HomeMisc.ComedyPop Break Live: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Pop Break Live: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Photo Credit: Megan LaBruna

If you ever find yourself near Edinburgh, Scotland during the month of August, you should consider adding the Festival Fringe to your list of things to do and sights to see. While the festival itself was amazing, I definitely didn’t expect to experience first-hand the progression of where comedy is headed, especially over the course of one single weekend. 

Thanks to my countless summers spent at Warped Tour, I was very familiar with deciphering the massive wall of venues, times and line-ups to ensure that my sister and I saw the maximum possible content while we were in for our swift 48-hour period. The end result? We saw 10 live shows of all varieties and only had to purchase tickets to two of them. A little tip: make sure you have cash so that you can tip well for the free shows! The majority of comedians performing at this festival are doing it on their own dime. 

Of the 10 shows my sister and I were able to check out, two were family friendly improv acts involving a chaotic Harry Potter storyline and a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, two story telling comedians, five stand-up comedians/comedy acts and one sketch comedy group (to rule them all!). Aka, BriTANicK – a comedy duo that my sisters and I have loved since college and the reason for our random trip to Scotland. 

Seeing acts from all over the world is interesting, because despite what you think, not all comedy translates universally. We saw a stand-up comedian, AMJ Entertainer, who had European people in stitches talking about his time working for a “Holiday Park.” Meanwhile us non-Europeans were googling “What is a Holiday Park.” I saw Sian Davies, a queer comedian from the UK, who at one point went off on the current state of England’s healthcare. While I couldn’t totally follow along with the crowd’s collective gripe, it was interesting to experience.  But the most eye-opening act to me was a show called “The Local Tourist” because the comic, Ram Adithya Arangi, is an Indian man living in Amsterdam and his community treats him as anything but a community member. While it had a strong sobering message of how much racism is still significantly present in the world, he also managed to have the crowd laughing hysterically with his personal journey.

Of all the acts I managed to see, my favorites included “Oy Gay!” -two hysterical queer Jewish women, Katie Price and Donna Landy, discussing life, love, and faith right from Katie’s hotel room. BriTANicK, who put on an amazing show in a tiny hot box on the street with a phenomenal over encompassing storyline. And “Full Throttle OCD” composed of Jim Dziobek, a Chicago based comedian who is new to stand up and Kevin Turner, a Boston based comedian who got real candid about his experience with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).

Now, while I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the comedy realm, I’ve watch countless hours of random specials on Netflix and had tickets to see Middleditch & Schwartz prior to the pandemic, so I enjoy a good variety, and one thing I can definitively tell you was made painfully clear at this festival: misogyny in comedy is dead. (Hallelujah!)

Of all of the acts that we saw, the stand-up comedians who resorted to misogynistic based jokes- ones that degraded women or used some antiquated idea of how men and women behave or interact with each other, were by far the least well received by the audience. You could literally hear the crickets in one show where two of the four male comedians completely bombed because they built their entire routine around this antiquated style of comedy. Turns out general audiences are over cheap shots and sexism. Instead, the performers who had the crowd in literal belly aching laughs were those who based their acts on self-deprecation, their everyday experiences navigating the world, real life heavy sh*t, or frustrating things that all people can relate to when dealing with family. This content, my friends, is the future of comedy, and the best comedians know it. 

If you love comedy and have the time and money to travel to Edinburgh, I highly recommend you start planning to attend next year’s Festival Fringe. But if you can’t wait until then, check out my mini Q&A below with the Full Throttle OCD duo and catch them at open mics in Chicago and Boston this fall!

Photo Credit: Megan LaBruna

Megan LaBruna: What does performing at Fringe 2022 mean to you?

Jim Dziobek: I started doing comedy in the summer of 2021 after my marriage fell apart…[at the time] comedy was a good outlet for the angst and depression I was feeling. I had always wanted to do standup but didn’t feel like I’d be interesting or funny on stage. Performing at fringe a year after starting comedy was such an insanely cool thing to be part of. It was challenging to write my first 30 mins, especially since I hadn’t done more than 5 or so at open mics. Performing at fringe meant I could push myself to do something that a year prior wasn’t even in my mind.

Kevin Turner: Performing at Fringe is an item I can check off my bucket list and a career goal I’ve had for years…You grow so much as a performer and professional in such a short time. You meet other performers with the same goals and get to see your art form approached in ways you’d never imagined. 

ML: As the full throttle part of this duo, how do you prepare for a show at the Fringe?

JD: My preparation is a bit different than others; I think. Most comics come to Fringe with a worked-out set. I had some loose bits/stories and wrote mostly while on stage. I’m lucky enough to be a student at the Second City Film School, so I was already in the mindset and mining my life for inspiration/content. Either way, my comic style is much more improvised/free form than a specific set list. That’s just how my brain works.

ML: How has including aspects of your own personal journey in your standup helped de-stigmatize or normalize the discussion around OCD?

KT: This is the most honest I’ve been about the disorder on-stage, and I’ve been too afraid to talk about it for years. Talking about the darkest natures of this disorder can turn some people off. But every show, someone has come up to me to say they have OCD, know someone with OCD, or ask me questions about it. And just the fact that people want to open up about their own struggles or learn more about mine instead of turning away has been incredibly rewarding to see.



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