Stewart lee

Still bitter after years of indifferent audiences (and those were the good nights) the now successful television comedian settles some scores.

Nine years. nine years I tell ye. of coming to your Fringe Festival. playing to tens of people. losing thousands of pounds. and then on August 9 I995 tne and Richard Herring walk out on stage to a 250 plus crowd to trot out variations on all the familiar TV- endorsed l-‘ist oj’l’un themes to deafening gales of fanatical laughing. You bastards!

Where were you when we needed you '.’ Where were they when Rich was booed off at the Gilded Balloon in I988? Where were they as we watched our losses pile up in an enormous empty venue in I992? Where were they when Michael Billington nominated me worst show on the Fringe in I989?

Nowhere to be seen. you two-faced cowardly tossers. Honestly. it's as ifall you have to do is appear on television and the next thing you know you’re genuinely popular.

What is it that you want. oh audience member“? Tell us. and we will endeavour to give it to you As individuals. you audience members are at worst inoffensive. and at best a delight to meet. thoughtful. rational. charming. reasonable people who can explain your likes and dislikes with politeness and eloquence. But. penned in With your fellows. you suddenly become part of The Audience. a hideous monster. insensible to reason. letting us, the noble pcrl'OI'mCI‘S. succeed or fail on a whim.

After the first night of our Clutth Zarathustra show i and my fellow conspirators watched excitedly as an audience of 30 first-time converts left the venue punching the air with exhilaration. convinced that the war against Fringe tedium had been won. The next night we watched in shame as twenty or so people sneaked out one by one during a show that you. the evil Audience. chose to allow to die.

This year. why don‘t you all turn over a new leaf. If you think any of us performers really like travelling thousands of miles to spend a month in Edinburgh being forced to drink ourselves into oblivion as we watch our losses rise. then you are tnore stupid than you look. and this alone is no mean feat. Why not save us all the bother. and do the Festival without us. Meet nightly upon Arthur‘s Seat en masse. oh audience. and elect yourselves a spokesperson. Let your leader select a show and then flip a coin to decide its fate. thus scientifically recreating the random unpredictability of your own mad judgements.

In closing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has supported me itt my Fringe endeavours over the last nine years. for you are noble and you escape my wrath. Go forth and multiply.

I Lee and Herring’s Fist of Fun (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) until 20 Aug. 8.45pm. £8/£7 (£7/£6). I Cluub Zarathustra (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) until 2 Sept (not 31). ll.59pm.

Fiona Knowles

Edinburgh performer Fiona Knowles works regularly with theatre and screen writer Rona Munro under the title MsFits specialising in feminist comedy. She reveals her Festival hide- outs during the invasion of the city.

I avoid all pubs and clubs where the clientele bear any resemblance to my children, their triends or other actors. 0r anywhere that’s so crowded the person next to you drinks out of your glass. My typical fringe consists of home, show, pub, tood, home. My fave restaurant is the Himalayan on Forrest Road where I told them I was reviewing tor Scotland on Sunday. Great service! Alternatively the Sicilian in Bruntstield, where the chilli can render you speechless - no mean teat tor a one- woman pertormer. I might just make it to the Gilded Balloon to see my old pals Max & Jill and then home to bed with a hot stage manager.

Fiona Knowles performs I Spy Mrs Peery at Diverse Attractions, 21-26 Aug, 9pm.

Absolute beginn

Kathleen Morgan profiles Diran Adebayo who has been hailed as the 90s Colin McInnes.

Award-winning writer Diran Adebayo is about to go where no man has gone before between the covers with Virago Press. The deal frotn the publishing house traditionally associated with women writers comes along with a new £3000 prize launched to showcase black British and Irish writers.

At the Edinburgh Book Festival to accept the inaugural SAGA Prize. Adebayo was being hailed as a powerful new voice. staking out new territory for 90s fiction and youth culture as Colin Maclnnes did with Absolute Beginners in the 50s. Launched by actress and writer Marsha Hunt. the prize was home from a frustration with the apparent lack of black writers in Britain.



Chen Adebayo: man in a woman’s world Adebayo‘s winning novel Some Kind of Black is the 26~year-old journalist‘s first. A fast-moving tale of London‘s multi-stranded black culture. it knocked the panel ofjudges off their literary seat. ‘Here is a tender-tough new voice that tells about being young. black and male; about London and about the music to which a young soul beats.‘ says Lennie Goodings. Virago‘s publishing director. ‘Diran Adebayo

er first Virago man

puts language through hoops and back again.‘

Some Kind oj'B/atfk tells of a black Londoner and Oxford graduate of Nigerian descent. at odds with the cultural melting pot around him London's black culture is dominated by Caribbean influences. Although he shares his hero‘s background. Adebayo says the novel is not autobiographical. ‘Writing works as a psychotherapy for the writer whether it‘s autobiographical or not.‘ he says. ‘lt‘s a kind of rites-of- passage novel.‘

Adebayo‘s message is that being black can be many things: his novel attempts to demolish notions of cultural nationalism dominating some parts of British life. including its black communities. His hope is that the SAGA Prize will help put black on the literary map: ‘I hope we will see a coming of age in terms of black British culture and how it‘s perceived.‘

Some Kind of Black will be published by Virago Press in June I996.


Angela Pleasence

Renowned Beckett interpreter and circus fanatic Angela Pleasence, daughter at Donald, chooses tive shows she plans to catch in Edinburgh.

I Cirque Surreal l‘tn mad about circus without animals. I‘ve seen Archaos before and I studied with in Paris Le Coq who influenced a lot of the performers. Cirque Surreal. unti13 Sept. various times.

I Rhapsodla in Clown l‘m a big fan of clowning of all kinds. I haven‘t seen this Spanish company before but this show looks fascinating. Rhapsodia in Clown. The Pleasance. until 2 Sept. 6.50pm.

I Observe the Sons ot Ulster Marching Towards the Somme I‘ve seen other stuff by the director Patrick Mason. Whenever I’m in Dublin I go to

the theatre the Irish have such great writers and actors. EIF: Abbey Theatre. King 's Theatre. until 23 Aug. 7.30pm. I Helken I know this is a great dance theatre company from Germany but I‘ve never seen them before. The excitement of anticipating something like this is like being a child going to the circus for the first time. EIF: Pina Bausch. Edinburgh Playhouse. 3/ Aug—2 Sept. 7.30pm.

I Chekhov Anecdotes I didn’t see the version of Othello that Theatre on Podol did around the swimming pool but everyone still talks about it. Chekhov and Samuel Beckett are my two favourite theatre writers, so I‘ll be seeing one and performing the other. K in Theatre/Theatre on Podol. Moray House Union. until 27 Aug. 8.35pm. Angela Pleasence performs Beckett 's Happy Days at The Pleasance. until 2 Sept (not I 7. 31). 7pm.


Ivor Dembina continues his look at the basics at Jewish humour with ‘The Convert’.

Are you one of those people who‘s fond of saying. ‘I can never remember jokes.‘ or worse. ‘Whenever I tell a joke it comes out wrong“? lfso. Judaism is for you.

Take my tnate Gary. The bad thing about Gary was that he was never funny. But the good thing about him was he knew it. He said to me: ‘lvor. you‘re funny. How do you do it‘?‘

‘lt‘s probably something to do with being Jewish.’ I said.

‘Fair enough. l‘ll convert.‘ he said. ‘Gary. what do you want to become Jewish for?‘ I asked. ‘Haven‘t you got

enough problems‘?‘

‘There you are lvor. you were funny again. I‘ve got to get into this Jewish



And it worked. From pub bore. overnight Gary became a friendly wit. Now whenever Gary meets people. the first thing he says is. ‘Guess what? l‘rn Jewish!‘ Now they laugh at him all the time!

Ivor Dentbina in Stand Up Jewish Comedy is at The Pleasance until 2 Sept at 9. 30pm. '

The List l8-24 Aug 1995 9