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Quick Quiz: Simon Evans

By | Published on Tuesday 15 August 2017

This August the Edinburgh Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we have asked a plethora of performers about their personal Fringe experiences. Today the magnificent Simon Evans.

TW: What was your first ever experience of the Edinburgh Fringe?
SE: I came up in 1992, as press working for The Big Issue. Almost no one had heard of The Big Issue and my press card was regarded with deep suspicion, but I got into a few things which I still remember fondly. Anthony Morgan, an Australian comic, in an early Spiegeltent. A one man theatre thing about Van Gogh which was a classic Fringe production. And Fred McCauley, in a triple bill with Lynn Ferguson and AN Other. Steve Coogan won the Perrier that year and I got into the party. It was all very exciting!

TW: What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe?
SE: The best thing I’ve ever seen… God, that’s hard. Bill Bailey that year he should’ve won the Comedy Award? 1996, I reckon. Doug Anthony All Stars in their pomp? Al Murray in 1998? Antonio Forcione, the first time I saw him, in a huge converted church? That would have been 1996 too, I think. More recently, the puppet/mask/mime show Teatro Delusio last year was amazing, especially as it was the first time I saw my nine year old son ‘get it’.

TW: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe – so bad it was good?
SE: Worst thing? Well, I’ll be honest, it isn’t hard to find comedy shows that are just so uninspired, that have been attempted before the perpetrators are anything like ready, when a decent five minutes has been erected as a centre pole on which to drape a further 45 minutes of filler. Often the give away is a lurid day-glo flyer or someone wearing a colourful wig when they’re handing out the publicity. But then I’ve seen so much, I’m so jaded, I only have to hear the set up “so – I’m dating…” and I switch off. True eccentrics with no concept of what entertainment looks like don’t annoy me. Lazy wannabes do though.

TW: Which of the Fringe shows you performed in do you most fondly remember – and why?
SE: My fondest memory is probably of ‘The Comedy Zone’ in 1998, which is the last time I was in a joint show, a package show. Terrific value, so you go out knowing you’ve got nothing to fear, you just need to do 20 minutes to a pissed up audience, just like a proper club. Having said that, the one performance I probably relish was the Gilded Balloon ‘Late N Live’ gig I did in 1999, when I’d been stuck in a quiet afternoon slot for my one man show and suddenly I had a proper late night audience to handle and I blew them, in all modesty, away. That felt soooo good.

TW: Name a Fringe performer – past or present – who you’d like to join on stage?
SE: I have done a few improv gigs with The Comedy Store Players over the years, and also with Marcus Brigstocke’s squad a couple of years ago. I really enjoy improv. My first ever workshop class, I was taught by Stella Duffy, who I bet is still amazing, though she is more famous now in several other capacities, especially detective fiction. So maybe her!

TW: Other than performing and seeing shows, what is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh during August?
SE: It’s a cliche I suppose, but I do like to get out and about as often as possible, Arthur’s Seat being the obvious choice, or further if possible. To be honest, a lot of the bars and venues, I like them but they change. And if you are hoping to relive the glory days, it can be a bit sad, a bit tragic. The hill, you can trust.

Simon Evans performed ‘Genius’ at Assembly George Square Studios at Edinburgh Festival 2017.