Karen Koren: 4am finish seems tame these days

The Penny Black. 'Picture:contributed
The Penny Black. 'Picture:contributed
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No sooner has the Festival finished and the dust starts to settle than we start to think about the next Festival. It will be Gilded Balloon’s 30th anniversary in 2015 which seems amazing that time has gone so quickly. We want to make the Festival as special as possible, with lots of old favourites coming back and also asking people what their memories are of the times they have spent at the Gilded Balloon.

In the Cowgate days we were the only venue who were open very late, until 4am. That meant that all the comedians congregated at our venue. Over the last ten, fifteen years or so our venue and lots of others have been open until 5am which makes the 4am closing time feel quite early. Though in the Eighties and early Nineties there was still the Penny Black Pub, right, that all the comics and partygoers would frequent. The Penny Black was renowned for its early opening hours and frequented by workers just coming off a night shift.

It would be good to hear people’s memories and what famous comics or performers they would like to see back at the Gilded Balloon. Jo Brand said: “My abiding memory of The Gilded Balloon, although it’s quite a hazy one, was the night I decided to employ a new method of dealing with drunk audiences. I was booked to do Late’n’Live (Edinburgh’s infamous English comic baiting version of The Coliseum) and through a combination of terror and necessity, decided to get as pissed as the audience. I had to have a chair on stage because I couldn’t stand up and surfed on a wave of ambivalent, homicidal love from the audience, loving every minute of it and forgetting all of it the next day”.

Johnny Vegas said: “The Gilded Balloon had guts. Gigging there was not about prestige. Late‘n’Live could break the best the fest had to offer, but when work was done it was where any real comic went to play”.

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