Fringe show lets you sing karaoke with stars

Al Murray plays the tambourine as the band play at last year's Fringe

Al Murray plays the tambourine as the band play at last year's Fringe

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FANCY singing along with comedy stars of the Fringe this August? Comedians such as Phill ­Jupitus or Tim Vine? Well, as the Fringe prepares to launch its programme tomorrow, ­hidden amongst the 3000-odd listings is a show that will let you do just that.

It has no cast. No script. No story. Yet is preparing to pack in more than 300 revellers a night at the Gilded Balloon.

Friday I’m In Love Presents: Massaoke is back, bigger and better. As the name suggests, it brings communal singing to a whole new level. With no dreaded karaoke spotlight, this is massaoke, where everyone sings together and the crowd is the star of the show.

Just buy your ticket, grab a drink, and prepare to sing the night away led by random celebrities in a chorus of 1980s and 1990s classics.

Friday I’m In Love is the brainchild of former journalist Jayne Savva, self-declared co-founder and chief rabble-rouser of the event.

“I carried the idea around with me for years, even sketching the flyer design on the back of a fag packet, but didn’t do anything about it until I took redundancy from my news­paper job and moved to London in 2011,” she says.

“There I met Mat Morrisroe, a drummer, and between us we put a house band together and launched the night in a tiny basement of a pub, and it has gone from there.”

The four-strong house band – Morrisroe on drums, Neil Winspear on guitar, Rye Eden on bass and Mark Nilsson on keyboards – are jobbing musicians who have been playing together now for four years, during which time massaoke has headlined a stage at T in the Park as well as taking the 2014 Fringe by storm at The Pleasance.

“When we first started out, we printed the words on songsheets, it was quite cosy and communal,” explains Jayne, “but, as it got bigger, we realised that wouldn’t work. Now we have the words on giant screens.”

She adds: “Last year we were pleased to get such a well-known Fringe venue and it went really well, but the thing that really surprised me was the number of comedians who wanted to get involved.

“It was a real Who’s Who of the Festival; Phill Jupitus came and sang the Madness track It Must Be Love, and Tim Vine, Shappi Khorsandi and Arthur Smith all came along.

“It was amazing how many did it for free, just to get involved. Pub Landlord Al Murray even played drums with us – he loved it so much he came back half a dozen times.”

Jayne is hoping for a similar response for the massaoke nights at the Gilded Balloon, where you could find yourself singing along with any one of the country’s top stand-ups. However, there is one thing she would like to make clear: it is not karaoke.

“Everyone thinks it’s karaoke but it isn’t,” she insists. “Massaoke was the term we coined while promoting it last year to combat that – we’ve just trademarked it.”

Communal singing has been popular for generations, of course, from the glee clubs of old to the songsheets of pantomime and sing-along movie screenings.

The attraction is simple, believes Jayne: unlike karaoke, when people sing together, there’s no spotlight on the singer. No pressure.

She says: “A lot of people like singing but don’t want to be up there because they don’t have a particularly good voice or the confidence to be in the spotlight.

“Massaoke gives them the opportunity to sing their hearts out as if they were in the shower because, when you have 300 people all singing together, no-one can really hear you. It’s just an uplifting wall of sound.”

The bar being open helps, she admits, giving Dutch courage to shyer members of the audience.

She adds: “A lot of people are nervous, but it’s always very jovial. In the age of selfies and social media, where people are sort of self-obsessed, we don’t really interact in the way we used to, massaoke is a platform to do just that.”

Like any Fringe show, you need a ticket to join the fun. Once inside, the house band plays two one-hour sets, chosen from a repertoire of 300 popular songs.

“We tend to stick to a set list which is a mix of 80s and 90s pop, rock, indie, and soul,” says Jayne. “One of our biggest songs is Erasure’s Respect, that always goes down well, people love it.

“But I’m always amazed by the groups of 21-year-old boys we have belting out Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart. How do they know that song? Their parents must have played it when they were kids.”

For everyone over 30, who now feel a bit too old for clubbing, massaoke is “a real nostalgia kick, a trip down memory lane,” she adds, especially as once a week a theme night will focus on movies, rock, girl power and the like.

Despite a late time-slot – doors open at half-past midnight – Jayne insists massaoke will be the perfect pick-me-up after a day of Fringe-going.

She says: “After a long day seeing shows you might be a bit knackered but there is something about the Friday I’m In Love: Massaoke atmosphere that just lifts you.

“You get energy from the crowd and the atmosphere is totally unique. So, if you want to stay out and still have fun, this is for you.”

• Friday I’m In Love Presents: Massaoke, Gilded Balloon, Teviot, August 7-30 (not 10, 17, 24), 12.30am, £12, 0131-226 0000

Comics’ top 5

1. Jon Snow – Blur’s Parklife

2. Phill Jupitus – Madness’ It Must Be Love

3. Pub Landlord Al Murray – Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now

4. Tim Vine – Erasure’s A Little Respect

5. Drowning out Mumford & Sons at our T in the Park show in 2013. Marcus Mumford rudely referred to us “d*******s making a racket” when our over-enthusiastic crowd drowned out their main stage show. Our proudest

moment.

AUDIENCE TOP 1O

1. A Little Respect, Erasure: “The best song ever written. Andy Bell is our hero. He’s promised to join us one day.”

2. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bonnie Tyler: “We often close with this massive power ballad.”

3. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen: “Our encore song ALWAYS brings the house down.”

4. Creep, Radiohead: “A soul-searching geek anthem for anyone who ever felt like an outsider – and you get to swear at the top of your lungs. Cathartic.”

5. Living On A Prayer, Bon Jovi (pictured): “A brilliant opener with lots of opportunity for air punching.”

6. Take On Me, A-ha: “We do a reggae-style version of this – it shouldn’t work, but it does.”

7. Don’t Look Back In Anger, Oasis: “Brings out the swagger in even the shyest wall flowers.”

8. Hello, Lionel Ritchie: “Eyes closed, hand on heart – and sing. This is everyone’s guilty pleasure.”

9. Fight For Your Right, Beastie Boys: “Brings out the disgruntled teenager lurking in all of us.”

10. (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, from Dirty Dancing: “Perfect way to close and everyone sings with conviction. Thankfully, no injuries from copying ‘the lift’.”