My Edinburgh Fringe in songs

Edinburgh Fringe has started and I am not there. Having not been there for three years, it doesn’t feel that strange. What also helps is that I am locked out of my old Face***k, so don’t have to see a timeline of friends and acquaintances up there trying to put positive spins on despair. But in two weeks, I will be there.

This week, I wanted to do something a bit different. I’m going to adapt what I’d originally planned for my appearance on the radio last week and provide a list of songs that I associate with experiences at Edinburgh Fringe.

15 Minutes – Greenskeepers

This was one of the tracks that Moz had on his playlist for his late-night gang show in 2010 at the Counting House Ballroom, which was the first place I ever performed in Edinburgh. This room was far too big for us inexperienced comics to be in. I was there every night throughout the two weeks I was there that year. Some nights were great, others were painful. Thus epitomising the Edinburgh Fringe experience. This song just fills my bowels with the terror of not knowing how the night is going to go. I stormed a couple, died at others, and was mediocre at the rest. Arguably, a handy illustration of my comedy career.

Dirty Laundry – Don Henley

Ten years ago, we played this song before the start of every performance of Love and Langton’s Dirty Laundry. I had never heard this song until about a month or two before the Fringe that year. We had a strong theme, we just needed a song to introduce us. And it turns out that there was a song with the same name as our show. When I discovered the song though, I didn’t actually hear it. I was at work and didn’t have any headphones. What I saw was a lady playing a drum cover of the song. Based on the visual tempo, it looks like it would be a good fit. And it was. Some of the lyrics were also fitting for us. “I could have been an actor, but I wound up here.” And: “It’s interesting when people die.”

This verse was also in keeping with the theme of the show:

“We can do ‘The Innuendo’, we can dance and sing
“When it’s said and done, we haven’t told you a thing
“We all know that crap is king.
“Give us dirty laundry.”

There are a lot of irrelevant lyrics too, but I choose to ignore them.

Reach (for the Stars) – S Club 7

This song made its first appearance in the first outing of How To Win A Pub Quiz back in 2014. The joke was that it wasn’t meant to be played and someone had obviously stolen my MP3 player and put this song on it, because I’m too cool to like such a song. But truth be told, this tune is a genuine banger. It’s also the track that made me discover that my audience love a good sing-along. I remember one day, the audience carried on singing the song after I’d stopped playing the track. One of the acts on after me peered through the curtain to see what was happening and I just looked at her and shrugged with the expression of: “I have no idea what’s going on.” This track stayed in the show for the next three years, and last featured in 2021. It conjures up fond memories of happy audiences leaving my show when I’d moved to a paid venue and I realised I had a successful show on my hands. What didn’t work quite so well was playing the song that Paul from S Club 7 recorded in his metal band after leaving S Club, forcing me to bring (it all) back Reach.

Heart Explodes – The Darkness

Now, this song didn’t actually feature in any of my shows. Ironically, it was one of the few Darkness tracks that didn’t. Because in the very first incarnation of HTWAPQ, the entire music round was just songs by The Darkness. I Believe in a Thing Called Love featured most prominently and regularly. If I had the time in the early days, I would play most of the track just so I could get to the hand clapping bit, and then get the audience to clap in time with the beat. Heart Explodes was released in 2019, at my last Fringe (for now). I’d recently left my job and didn’t quite know where the future was going to take me. I’d often listen to it when I was staying at the flat in Newhaven in between doing midday shows and late-night ones, and it just seemed to fit my mood at the time.

Party Hard – Pulp

I played this track when I was getting the room ready at the Kilderkin in 2014 and 2015. It has a good rhythm for getting things done. And aside from The Darkness, The Smurfs, and S Club 7, Pulp have been a recurring feature or inspiration for my shows. I wrote a lot of the first HTWAPQ when I was listening to Pulp albums. For some unknown reason, the deluded tales of a weirdo about how one day he would triumph over those that have wronged him just seemed to fit with the theme. Another Pulp rack I listened to a lot during the harder moments was Sylvia, mainly for the line: “Keep believing and do what you do.” I am tempted to get that as a tattoo. I also played Glory Days at the end of Stop the Press I Want to Get Off in 2018. But the less I dwell on memories of that show, the better.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness

Well, alright then. I wasn’t going to include this, but you twisted my arm.

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