Edinburgh Fringe #10 – Buses and Colouring Books

Finally, after days of posting, my account of Edinburgh Fringe 2014 has finally come to an end – and I’m finishing it here with two great stand-up sets from two very funny comedians.

The first, Jenny Collier, has already made an appearance on this blog (in my post about the Manchester Comedy Store). Her excellently titled show, Love in the Time of Collier, took place on the top deck of an old, stationary bus in the beer garden of the Cowgate pub The Three Sisters. Learning from last year, my friends and I got there super early to make sure we got actual seats rather than having to crouch on the stairs or in the aisle – or being turned away. Some of Jenny’s set was familiar from the Comedy Store and from last year’s Fringe, but there’s plenty of new material in there too and all of it’s good. From stories about working in a fertility clinic and at a ridiculously posh bathroom shop, to contemplating age and relationships, Jenny’s observations are sometimes witty, sometimes rude and silly – but her delivery is so innocent and likeable that she gets away with toilet humour and jokes about boobs. Her appreciation for her audience is geniune too, and even if there isn’t a great deal of audience interaction in her show (not a problem for me – though she makes a point out of being formerly criticised for it by asking an audience member their name and then moving on straightaway), there is definitely a rapport that you don’t usually get when you cram 50 British people onto the top deck of a bus.

My second stand-up show is Rachel Fairburn’s ‘All the Fun of the Fairburn,’ which took me to the dingy Jekyll & Hyde pub on Hanover Street. Now, I went on my own – a 12pm show start being a tad early for most of my friends – and walked into a room with just 4 other audience members. I sat in the middle of an empty row near the front, trying not to panic. What if it was awful? There’s nothing as painful and awkward as being trapped in a terrible show with no way to escape inconspicuously. Luckily though, Rachel put everyone at ease from the off and worked through her set as confidently as if she had a full house. And, like Jen, it’s her own distinctive brand of comedy. Starting with the slightly mad-sounding assertion that the Fairburn family are cursed, Rachel draws on family history – from her granddad’s work as an undertaker, to inheriting an ancient cat after her aunt’s suicide, to her own accident on a bouncy castle – to weave a dark, cynical and funny story of ingrained woe. Speaking of drawing, Rachel also confesses to a fascination with serial killers – and as the five of us leave, she presents us with serial killer colouring books, complete with quotes. (I left mine out in the kitchen of my Edinburgh house as an experiment on my flatmates.)

Apart from reeling off a load of funny jokes, stand-up comedians need to be fundamentally interesting – people you’d want to go out for a drink with, people whose stories you want to hear – otherwise, what’s the point of sitting in a room with them for an hour? Jenny Collier and Rachel Fairburn both have fantastically funny shows (with excellent puns in the titles) born out of their own personalities – if you ever get a chance to spend an hour with them, do it.

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