Iain Stirling putting Everything on show at Fringe

Iain Stirling. Pic: BBC
Iain Stirling. Pic: BBC
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Former Liberton High pupil Iain Stirling is bringing his latest show Everything to the Pleasance Courtyard.

Best known today as a CBBC presenter, Iain is usually accompanied by his canine sidekick Hacker T Dog and presents the celebrity gameshow, The Dog Ate My Homework. But he’s also a stand-up, as Fringe audiences will discover next month.

He started stand-up in his final year studying law at Edinburgh University. The comedian, who was born and brought up in Howden Hall has a good Fringe track record too - his last two shows have sold out. Here, as he prepares to return home, he reflects how he was introduced to the Fringe, and the comedy lifestyle, as a kid.

‘Hello Edinburgh! Long-time no see. Any significant changes? Trams! No way, get out of here!

Anyway, the festival is nearly upon us. Soon the city will be awash with confused Americans asking “us Scotch” where the Castle is, and posters of comedians you’ve never heard of, advertising shows you’ll never go and see What’s that? You’re already going to see Fred MacAaulay... OK don’t worry about it.

For me, the Festival is now all about following a daily routine which first finds me constantly pretending to text in order to avoid catching a flyerer’s gaze as I make the way to my show.

That’s followed by a few post gig drinks with friends, and then an ill-informed late night falafel.

A fun experience don’t get me wrong, but after years of this comedy, beer and deep fried monotony you do worry you’re becoming numb to the unique experience of the Fringe.

So let’s go back, back to when I was in my early teens. Studying for my Standard Grades at the mighty Liberton High (or ‘Libby’ for the more experienced among us).

Back then Edinburgh was a very different experience. The festival was a gateway to things I had never seen or experienced. Comedians I didn’t know, musicians I’d never heard of and falafel I had never tasted. That’s what I want to hold on to.

I’d get home from school, chuck my bag on the bed having checked for any new ‘mentions’, jump on the No 37 and be on my way to town...

Except it wasn’t. People’s accents were foreign and exotic, theatre types would walk around in strange clothing combinations (why couldn’t they wear Rockports, Levis and a GAP hoody like the rest of us?), the street was filled with performers and posters. This wasn’t my Edinburgh. It was better. 

Living slightly out of town was great, but whilst walking past one of Alnwickhill Road’s numerous speed cameras, would you ever see a dude on a unicycle juggling fire!? You didn’t! I mean, once my mate Ben set fire to his Action Man, but his parents got involved fairly promptly and the situation was dealt with. An experience undoubtedly, but hardly a spectacle. I’d have given it three stars.

But Fringe experiences. They were on a different scale. And I’ve had a few.

Going down to The Stand and seeing all these guys and girls who were funny but not on the telly. I KNOW!

And I’ll never forget my first real Edinburgh gig. Having been refused entry to the sold-out Lucy Porter, my friends and I found ourselves wandering into Jason Byrne’s show late.

There is always panic when you walk into a comedy show late. “What if the comedian makes fun of me?” But I wasn’t too worried, I mean I had the Rockports and a hoody - what could he possibly pick me up on?

He made fun of my hat being at a ridiculous angle for 20 minutes. My mind was blown and that was me hooked.

It’s that feeling we Edinburghers should hold on to this Festival.

That feeling of wonderment. Yes, the parking is a nightmare and yes, tourists do inexplicably walk at half the speed of a normal person. But put all that to one side, think of the new and exciting things you can see.

That’s what I would have thought in the past and it’s what I’m going to try to think once again.

I’m not wearing Rockports again, though. Some things are best left in the past.

Oh, and by the way, see that castle on top of that massive hill? That’s the Castle.

Iain Stirling: Everything, Pleasance Upstairs, Pleasance Courtyard, 30 July-24 August, 7.15pm, £8.50-£10, 0131-226 0000