Thursday 21 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe 1984 - Young Ones & Fiasco Job Job

In 1984 a young couple visited the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time. These are some of their souvenirs. The photo at the top shows Hev in what was then The Fringe Club and what is now Gilded Balloon Teviot. Regulars there will recognise the canteen area, which is unchanged, except they don't allow shoddily photocopied flyers to be randomly pasted to the pillars. Especially not flyers advertising shows at other venues (New York Stand Up was on across town at The Assembly Rooms, while Teviot itself was host to some shows in The Debating Hall, including John Hegley which we just failed to see because it was sold out on the night we went. 30 years later, Teviot gets divided up into a dozen performance spaces, including one which is a balcony the rest of the year round.)

The tickets are from two of the comedy shows we saw, from back in the days when comedy was only a small part of the Edinburgh Fringe. John Dowie, many people will remember, was one of the founding fathers of alternative comedy, his single My Pussycat's A Punk Rocker, bridging the gap between Jasper Carrott's folk club and modern stand up a couple of years before the Comic Strip and the Comedy Store came to be. His support act, the inexplicably named Fiasco Job Job, were in fact Arthur Smith and Phil Nice, just starting their careers in comedy (Arthur had just given up on being in a pop group that never made it, and Phil Nice's Mum was one of Heather's teachers in Basildon and she'd occasionally seen him there, which was his claim to fame thus far).

In the lower photo, proving that annoying audience members taking photos is not a new invention, we see Nigel Planer as Neil The Hippy, fresh from the last series of The Young Ones, doing a one man show in character, supported by double act The Oblivion Boys, aka Mark Arden and Stephen Frost. As you can see from the Dowie and Planer examples, acts didn't attempt to fill a whole hour with material, even if they were the most famous comics in town, and had support acts sharing the bill as a matter of course. Nigel Planer in particular needed this as, aside from his 10 minute original Neil routine from The Comic Strip and his songs Hole In My Shoe and Try A Taste Of My Wee Wee, his material was paper thin and over-extended. Funny the things you can still remember after three decades. In fact in both of these shows, the support acts were the ones who impressed us the most, being the exciting bright young stars of the future. God, I knew Arthur Smith when he was a bright young thing.

New York Stand Up starred Rita Rudner, who went on to great TV success, and two others whose names, faces and details entirely escape me, sorry.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014, July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm

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