Dissecting the Fringe: Edinburgh Diary
Wednesday 15th (part 1)
Perhaps the single most interesting feature of comedy at the Fringe, apart from the volume and variety, is the degree to which it draws on influences from elsewhere. This year has seen shows bringing comedy together with magic and puppetry, but the most frequent external source is theatre. Three shows I saw offered interesting (and contrasting) takes on comedy and theatricality.
Would Be Nice Though... (Odd Comic)
Site-specific comedy has been a feature of the Fringe of recent years, and in the theatre world for longer. The point of performing a comedy in a specific location, apart from sheer novelty, is the tension it sets up between the ‘comedy’ and ‘site-specific’ parts of the description: how far can the show adhere to the situation in which it is set while being funny? Or, alternatively: how far can the show deviate from this situation without the situation, and the specific site, becoming redundant to the humour?
Odd Comic have a pretty good stab at solving this conundrum, but they don’t quite hit the mark. The build-up, with the audience being ushered up some stairs, waiting on a landing and then being moved into a room to wait some more, was just the slow burn required, with the humour springing from slight quirks in characters otherwise closely tailored to the context. But for whatever reason (a need for more laughs, or for something a bit more peculiar) the comedy became increasingly surreal and dislocated from its surroundings in the final part of the show. It felt like random silliness imposed on the situation rather than being drawn from it. You could imagine the botched video presentation and its aftermath occurring onstage at any number of offbeat sketch shows, whereas what had gone before could only have worked in a cramped office space.