5 Things I’ve Learnt From The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Viv Groskop

5 Things I’ve Learnt From The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Viv Groskop

The brilliantly witty Viv Groskop on her top tips for surviving Edinburgh Fringe Festival...

1. See as many shows as you can. I loved Laurence Owen’s Cinemusical High which is basically a one-man Glee with lots of cheesy guitar solos and references to Clueless, The Breakfast Club, Grease, Sondheim and Lord of the Rings. He’s a Tim Minchin type of genius. If you particularly want to see new young female comedians, I recommend Funny for a Grrrl at Stand in the Square and 2 Girls, 1 Cup of Comedy (get over the title, it’s just a joke) at the Mash House, mixed bill shows featuring great new comics like Sarah Keyworth, Catherine Bohart and Lauren Pattison. But the show that has made me close to hospitalisation with laughter is Chris Stuart-Wilson’s Oh My Dad: Christ on a Bike, a hilariously lo-fi song and dance spectacular about the life of Jesus Christ, in which Jesus has become a disco-dancing pilates teacher.

2. Don’t beat yourself up about eating and drinking. Edinburgh may have become Hoxton Version 2.0 with kale smoothies, avo on toast and vegan breakfasts on every corner. (Best vegan cafe: Henderson’s at 25c Thistle Street.) But this is still the land of haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. So embrace balance in all things. My favourite places to eat: Bar Napoli at 75 Hanover Street, where lots of performers go after late-night shows, and Pantry at 1 N W Circus Place for brunch. Drinking? I’m over at The Stand with Daniel Kitson, Josie Long, Stewart Lee, Bridget Christie, Shappi Khorsandi and Jo Caulfield and it’s dangerously close to the Gin Cocktail Bar in St Andrews Square. You can always spot comedians after hours at the Pleasance Courtyard and there are 225 shows to choose from there, too. Top tips: Lucy Porter, Tom Allen and Kiri Pritchard-McLean.

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3. Every audience is different. Most comedians (and there are over 2,000 here for the biggest arts festival in the world) play their show for 25 nights, with one night off. It’s hard work and you have to be ready for anything. So far I’ve been heckled by Corbynistas, Leave voters and a Danish Professor of Economics who didn’t think I was pronouncing “Borgen” correctly. I’m channelling The Good Life’s Margo Leadbetter in my show so I just stand proud in my floor-length 1970s maxi dress (source: Ebay) and look imperious.

4. Exercise keeps you sane. There is a lot of walking (in the rain) to be done in Edinburgh. But the first year I came I still put on half a stone. Since then I join a gym and go three times a week. (OK. Twice a week.) I have a trainer called Scott who is the Scottish champion of heavyweight boxing. We don’t understand anything the other says but he keeps me fit and sane. The other sanity essential is a walk up Arthur’s Seat. The best 360-degree view in the world and a climb that makes you feel like Sir Ranulph Fiennes. (Wear sensible shoes.)

5. Celebrate the highs and shrug off the lows. Edinburgh is an endurance test as much as anything else: you’re here to prove that you can put on a good show night after night without being an insufferable, self-obsessed dick. I put a little tick in my diary every time when the show sells out, make a cup of tea and quietly say “yay” to myself. You can’t be rock n’ roll all the time.

Viv Groskop’s Fringe show Be More Margo is at The Stand until 28 August.

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