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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Fringe diary: First week trials
The Sketch Club
The Sketch Club's show is on at The Caves
Edinburgh Fringe Festival performer Tom Barnes of comedy act the Sketch Club describes a first week of frenzied activity, involving drinking whisky, battling with ghosts - and putting on a daily show .

4 August

I had forgotten how exhausted you get by Edinburgh. Sketch Club starts at 2145 BST and comes down an hour later, and this is always followed by drinking in the bar or going out to another show.

The day is spent handing out leaflets on the Royal Mile or outside other comedy venues, or getting people to sign our petition to end discrimination against people with red hair, which - though it may have a serious purpose behind it - is a cheap publicity stunt.

Tom Barnes
Tom Barnes is exhausted but having a great time

As a result, two shows in, I am already knackered, and we have 24 more shows to go.

The first two have gone really well, with enthusiastic audiences and lots of laughter. Our first audience was a bit young, and our references to things like The Elephant Man and Pride & Prejudice went slightly over their heads.

We have apparently had one reviewer in from a paper no one has heard of, The Fringe Star, but nothing has yet come out.

I also forgot how many people you bump into who you know. Our second night, I bumped into my goddaughter, who I thought was looking after my flat in London, and Ian Shuttleworth, an old college mate.

Tonight, we're doing a post-midnight showcase, to persuade people to come along, so we'll be even more exhausted tomorrow.

6 August

The Caves, where we are performing is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh, and, while I am insensitive to that sort of thing, Stacey has already been freaked out by one of the ghosts in the caves.

The 0100 to 0300 BST showcase on the 4 August was, in some ways, a success, even if the audience was almost entirely made up of other performers; it goes to show that our show is considerably better than a lot of other stuff on the Fringe.

The troupe is one girl down
The troupe is one female performer down

Last night's show was a huge success: 41 people and they laughed like toilets at everything. Sophia embellished a ventriloquist dummy to look exactly like Brian. It got a cheer: we are mucking about with the script (script? What script?) more than ever, and we have a very tight and very silly show, that is picking up some good word of mouth, but as yet no reviews.

8 August

Well, a strange day yesterday, what with Stacey quitting the show and flying back to London because of her hauntings: she was just totally terrified, according to Andrew.

Mentioning it to one of the other performers in The Caves, I was told that a performer last year was constantly being "goosed" by a ghost, so it's obviously not unknown.

Sophia also left (as planned, no mystery there), which is very sad, but she was on the lights-and-sound desk, so Anne-Marie (who is now in the opening dance) has to alternate with Brian on lights. The spirit of the Fringe there, too.

Yesterday's show, therefore, was a little fraught, and we apparently had people from BBC Comedy and The Stage in.

Gauging the hysterical and enthusiastic audience reaction, we may well get a good review, unless either of those people was the totally humourless man who sat, stony faced through the whole thing.

I am trying to stick to the traditional Edinburgh diet of vegetables and whisky, which took a bit of a hammering yesterday. I discovered a fantastic cheese shop in Victoria Street and bought three expensive but excellent cheeses, which I am trying to savour as they cost me almost 10.

9 August

Woken up by jubilation in the flat at 0915 BST. Our online review on Three Weeks ( has come out and it is superlative.

Typical for Edinburgh, it comes after our lowest and most lacklustre audience so far (16), when we thought we were going to get no one at all and Andrew, still despondent after Stacey leaving, was suggesting we might have to cancel.

All we need now is for people to read that review.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

The buzz

In focus

Fringe diarists



See also:

04 Aug 02 | Entertainment
22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
17 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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