Fringesider #7: festival exit survey from The List

This article is from 2017

Fringesider #7: The List staff pick their favourites

Mae Martin, popular with The List's staff / credit: Ed Moore

We discuss the best shows, festival favourites and our wishlist for next year

And so, the final weekend of the 2017 Edinburgh Festival is upon us. Where does the time go? No doubt everyone is looking forward to catching up on sleep, getting reacquainted with vegetables and generally returning to some some of routine and a life with a semblance of normality, but first it's business time, and by business time I mean Edinburgh Festival Awards time.

The Edinburgh Comedy Awards have been won by the likes of Dylan Moran, Bridget Christie, David O'Doherty and Steve Coogan, as well as The League of Gentlemen, who will present the awards this Saturday. The nine-strong shortlist for Best Show includes the likes of Hannah Gadsby, Mae Martin and Spencer Jones, while the list of Best Newcomer noms includes Lauren Pattison, Rob Kemp and Natalie Palamides. It's an incredibly tough one to call this year, but The List's comedy editor Brian Donaldson has given it a go.

In the world of Theatre, there's the Fringe First awards, celebrating the best new writing in the field. The winners of that award include Adam, for which our own Arusa Qureshi wrote a five-star review in early August, with the full list as follows:

  • Nassim Soleimanpour's Nassim
  • Elliott Warren's Flesh and Bone
  • Gary McNair's Letters to Morrissey
  • Javaad Alipoor's The Believers Are But Brothers
  • Baxter Theatre at the University of Cape Town's The Fall
  • Brian Parks' Enterprise
  • Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones 's A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)
  • Chris Thorpe's The Shape of the Pain
  • Graham Eatough's How to Act
  • Henry Naylor's Borders
  • Ontroerend Goed's £¥€$ (LIES)
  • Adam Kashmiry's Adam
  • Wardrobe Ensemble's Education, Education, Education
  • The Last Great Hunt's Fag/Stag
  • Theatre Conspiracy with Aurora Nova's Foreign Radical
  • Alan Bissett's (More) Moira Monologues
  • 2b Theatre Company's Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story
  • Adam McNamara's Stand By.

Now, let's hear from the voices that really matter, The List's staff.

Favourite shows

Fringesider #7: The List staff pick their favourites

Courtney Act (credit: Magnus Hastings)

Arusa Qureshi (Content Producer): The National Theatre of Scotland's Adam has definitely been my favourite show this year. It's moving, heartbreaking and inspiring and I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the lights went up. I also loved Courtney Act's The Girl from Oz (which I saw twice). As a massive Drag Race fan, I'm probably a little biased but it's just a gloriously fun show and her voice is killer. I don't think I've ever heard such an emotional rendition of 'Stayin' Alive'.

Craig Angus (Content Producer): Mat Ewins and Mae Martin, first and foremost, two shows I absolutely adored. Tim Key's Work in Progress show was a thing of beauty, a perfect hour of comedy. I love the book of The Damned United and seeing Red Ladder Theatre Company bring it to life on the stage was another highlight. Adam Hess crams so many jokes into his hour, and that divisive runaway train delivery of his works for me. Mark Thomas is an electrifying, passionate performer. Sketch wise, I really enjoyed Pelican's The Cat Man Curse. An excellent month, all things considered.

Yasmin Sulaiman (Editor-in-Chief): Joseph Morpurgo (one of my favourite comedians turning one of my favourite books inside out – what could be better?), Mae Martin (so. much. charisma.), Wild Bore (all criticism is dead to me now), Adam (tears, tears, tears).

Brendan Miles (Digital Director): Juan Vesuvius – for anyone with a love of house music. Informative, thought provoking but mainly just downright silly and very funny. Added bonus points for giving David Guetta a kicking.

Ross Foley (Account Manager): Andy Daly was very funny.

Murray Robertson (Deputy Content Manager): I'm a big fan of character comedy and Jon Pointing's show Act Natural really worked for me. Pointing is a tremendously charismatic performer and his commitment to character is essential to the success of this show in which, as actor Cayden Hunter, he presents an overblown theatrical workshop. Hunter is obviously a massive idiot but Pointing never pushes the performance too far. It's a brilliant combination of subtle mannerisms, grand physicality, expert audience manipulation and the perfectly-timed delivery of a brilliant script. It reminds me of Will Adamsdale's motivational speaker from Jackson's Way which won the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2004, but Pointing's show is much funnier.

Louise Stoddart (Content Producer): Reuben Kaye for being the filthiest and sassiest show at the Fringe; Steen Raskopoulos' The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess for being one of the few shows that actually made me want to get up on stage

Alastair Chivers (Account Manager): Adam Riches.

Scott Henderson (Senior Digital Editor): Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead. Finally popped my Morpurgo cherry, and it was good. It was very, very good.

Kirstyn Smith (Music Editor): Stegosaurus. It's a quiet wee thunderstorm raging around the peaks and troughs of one woman's mental health. Elpida Stathatou gives an unglamorous and realistic portrayal of someone struggling with multiple eating disorders, indulging in destructive relationships, and realising that pretending to be normal is time-consuming. It's beautiful, painful and unflinchingly honest. Also, Daniel Kitson. I could never formally review Kitson because I'm not smart enough to translate what he does into 300 words. I called it early on this year that he would do something, even though he wasn't touted to appear, so I'm glad he didn't let me down. His last-minute work-in-progress show made me joyful and furious. Joyful because even when the whole conceit of the show is 'this will be a shambles', it's still better than most stuff at the Fringe. Furious because every else may as well just give up now.

Gareth K Vile (Theatre Editor): Wild Bore and You're Wrong Night.

Fringesider #7: The List staff pick their favourites

Wild Bore (credit:David Monteith-Hodge)

Favourite non-show Festival things

Gareth K Vile:
Laughing at all the critics who didn't understand Wild Bore.

Yasmin Sulaiman: My life is shows in August.

Ross Foley: I get such a thrill from the £3 (for six) dumplings at Assembly in George Square. They're delicious, filling, and always served with a smile. Twelve months ago, I had a similar afición for the chicken they were serving at a nearby stand, but – rue, rue, rue – my wings (crispy, tender, served with hot sauce) never flew in for this year's festivities.

Rowena McIntosh (Content Manager): The Mac Shack, fuelling my Fringe since 2016. Seeing six shows in a day on minimum sleep? You need classic mac topped with crispy onions. I have visited a shameful number of times.

Craig Angus: As a Glasgow resident, I'll take the novelty of drinking on the street without fear of the fuzz. A thrill that never gets old. You're not bad, Edinburgh.

Scott Henderson: Covfefe.

Best name for a pop up coffee and cake place #covfefe #coffee #popup #edfringe #donaldtrump #yass

A post shared by Daniel Livingston (@idanielliv) on

Kirstyn Smith: Large groups of tourists standing five in a row who stop to consult their map in the middle of the pavement with no warning; flyerers who literally hold their flyer directly in front of your face and don't let you keep walking, despite the fact that you've already politely said 'no, thank you'; buses not turning up; performers singing at you when you're just trying to get to work; paying £4.50 for a macaroni pie. Love that shit.

Alastair Chivers: Seeing lots of people in Edinburgh, Stephen K Amos thanking me for letting him into The List Festival Party, the serene calm and tranquility of Leith.

Louise Stoddart: The List Festival Party for bringing some of the Fringe's best acts under one roof for one night and the 5am licence, for making it perfectly acceptable to get to bed at 6am

Rachel Cree (Events and Promotions Manager): The List Festival Party!

Fringe wishlist for 2018

Murray Robertson: I'd like to see the return of sketch comedy. This year there's been a drought of what is one of my favourite comedy sub-genres and, in the year when the Comedy Award was presented by The League of Gentlemen themselves, it seems particularly galling to see not a single sketch show within the nominees.

Rowena McIntosh: I'm with Murray on this one, bring back the sketch comedy. Every year I hope Four Screws Loose will come back, they were an absolute riot.

Craig Angus: A return for Lazy Susan and Liam Williams would be cool. Oh, and to the legions of lads who shout and heckle their way through perfectly enjoyable, shows; it's not your name on the poster, you're not as funny as you think you are, give it a rest.

Kirstyn Smith: John Cooper Clarke. More music to bolster NEHH's stellar lineup. A full run from Kitson. Alex Horne. Norris & Parker. Dive Queer Party to do an evening show. More drag kings. Brent Weinbach.

Scott Henderson: Sleep. Failing that I wish for Donald Trump's impeachment and less nazis.

Yasmin Sulaiman: More Morpurgo please. Also some kind of special sky train for locals so we can avoid the crowds.

Alastair Chivers: The Fall to come back and do their show from the 1990s involving ballerinas, a Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller exhibition, and a play called The Rise of the Dark Lord: The Story of Sting.

Gareth K Vile: The retirement of all the critics who didn't understand Wild Bore and a Traverse run of You're Wrong Night.

Fringesider #7: The List staff pick their favourites

Hannah Gadsby

Who do you want to win the comedy award?

Gareth K Vile: Joyce McMillan.

Kirstyn Smith: Although I'll always back Hannah Gadsby, I have been trying to get my friends to check out Mae Martin for years now (ever since I backed her on the Amused Moose Comedy Award Panel. I was overruled). She's really great. I can't decide between them

Craig Angus: It's a brilliant shortlist this year. I laughed awfully, awfully hard at Mat Ewins show, which was one of the funniest things I've seen in my life. He'd be a very deserving winner, as would Mae Martin, for a thought-provoking show about addiction that's stuck with me for the whole month. Honourable mentions to Spencer Jones and Ahir Shah too.

Arusa Qureshi: I'm not entirely sure who I want to win the comedy award but I'd love it if it was a female comedian. So I'll go with Lauren Pattison for Newcomer and Hannah Gadsby for Best Show. Although I really like Ahir Shah too.

Rowena McIntosh: Lauren Pattison for the win! I saw her show on the first Saturday of the Fringe, laughed like a loon, had a wee cry and I've been banging on about it to anyone that will listen ever since. It was such an outstanding debut: wickedly funny and truly moving.

Scott Henderson: I don't have strong feelings about this, although I get the impression that if Hannah Gadsby doesn't win, it'll be remembered as the year Gadsby didn't win when she arguably should have. It seems like the retiring stand-up has delivered not just the best comedy show, but the show of the festival period. Judges love to go against the grain.

Yasmin Sulaiman: I'll have to go with Mae Martin, but I suspect Hannah Gadsby will pip her to it.