The marvellous Maddy Anholt - who wowed Edinburgh audiences in 2013 with her Fringe debut 'Maddy's Many Mouths' - returns to the Festival stage this summer with her latest show, 'Diary Of A Dating Addict'. Far from being a simple stand-up or character comedy show, this one has a strong theme, with plenty of interesting observations to make. So we booked in a date with Maddy to find out more.

ThreeWeeks' Caro Moses chats to Maddy about her show here
Look out for the preview edition of ThreeWeeks arriving through the letterboxes of Edinburgh, and at all key Festival venues, over the next few days.

Inside: Stuart Bowden, Maddy Anholt, Linda Cattaneo, Karen Koren, Penny Ashton, Shelley Mitchell, The Dead Secrets, House Of Blakewell, LetLuce, Will Pickvance, Matthew Harvey, Jennie Benton Smith, Stewart Francis, Yianni, Andrew Ryan, Máire Clerkin, Chris Martin and 81 show recommendations.

Check out the online version or download a PDF copy here
It's the TW Podcast at the Edinburgh Festival. This week, with Festival 2015 kicking off next week, ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Chris Cooke chats to MJ Hibbett and Tez Ilyas about their brand new shows, plus enjoy a snippet of children's theatre production 'According To Arthur' and music from Simon Thacker.

Listen and subscribe to the TW Podcast here
We invite Fringe favourites to put together the killer five track Festival playlist. Kicking things off, stand-up Chris Martin, on account of his show this year being called 'This Show Has A Soundtrack'.

Check out Chris's Fringe Playlist here
As ThreeWeeks covers its twentieth Festival, the Gilded Balloon venue is celebrating its thirtieth birthday, so I'm not sure who should be buying who the cake. But it did seem like a good time to catch up with Gilded Balloon chief Karen Koren.

"I had some friends in London who were involved with the then new alternative comedy scene", Koren says, recalling how she came to launch the original Gilded Balloon venue three decades ago, "and they were looking for places to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So I found them somewhere. The 'Gilded Balloon' was a bar and restaurant which had just opened in the Cowgate which subsequently went into liquidation. But I thought it was an amusing name, so I kept it".

Given the size of the Gilded Balloon operation at the Fringe today, that first year was rather more modest. "We only had one space - the Education Room of the 369 Gallery - so I put a bar in the corner and programmed in seven shows per day. Liz Lochead was one of the daytime shows. And we had Arnold Brown, Oscar McLennan and Raw Sex, the backing duo from French and Saunders, aka Roland Rivron and Simon Brint. Oh, and also the Oblivion Boys".

Year one was very much about enabling those alternative comedy contacts to have a base at the Festival. "There was no long term plan at the beginning and I certainly did not think that it would last 30 years", Koren says. "It wasn't until I started adding venues and putting other shows up against each other that the operation started growing, and I could see that the comedy scene was a good avenue to pursue, that there was a gap in the market, both in Scotland and at the Fringe".

Since then, that comedy scene has changed radically of course, both at the Festival and in general. "From the mid-eighties to now, comedy has changed the face of entertainment on television, and some stand-ups have achieved whole new levels of fame. Meanwhile the Fringe has also become very commercial and there are far more professional venues; while more recently, the Free Fringe has a changed things again".

Gilded Balloon remained in its Cowgate home for seventeen years, expanding down and around the road as the years went by. But then, of course, the main Gilded Balloon venue was destroyed in a fire.

"That's the obvious low of the last thirty years" Koren admits. "It was never a completely ideal venue or area, but there was something about the atmosphere that was created there, and we were the first venue to have a late night club where all the comedians would gather, which made it completely unique at the time. Many comics have a real soft spot for the Cowgate days". But Gilded Balloon lived on, and continued to grow once its August operations had been relocated into the Edinburgh University students' union building at Teviot Row, what had previously been the infamous Fringe Club during the Festival.

Looking ahead, what does Koren see for the next three decades for the Gilded Balloon? "My daughter has now returned from being in London for eight years and has decided to make a go of it in the Gilded Balloon. She is young, enthusiastic, stylish and has some great ideas".

"In order to keep the Gilded Balloon up to the minute with exciting entertainment, it needs new blood, so I look forward to my daughter's input. I will keep being part of the business as long as I can and we will work together and create an even more exciting Gilded Balloon in the future".

And as for the future of the Fringe: "The Fringe will continue to thrive. I think there could be further changes in the free show strands as they evolve, and maybe ultimately fewer free show venues if the city decides to regulate these more. Elsewhere, the Edinburgh University campus, which has been the hub of the Fringe in recent years, is going through some big changes which will have an impact on some of the venues. There could even be another shift in where the centre of the Fringe sits. But whatever happens, the Fringe will survive and will still be the biggest arts festival in the world".

Today ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses puts the spotlight on the spoken word programme, first up tipping three team efforts.

Poetry Can F*ck Off (pictured)
I want to make it quite, quite clear from the off that I did not choose this show because it has the F word in the title, because I am very old now, and not that childish. Written by Heathcote Williams and featuring words and lyrics borrowed from the likes of Jim Morrison, Billie Holiday, Sophie Scholl, Martin Luther King, William Blake, Arundhati Roy, Victor Jara, Gil Scott-Heron and Lupe Fiasco, this piece is all about how words can spark revolution, a celebration of those who speak out against tyranny, and is performed by Roy Hutchins, Sameena Zehra, Selina Nwulu, Jonny Fluffypunk and special guests. I think it's going to be great.
Summerhall, from 14 until 22 Aug

Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson

So, er, Carol Ann Duffy is the Poet Laureate. Do I need to say anything else? Well, yes, I do, because otherwise this paragraph will be way too short, but quite honestly, you could have all worked out by yourselves that this collaboration with well known musical talent John Sampson will be brilliant. Duffy will read from her acclaimed body of work, while Sampson will take the audience on a tour of music from the last 500 years, via a collection of modern and period instruments.
The Assembly Rooms, from 7 until 30 Aug

Skeptics On The Fringe

I am pretty sure this isn't the first time I've tipped 'Skeptics On The Fringe', and I expect it won't be the last, unless they all get bored and decide never again to stage a show at the Edinburgh Fringe. If science, reason and critical thinking are your thing, then this is very definitely going to be your thing. And they really got to me this year by talking about 'Back To The Future' in the programme blurb. Yes, honestly. I can't resist references to 'Back To The Future'. I own the DVD box set.
Banshee Labyrinth, from 8 until 29 Aug
More spoken word recommendations from ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses now, this time solo pieces.

Asking Nicely
We know this show by Hanna Chutzpah is brilliant, because it was on at the Fringe last year and we gave it a glowing five star write up. "For those who were mocked at school", wrote our highly experienced reviewer, "for those who always feel the need to ask permission, Chutzpah's confidence and determination are inspiring: this is a gorgeous, life-affirming, empowering show. I left at least three inches taller." I don't think I need to add anything, really, do I?
Pilgrim, from 8 until 29 Aug

Dylan's Daughter
This sounds like a really interesting presentation from actress Anne Rutter, who was close friends with Aeronwy Bryn Thomas-Ellis, translator of Italian poetry, but perhaps more famously, the daughter of renowned Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The show, devised and performed by Rutter herself, promises to be an affectionate and moving portrait of a woman living her life in the shadow of her notorious father.
Spotlites, from 23 until 31 Aug

Matt Abbott Is Skint And Demoralised (pictured)
I was immediately attracted to this offering from Matt Abbot, possibly because he appears to be a lefty northerner like me, but more likely because he's a definite up-and-comer in the world of spoken word. It's not a cheerful title, granted, but with my finely tuned powers of cultural detection, I can tell that it's meant to be a bit tongue in cheek. Well, if we're honest, I read the blurb, which reveals that we can expect the show's sometimes bleak and poignant content to be cut with wit and self-deprecating humour. And that sounds like my kind of show.
Sweet Grassmarket, from 17 until 23 Aug
© ThreeWeeks is published by UnLimited Media

ThreeWeeks, UnLimited Media, Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX.
t: 0131 516 8842 |