Edinburgh Fringe #1 – Shappi Khorsandi and the Tattoo

Greetings from Edinburgh! It feels so good to be writing my first proper Ed Fringe review. I arrived in the city on Saturday but haven’t had a chance to see a lot of shows yet. So far I’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing with my sketch group (it is what I’m here for, after all) not to mention doing all the boring things like unpacking and food shopping.

Yesterday I went to the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle. Sitting outside in the freezing night air, watching fireworks and dancers, being deafened by bagpipes and drums and cannons was an incredible experience. It’s such a traditional part of the festival season and I felt truly privileged to be able to see it. I mean, any event that has a Pony Major as one of its stars gets an instant thumbs up from me (seriously, all those bands must have practised for months for their contributions – and they all got upstaged by a Shetland pony in a regimental coat being walked down the esplanade).

But the show I saw tonight was just one woman and a microphone – though there’s really no ‘just’ about it when that woman is Shappi Khorsandi. Her set, largely made up of anecdotes, didn’t exactly make me bust a lung laughing but it affected me in a way no stand-up comedian ever has. Shappi is so goofy and relaxed it’s like being with a friend, so expressive she fills the whole stage, and her emotion as she relates her experiences is so genuine – she actually teared up when talking about her dad – that it made me realise how many comedians lie to embellish a joke or to string their sets together. Her stories really do feel honest, and in an art form that is all about exposing yourself – repressed thoughts, crippling anxieties and embarrassing incidents – that makes all the difference. Shappi makes interesting points about women in comedy too, and you probably won’t find anyone else making jokes about chess at this year’s Fringe. I left the Pleasance Dome with a smile on my face in spite of the rain.

Here’s hoping my next show will be as good!

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