Fringe Review Diary – Day 2 – Don’t Mess (Free Fringe)

Day 2 – 6th August 2011

Free Fringe

After the Roller Derby, me and the Girl didn’t have and another shows booked, so we decided to experience some the Fringe’s free shows. We had heard of Robin Ince before as he was a support act to Ricky Gervais when he was doing his ‘Politics’ tour and some of Robin Ince’s stuff was on the DVD extras.  It seemed like a good pick.

In the pouring rain we headed on down to Cannons’ Gait where he was playing, only to find out that this Free Non-ticketed event (according to the guide) was free, yet it was ticketed, or rather tokened. How did this work? Well at this particular venue the bar was giving out tokens to people there 45 minutes before the gig. We arrived 35 minutes before it, and were duly told they were fresh out of tokens….after we had bought our drinks. Plus we were drenched. Bugger.

TOP TIP: Don’t do the above.  Ways to avoid the above: 1) Buy an Umbrella (which I since have) 2) Arrive a good hour before this gig.

A bit downhearted, we took out drinks and stood in a crowded pub in wet clothes and decided to have a bit of a think. This think was interrupted by some spy work on my part when I spotted a table being vacated, so we swiftly grabbed it. Another piece of fortune came our way as left on the table was blue booklet detailing just the free shows at the fringe. We found one that looked half way decent, that was local and that started with in an hour. The venue was ‘The Banshee Labyrinth’ and the act was called ‘Don’t Mess’.

Don’t Mess – 19:50 – The Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156) – Music Room


The Banshee Labyrinth claims, in prominent letters on the place, to be ‘Scotland’s most haunted Pub!’. I thought in my head, I hope that doesn’t mean all the acts will die on stage. Boom! Puns rock in your own head. I’ll add that to the list, Arenas, Huts and Heads (see post on Thinking & Drinking in Huts for clarification on this).

We were downstairs in the ‘Music room’. Not quite as punchy as what the Pleasance venue would have probably just called ‘DOWN’ or ‘CELLAR’. Actually I thought ‘Cave’ would have been a more accurate description as we walked down the musty smelling corridor and into the smallish cavernous room.  There was a (small) bar and several rows of chairs, with the ones at the front given speakeasy style tables. As we were heading in another act had just finished and the place was deserted save a bartender. When we asked him, this time before we got drinks, if we needed tokens, he didn’t know what we were on about and just said sit anywhere. Which we did. Front row. Hadn’t done that before. Bit nervous.


Don’t Mess consisted of two half hour stand-up comedy acts from Kieran Boyd and Mark Cooper-Jones. These guys are two thirds of the sketch show team WitTank. WitTank is a paid for show, but this was their solo stuff and they’d decided to do it on the free fringe.

Kieran was on first and started some great banter with the crowd and with the walk-ins that this type of venue allowed. He seemed to handle all the kerfuffle in his stride. His stand up jokes were very good, and amongst other things he drew reference to his boy like stature and other short comings in life, including having the same name as a paedophile when he was just a boy himself. I always admire a comic who can pull this off (no pun intended) and get the audience on their side, rather than getting the audience to agree with it all. For down that road likes heckle-ville.

Next up was Mark Cooper-Jones whose act was more self-loving than loathing. For example he loved his name for it rhymed with Mark Super-Jones. He act was very much along the lines of ‘I’m in charge here’(I’m sure in part, this was due to him announcing that when he is not doing this he is a geography teacher), but again it was done in a way that got the crowd on side.  After some very good stand up jokes, the last part of his act was set up as a competition to name various countries capitals, he verses the audience. This really appealed to my competitive nature and I managed to get all of ours right, bar one, which he put directly to me. I won’t say what the country is, so as not to spoil the act. He of course knew them all. It all worked well and there was a good vibe and lots of banter from Super-Jones.

TOP TIP: If you want to go this show and I recommend you do, a little brush up on your capitals couldn’t hurt. If not for trying to catch Super Jones out, then at least so as not to feel under educated when asked the capital of a basic country like Germany, as one poor girl did.

RATING: 9 out of 10

It was all good fun and the smaller venue made it feel more intimate and chatty. Yes, I got talked to quite a bit sitting in the front row, but I relished it really. A real suprise for my first free fringe experience.

Next post – Asli and Ashley: Audacious and Angry (Free Fringe)


About residentweebler
Short Story Writer and Opinionated observer. Visit my blog for all this and more.

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