My wife and I were in Edinburgh last week to see comedian Matt Forde's Fringe show, Inside No 10
. Matt, a former Labour Party advisor, is now a political satirist and impressionist. He has a very popular podcast called The Political Party
I would give his Fringe performance five stars but as the show's run has come to an end it doesn't really matter. A key part of his routine these days is to tap into the rich seam of comedy provided by the shenanigans of the SNP. It seems this usually results in a few disgruntled Nats walking out – but not the night we were there. It used to be disgruntled Corbyn supporters who left his show early but now he has moved on and has the SNP firmly in his sights.
It makes a pleasant change from recent years when Labour seemed to be the butt of all political jokes. That had got so bad I just couldn't bear to put myself through it anymore. You've got to allow comedians to give you a hard time without storming out, so, if you feel they are going too far or misrepresenting your position, better just to stay away.
I grew up in an Edinburgh where locals tried their best to ignore the Festival and Fringe. Even so, I did go to the occasional folk concert and play back in the 1970s. It was only much later and living in the West of Scotland that we started to visit Edinburgh on a regular basis each summer and take in a few shows.
I will never forget the year we managed to cram eight performances into a three-day stay. That was before hotel prices during the Festival went through the roof. There was an excellent stage version of Twelve Angry Men
with a star-studded cast including Bill Bailey and Russell Hunter (his last performance). Then there was a rather dark play about euthanasia, And No More Shall We Part
, starring Bill Paterson and Dearbhla Molloy.
To lighten the atmosphere, we thought we would end our trip with the stage version of the TV sitcom Allo Allo
, set in René Artois' small cafe in Nazi-occupied France. To say it didn't quite work is the understatement of all time. We were squeezed in at the end of a row of about 30 seats. There was no centre aisle. By the time Officer Crabtree said his first 'Good moaning' we were ready to say 'au revoir' but there was no escape until the interval. An hour or so later, it became clear that there wasn't going to be an interval. Like the painting of 'The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies' hidden in the cafe's cellar, we stayed in the dark right through to the end.
Fast forward to last week and the seating at the Pleasance made it equally difficult for an early getaway. Thankfully that wasn't needed as everyone sat tight, laughing right through till the hour was up. We would have stayed for another hour if we could have.
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