PASADENA, CA - AUGUST 7:  Actor Henry Rollins ...
Rollins - Genius

Another backdated post. I saw all these shows on Monday gone, but haven’t had the time to write this up with all the school stuff I’ve been concentrating on.

OK, on Monday I had a ticket for Henry Rollins at the Edinburgh Fringe. I also had a meeting with someone from the council in the city so I was free afterwards from half three. With five hours to spare, what was I to do…? In the middle of a city hosting the world’s largest art festival? Several hundred artists involved in which were performing for free?

First up, before I get critical of anyone, let me just say that I appreciate how hard it is getting up in front of a crowd. To then add to that the challenge of making them laugh and it takes some special kind of guts. Or insanity.

I grabbed one of the booklets detailing a free festival schedule (there are at least two competing free festivals within the Fringe) and headed for a show starting at 4pm. First up was Diane Spencer (no, not the dead princess), a single lady stand-up who told a small audience (around 25 of us) of her life over the last couple of years. She wasn’t hugely funny, if I’m honest – but she was entertaining. More like a mate telling you some stories than a comedienne. Still, I’d definitely not call it a wasted hour.

Next up was another act in the same venue, half an hour of Cameron Davis followed by a further thirty minutes of Bonnie Davies. Cameron seemed like a nice guy, but honestly just wasn’t funny. His best joke was actually a pretty cheesy one which got a laugh and then became a running joke as he repeated it – at the audience’s insistence – each time latecomers slid in.

Bonnie was definitely better, though it’s a shame that her act had changed from the advertised travel-related humour as that’s what I’d stayed there to hear. Again, though, the jokes did fall a little flat. Perhaps people weren’t drunk enough yet – always helps when you’re listening to comedy!

Having said that – thanks for the biscuits before the show, guys!

I then had a change of venue, scarpering up North Bridge and over Princes Street to The Voodoo Rooms for “Richard Dawkins Does Not Exist. And We Can Prove It”, a mathematics-based show presented by two comedians. This was more my kind of things. Sure, it wasn’t hilarious, but it was smart and different – and entertaining.

It also finished quarter of an hour early, which meant I had time to grab dinner on the way to Cabaret Voltaire to see Yianni Agisilaou in “The Universe. A User’s Guide”. Now, this was a great show. Yianni’s basically a science geek who uses his hour-long show to basically say how great he thinks astronomy and physics are. Only he does it with a great use of language and a barrel-load of enthusiasm.

If he dropped a couple of the four-letter words and one or two of the jokes, this performance would be perfect for kids. There was only a small audience (maybe 10 of us) and he communicated with everyone without picking on people. Frankly, he reminded me of a very good physics teacher. With jokes.

With the rain drizzling down outside, I made my way over to the E4 Cow Barn to queue up for the mighty Rollins. As it was an unreserved sell-out all the seats had to be filled – which worked out well for Billy No-Mates here because it meant I got a spare second-row aisle seat.

Rollins was awesome. Seventy five minutes was all he was allowed by Festival authorities, which is a shame as I gather he’s capable of rattling on for 3 hours. Likely without moving his feet. I swear except for one moment around the hour mark, he stood stock still, right foot slightly in front of the left.

I was worried that he’d basically repeat his set from Sonisphere, but far from it. Except for maybe four minutes-worth of material, I’d not heard any of it before.

For a guy who’s done so much, he couldn’t be more down to earth. And not for a moment does it sound anything less than genuine. It’s difficult to pass on your opinion about weighty matters without sounding “preachy”, but Rollins does it with ease. It probably helps that I agree with pretty much all of his ideals!

75 minutes was too short, for sure. Especially as it means I just missed the second last train and had to wait 90 minutes for the next one.

Ah well.

Worth it.

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