Opinion

I am brimful of love and excitement at the Edinburgh Fringe

Robin Ince is performing two shows a day at his first Edinburgh Fringe festival since being diagnosed with ADHD. And it's been revelatory

Greyfriars Bobby statue

Edinburgh's Greyfriars Bobby. Image: Stefan Baumgartner from Pixabay

I have not been on a bus, train or in a taxi for 14 days. Every day, I notch up six or seven miles criss-crossing Edinburgh. When I board the train at the end of August, I may have the paranoia of a Victorian gentlemen who believes he might be vaporised should the train exceed 30 miles per hour. With our infrastructure crumbling, there is a high percentage chance we may not reach that speed. 

I have never enjoyed my experience at the Edinburgh Fringe so much, mainly because it is the first I have done since my mind was diagnosed and I have the measure of myself. I am brimful of love and excitement. I find no need to hang around performers’ bars or those who glitter, and there is a lot of glitter, but find myself walking, pondering and browsing in bookshops. 

I feel, after having had such an overbearing critical voice full of self-loathing for so long, now I have shut it up, I have even less than the average Joe. 

My evening show begins with me frantically drawing a face on a melon as the audience saunter in, the speed of my felt tip increasing as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds become faster and faster (I am using a recording of them, they are not there in person. There is enough false advertising on the billboards without me adding to it.) 

I then punch the melon until it explodes. Weeks of practice has meant I can almost aim it correctly so it avoids peppering the front row with seeds. Then, dripping with melon, I tell my story. This is what the Fringe is for.

Sopping with sweat at the end of my show, I walk a mile to the Cameo cinema, drying as I go, and sit alone with a glass of wine and suspicious stares. 

As I feared, the vast expense of attending the Fringe seems to have led to decreased audiences for many, so costs are up and so are losses. My core disappointment is the same as every year: acts whose Twitter feeds suggest they must be the only person playing on the Fringe. 

There are those who will share every bit of information about them being on the “Sold Out” board or their latest five-star review, but do not mention a single other show. My list of offenders grows. What I have loved about the Edinburgh Fringe is the camaraderie that can grow. You find out who would throw the lifebelt and who would let you drown if they thought they could use the lifebelt to lasso themselves a TV pilot. 

This month can lead to fruitful friendships and artistic partnerships. It is the fastest route to finding the empathetic and the narcissistic.

More coverage from this year’s Edinburgh festivals

With less than a fortnight to go, let me flyer for a few people.

Nick Wilty’s Veteran Comedian is his story of how he ended up in the army and fighting in the Falklands war. It is a show that was 40 years in the making. A show he has battled to make, and now he is ready I hear many reports of how deeply moving it is.

As a child, I loved US comics from DC and Marvel and the wonders they advertised – from joy buzzers to giant robots via X-ray specs. Paul Zenon reveals the truth of them and explains how sea-monkeys can lead to fascism. How could you resist the title of Cheekykita’s show, An Octopus, the Universe ’n’ Stuff – properly silly. Then, there’s Laura Davis, Dane Baptiste, Sooz Kempner, James Nokise, Seymour Mace – much too much, but tamper with time and see them all

Anyway, I have to go now and just check that I can definitely make sure all my melons are tax deductible. 

Bibliomaniac by Robin Ince

Robin Ince is a comedian, writer and broadcaster. His Edinburgh Fringe show, Weapons of Empathy is showing at 1pm until 27 August, Gilded Balloon at the Museum. A Big Issue vendor will be selling copies of the magazine outside the venue for each performance.

His book Bibliomaniac (Atlantic Books, £10.99) is out now. You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.

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