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EDITIONS
Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Fringe diary: Getting set
Python sketches had to be dropped
As the Edinburgh Fringe Festival gets underway Tom Barnes of the Sketch Club explains how cutting jokes, Monty Python and stalactites fit into the performance.

9 July
Things are getting nervous. We have three preview nights to go with Sketch Club, and we have just had our provisional running order through.

We've been playing two-hour shows in Crouch End since February, and for the Gilded Balloon we're having to cut down to an hour.


The venue really is a cave, and is, at present, resplendent with stalactites

Though I co-wrote a show in 1996 (about two sexually voracious women working in a prosthetics factory in Scunthorpe), it's the first time I've been in a show in Edinburgh since I did a late-night show in 1987.

The Rape, Pillage, Burn & Smirk Show was seen by no reviewers, four drunk Australians and a man who was on drugs (How do you respond to the heckle "It's easier with dividers!"?). Oh, and a dog.

My hopes for Sketch Club is that we will get a larger audience, our own TV show and more women than you can beat off with a stick. I'd probably settle for a good review and more interest for London.

18 July
Only one more preview to go, and we've only got to shave off another eight minutes. The show is tight, funny, and is getting some press attention thanks to three unperformed Graham Chapman sketches (one of them at present starring me), that we've been donated by his Literary Executor.


Whether all relationships will survive a five-person flatshare with only one bathroom is another question

In spite of the fact that they have some very Python elements, they fit very well into our format (silly, fast, funny) and no one who has watched the show has said anything about them not being our own: very positive, that.

21 July
Bummer. Well, we've just been informed (by whom, I'm not sure) that the Chapman sketches have been performed elsewhere, so we're having to drop them, which means that no one will be able to see me doing my German scientist talking about DNA (pity, it was very funny, although I was having trouble learning the lines) and only the audience for our previews so far will have seen the other two.

This means that the show will be "all our own work".

25 July
Our last London preview last night: Big audience, lots of laughter. Four minutes over-running. Bummer. Still some cuts to make.

Tom Barnes
Tom Barnes' German scientist will not be seen
I am pretty confident that the show will be a success (artistically, if not necessarily financially - financial success is a never-never at Edinburgh). Whether all relationships will survive a five-person flatshare with only one bathroom is another question. But hey, that's comedy for you.

1 August
We have our first night tomorrow, and had our "Tech run" yesterday. It wasn't exactly a "run" as we are missing both Sally and Stacey, who are doing most of the songs and dances.

Our venue, however, is fantastic. Called Gilded Balloon Caves II, it really is a cave, and is, at present, resplendent with stalactites, not the mention the corners, which, after nearly a week of torrential rain, are rather moist, to say the least.

Apparently, over the next two days they are going to remove (or at least hide) the building-site appearance of some areas, going to put in some sound-proofing etc, but "This Is The Fringe!" and things that would otherwise be oddities of venue behaviour are totally accepted here.

Today is last-minute things. Our posters and flyers apparently arrive today, we have to buy some brooms and some pot noodle for a sketch about the Provisional Salvation Army.

Maggie's Fairly Tales starts this morning, and Bob's That's Me on the Left starts almost immediately after the dress rehearsal tonight. Are we stressed? Surprisingly, not yet.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

The buzz

In focus

Fringe diarists

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See also:

22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
17 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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