FRONT-OF-HOUSE FESTIVAL 95
W Struggling alone with a bulky portmanteau on arrival
in Edinburgh, Jack Dee bemoans the passing of the
Sadly. gone are the days when one arrived at Waverley Station and walked down the platform chaperoned by willing porters cheerfully wheeling one's splendid leather luggage through billowing plumes of steam as the dear little man at the gate doffed his cap and said. ‘Nice to have you back. sir.‘ It was always such a civilised way to start the Festival. but he's not there anymore. of course. How I miss the days when a ha‘penny was a jolly good tip for anyone in service and a gentleman could expect courtesy and reverence at all times.
Nowadays that same station is electric and although it‘s not unheard of to meet the occasional decent type in First
Class. I'm afraid that the rest are quite a shower. It‘s at times like this when I feel very sorry for Edinburgh having to withstand such an invasion. For three weeks the city is swarming with young hopefuls who set out to conquer the world but after a week would settle for
some penicillin and a quiet place to sob.
I always tell myself that performing at the Festival is not a holiday. but it doesn't work. Indeed. without thinking. I buy and send postcards upon my arrival in Edinburgh. This is very unsophisticated. but I do it every year and then determine not to do anything like that again. And yet. by the end of my stay. I've even bought the odd souvenu:
For instance. it will interest you to learn that my middle name happens to be lnnes which. one year. I felt gave me a licence to purchase a small plastic Scotty dog wearing a kilt and filled with shortbread. The kilt was lnnes tartan. which is what attracted me to the little fellow.
The fact of the matter is that Americans and l have one thing in common — sometimes we think we‘re Scottish. I would therefore like to enlist your help. If at any point during the period of the Festival you see me in tartan. or indeed trying to pass as a native in any way. please punch me hard in the face and tell me not to. It may seem harsh. but you'll be helping me in the long term.
I thank you.
I Best of the Fest One (Fringe) The Playhouse (Venue 59) l7-l8 Aug. 8pm. £l2. £l 1. Jack Dee will be appearing in one of his plain suits.
The artistic director of Edinburgh- based theatre company Communicado reveals where he’ll be sheltering as the Festival storm breaks over his city. ‘I’Il be taking the kids to Boald Dahl’s BFG at Over-Seas House in Princes Street because it’s their favourite story. Then at some point I hope to sink about titteen pints of ale in Stuart’s Bar in Drummond Street - a nice untussy little drinking den. But my tavourite place, where I’ll be hanging out whenever I get the chance, is somewhere with a great relaxing atmosphere, where you can transport yourselt anywhere by the power at the imagination, secluded, intimate, warm, cosy, seductive. My bed. Asleep. Anyone care to join me? Gerry Mulgretv stars in Bommunicado’s A Place With the Pigs at Traverse, 13 Aug-2 Sept, times vary.
Yo-Yo Ma takes the cello Bach to the future
9 through the jungle of competitions and
Virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma comes to Edinburgh to play Bach, but he’s a man of many styles, says Kenny Mathieson.
All tickets for Yo-Yo Ma's marathon four-hour performance of Bach‘s six tnatchless Suites/or Solo Cello at Greyfriar's Kirk were snapped up within hours of going on sale. This is no surprise. as the Chinese-American cellist is widely regarded as the best exponent of his instrument currently performing and the Bach suites are amongst his specialities.
It would have been easier to make a compact list of those specialities earlier in his career. when Ma‘s managers did their best to confine him to the standard cello repertory. In recent years. however. he has spread his wings and followed a seemingly insatiable musical curiosity down a series of less than obvious routes.
Some musicians dabble with other styles in the privacy of their front rooms. but when Ma decides to dip his toe in strange waters. it's usually in full public view. He irnprovises cadenzas
Yo-Yo Ma: ‘you have to dig deep’
for concertos. an art long thought all but extinct. has performed jazz at Carnegie Hall in a tribute to violinist Stephan Grappelli. duetted with singer Bobby McFerrin (of ‘Don‘t Worry. Be Happy' fame). played bluegrass at the Barbican with a bunch of Nashville cats. and journeyed into the Kalahari desert to study the music of the lKung tribespeople.
So. not your average musical CV in these days of determined young professionals clawing their way
concert bookings. but Ma seems at ease with his musical diversity. So far. he has managed to avoid the pitfalls of being viewed as a musical dilettante paying token attention to these other activities: all have hecorne an organic addition to his style.
Ma himself attributes sotne of this musical restlessness to his own cross- cultural upbringing as a Chinese- Arnerican born in Paris. The discovery that different cultures placed different values on similar phenomena led him to a search for some kind of unifying synthesis — a pulling together of many ofthe parts we hear in his music. Ma’s principal preoccupation. however. is to realise and pass on the inherent values within a given piece of music.
‘You have to dig deep.‘ he says. ‘The musician essentially only has one real job. and that is to communicate something to another person that they can identify with. and will remember.‘ (Kenny Mathieson)
Yo- Yo Ma '3' ('om'ert is .vold out. illot'ement In Time: llaeh Suite .l ( a short/ilmfeaturing l’o- l’o Ma and the Mark Morris Dance (iroup). Dram/nae lz'dinlnngh Film I’esti val. Film/rouse. Mon [4 Aug. l().3()pm. £6 (£4).
The dour, deadpan comic, best known as the talking computer in sci-ti series lied Dwarf, chooses tive shows in Edinburgh which could possibly change his lite.
I Magic Bob . . . Unplugged! If you have kids. take them to see Magic Bob because he‘s great and quite the opposite of those rotund. sweaty. uncle- type magicians you get at children‘s patties. Gilded Balloon. [2—27Aug.
2 Sept. 10am.
I Friends at the Western Buddhist Order Buddhist meditation: this could either be the funniest event on the Fringe or it could change my life altogether. Either way. it's only three quid to get in. Edinburgh Buddhist Centre. 20 Aug—2 Sept. / lam. 2pm. 7pm.
I Geoff Hamilton 1 could listen to this man talk about gardening all day. If they play the theme music to
Gardener 's World when he walks on. I will probably cry with joy. Book Festival. Post Ofﬁce Theatre.
[3 Aug. 3pm.
I Boothby Graftoe I've read and heard good things about this comedian and I'm looking forward to seeing him. He just better not be too funny. that’s all! The Pleasance. until 2 Sept. 9.25pm.
I The Nutcracker/Miami City Ballet 1 like a basinful of ballet every couple of years or so and this should be wonderful. My wife was a dancer which is useful because I‘m thinking of incorporating ballet into my stand-up aet. The Playhouse. I 4—] 6 Aug. 7.30pm; 16 Aug. 2.30pm.
Norman Lovett is at the Cafe Royal (Fringe) 556 2549. 14 Aug—2 Sept. 9pm.
In the first at a short series, Ivor Dembina discusses the basics of Jewish humour, starting with ‘shtick’. I'm not used to drinking. but tonight I‘m in the pub. My drinking pal is a fellow comic from England. We‘re talking favourite comedians of all time, He goes for Billy Connolly.
‘What?’ I say. ‘Billy Connolly? He‘s
IVOB DEMBINA’S KOSHER KOBNEB
never made me laugh once.‘
My drinking partner can‘t understand this. ‘lvor. rnayhe he's too Scottish for you.‘ he says. ‘1 love his Glaswegian shtick.‘
Suddenly I'm aggressive. ‘Shtick‘." I say. ‘Hang on. “shtick” is a Jewish word. What is Billy Connolly doing with a "shtick"? I don't go round calling small things "wee" or babies “bairns”. I don't care how tough they are in the Gorbals (or is it Goebels‘.’). Don't take our phr‘ases.‘
‘Hold on. lvor. Don't blame the Big Yin. It was tne who used the word "shtick".'
‘Sorry. I‘m drunk.‘ I say. ‘Jews don't normally drink.‘
‘No.’ he says. ‘Neither do Scots.‘ Ivor I)eml)ina in Stand Up Jewish Comedy is at The I ’leasanee until 2 Sept at 9.30pm.
The List ll-l7 Aug l9959