Fringe Benefits

One of the many great things about working for a speaker bureau is the numerous opportunities flung our way to see fantastic new acts, from comedians to musicians, acrobats to magicians and more. As a speaker bureau based in London, this is often a limiting factor, but every so often we are fortunate enough to get the chance to see the latest talent perform in the biggest comedy festival around; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

I’d spent less time than usual planning my visit this year – it’s been an extraordinarily busy one for this speaker bureau as is – but with hundreds of shows happening everyday I knew I’d be able to get my hands on tickets to see some brilliant things without too much effort. It often seems that the spur of the moment shows you hop into while passing an open venue door turn out to be the best experiences, and the first offering of this kind was extremely promising. My colleagues had recommended Harriet Braine, whose aptly titled musical comedy experience ‘Total Eclipse of the Art’ had unfortunately been assigned a venue far away from the main festival on the edge of the meadows. It was clear by the third week of the Fringe however, that word had spread of her talents, so we sat in full house and were treated to an hour’s ‘lecture’ in Art History by ‘Prof.’ Braine herself. This is certainly an act with a huge amount of promise, and Harriet’s seemingly gentle comedy actually packs quite a wallop and was both intelligent and quirky – we’ll be singing her alternative Manet, Monet, Manet lyrics to the tune of Abba’s Money, Money, Money for weeks to come. Speaker bureau and speaker bureau clients up and down the country; take note and remember Harriet Braine.

Easily slipping into our afternoon on three of our four days in Edinburgh was Puppet Fiction. Not perhaps ideal for speaker bureau audiences, but no less extremely hilarious, this show is as entertaining for the miniature threats made by puppet Jules and puppet Vincent and their similarly tiny handguns, as it is for the wonderful take on this popular cult movie, the title of which this speaker bureau is leaving to your imagination.

We clearly hadn’t had our fill of musical comedy, and happily followed some friends along to a show called No Rest for the Lizard in one of the cosier pub venues dotted around the cobbled streets. Gecko, as he is known, had brought his own songs with him to the Fringe, though was listed in the Spoken Word section. This certainly didn’t do his singing voice credit, nor his mastery of the guitar and effects pedal. Gecko’s warmth shone through his witty songs about life journeys, the pitfalls of being a singer-songwriter in a world accustomed to listening to hits over and over again, and the king of fruit juices… guanabana, obviously. We enjoyed this surprisingly intelligent and on the ball PBH Free Fringe show so much that we purchased a CD on the way out and I’ve been playing it here in our speaker bureau office ever since. Have a listen further

Something more athletic perhaps, to get your heart rate up after carb-loading on the oft-referenced deep-fried foods consumed at the Fringe? Well, we looked no further than Circa:Humans. This speaker bureau has booked many an acrobatic act over the years, though Circa:Humans seem to have found a new way to be instantly wonderful, discarding any sequins or gimmicks and avoiding forcing their talent into modern or mythical storylines. Instead they delivered something simpler, but to my mind no less remarkable, in showcasing the strength and agility of among the most well trained teams of physical performers and athletes I have ever seen. I sat open-mouthed in astonishment for much of the hour I spent watching the group emerge and disappear again, with minimal apparatus, in stunning movements, in teams, alone, in couples. The ‘meaning’ you often find yourself searching for in showcases of similar acts under circus tents was there, illustrated simply, being mainly that of one human experience in relation to another. The humble performers bowed only at the end of their performance, though the applause was fairly constant from start to finish. Interestingly I can remember the faces and performances of each team member, so unique were their skills and specialties, yet it was the work they presented altogether that really showcased the exorbitant group talent, and is still seems quite enchanting days later. I imagine it still will for years to come.

So, does any show in particular in our speaker bureau review of the Fringe pique your interest? You’d best book your accommodation for next year’s Fringe now then!

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