Edinburgh Fringe 2009: Comedy Highlights

So the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009 has come to a close.

Doubtless a few stray, soggy flyers are still dancing along the Royal Mile, but the vast majority of performers, promoters and press folk have returned from whence they came and all the Edinburgh residents have begun to emerge from wherever they hide in August.

To mark the end of the festival musicOMH’s Natasha Tripney and Anna Lowman take you through their Edinburgh experience.
Comedy Highlights – Tim Key and Twitter

Before this year’s Fringe, there was a controversial piece in The Guardian which suggested that comedians are slipping back into the bad old ways of causing offence just to garner a cheap laugh. Who would have imagined, then, that the month would end with a celebration of the charming work of comic poet Tim Key and comic actor Jonny Sweet, respective winners of the main and newcomer Comedy Awards (latterly known as the Perrier and if.comedy).

Key was one the comics I booked up for straight away having seen him at the Invisible Dot several times in London, the Invisible Dot being a small company who also produced his solo show, Tom Basden’s play Party – which starred both winners – and the successful comedy art installation The Hotel. Good festival for them, then. A funny bones’ performer, his show is a great, quirky miscellany of short poems and videos. Sweet’s show is a character piece in which he pays homage to his (fictional) late brother Arthur – and neither performer could ever be described as offensive’.

This was, of course, the first Fringe since Twitter usage went huge, and it has instantly become a powerful word of mouth tool. Sites such as brought together tweet reviews of shows to create karma’ ratings based on the number of tweets, and how positive they are. This system, which appeared to be wide open to abuse by over-active PRs, in fact proved quite useful: if a visitor had time to see just a few shows, the EdTwinge Top 10 – which has included the likes of Pappy’s Fun Club and Chris Cox would have been a pretty good place to start.

Elsewhere, my personal memoires of the Fringe ’09 are bound to be dominated by Mark Watson’s Last Ever 24 Hour Show. Hosted by Watson, and helped along by his friends such as Adam Hills, Brendan Burns and Tim Key (him again), the show literally lasts 24 hours, but is more about games, challenges and storylines which grow organically across the course of the day than proper jokes’. Ambitious, warm-hearted and unique, I hope this special group of comedians appear together on stage again in the future, if not for a whole day…

Finally, it was great to see how a year as Comedy Award winner has affected one of my very favourite comics, David O’Doherty. Confident, and filling a relatively huge Fringe venue with ease, he only went to his trademark Casio keyboard a few times during the set but somehow, this wasn’t in any way a disappointment. Much as I love the songs, his stand-up is now such that they simply aren’t missed and I have little doubt that his good friend Tim Key will take a similarly positive journey over the next 12 months.

Read Natasha Tripney’s Edinburgh theatre highlights.

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