AS Alex Salmond prepares to take to the stage at the Fringe next month, we asked a panel of comedians and performers what the former first minister can expect on his festival debut.
Titled Alex Salmond Unleashed, the event will take the form of a chat show, with promotional material promising a different guest from the worlds of politics, sport and showbiz every night.
The ex-SNP leader, who lost his Westminster seat in June’s general election, pledged to dish the dirt on political rivals during the one hour show, set to run every day at 1.45pm from August 13-27 at the Assembly Rooms.
Promoters have promised “a bit of light-hearted banter and a few behind the scenes revelations about his time in power”.
‘Don’t engage with hecklers’
Karen Koren is the founder and artistic director of the Gilded Balloon, helping to kick-start the career of acts including Tim Minchin, Bill Bailey and Johnny Vegas.
In their 32nd year of promoting shows at the festival, Gilded Balloon hosts Scottish comic Craig Ferguson in a series of performances being broadcast live to the US on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
She said: “I think having Alex Salmond perform at the Fringe is a massive coup for the festival. He knows exactly what he’s doing and exactly the type of audience he will attract, so I don’t think he needs that confidence boost ahead of his debut.”
“If I had to give him one piece of advice, it would be not to engage too heavily with hecklers. Audiences want to hear what he has to say and if he spends all his time running down a member of the crowd, it’s going to get boring very quickly. Just put him or her down and move on.”
‘Don’t mention the referendum’
Stand up, podcaster and viral video maker Ashley Storrie will be performing her Morning Glory show at the Laughing Horse at the Counting House as part of the Free Fringe from August 3-27.
She said: “Firstly Alex, don’t mention the referendum, it really divides an audience. You should pack a lunch from home as fast food in Edinburgh is extortionate. Reviewers might be mean but that’s probably just because they’re jealous or Tories or both.
“You might not get your own BBC 3 series straight away, despite what that fast talking person told you at the ‘performers bar’.
“And prepare to be in the minority as a Scottish act at a Scottish festival – we’re like unicorns.
“More than anything else though, in all seriousness, have fun and rest easy in the knowledge you’re already independently wealthy and unlike the rest of us, this month won’t bankrupt you.”
‘Enjoy the experience’
Former Forth One DJ and current BBC Radio Scotland DJ Grant Stott made his Fringe debut in 2016, performing his one man show Grant Stott’s Tales from Behind the Mic at Gilded Balloon Teviot alongside long-term collaborator Andy Gray.
He encouraged the former first minister to enjoy the experience.
He said: “If ever there was a politician that would be perfectly suited to the festival, it’s got to be Alex Salmond.
“Usually I’d advise new performers to prepare thoroughly for their first show, but I don’t think he’ll need to, I think he could go up there and blether for an hour without a script.
“He’ll have fun, he’ll definitely enjoy it. I think it might be a surprise to see how the audience reacts and participates. It’s going to be a different crowd every night, so it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with that.
“This is what the Fringe is all about; expect the unexpected.”
‘Politicians are narcissists’
Scottish comedy reviewer-turned-stand up herself,Fern Brady has previously appeared on BBC series including Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central and Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience and completed a sell-out run at last year’s festival.
Her brand new show, Suffer, Fools! runs throughout the festival at The Stand, with tickets priced at £10.00.
She said Salmond should stick to reality TV and said he was “not welcome” at the festival.
She added: “The fact Alex Salmond is doing this is indicative of what we all know deep down: the worst politicians are preening narcissists who love the sound of their own voice more than they care about engineering any positive social change.
“At least comedians have a degree of self-awareness and keep our clowning to the stage.
“He’s not welcome here, tell him to go on I’m A Celebrity or join Ed Balls on that dancing show.”