Away from the ‘big ticket’ events such as the Perrier Comedy awards, the stand-ups clubbing together and acting straight and the packed-out play in the bog, the Fringe could be variously described as indulgently flamboyant, frustrating and preciously hectic, all played out on the stoic geological canvas of ‘the Athens of the north’. I saw one amusing play/one-man show but wasn't there long enough to see a great deal as those better plays/comedians/performers are expensive. And pub prices eclipse London’s in some cases. We wandered into a reception for young Scottish playwrights, with a pretty decent (if occasionally repetitive) set by a ‘dj’. Saw some bloke I knew at ‘uni’, who told me: “Good to see you're alright because you were a cunt at university." I had thought I'd got on well with him (hence my approaching him) but he was an actor then and is now a journalist, so is newly-qualified for such candid expression. The twat.
Perhaps therein lies the problem of that Fringe fiesta - honesty of expression and the cultural stamina of the expression. Even the location suggests an event literally tucked out of sight of the rest of Europe and the world. All (especially European) nationalities well represented in the audiences but generally not in the performers. Any level of overt political expression seemed, from my brief sojourn, to be seeping away into career concerns among the performers, with insular assumptions of political opinion merely through presence on the part of both audience and performers.
But then it has never been a hotbed of radical socio-political commentary, even though that often makes for the best stand-up. The fringe is already a fat, decadent actor, wanking in the face of his critics.