Not a free haircut, a free festival! From fire breathers to impersonators, magicians to stand up comedians, singers to transvestites, Edinburgh Free Fringe Festival has it all and for £0.00!
I spent a few days scouring through Edinburgh trying to find great performances for as little as possible (i.e. free). The best venue for free comedy was The Three Sisters on Cowgate, which has cleverly been renamed to The Free Sisters for the duration of the festival. I managed to take in four shows hosted in the venue’s six rooms.
The first show was ‘The One-Eyed Men’s Friendship Formula’. Three men in their early twenties with a very random show which saw them pretending to be chickens, trees, school children, knights – the list goes on. Likeable guys, they got the crowd involved, namely a teenager called Jack, who ended up with three new friends and a free Budweiser, ironic that the venue is The Free/Three Sisters.
Next was ‘Parris & Dowler Know What They’re Doing’. Max Dowler began by saying due to ‘geographical difficulties’ Rachel Parris wasn’t able to perform, so instead we got two other comedians, Lindsay Sharman and Tim Shishodia. Dowler went first and impersonated Michael McIntyre, Roy Hodgson, Prince Charles, Greg Wallace, Jamie Oliver, Brian Cox, Boris Johnson, Alan Sugar as well as performing karaoke as Alan Rickman – all highly entertaining. Sharman went next, followed by Shishodia. Both begun with background about who they were and then branched out to things they liked and things they had done whilst encapsulating laughs and jokes.
Third up was ‘Half of Next Year’s Show’ by Adam Belbin. Belbin instantly came across as a likeable character, although his jokes were sometimes cheesy; “what do you call a modest bee?”….. “A humble bee”, but his actions and follow up comments were the source of his real humour. He talked and joked about potentially controversial subjects such as Religion, the creation theory and OCDs, no Lenny Bruce, but he was never crude enough to put off the crowd and my favourite so far.
Last show at The Free Sisters was ‘Ryan Withers’, a comedian, singer, dancer, impressionist and transvestite. A strange mix and a strange guy. His singing was not Simon Cowell standard and his dancing wasn’t much better. It was however funny, which is what The Free Sisters is all about. He managed to grab himself a date with a woman from the audience. The date consisted of dancing in front of everyone, probably quite awkward for her but she eventually got her moves out as Withers wasn’t going to let her sit down if she didn’t. Dressing up as a woman was never really explained, it may not have been part of the performance, but like all of the shows at The Free Sisters I had seen, it was random, entertaining and made you laugh.
Free performances are everywhere at the Fringe Festival. Walk up the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Old Town’s busiest street, and you will find lots of jugglers, magicians, acrobats, dancers, singers etc. You can walk till you see something that grabs your eye. Yesterday a man juggling fire and breathing fire caught mine. The day before it was a group of Native American Indian musicians.
To conclude, you never really know what you’re going to get at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Every performance is pot luck, whether it’s free or fifteen, twenty pounds. If ever you go to the Fringe, I would advise you to take a free day, not just to save money but to also experience different types of performances that the festival can offer. The Free Fringe does cost the performers money; travel costs, accommodation etc. So if you enjoyed them then you can contribute money at the end of their show, normally into an empty pint glass or a hat.