SPANK GOLD: Edinburgh Festival 1989
The story so far: on Burns Night, 1989, I visited Edinburgh for the first time and fell in love with the place. (Even though the Lothian Road was covered with blobs of vomit at ten yard intervals, showing how enthusiastically at least one person was celebrating the day.) From that day on, I started formulating a plan to visit the Edinburgh Festival that summer. By the following month, I'd already booked two weeks in a pleasantly central B&B (the Clifton Guest House near Haymarket, though I believe it might be called The Guards Hotel nowadays): and as mid-August drew closer, I grabbed each individual festival's programme and started booking events like there was no tomorrow.
Which was a stupid thing to do, of course. Edinburgh 1989 was where I made all my mistakes, and gathered a large part of the wisdom that I've been passing on to Festival virgins ever since. Don't book for shows in advance unless you seriously need to: you'll just end up throwing away tickets when better offers come along. Don't try to see two shows with a gap of less than ten minutes between them. Don't sign up for huge amounts of International Festival shows just because they're the first to announce their programme. All obvious now: apparently not so obvious twenty years ago.
I've got a 1989 diary and two decades of hindsight to play with. (Although it looks like back then, I was less interested in using the diary to document detailed artistic analyses, and more in using it to jot down jokes I could tell people back at the office.) Let's go back to that heady fortnight in August 1989, and see how far I can get into my first Edinburgh Festival before I terminally embarrass myself.
Saturday August 12th
2.00pm: Simple Minds, Meadowbank Stadium
11.00pm: Skint Video, Gilded Balloon
Well, that didn't take long, did it? Here's some context: I had a plan that my first event would be a reading by Douglas Adams at the Book Festival, at 12.30pm. This was despite my train not being scheduled to get into Waverley until 12.25pm. No idea what I thought I was doing, but inevitably I didn't make it. So after checking into the Clifton, it was straight off to Meadowbank for Simple Minds. This was during their Trevor Horn period, so I was prepared to accept that most of the things I liked about them would be lost in a live arena: but this was in the days before popular music had a regular home at the Fringe, and it was a stadium gig by Scotland's biggest band on their home turf, so I assumed there'd be other fringe benefits. In short, there were none. The most interesting support act of the day (The Bhundu Boys) didn't turn up: Texas were pleasant, but got short shrift from the audience for not being loud and dumb enough: and the Minds, inevitably, pumped up the stadium bombast to deeply tedious levels. Still, it was nice to head to the Balloon afterwards and see Skint Video topically take the piss out of them: “come back Billy, come back Mary, come back Chrissie Hynde...”
Sunday August 13th
12.00pm: John Hegley, Assembly Rooms
2.30pm: Festival Cavalcade, Princes Street
7.45pm: Attila The Stockbroker, Tic Toc
9.30pm: Dimonis, George Heriot's School Grounds
11.15pm: Gerry Sadowitz, Heriot Hall
Nothing like a little comfort viewing for a Sunday morning: John Hegley doing his usual gentle comic poetry thing, including some ventriloquism with his carpet-based dog puppet Herman Hessian. Then some free entertainment watching the Cavalcade, the opening parade of Fringe acts and Tattoo hardware that I never get to see these days, as I'm never there this early in the festival. Attila played at the long-defunct Tic Toc venue (dear God, look who used to run it!), based in the recently-defunct Marco's Leisure Centre: a full working gym that had four of its smaller rooms dedicated to Fringe performances, leading to strange clashes between sweaty exercisers and artistic types. Attila was fun, an interesting example of an old-school lefty getting away with the sort of ironic racism that you couldn't really manage nowadays, be it the surreal Football Fan's Guide To Europe (“the Finns, the Finns, they live in tins, they all look like the Cocteau Twins”) or the slightly more edgy Libyan Students From Hell (“don't mess with us 'cos we're foreign and we smell...”) Dimonis was the first of two performances by Catalan company Els Comediants in the International Festival, this one being an open-air jobbie with explosions, smoke and demons ejaculating twenty-foot showers of sparks: that stuff always goes down well. Finally, Gerry Sadowitz (and I've checked, he really was spelling it with a 'G' back then) covered, among other things, the big Scottish news story of the time: Catholic Mo Johnston moving to Rangers. “So he's scored three goals against Kilmarnock? I could score three goals against Kilmarnock by phone!”
Monday August 14th
1.00pm: Tex Avery Programme, Filmhouse
3.45pm: Playing Away, Assembly Rooms
6.00pm: My Army, Assembly Rooms
7.45pm: Twiglet Anyone, Assembly Rooms
9.30pm: Emo Philips, Assembly Rooms
My first visit to the Edinburgh Film Festival: pause briefly to remember my last one. They've always been hot on animation, and 1989 saw a whole series of lunchtime retrospectives dedicated to individual animators. An hour or so of Tex Avery cartoons back to back is a lovely thing, especially when the crazed Bad Luck Blackie is one of them. The rest of the day was spent hopping between venues inside the Assembly Rooms. Hull Truck's Playing Away was okay, but generally quite ordinary: Tim Barlow's reminiscences of service in My Army were incredibly charming, with a lovely sequence where he recreated a 1950s Blackpool dance hall and invited a girl in the front row to dance with him on stage. “Seen any good shows here?” he asked, and you could see her genuinely thinking about it before he brought her back with “there's a great one on at the South Pier...” Twiglet was a sort of staged sitcom featuring a number of performers from the London improv comedy circuit: in a bizarre twist of fate, one of its cast is now the next-door neighbour of one of Spank's Pals. (I've been told I can't be any more specific than that.) Finally, Emo Philips doing his usual combination of magical one-liners and whinily irritating delivery. “I took my car to a mechanic and told him my brakes had failed while I was going down a hill. 'You must have lost a lot of fluid,' he said. Well, wouldn't anybody?”
Tuesday August 15th
1.30pm: Steven Berkoff, Usher Hall
5.00pm: Shang-A-Lang, Crown Theatre
8.00pm: Endangered Species, Theatre Workshop
9.45pm: Doug Anthony Allstars, Heriot Hall
Berkoff was in conversation with Nicholas de Jongh, plugging his production of Salome and being massively rude about pretty much everything. Shang-A-Lang was a new play by Aileen Ritchie and Clyde Unity Theatre about a couple of Bay City Rollers fans growing up in the seventies: technically a bit ropey, but otherwise very enjoyable. Endangered Species was by dance group The Kosh, featuring dancer Sian Williams and music-hall contortionist Emil Wolk in a fun piece about their awkward relationship. And because at this stage I wasn't above seeing comedy acts I could watch any time in London, the Doug Anthony Allstars leading the audience in a slapping race and reciting poetry: “there was an old woman / who lived in a shoe / she had so many children / her uterus fell out.”
Wednesday August 16th
10.30am: Batman, Cannon Lothian Road
2.00pm: Onan, Assembly Rooms
4.30pm: Hanging The President, Traverse
8.00pm: Nick Revell, Assembly Rooms
10.00pm: La Nit, Royal Lyceum Theatre
Tim Burton's film had come out the previous Friday: I'd watched in London on the day of its release. Did I really enjoy it so much that I had to see it again less than a week later? Apparently so: though I'm sure I recognised even back then that its ending was a total mess that had nothing to do with anything that had happened before it. On a happier note, Onan was a splendid piece of late-eighties political ambivalence, featuring Robert Llewellyn as the creator of a left-wing right-on porno mag who finds a sufficiently large audience of male hypocrites to buy it. Michele Celeste's play Hanging The President was my first visit to the Traverse, in the Grassmarket building it used to inhabit: my notes claim it was “a South African prison drama... claustrophobic as hell, and you ran the risk of being hit by shit, piss, blood or spunk all the time.” Ew. Nick Revell was a major player on the London comedy circuit back then: he wasn't all that impressive this time round, though managed to work nicely around one of those occupational hazards you sometimes get in Edinburgh: someone sitting in the front row of a comedy gig with their kids. As for La Nit, it was the second of Els Comediants' productions at the International Festival, this one an indoor piece about the sorts of creatures that only come out at night. I was attacked in my seat by a woman pretending to be a vampire, that sort of thing.
Thursday August 17th
12.30pm: Fall Of The House Of Usher, Hill St Theatre
2.30pm: Salome, Royal Lyceum Theatre
5.45pm: The Fairer Sax, Assembly Rooms
8.00pm: Just Like Home, Assembly Rooms
10.15pm: Simon Fanshawe, Assembly Rooms
12.00pm: Klub Karaoke, Assembly Rooms
Today was notable for a couple of Steven Berkoff plays back to back. Usher was his adaptation of the Poe story, performed by Aspects Theatre from Salford College Of Technology: a nice creepy atmosphere, despite the cliched use of the Halloween music at the start. Berkoff himself had the hot ticket of that year's International Festival with his adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Salome, played at half speed with no props to focus all your attention on the poetry and the movement. It's probably the single best bit of theatre I've ever seen him involved in, maybe because it's all about restraint rather than the violent expenditure of energy that's normally Berkoff's bag. Then the rest of the day was spent in the Assembly Rooms. The Fairer Sax, I could tell even then, was the sort of embarrassingly twee comic entertainment that the Fringe was made up of in the days before the stand-up comedy boom: female saxophonists playing Tea For Two while one of them drank a cup of tea, for example. Pieter Dirk-Uys brought along his usual sharp satire of South African politics in Just Like Home, and it's nice to see that even post-apartheid he's still got some tough things to say about the country today. Simon Fanshawe's blatant bid for a Perrier award was loosely based around him discussing the day's headlines with the front row of the audience – what we used to call the EMS back then was the main topic of conversation. And if you think that's a dated reference, the day finished off with Japanese cabaret duo Frank Chickens introducing us to this new form of entertainment from their homeland called 'karaoke'. When Americans talk about how Craig Ferguson is the saviour of late night TV chat, I think of him as the guy who drunkenly murdered Rhinestone Cowboy during this show.
Friday August 18th
1.00pm: Brothers Quay, Filmhouse
2.30pm: Clyde Nouveau, Church Hill Theatre
7.45pm: Newsrevue, Tic Toc
9.20pm: Live Bed Show, Pleasance
11.00pm: Real Sounds Of Africa, Queens Hall
Another lunchtime animation programme. I seem to have found the Quays too inaccessible for comfort back in those days, considering them Jan Svankmajer imitators without the narrative ability: but I've learned to love them since. (Most of the shorts in this programme are on the DVD set that The Belated Birthday Girl bought me for Christmas a couple of years ago.) Clyde Nouveau was a new play from the hot Glasgow playwright of the time, Iain Heggie (subsequently mentioned here again in 2001): a nicely constructed farce with a lovely rhythm to the Glaswegian dialogue, once your ear got tuned to it. Amusingly, a couple of old biddies from Edinburgh approached me at the interval to ask me if I could translate for them. This was my first experience of a Festival play running well over the original scheduled time (it wouldn't be the last), so I had to blow out a Book Festival talk with Clive Barker. Newsrevue was another coals-to-Newcastle job, my first time seeing the topical comedy group even though they (still) play in London for 48 weeks every year. Live Bed Show was Arthur Smith's first attempt at a play, with him and Caroline Quentin musing over what couples do in bed and raising the key question “was sex better under Thatcher?” Real Sounds Of Africa were an African band who managed to get played on John Peel because they did songs about football. As if to emphasise how unused the Fringe was to popular music gigs back then, there was an alarming moment early on when half a dozen pensioners dragged chairs onto the dance floor so they could watch the band sitting down: once they'd been ejected, all was sweetness and light and happy frugging.
Saturday August 19th
1.00pm: Chuck Jones Programme, Filmhouse
3.00pm: Archaos, Leith Links
7.30pm: Kathryn Tickell, Acoustic Music Centre
9.30pm: Recollections Of A Furtive Nudist, Traverse
More lunchtime animation, giving me the chance to compare Chuck Jones' classic Warner toons against those of Tex Avery from a few days ago: for my money, Avery's surreal imagination wins hands down, but there's no denying Jones' flair for violence. Archaos, on the other hand, gave you surrealism and violence in equal measure, and in front of an audience packed with people I'd seen on stage within the past week (Emo Philips and Emil Wolk amongst others). This was the first time I'd seen the French biker circus (albeit in a bowdlerised form, as the council banned their more dangerous chainsaw stunts), and it wouldn't be the last. By comparison, Kathryn Tickell's gentle programme of Northumbrian pipe music was a very nice way to calm down again. Back at the Traverse, Ken Campbell told his tales of furtive nudism and kept a packed Traverse enthralled for a good couple of hours, as I mentioned a few months ago on the occasion of his demise.
Sunday August 20th
12.00pm: Whistling Dixie, Carlton Studios
1.00pm: Fringe Sunday, Holyrood Park
5.00pm: Battleship Potemkin, Overseas House
9.30pm: Joan Collins Fan Club, Assembly Rooms
11.30pm: Scenes From The Class Struggle In Beverly Hills, Filmhouse
Dixie was a one-woman show by American actress Cairo Cannon, with some fun observations about American etiquette and behaving badly at parties. I suspect I only chose it because its location was conveniently en route to Holyrood, where I caught all the free entertainment on offer at Fringe Sunday. As with the Fringe Cavalcade, Fringe Sunday never happens on a Sunday when I'm in town these days, which is a shame because it can introduce you to people you wouldn't see otherwise, like the street magician who threatened “if you don't give me your money, I'll have to go back to my day job, selling drugs to your kids.” The Cambridge Mummers' production of Battleship Potemkin was one of those typical Fringe bankers – a pre-sold idea where you go along mainly to see how on earth they'll adapt the material for stage. (Mainly by using descriptive monologues to get around the big setpieces, but it seemed to work anyway.) Joan Collins Fan Club was what Julian Clary used to call himself before he got really famous, so you know already what that was like. “This show's like a Catholic Mass – audience participation, songs... but you don't have to put bits of anyone's body in your mouth.” A line that resonates against the late night screening of Paul Bartel's film, of which I can remember only one moment: Jackie Bisset boasting of a man friend “he'll suck your box till your nose bleeds.” That got a round of applause on the night.
Monday August 21st
12.30pm: Rufus Harley Quintet, Festival Club
2.30pm: V, Gilded Balloon
4.15pm: Yerma, Greyfriars Kirk House
6.30pm: Gregson and Collister, Queens Hall
8.15pm: Arnold Brown, Gilded Balloon
Ha! The Edinburgh Jazz Festival. After this year, they moved it to the beginning of the month, and I've never been able to see a show in it since. Jazz bagpipes legend Rufus Harley was splendid for the short amount of time he was on stage (only the middle set of three, and only playing the pipes for half of that). Jazz on the pipes, by its nature, is fairly limited – it's an instrument that can only play in one key – but he still managed to get a terrific rendition of Moon River out of it somehow. V was a reading of Tony Harrison's notoriously sweary poem by Eye-Level Theatre, and did the serious themes within it justice. Yerma was a rather fine production by the Polkatz youth theatre group, spoiled by the climactic murder taking place at floor level, in a venue with no elevation to the stage whatsoever. Gregson and Collister I only knew by reputation, and apparently liked, but buggered if I can remember what they sounded like now. Finally, another familiar name from the comedy circuit, as Arnold Brown discussed why the SAS were so violent. “Remember how you hated wearing balaclavas when you were small?”
Tuesday August 22nd
11.00am: The Ruffian On The Stair, Theatre West End
1.00pm: Ra Ra Zoo, Assembly Rooms
3.45pm: Twelfth Night, Assembly Rooms
6.00pm: So Where To?, Assembly Rooms
7.45pm: Mutants, Southside International
9.30pm: Mark Miwurdz, Comedy Boom
11.00pm: Epo, St Brides Centre
12.50pm: Nocturnal Emissions, Pleasance
Yes, this was an eight show day. I don't think I've ever tried it again since, and with good reason. It started with my first Joe Orton play, splendidly performed by a cast of three who – in another first for me – I saw beforehand doing their own flyering on the street outside. I'm sure Orton would have appreciated the mad woman who stopped me in Princes Street as I was walking away from Theatre West End, whispered to me “trust in the Lord and you'll be saved,” and walked off again. Ra Ra Zoo did their new circus thing, which all looked a bit tame after Archaos and their motorbikes and chainsaws. Hull Truck Theatre did a cheeky update of Twelfth Night, turning Toby Belch into a lager lout and Oh Mistress Mine into a rockabilly number (causing a few walkouts in the process). So Where To? was a solid bit of 1989 South African political theatre by Sibikwa Players, because we loved that sort of thing back then, dahling. Mutants was Ivor Benjamin's wildly overambitious attempt to stage a dystopian sci-fi epic on the stage of the Southside with no money, but the scale of that ambition – plus some smart ideas in the script – made it work. Mark Miwurdz was one of the few times this year I fell for the lure of someone who'd been on the telly – you remember him, he was the performance poet on those early series of The Tube. His epic piece The Rigmarole made a huge impression on me, without a single word of it actually sticking with me twenty years later. Epo was the International Festival's attempt at introducing British audiences to the wonders of J-pop: “the Japanese equivalent of Gloria Estefan,” I sniffily noted at the time. She doesn't appear to have done anything of note since. The late late slot at the Pleasance was one of those MST3K/Bad Film Club sort of ideas, with a series of guest comics taking turns to perform live heckling to 1950s health education films. Tonight's host was Chris Lynam, and his usual anarchic approach led to a genuinely stunning moment when it looked like he'd destroyed the projection screen halfway through the show. His howl of despair when someone pressed a button and a replacement screen simply scrolled down from the ceiling was rather entertaining, too.
Wednesday August 23rd
12.30pm: Candia McWilliam, Book Festival
2.05pm: Under Milk Wood, Chaplaincy Centre
4.00pm: Frida And Diego, Assembly Rooms
6.30pm: Kiss My Mate, Tic Toc
8.00pm: One Man And His Show, Gilded Balloon
10.00pm: John Sparkes, Gilded Balloon
I've never read a word by Candia McWilliam, no: I genuinely believe that I went to this lunchtime reading purely because I thought she looked nice. Plus: free lunch roll. Under Milk Wood was an amateur staging by Alderton Productions and rather good with it, bringing back queasy memories of the heavily cut version I performed in during my school drama days. (Butcher Beynon. Look him up.) Red Shift Theatre's Frida and Diego was a deservedly Fringe First-winning adaptation by Greg Cullen of the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera: shamefully, up until then everything I knew about the artists came from namechecks Gilbert Hernandez gave them in his Love and Rockets comics. Kiss My Mate was a comedy duo spun off from the Cambridge Footlights, loved by Attila The Stockbroker, less so by me. One Man And His Show was, I think, an informal pilot for Sean's Show on TV, featuring Sean Hughes as himself, Steve Frost as the director, and the audience as the audience. John Sparkes (again, from the telly) did all his characters to hilarious effect, while I got so drunk on Red Stripe that I had to go home and miss the late night performance of Berkoff's East that I'd already bought a ticket for.
Thursday August 24th
2.30pm: Venus Peter, Cameo
6.30pm: The Smouldering Globules Of Love, Gilded Balloon
9.00pm: The Cook The Thief His Wife And Her Lover, Cameo
12.00am: Al And George, Assembly Rooms
Arty Scottish cinema to start the day late after a messy hangover: I found Venus Peter “delightful without being twee” but could tell you nothing about it now. No, I tell a lie, one thing – it was the second 12 certificate film I ever saw (Batman being the first one), and it surprised me that you were allowed to see fannies in a 12. Smouldering Globules was an early example of a stand-up comic – in this case Dave Cohen – attempting to write a play starring him and his mates, only for it to sound like a stand-up act split between five people. Still, some good bits in there, and apparently I was impressed in 1989 when an audience member dragged up on stage was revealed to be a plant. Speaking of cheating, the 9pm at the Cameo was meant to be the Festival's surprise film, but by 9am that morning the ticket sales were so low that they just blew the surprise there and then. I went along (throwing away my ticket for the Scottish premiere of, er, Ghost on the way), and was rewarded with what is still one of my ten favourite films of all time. (There's another article I should write some time.) Finally, Perrier nominated Canadian double act Al and George, just to prove that the award is no guarantee of success, or indeed any future recognition by history.
Friday August 25th
11.40pm: Lunch, Arter Theatre
1.00pm: Fleischer Brothers Programme, Filmhouse
4.15pm: Road, Celtic Lodge
7.30pm: Albion Band, Acoustic Music Centre
11.00pm: Steven Wright, Queens Hall
Here's a weird thing. I made this trip on my own, as you've probably gathered by now. In fact, a couple of Spank's Pals were in town at the same time: Charmian and Nick were attached to a theatre company performing Steven Berkoff's Agamemmnon. And yet I made no attempt to meet up with them or even see their show, due to the stupid amount of stuff I'd pre-booked before I even found out they were there. In the end, it was Berkoff – again! - who accidentally brought us together: we all met up in the ticket queue for a production of his short play Lunch, a nicely sexy two hander with good use of slide projection. More oldey timey animation from the Fleischers, with lots of Betty Boop style surrealism and magnificently dated gags. Road was the Jim Cartwright play, courtesy of Brooklands Technical College: first time I'd seen it, and I've never seen the sheer power of that Otis Redding-fuelled climax done as well as it was here. Old electric folkies The Albion Band – or more accurately, Albion Band '89, as this incarnation called themselves – did an entertaining set at the Acoustic Music Centre (conflict of interest there, surely?). And Steven Wright did more gags in a 45 minute set than I'd heard during most days I'd been at the Festival. “My friend has a carphone with an answering machine. It says 'I'm at home right now and can't answer the phone: leave a message, and I'll call you when I'm out.'” Now there's a joke that doesn't really work any more.
Saturday August 26th
11.00am: The Second Coming Of Archie Bishop, Lyceum Studio
2.15pm: Alice Through The System, St Columba's By The Castle
3.45pm: Kray Vs Kray, St Columba's By The Castle
5.00pm: Iain Banks, Book Festival
8.00pm: City Of Birmingham Orchestra, Usher Hall
11.30pm: The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part 2: The Metal Years, Filmhouse
Archie Bishop was, according to my notes, Michael Worth's attempt at bringing pantomime back to its parochial roots, when it was more of an opportunity for villagers to take the piss out of their elders and betters. So we still get the transvestite principal boy we know and love today, but also an anarchist subtext. Then onto the major surprise of the day – bumping into Old Lag at the Red Rose theatre company's base at St Columba's. He'd come up to Edinburgh on a whim, and was camping out rather than staying in accommodation that could cope with the torrential rain of a typical week. Together we saw Alice Through The System (from this remove, a terrible sounding attempt at using Alice In Wonderland as a framework for a satire on the DHSS, but I seem to have enjoyed it at the time) and Kray Vs Kray (a study of male violence in general and the gangster twins in particular, given an interesting edge by having them both played by women). Iain Banks was chatty and funny at the Book Festival, as he always has been whenever I've seen him since. CBSO were playing a programme of Gershwin tunes, which was pretty but could have been a lot louder: not a problem with Penelope Spheeris' documentary on heavy metal, which included the fascinating observation that when you make the devil horns sign \m/, the two fingers and thumb you roll down are simultaneously a negation of the Holy Trinity and make the shape of three sixes.
Sunday August 27th
12.30pm: Nick Cave, Book Festival
1.45pm: Whale, Assembly Rooms
3.35pm: Afternoon Trumpet With Crumpet, Pleasance
5.45pm: McGough And McCarthy, Assembly Rooms
8.00pm: Stephane Grappelli, Usher Hall
10.50pm: Miles And Millner, Pleasance
12.00am: God And Jesus, Pleasance
Yes, that's right, I was in Edinburgh for sixteen days in 1989, seeing a total of 82 shows. I doubt I could pull that off nowadays, frankly. Today's climactic events were a mixture of all the main festivals, with the exception of the Film Festival, which usually repeats the most popular films on its final day. At the Book Festival, Nick Cave gave a terrific reading of bits from his first novel And The Ass Saw The Angel, and if my schedule hadn't been so stupidly packed I'd have hung around for a signed copy. Instead, I ran over to Assembly for Whale, which my diary describes as “a little dull, but some stunning visual images towards the end,” without saying a bloody thing about what it actually was. (Dance/mime/theatre by David Glass and Peta Lily, according to the Fringe programme.) Trumpet And Crumpet was a beautifully laid-back show by crooner Earl Okin, one of those people who I've never seen perform anywhere outside of Edinburgh in August. (Roger) McGough and (Pete) McCarthy was a curious pairing of the legendary Mersey poet and the whimsical now-dead monologuist, but according to my diary it was one of my highlights of the fortnight. McGough read bits from one of my favourites of his, Summer With Monika: McCarthy took some tentative steps towards the one-man shows he'd be doing in later years with an extended story about the time he was beaten up by British Rail staff. Another highbrow International Festival gig at Usher Hall, featuring the cosy but entertaining sound of Stephane Grappelli: and then, to finish off my festival, two double acts at the Pleasance, 50% of whom went on to greater things. Miles And Millner performed some amusing musical spoof numbers like a grittier Flanders And Swann: years later, Tom Miles would revert to his real name of Richard Thomas, and direct his love of musical parody into the work that became Jerry Springer: The Opera. Meanwhile, snotty bad taste comedy duo God And Jesus (“What do you get if you put a baby in a liquidiser? An erection”) subsequently revealed themselves to be the embryonic Simon Munnery (his Alan Parker: Urban Warrior character got an early outing here) and the never-heard-of-again Stephen Cheeke. (Unless it's this guy.)
Any regrets? Well, not really. Looking at the Fringe programme, if I'd taken a few chances on unknown names back then, I could have had some real stories to tell you now. The comedy revue featuring NME writer Andrew Collins and medical student Matthew Hall, who would change his name a couple of years later to Harry Hill: early performances by Eddie Izzard, including a daily free show in the area round the back of the Fringe Office: and at Tic Toc, a couple of gritty state-of-the-nation plays written by Jon Gaunt before he became a Nazi fuckoon. Actually, thinking about that last one, maybe I'm happy with my choices just the way they were. Being a monkey, and all.
Ah the joys of google, I did a search on a show I saw at the 1989 Festival and found this. I was at the 1989 Edinburgh Festival, well really just for the Fringe Festival and it looks like we saw quite a few of the same shows. I wish I had known or seen that the Chuck Jones and Tex Avery stuff was on, I would have jumped at that.
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