are no vegetables available anywhere.
2. It's insanely cold.
3. It rains. A lot. Like, all the time. Seattle - coffee + beer = Edinburgh
4. There are way more Australians than you might expect.
5. No one sleeps.
6. Everyone gets really sick and/or depressed.
7. College kids physically assault you with flyers everywhere you go.
8. There aren't enough venues for all the bazillions of shows, so some performances will take place in church basements, etc.
9. It costs a fortune.
10. In the midst of your darkest hour, you go do your show for 3 people, almost all of whom got in for free, it goes terribly, and then one of them writes you a nasty review. This was all brilliantly documented in a musical written and performed by some of my idols, which starts around the 16:45 mark of the audio on this page. (Do yourself a favor and listen. I can't even tell you how much I heart that thing. I always wish my fellow improv actors were familiar so I could do the "where's my mug" bit before shows.) (Oh yeah - and LANGUAGE WARNING!)

It sounds awful.

I REALLY want to go.

For now, I just have to say the same thing I say every year: "Maybe I'll get to go next year." In the meantime, I'll content myself with the usual voyeuristic obsession. If you'd like to know what the hell I'm talking about when I bring it up obsessively over the course of the next few weeks (and you know I will), you can probably find out at the Guardian's Fringe site, or current Fringe performer Michael Legge's blog (which, incidentally, makes for a highly entertaining read even when the Fringe is not on), or all the dozens of other podcasts and websites that will no doubt spring up and spout information until the end of the festival. Google it yourselves! Do I have to do everything?!?!

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