Leeds Comedian Silky, First Time at Edinburgh Festival.
Countdown to the Comedy Fringe – Alison Pilling (@AnarchicAli) tells us about a Leeds comedian’s adventure to Edinburgh.
OK culture seekers…the Edinburgh Festival….what’s worth a look?
I thought I could start this by doing a quick history of the Festival, which has been around since 1947, but I’m finding it a bit elusive. There’s the ‘grown-up’ bit of the Festival involving official and established acts, and then there’s the slightly misbehaved unfringey Fringe of the Festival. The biggest of the grown-up acts is known as a tattoo, thus saying ‘in your face’ to those people who say tats are a bit chavvy. And apparently this year’s Tattoo is all about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which will begin … as ‘the sound of a Bronze Age carnyx – an ancient horn – accompanies a Pictish warrior in his discovery of a shiny pebble.’ Give me the misbehavers any day…
And – as if by magic – we have Leeds’ own misbehaver-in-chief on the bill. After 18 years in the business, local comic and comedy promoter Silky, is doing his own show at Edinburgh for the very first time.
If you’re interested in comedy, you’ve probably come across Silky at some point. He’s always been at his best engaging his audience. I have a memory of him chatting to a mate of mine at a gig maybe ten years ago about her Catholic upbringing. Until that moment I didn’t know that she had been taught by a Sister Immaculata, and I’ve been disappointed ever since that I had sons and couldn’t pass on this name to some unassuming daughter of mine. In fact I’ve always been fascinated by religion of any kind as I was brought up an atheist with limited access to commercial TV, which leaves me with a straightforward, uncomplicated life but sadly, few cultural references. Anyway I digress….
Edinburgh is not a money-making venture for most of the acts. (I suspect the story is different for hotels, restaurants and other ‘social’ services.) As a comic you need to get packed halls to cover the expenses of living away in a rent-inflated city for a month, and with average gig crowds in single figures you’ve got to be good. So what persuaded Silky to risk chucking his money away?
Well firstly make sure you’re gigging at a place that you can trust and believe in. Silky is performing daily at The Stand, Edinburgh’s top comedy venue, with shows on seven days a week throughout the year. At any one time during the Fringe, there may be four different acts playing different rooms or ‘Stands’ (duh) and you could be up against people who have been ‘on the telly’, but the reputation of the place means that it’s worth the investment.
As well as doing a solo show every day, Silky is also doing 35 other shows during August, meaning the pressure is on to be consistently funny 60 times over nearly as many hours. He sells the job as being one of the few you can do with a pint in your hand, but this is a hard way to earn a living. His record is six gigs in one day – four in Edinburgh, one in Glasgow and one in Irvine, the latter being worth danger money too, surely? And he once flew to Manila for a 25 minute gig. You think your commute is hard work?
So what can you expect from the show? I’ve seen two iterations of it and it will continue to change depending on the audience. Silky is keen to be inclusive and involving, so no show will be quite the same as any other. Some comedians hone their act until it’s slick and foolproof, so whilst it’s good you can be sure that your friend saw the exact same words and timing the night before. I met Silky before his monthly gig in Chapel Allerton, where he was hosting Seymour Mace, an amiable north-easterner, also playing Stand 2 next month. Seymour has prepared no (!) material at all and is hoping (and I think occasionally praying) that his brilliant wits will carry him through. Silky, however, occupies the holy grail of the middle ground where you genuinely can’t see the join between prepared material and on-the-night improv.
Having said that, at Silky’s Edinburgh show you can expect to…
Leave thinking that’s a bathroom accessory I must buy… (if you haven’t tried it already).
Have a new perspective on e-harmony…
Add a few pictures to your mental image gallery… with sound effects…
And still have a bloody song stuck in your head the next day… but with all the wrong words (very wrong words) …
But any variation is down to you, because the audience is the unknown ingredient in the mix.
As Silky says himself, you may occasionally find comedians who make you laugh out loud and more often, but his strength is in his likeability, which occasionally allows him to step over boundaries that few other comics would risk.
You could imagine paying to see others at The Stand including Harry Hill or Stephen K Amos, but I went back to watch Silky twice. Because it’s like hanging out with your mates – the jokes are all the better the second time round because the laugh is knowing the jokes and feeling like you know the joker already. And you never tire of a fun night out with friends.
Silky is playing The Stand at 1420 every day from 1st to 26th August. Tickets at The Stand