Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Porky the Poet and Stand Up & Slam
As the world’s largest arts festival rumbles and ricochets onwards and upwards through to the end of August, there’s still time to visit Scotland’s capital and take in a few cheeky shows. Some are cheekier than others but one thing is for sure; if you like your spoken word gigs in handy, accessible chunks, with a huge variety from which to choose (and with cheap ticket prices or even free entry) then this is the place for you. Of course, poetry takes up a relatively tiny slice of the Fringe schedule amongst the comedy, theatre, cabaret, music, circus, dance, exhibitions, opera and variety so there really is something for everyone… fancy a visit? Go on, you know you want to! Here’s another couple of poetry events you might want to consider if you do decide to visit the Festival this year:
Porky the Poet in Living in a World Where They Throw the Ducks at the Bread. ****(Four stars)
Phill Jupitus. Voodoo Rooms. August 4th-25th. 3.05pm. Free entry with the PBH Fringe.
A familiar face and voice from our TV screens and radios over the last three decades or so, Phill Jupitus (pictured) has a busy Edinburgh schedule this year. Most days he has three one-hour shows to perform, only one of which requires the purchase of a ticket, this one at 3.05pm is one of the free ones. And he is here to remind us, just in case some of us had forgotten or perhaps even were not aware at all, that in the early days of his rise to fame and success he was not a comedian at all – but a poet. Porky the Poet. His under-stated but superbly assured stage presence is pitched perfectly for this afternoon gig, with a fairly Radio 2 style audience packing out the venue with what we might call a ‘slightly older’ demographic than originally may have tuned in to Never Mind the Buzzcocks in its heyday. But Phill plays to this crowd with immaculate skill, describing his own use of profanity as “salty language” and delivering a selection of whimsical, funny and clever poetry that can do nothing but delight. Of course the poetic content of his show is sewn together with comic narrative that crosses the borders of verse and stand-up, but this is most definitely a poetry show and the delight of the audience is matched by his own happiness at performing so smoothly in what is essentially a very informal setting. If only more TV names would support the Free Fringe in this way the world would be a better place, and he deserves enormous respect for choosing this route to the public. He also name-checks other performers in this venue and urges the audience to go and see their shows. Great gig, great guy.
Stand up and Slam *** (Three stars)
Mixed bill of performers. Subway. August 4th-25th. 8.45pm. Free entry with the PBH Free Fringe.
Time to break away from the familiarity of known and respected poets performing their art and plunge headlong into some of the edgy madness the Fringe has to offer. Two teams compete on stage, the audience chooses the winner, the premise is quite simple: Comedians vs Poets. The pace is fast and fun, the inter-team trash-talking is good-natured and hilarious, the quality of both poetry and stand-up is excellent. Performers have to deliver a short set of their choosing as well as jump on to the mic to offer material on various themes selected by the hosts. The audience votes (by applause volume) after each round, and there is genuine excitement when, as happened on this evening, the scores were balanced going in to the final round. Of course, the poetry has to be funny as well as crafted as this crowd is not here to be edified or uplifted, but the three poets were more than up to the challenge and delivered some brilliant material from their own respective bodies of work as well as working on the hoof to hit some spontaneous verse designed largely to mock the frivolous nature of their opponent’s work. I mean, anyone can tell a joke, right? Although anyone can write a poem too, hmmm. Well the truth (as we all know, really) is that not anyone can do what these guys do, not by a long shot, so for an upbeat hour which brilliantly combines poetry and comedy this Free Fringe show is well worth a visit.
Write Out Loud reviews: Five stars – Truly exceptional. Four stars – Brilliant. Three stars – Really good. Two stars – Some strong points. One star – Not recommended.