June 17, 2008

Get In My Belly

It's only six weeks until the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off for 2008, and, as I will ONCE AGAIN be back helping to rule the Underbelly box office with an iron fist, I spent this morning starting to get myself up to speed with what to expect this year:

•One of our performers from last year who complained — I swear to God — every night about how unprofessionally our venue was run is BACK again! I can't understand it. He really seemed to hate us. There were angry crying fits and everything. I guess we must have bought him a bunch of free drinks at the end of the month or something.

•A couple of our more popular shows from last year have, predictably, moved on to other venues. Underbelly is great for smaller gigs, but when you're selling out one hundred seats every night at £8.50, it doesn't really make much financial sense to stay with us when you could go to, say, Assembly, and sell out three hundred seats every night for £14.50. That's Fringe-o-nomics: if you're one of the lucky few who can actually make money in August, you go for it. Of course, those shows that leave the Underbelly will miss our charm, and our skill at accommodating their exasperating demands — and, of course, the venue's unique character — but we can always hope that they'll remember us when they make it to Parkinson one day.

•We're getting a couple of minor celebrities this year! I'm particularly excited about Lewis Schaffer, a London-based stand-up with whom my improv troupe and I shared a couple of mixed bills last year. His material is pretty sharp, snarky New Yorker–type stuff — though on one memorable night in Islington he decided to close his set by trying out some Madeleine McCann gags he'd been working on (this was still just a few weeks after she went missing). He was booed offstage. Then it was our turn to go on. Thanks, Lewis!

•We're also getting a couple of bona fide celebrities this year, including Joan Rivers (yes, the Joan Rivers!), and Scott Capurro. Capurro is probably most readily recognised as the gay make-up artist in Mrs Doubtfire who was not Harvey Fierstein. He is also the person from whom I heard the best Canadian joke ever:

Q. How do you get five hundred Canadians out of a swimming pool?
A. Say, "Please get out of the swimming pool."

•Remember those three geeky computer hackers from the X-Files? Well, one of them (the one who kind of looked like Garth from Wayne's World) is doing an improv show, in which an entire episode of the X-Files is extemped every night. I'm very curious.

Before that, though, I have to finish summer school, move house, and design a syllabus for the class I'm teaching in the fall. Wish me luck.

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