Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Roll Up! - Edfringe reviews


Never forget the review left by the punters on edfringe.com.  They are the equivalent of a Visitors Book for the show. Once again I'd come home without looking at these. And what do you know, they're almost universally positive. (I think you'll spot the odd ones out).

Julie Phillips4 days ago

What a great show. Throughly entertaining. 5*

Simon Phillips6 days ago

Really enjoyed this. Great comedy to finish a day at the Fringe.

Chris G8 days ago

Not a classic year for the Socks I thought. Is it my imagination or are they getting more vulgar and less witty? It was still inventive and funny, though, and the only show on the Fringe likely to reference Archie’s pal Jughead....

Fiona A8 days ago

Never fails to make me laugh. I never thought socks would make me laugh so much. Indeed the venue is too hot and the fans are noisy, but for an hour cast that aside and enjoy the silliness and let your inner child loose.

John Dewhurst10 days ago

This must be one of the worst venues on the Fringe. In a black space which was far too hot. I was on front row so had a fan near me. My friends were further back and the heat spoilt it for them. 
I enjoyed the show and thought it clever and witty. Some good songs including a great parody of Lady in Red.
How the puppeteer worked in those conditions was beyond me.

A12 days ago

I'm afraid I feel like I've just watched an entirely different show to other reviewers. Went with a completely open mind, fully ready to embrace the silliness but sadly didn't laugh once.

Kathleen Noonan17 days ago

Absurdly silly and soooo funny!! Hard to believe the delivery of this is all down to one man ……………….and a pair of socks. Brilliant!

Marie17 days ago

I love this show. Been following the Sox for years now and its funny, topical and downright smart every year. The songs are excellent and well accompanied on guitar by one of the sox. I don't know how that sox plays such a mean guitar.... Don't just read about it - Go see it 

BTW - Toasty venue this year so keep that water nearby.

Doug Adamson19 days ago

The Socks were once again able to produce another new show which has managed to deliver the laughs in the only way they know how... in a high paced delivery which at time almost doesn't give you time to breath in between one liners, puns and other punchlines.

This years' show felt to have more of an narrative thread with well placed call backs to deliver on the toes (not the nose) punchlines. The musical numbers were as ever well written and showcase the writing ability of the solo performer who despite working those socks single handled manages to bring two similar looking but different characters to life. 

Well worth your time and a show not to be missed.

debbie alsop20 days ago

Been to see the Socks for the last 6 years and the shows never fails, always the first show of the fringe for me, hilarious from start to finish would highly recommend seeing if you haven’t

Hazel Hall20 days ago

I have been following (in the footsteps of) the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre for several years now, as it would seem had many of the audience members on Tuesday night. Even in the queue outside the Dram theatre in the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose Socks fans - until moments beforehand strangers to one another - were sharing catch phrases (and so was I, and so was she). 

This year's show was yet another fast-paced hour of non-stop laughter for the audience as the Socks shared their attempts to perform circus acts on their wee tartan stage. There was plate spinning and cutting a sock in half, and a promise of high wire jinks. The ever-versatile Nicole Kidman made a guest appearance, and Greggs was honoured in one of several very silly songs.

None of us really know how it's done, so I won't pretend that I do. However, of all the Fringe comedy I have seen so far this year, it's the Socks who have generated the most laughter.

Grant Woolcott20 days ago

Having watched youtube videos in fits of giggles, I was excited to experience my first LIVE evening with the socks. 
Well it didn't disappoint.. a few were injured by the sheer thunderous bad puns, the rest slayed by some not so slick costume changes and flying body parts. It was amazing.

Sat not knowing if it was funny or the worst pun, but the laughter in my gut would not wait for me to decide. I thoroughly enjoyed it, tropical experience aside from the venue.

Not a dry arse in the room (due to heat) and many tears of laughter...

Do Not Hesitate to check these mad foot apparelled loonies out!! You will not regret it..

Paul Stewart20 days ago

Just the funniest, most joyful hour I have spent in a long time. Too many comic gems to count! A guaranteed shortcut to hysterical laughter.
 


July 31st -  August 25th 2019, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm #Edfringe

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Roll Up! - the show itself, a breakdown


Another Edinburgh Fringe ends and once more I find myself looking back over the show analytically. Having been unsure how good Roll Up! Was when we started the run, by the end it had really come good. This meant that whoever saw it in the first week and a half saw a show that flagged halfway through, that got criticised by The Daily Mail for not being as good as previous shows (which I found quite flattering, since it means they’d seen the previous shows), and had one audience member overheard as they left saying “well that got a bit dark.” The darkness lifted after the running order had shuffled and the performance became more assured. As for whether we’ll tour it the jury’s still out.

Here is what Roll Up!, in its final state, comprised.

Opening gags - Strongman, Billy Smart, Paul Daniels - all good

I’m A Sock - Good as always. I have tried opening shows without it and it never works. This song is variable because regulars often go quieter during it, cos they’ve heard it. However the newbie who reviewed us for the 730 Review loved it and praised it for “brazenly and amusingly acknowledges the show’s gloriously silly premise with true metatheatrical verve”. So there.

Greatest Showman music gag. This was falling flat for well over a week though lack of punchline. Then, in the last week, I came up with the Secret Of Comedy line, and it killed. Perfect.

Three Rings gag. Another late addition (coming sometime after Aug 13th, midway) this routine gets some laughs, and sets us up for good callbacks later.

Variety gag - another new one, went well, especially the 3 Rings callback it contains

Music Hall Song. Excellent. It’s gone well all through the run, possibly even better when set up by the stronger material preceding it. 

Burlescue gag, into Performance Artist Routine. Excellent. Kept the momentum going after song.

Philip Astley routine & music. Excellent, all the better when set up by preceding material. In week one we were getting to this point and the audience, and I, weren’t confident that this was a very funny show. I could tell some people weren’t on board, or whipped up to enthusiasm, by now.

Gags: Sock De Soleil, Stilt walking, Funambulism - a good threesome, that settled into place after an edit after week one.

Improv Section: Clown’s Accent (settled into place halfway) and Circus Improv Routine. This was a highpoint. In the previews this was often the first funny bit of the show. But if we’d got them on board by now, this was the best fun. Lots of interesting suggestion kept it fresh, but we managed to make lion taming and human cannonball funny and original on at least three attempts apiece.

Stuck In The Middle routine - a bit of new material inserted about halfway through that worked surprisingly well, calling back to the Jokes For Old Folks running gag (that starts in Philip Astley) and includes Send Him Up gag, which came from an adlib and stayed.

Nicole Kidman - excellent from the start, at its best from halfway when it had been so well set up (by the Clown’s Accent improv bit, which tells us to expect a female Australian). 

Australian Accent Song - very good, better once it was edited down in week one. I still found it funnier than many of the audience did. The Steve Irwin line got a groan 100% of the time, and the Mel Gibson one got the biggest laugh almost as often.

Linking routine to Lady In Pants - the only bit of the show that I could never make funnier. So it remains so-so, and very short. Mentions that Clown with funny accent (from Clown Accent routine) has been knocked out & clothes stolen, a useful bit of plot that helps when Clown appears later. Functional, but never quite funny enough.

Lady In Pants - Brilliant. Audience consistently finds it funnier than I do. (NB: This, and Greggs Song, were both resurrected from an un-made Socks sitcom script I wrote ten years ago. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before. They were part of a totally different storyline and had never made it even as far as a Youtube video, let alone into a show.)

Are You Smitten routine, good. Nice three gags in a row, and linking well to…

Clown Routine. Another one that the audience mostly didn’t find as funny as I did. But laughs improved after midway point and it was never actually unfunny (except to that person who must have thought this was where it got “dark”)

Clown monologue - worked well once it started to be “pants”. About halfway through the run.

Clown’s Killer Song - Excellent. The audience largely thought this was funnier than I thought they would, especially those who got the references to the Psychopath Checklist and the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Very Edinburgh Fringe jokes those, can’t imagine how they’ll go anywhere else.

Front of curtain lines - material delivered offstage, giving me time to re-rig Nicole, the Clown, and the Nicole costumes. Occasionally got a laugh, did the trick.

Pagliacci Routine - What I thought was the best written new routine in the whole show, only went down as well as I expected half the time. Some lines killed, but never every time. Sometimes the Pal Is Archie bit got a laugh, sometimes a groan, sometimes just confusion. Venn diagram usually got a big laugh and rescued it.

Magic Routine - Obviously a highpoint, and definitely got the most consistent laughter every night. But we knew it would because it dates back to the 2010 show and has been in our club set since. But only a handful of people seemed to have seen it and it was generally the highpoint of every show. The new Sawing A Lady In Half prop helped, totally remade just before our last two previews in July. The one it replaced was so battered it was probably inhibiting some of the funny.

Slight falling out routine. The closest we got to the classic Socks falling out skit came here, to set up the Greggs Song.

Greggs Song - perfect, and genius. I am most pleased with the costume and dance routine which, when they worked, were brilliant. However on three occasions a hand came loose from the sleeve, on one occasion both hands came loose (though we got good laughs from this on the whole), and on one night the whole costume fell off. (In the first week, because of the heat in the venue, I had a number of costumes falling off. Partly through the heat making the metal bands less tight, and partly cos my wrists were so wet with sweat. I’d stopped this happening by week two).

Part two - Nicole Kidman’s Woe Is Me scene. This has one funny line in, of which I’m extremely proud. The rest just set up the next bit.

Eurovision Song - very good. The Brexit sentiment may have divided the room sometimes, but always went well.

Greatest Show/ Greatest Story - the mixed scripts went well, as long as I made it clear. Got big laughs a few times.

Little Baby Jesus and Charlton Heston - Some good laughs, but always variable. The only guaranteed belter was Feeding The 5000, which ends the scene well.

Pontius Pilot - Silly but did the trick

Nicole Kidman and John The Baptist - okay, sometimes got a laugh.

Little Baby Jesus “just out of shot” - worked well, once we made it clear. Not well performed in the first week I fear.

Pontius Pilot as Nicole Kidman - brilliant, once I’d got it right. Because this involved re-rigging a prop that I’d just used, I sometimes forgot to do it, making this scene un-smooth and therefore not funny. When done properly it’s very good.

Here comes the creepy clown” - Excellent. When the audience got it, this stretch started to be all about physical and visual humour, not gags, and that’s always the best. The callback to the Performance Artist routine, which I introduced in a week one rewrite, was most satisfying.

“Climb up the ladder / he didn’t do stairs” Death Of The Clown  - Muddled in the first week, very good by the end.

Nicole’s Trapeze Routine - Excellent by the end, messy to begin with. Double Pike was funny at last, once it found its place.

Punchline at the Doctor’s - Fabulous. I was amazed when this got the big laughs it did, and applause sometimes. Because it is, by definition, an anticlimactic ending, it was in danger of falling flat and disappointing the audience. And I think it did that a couple of times in the first week, because the scene preceding it hadn’t been done well enough. But as the climax of a really tight farce scene, it was spot on.

Adlib songs - good when we had time for them, sometimes excellent, occasionally meh. Only skipped (because overrunning) two or three times.

Sweary Poppins - Brilliant. Felt like a cop-out to me cos it’s an old song, dating back to our 2nd or 3rd Edinburgh show, and a regular staple in our club set. But most of the audiences were hearing it for the first time so they loved it. A great way to end the show after the faux anticlimactic punchline.

Thanks for watching, now to write that new show...

 


July 31st -  August 25th 2019, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm #Edfringe





Socks in Official Edfringe video


The Socks get a look-in, and a credit, in the Edfringe's official end-of-term video. We're "Old hands", which is sweet.



Thanks again for an excellent month everybody. I'm now finding myself occasionally frustrated that I can't check my sales figures. We drove down to Kibworth where I promptly broke the lawnmower trying to cut some two-month-long grass.


July 31 -  August 25th 2019 The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! were at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Edinburgh audit 2019 - The importance of lowering your expectations



Edinburgh audit 2019 - The importance of lowering your expectations

This has been the most enjoyable Edinburgh Fringe for years. Not that there haven’t been downsides. There’s been a thing with the house, back home, which blighted the final week and which is too boring for anyone not involved to even think about. 

The most enjoyable thing for me has been the sellouts. A record number of sellouts, 16 in all. And all as a result of my lowering my expectations. 

That is to say, I lowered the target number for bums on seats - moving from last year’s 90-seater Sportsmans room at Teviot to this year’s 60-seater Dram at Patter Hoose. Meaning that I could sell out two thirds of the time, meaning that I had to spend less time flyering (I have a box and a half of unused flyers to recycle), and meaning I could spend more time concentrating on doing a good show, and enjoying myself.


The only problem with my venue, a room called Dram, was the heat. Gilded Balloon had built two great looking black box theatres, side by side, with lots of storage area behind, and good light and sound, both fitted onto the first floor of Adam House. What no-one had noticed was that there was no way for air to get in or out. Meaning that, as soon as the shows got going, with their hot lights and hot punters, the room would become unbearable. Zach Zimmerman, who has to get in after me, started bringing in a thermometer and was regularly recording temperatures of over 30 degrees at the end of my show. The hottest room I've been in since 2007's Balcony. I soaked the front row in sweat when I took my bows.

Fans and air conditioning units were brought in, which helped, but gave us the fresh problem of noise, meaning the back rows could hear more fan than show, especially for acts that didn't use microphones. I found that, as long as I got Florence The Technician to bump my mike up as far as it would go, I could still get the funny across. But Flo had the problem that, thanks to the fan, she couldn't hear my sound balance properly. Whatever, these were teething problems, and we got over them. Though right up until the final sellout Saturday night, which was a hot as the start of the run, the problems kept recurring. I will remember this as a very hot year.


I bought Florence a wee hand fan, a gesture of kindness more than a real help. This is my Thankyou card to her.

Unlike last year, which I didn’t enjoy that much, I didn’t catch the Edinburgh cold, didn’t have to take any nights off, and most importantly my sales didn’t tank in week three. Last year I was full of theories about how flyering didn’t work any more, how punters weren’t here to come and see shows, and how everybody’s sales had fallen off a cliff. That may well have been a bad case of Confirmation Bias. Cos this year my sales have been great, meeting or exceeding my expectations, and I have no such cock-eyed theories to expound.

If you look at my sales graph, you might not think it such a cause for celebration, when you see my previous years including days that peak at 90 sales, whereas the best I could any day this year was 60. But a whole string of sellouts looks and feels great, and I’d rather sell out my 60 seater every night than struggle to get those last few people into my 90 seater.

Year on year I feel there is a decline in audiences for Mid-Range shows like mine, as an inevitable result of saturation. There are more shows, there are not necessarily more punters, and there’s an ever larger number of acts who you’ll have seen on the telly or who have big audiences online, who are filling out 750 seat venues like Pleasance Grand or the McEwan Hall. 

Mitch Benn posted this Edinblog detailing his fight back against a similar decline in recent years, so we’re not alone. Richard Fry (@ExChildGenius) wrote a Twitter thread to the effect: “ OK #EdFringe I'm calling it. The audience isn't here this year. Fringe & Venue bosses are gaslighting us but I am on the street flyering for hours every day, the numbers simply aren't here.” And there was a lot of chat online along these lines. Could it be we’re all inclined to share more when we’re struggling, for company and consolation as much as anything else? 


The Wolanskis circus skills team who came to Saturday night's show and brought their own socks!

This year felt, in many ways, like our first couple of years (07 and 08) when I would do guest slots for the fun of it, and end up networking by default. 2 gigs at the airport, 3 Not So Secret Cabarets, 3 Chortle Fast Fringes, 1 midnight variety, 1 musical comedy, 1 chat show where the Socks got to talk to Eddie Izzard, a Sky News slot, and a stint playing a bodyguard at the Malcolm Hardee Awards. I’ve not done that many extra gigs for years.

I even made more videos in Edinburgh than I have for years. Oor Wullie and the remake of I Can’t Stand The Rain are my favourites, the Sky News clip is the most watched, and the two instalments of History Of The Fringe are ones I’ll be able to revisit and add to. The live clips from the show have only started to trickle out, but now it’s over I’ll put more of them up. If I could find a way to monetise it, I could put the whole hour up for you to enjoy, cos I’m not sure I’ll be touring it.

I did no comic art classes, and I saw more shows than last year (though, since that only amounted to four plus the ones I was in, maybe no cause to gloat). I got three reviews, which is one more than last year. Oh and I did the Worst Soundcheck Ever, which seems like years ago now.

We saw all the art that there was to see (though the Fruitmarket’s closed, the Museums on the Mound are being rebuilt, and Jupiter Artland had a festival on the weekend we were free, so there was a little less to be seen. Shows at the Art College, the Modern Art, Summerhall, and Collective on Calton Hill were most memorable, nothing too disappointing by and large. 

The weather was better than last year, with rain showers being scattered and blighting few whole days, and my complaints about roads being blocked off, and The Comedy Awards nominations mostly going to Pleasance acts again, were among my few gripes.

Oh yes, and we scattered Mum's ashes up the Glen, which feels like so long ago now.


Spotted on the street near Pleasance Dome. No, me neither.

Edinburgh namedropping

Walked past in street etc: 
Neil Tennant, Charlie Stayt, Frank Skinner, Mark Steel, Jennie Eclair, Steve Coogan, Sanjeev Kohli, Boris Johnson’s motorcade…

Actually talked to:
Ivor Dembina (came to the Socks, liked us, didn’t know I was them), Marcus Brigstocke, Mitch Benn, innumerable comedians & journalists & promoters…


Just like last year, I’ve already thought about what next year’s show should be, and I’ve opted for the title Pop! That way we can start working on pop music and pop art material, and whatever comes out funniest will stay in the show.

The show itself has ended up being great. I wasn’t sure about its variability in the first week or so, with levels of laughter dropping off about halfway through because of the complicated story structure. But after I’d shuffled bits around, and as I relaxed into it, I really enjoyed it. And, throughout its final week, it’s been the funniest show and, as often happens by this stage, I love it as much as any other. 

If I can think of any other salient observations, I’ll make them. Meanwhile below are observations and articles by others from this year’s Edinburgh. All going well, we’ll see you again at Edinburgh 2020, for the Socks going Pop!

Kev F & Socks


July 31 -  August 25th 2019 The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! were at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Demi Nandhra’s Pay Day Loan 


Fringe Biscuit Trend Tracker 


My past Edinburgh audits:
2018 - Superheroes
2016 - Shakespeare
2015 - Minging Detectives
2014 - And So Am I
2013 - In Space
2012 - Boo Lingerie (and Chunky Woollen Nits)
2010 - On The Telly
2009 - Go To Hollywood

"riotous and irreverent" - ★★★★ 730 Review


A nice review, published as we were performing our last night of the run, from The 730 Review. It's 3 and a half stars and I couldn't find an icon for half a star. Sue me, I rounded it up in the headline.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets return to this year’s Fringe with their latest offering; a show sure to warm your cockles and your feet. The subject of their exploration this year is the circus and they expertly weave a comical narrative which mistakenly blends The Greatest Showman and The Greatest Story Ever Told, resulting in mix-ups between musical numbers and biblical stories.

The puppets are operated by a single performer, but their identities are so fleshed out and individual that it quickly becomes impossible to believe that they are being voiced by one person. They fulfil the classic comic duo of a clever leader and inept supporter, with the latter constantly threatening to derail the show due to either extended tangents or a lack of knowledge.

“IT’S AS SILLY AS IT SOUNDS AND IS DELIVERED WITH AN INFECTIOUS RELISH AND PANACHE”

One of the show’s highlights is the early musical number: ‘I’m A Sock’, which brazenly and amusingly acknowledges the show’s gloriously silly premise with true metatheatrical verve. It also delivers a series of hilarious and progressively rude words which rhyme with ‘sock’. I’ll leave you to deduce where that goes. Moreover, it opens with a homemade title sequence which imitates the thundering drums and trumpet of 20th Century Fox – all voiced by the one performer of course – with a sign then held up which reads ‘20th Century Sox’. Another brilliant song comes at the end, when the puppets cram as many swear words as they can into a single verse. It’s as silly as it sounds and is delivered with an infectious relish and panache.

The only major issue with Roll Up! is that its humour is so rapid-fire and constant that it is occasionally difficult to keep up with the quickly evolving storyline. There are clearly members of the audience who are Sock Puppet initiates and it certainly feels as though this is a show which benefits from repeat viewing once the basic premise and pace has been understood and assimilated. This issue was exacerbated by the claustrophobic nature of the venue in which the show was performed and issues with sound which made the dialogue occasionally difficult to distinguish over music cues and effects.

On the whole, however, this is a riotous and irreverent late night production which delivers humour true to the vaudevillian and native roots of this Scottish festival. Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Roll Up has now finished its run at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Dram. 3.5/5


July 31 to August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! was at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Friday, 23 August 2019

Partying and bonus gigs - extracurricular Edinburgh


Here’s me having my photty took with Kevin McMahon and Garry Roost at the So You Think You’re Funny Party at the Gilded Balloon on Thursday night. I had a fun time, quick dance, chatted to a few folk, then made my way home relatively early. I’ve not been a night owl this year at Edinburgh, but have enjoyed the stuff I’ve done outside of my regular show.

I’ve done Chortle Fast Fringe three times (July 31, Aug 10, Aug 23); Ben Phillips’ Not So Secret Cabaret  at Fingers Bars on Frederick Street 3 times (Aug 4, 15, 20); Dave Nattriss’s Music Comedy show (Aug 8); Imaan Hadchiti’s midnight variety show (Aug 3); the open air stage at Edinburgh Airport twice (Aug 2 & 20); Sarah McGuinness’s Back To Blacks chat show (Aug 21); and a live interview, including a song, with Sky News (Aug 4).

I’ve partied, as much as I ever party these days, at the Ed Fest Launch at Brewhemia, and Patter House Launch (both July 30); Gilded Balloon Preview Show, and List Festival Party at Summerhall (both Aug 1); the Bath Comedy Festival Soiree with Nick & Ralph in Dean Village (Aug 15); at the So You Think You’re Funny Party (Aug 22); and tonight at the Malcolm Hardee Awards (Aug 23). 


President Obonjo's Security Detail. Tough as.

I don’t know if this is more or less extra gigging than previous years, but it’s felt good and I’ve enjoyed rubbing shoulders with other acts. 

Other extra curricular activities having included seeing Jude and the family, having a meal with relatives including Irene and Diana, and of course going up The Glen to scatter Mum’s ashes. We’ve also had tea with Hazel & Tim and Jeremy Dixon, and I’ve been out for after show drinks with more people than I can remember, including James from Bedfringe, Gareth & Sarah late of Lass O Gowrie, Peter and family, Ellie and boyfriend, the Klein-Bissetts, Hazel & Tim, Stephen & Nick, Helen & Alex, George, Jude, Doug & the kids, oh there were so many of you this year, sorry if I’ve missed you.

With three shows to go (it’s Friday afternoon as I write), this Edinburgh has flown by faster than any other and been more enjoyable as far as my show was concerned (though complications with building work at home have rather marred our final week, and caused upset in ways you don’t need to know about). My usual Edinburgh audit will follow soon. Now, let’s prepare for a final Fast Fringe and a Friday sellout.



Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Socks in conversation with Eddie Izzard


Hands up who else was just on a chat show having an amusing conversation with Eddie Izzard. Oh weren't you? How disappointing for you, cos we just were and it was great fun. Check it out here on Facebook.

We were invited to appear on Sarah McGuinness's Back In Blacks show, which she does usually in London and which she's brought for one night only to Edinburgh. Big thanks to the Gilded Ballon for arranging it for us cos it was great fun, we met and chatted to Eddie Izzard, and the rest of the show is a good laugh and is on Facebook now.


Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Music Hall + improv - live videos from Roll Up!


A newly recorded clip from Roll Up, probably my favourite song in the show, the Music Hall Medley. Do hope you enjoy it.

Also freshly uploaded is another bit of improv, this time a sword-swallowing lion tamer. I've brought the video camera to three shows, two in week one, and one this past Sunday. Those will be the takes from which we'll edit up whichever versions we put online.

It's not been possible to do a 'straight-on' shot from the back of the room, simply because the only sound you'd get would be the air conditioner fans, which is all my technician can hear. It's a shame that this year's show has suffered from the heat in the venue, because otherwise the show's going great (despite what The Daily Mail might say, chiz chiz). The second half sags in audience response, partly because of the heat, and partly because it's more story based than sketch based. But people seem to be loving it, selling it out (13 sellouts so far, our most ever), and saying nice things afterwards.

More videos to come, probably once we've finished the run, so as not to spoil any good punchlines.


Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Monday, 19 August 2019

"...a winner" - Daily Mail (that may be tightly edited)

The good news? The Socks' Roll Up! is in today's Daily Mail. The less good news? You decide...


So, not our most glowing review, but luckily they don't do stars (I hope). And the reviewer seems to have seen some of our previous shows, which is rather nice to know.


Talking of changing the subject, we had another sellout last night. That makes a record breaking run of appearances on the Sold Out board, twelve by my reckoning. And, Daily Mail reviewer notwitshstanding, they seem to be enjoying it. Onwards and upwards.


How our mention appeared on the full Daily Mail page. No, we didn't buy a copy. And we sold out that night without any flyering whatsoever. The Daily Mail effect? Who can tell.


Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Thursday, 15 August 2019

How's your Edinburgh show going? The stats.


Here’s one for #Edfringe nerds. I just researched total tickets sold at the Fringe every year, against the number of shows there were, to see how many tickets each show sells on average. Has it gone up or down?

Here comes the answer…

2007 1,697,293 tickets sold, 2050 shows = 827 per show average
2008 1,535,519 sold (referred to as ’disastrous’ cos of box office crash) 2088 shows = 735 per show
2009 1,850,000 sold, 2098 shows = 881 per show
2010 1,950,000 sold, 2453 shows = 794 per show
2012 (the Olympic year)1,857,202 sold, 2695 shows = 689 per show
2013 1,940,000 sold, 2871 shows = 675 per show
2014 2,183,591, 3193 shows = 683 per show
2015 2,298,090, 3314 shows = 693 per show
2016 2,475,143, 3269 shows = 757 per show
2017 2,696,884, 3398 shows = 793 per show
2018 2,838,839, 3548 shows = 800 per show

Conclusion: Ten years ago, each show sold an average of 880 tickets across the month. This slumped 2012-15 to below 700 per show. Since 2016 it has crept up to 800 per show.

So, now you know how bad your show’s doing. Glad to be of service.


Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Sellouts, storage, and shuffling the running order


Happiness is selling-out on a night you didn't expect to. In fact, looking at my graph (yes, I have a graph of the sales of every Socks show on every day at Edinburgh since 2007), the second Monday, which this was, sees a spike most years and has sold out a few times. It's just surprising when it does.

Indeed this year has seen what I'm thinking of as a record number of sellouts. In fact it's not. We're equalling our best year ever, 2010, in having 7 sellouts by this stage, but the devil is in the detail. That year our capacity was 90 and this year I made the deliberate choice to go down to a 60 seater room. So it was almost inevitable we would have more sellouts as, in past years, we were selling more than 60 tickets on many nights, but still falling short of the 90 we needed to get up on the chalk board. So it's something of a return to the sellout chalkboard.

Man, I can't tell you the buzz of being one of only two acts on that chalk board of a night. Even though this means there are plenty of shows (in the 90 and 150+ seaters) who have sold more tickets than us, we get our names up in chalk. Which, when you say it out loud, does sound pretty pathetic. Shut up, I'm enjoying the moment.


My backstage storage space and changing room. This is by far the biggest such space I've ever had at my Edinburgh venues. See that table? I get to lay my clothes out on there to dry while I'm performing (if they're soaked from the rain, as they have been) and everything. And the backstage area, and the corridor leading to it, are so well soundproofed I'm able to get in earlier and take more time getting out, without disturbing the other act that's finishing their show or setting up the next. (I'm on between the lovely Harriet Dyer, who ends her show in a dinosaur costume, and Zach Zimmerman, who's as sweet as anything). When I've been in The Sportsmans room at Teviot, my Socks set has had to be squeezed every night into a narrow space between the audience seating and the bar, which regularly caused props to get lost and occasionally damaged bits of set. And as for changing room, this is luxury. Because the venue is so hot and I sweat so much, every night I come off and totally change my clothes, bringing a fresh t shirt to go home in and wearing a kilt to perform. When I was in the Sportsmans I'd have to go change in the toilets while the other act was getting in, or go home in the kilt. So this is heaven. And I know, if they use these spaces again next year, this storage space will have shrunk and the venue expanded to get more seats in. It's what I'd do if I ran the place.


It's only taken a fortnight, but there at last is our A1 poster board outside the venue. There you go, that'll bring em in.

Changing The Order.

An odd feature of this year's show is that I've been changing the running order on different nights. We actually have a proper narrative plot, of sorts, which can't be tampered with. But yet I do, slightly. This will be hard to explain but...

At the start of the run it went:
Part One: Intro, I'm A Sock, Music Hall Song, Philip Astley, Improv.
Then Grimadli, Magic Routine.
Then Nicole Kidman, Accents Song, Lady In Pants, Clown, Clown Song, Greggs Song, end of part one.
Part Two: Eurovision Song, Greatest Story Little Baby Jesus, Costumes & Clown, Trapeze, end. Sweary Poppins.

Then, on the first Tuesday, totally by accident I found I'd forgotten to do Grimaldi and Magic, so they were shifted to later in the order. Giving us:
Part One: Intro to Improv as was, then Nicole Kidman to Clown Song
Then Grimaldi & Magic Routine, then Greggs Song and end of part one.

This new order worked, but I wasn't sure. So I did the initial running order for 2 more nights, then moved permanently to the revised running order. Grimaldi and Magic work better after the Nicole & Clown songs.

Then on Monday 12th, it got shuffled again, by accident. I skipped over Grimaldi and Magic, getting ready to do them before the Greggs song. Then totally forgot them, did the Greggs song, and moved on to part two. So I then did the Eurovision song routine, all the way through it thinking "how am I going to put Grimaldi and Magic back in?". I then did Grimaldi and Magic in between Eurovision and the Greatest Story finale section, and it worked.

It was, by the way, our best and funniest night of the run so far. Leaving me with the dilemma of which order to do things in for the rest of the run? Do I bump Grimaldi and Magic that much later in the show again, or do I keep them in the middle?

It's good to have a flexible show. And, as always happens with Edinburgh runs, I feel more confident and happy with the material as we go along, even though much of the content hasn't changed. It can often be the case that presenting the same material confidently makes it funny, and the audience would have laughed all the time if you'd only stopped doubting yourself. Hah, what's the betting they sit there tonight in stoney silence and I go back to square one? It's a funny business this comedy lark.

NB: The Improv bit.
Sunday 11th - Strongman lifting up an elephant
Monday 12th - Sword swallowing contortionist on a bareback horse
Tuesday 13th - Fire breathing which became extinguishing a zippo lighter by inhaling, v successful (and another sellout, now you ask)
Wednesday 14th - Desmond Tutu bareback horse riding (they asked for someone in a tutu, hilarious misunderstanding ensued)
Thursday 15th - Juggling bears (which descended into bears killing children, which was fun)
Friday 16th - Sword swallowing
Sat 17th - Human cannonball
Sunday 18th - Sword swallowing lion tamer (video)
Monday 19th - Human cannonball lion tamer
Tuesday 20th - Juggling with chainsaws
Weds 21st - ?
Thurs 22nd - Plate spinning
Friday 23rd - Human cannonball lion tamer (again)
Sat 22nd - Wall Of Death (most original suggestion of the month)
Sunday 25th - Human cannonball and unicyclist


Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Edinburgh Fringe Too Big. Again.



This year has seen a serious rise in ill feeling about the size, and nature, of the Fringe - and the Festival, the Tattoo, and tourism in general - that is overwhelming Edinburgh in August 2019. 

This one video, Bonnie Prince Bob’s There’s No Edinburgh In The Festival, has gone viral. I’ve had a couple of conversations about it with fellow show folk, who sympathise with a lot of its feelings. Whether the festival ever gave that much back to the residents is doubtful, but the degree to which it squeezes locals out and alienates them has undeniably grown.

The number of tourists on the streets, from the day we arrived in town (July 29, two days before Fringe shows started) was higher than I’d ever seen. Streets that were normally quiet shortcuts were full of people. This clearly demonstrates that it’s not just the Fringe causing the influx. Summer 2019 is, of course, the final summer before Brexit is supposed to happen, and a lot of people will be acting on that, not knowing whether they can come in future years. And the pound has dropped to another of its Brexitty lows, meaning tourists can afford to come here and spend all the more. Which is great, if you like tourists, but not if you want to be able to walk down the street.

And the passage of streets has become a major bugbear in 2019, thanks to Edinburgh City Council’s #SummertimeStreets initiative. This bizarre move has seen otherwise open streets cordoned off with roadblocks. So thoroughfares that are vital for Edinburgh residents and workers to drive along are impassable, leading to frustrating and impenetrable gridlock. Cockburn Street is closed, as is the lower section of the Royal Mile between Jeffrey St/St Marys St and the North Bridge. This throttles the traffic in the Old Town leading to constant traffic jams. The reason for these closures is inexplicable as the cordoned off street, though it occasionally hosts a street performer or two, is mostly just empty. There is not so much foot traffic on the pavement that these roads need to be closed to cars.

The same goes for Victoria Street, whose beautiful photogenic view from Grassmarket is not improved by concrete roadblocks and garish No Entry signs, and Candlemaker Row, whose corterisation is just daft.

This story in The Times (of which I, and probably you, can only read the headline and the first paragraph) tells how 10% of central Edinburgh properties are now on AirBnB. That’s a lot of locals letting out their flats, quite often to inconsiderate holidaymakers that make life unpleasant for their neighbours.


As I’ve noted many times before, the complaints that the Fringe has become too big for Edinburgh and its residents to take, is a regular phenomenon, coming round every August. A past blog of mine records the article from The Guardian in 1976 saying “The Edinburgh Fringe grows grosser every year like a fat old cat going to seed and not giving a damn.” At this point the Fringe was staging 200 shows. By 2016, when I wrote my blog, it was staging 3300 shows, and it’s now reached the 4000 mark.

At which point, in the midst of the throes of the festival month, everything becomes anecdotal. It’s impossible to get the bigger picture, and everyone is reporting their experiences from their own fraught bubble. I’m thinking about my show, whose biggest concern is that our venue is too hot because someone built a room without any air in. A thousand other shows are torn between struggling to get the punters in, or worrying that they’ve had no reviews, or agonising about whether they’re going to get onto the telly after all the money they’ve just spent trying to get noticed. Some are worried about the rain, others about their performance, and a few are giving a bit of thought to the locals and how awful it must be to have all this dropped on your home and workplace every summer.


There are calls to restrict the size of the Fringe and Festival, to curtail its length (to two and a half weeks for example); to limit the number of poster hoardings that cover the city (though this is counter-balanced by calls to open up the monopoly which one company, Out Of Hand, now holds over every official poster site in the city); to tax tourists more; even a petition to make accommodation affordable for performers (which seems to give little thought to the more pressing concern of keeping accommodation affordable to regular Edinburghians the rest of the year round). 

What is to be done? To keep talking and hear everyone’s thoughts and concerns, is good and constructive. What will be done? In my experience, very little. The council will no doubt come up with more bright ideas, like their Summertime Streets roadblocks, and their tourist tax, which will make no-one any happier. As for whether the number of people putting shows on here will drop, I doubt it. I’ve lived through years when a financial crash and an Olympics made a material difference to the amount of money that came into all the shows, and predicted at the time that this would slow things down. And lo, the following year, even more moths were drawn to the flame, regardless. I console myself slightly that my venue, the Gilded Balloon, is Edinburgh based and works here all year round, so plays a smaller part in the feeling of ‘invading’ the city just for the summer.

Brexit might change things, but it might not. Scottish independence might happen, and then it might change things, but equally neither might happen. As it is, Edinburgh has a problem with tourism. It can’t live without it, but it also feels like it can’t bear to live with it. Is it bad of me to be grateful that I only have to spend one month a year worrying about it?

Yours, being part of the problem, but wanting to be part of the solution.

Kev F & the Socks



Until August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm, every night of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. On sale now!

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