I started the day by visiting Michael Nyman’s exhibition Images Were Introduced, the bulk of which consists of the film Man With a Movie Camera shown alongside Nyman’s ten remakes, all with a common soundtrack. In fact the ten new films are quite similar to the extent that there were usually only three different scenes on screen. Next door was another film by Nyman, with a soundtrack that, even with headphones, was completely inaudible beneath the soundtrack of the first film. Nyman has become his own noisy neighbour, perhaps he should make a film about an encroaching leylandii.
I then went to see A Complete and Comprehensive History of the Roman Empire in Less Than an Hour With Jokes by Ed O’Meara, which more or less did exactly that except for the bit about being complete and comprehensive. The Romans weren’t that good at jokes so it was good to redress the balance. I then went to a show consisting of various stand-ups performing around the fringe. All were good, but by the end of the show I’d realised a couple of things. Firstly, I was the only person in Edinburgh on his own. Secondly, I wouldn’t cross the road to see another stand-up comedian, and this was unfortunate because during the fringe, that’s what happens when you do. When I used to do stand-up myself, I felt that the circuit was full of people who had funny material, but weren’t funny themselves. Now it seems to be the opposite, professionals with nothing to say. I was particularly disappointed to find that so much of comedy still depends on national stereotypes. I don’t find this offensive so much as unambitious.
So instead I went to Ulysses Dies At Dawn by the Mechanisms. These are a set of steampunk self-proclaimed immortal space pirates, playing a folk-derived hour-long science fiction take on Greek myths. Now I know that sounds like the ingredients list from a recipe for disaster (a Delia book that I’m still awaiting, by the way) but I absolutely loved it. I’ll try not to bang on about it too much, but I bought the CD on the way out and went straight back to my room and played it.
After that I decided that I should take it easy before having another go at finding Miranda Kane’s The Coin-Operated Girl. This time I found the venue in good time, only to discover that this show was on at 2:15pm, not 10:05pm as advertised in the fringe guide. Honestly, Anne doesn’t have to worry about what I get up to on my own. This was my second night in Edinburgh and I still hadn’t found a prostitute. Instead I watched another compilation of stand-ups, and thought much the same as I’d thought this afternoon. Most of it was okay, but there were more jokes about national stereotypes, and it was as if alternative comedy had never happened.