Craig Hill: We are the real flaming marvel

Two amazing events are about to take place in the British Isles over the next few weeks – the Olympics and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Both of them include hurdles, the 100-metre dash and, if you’re lucky, a long jump.

Audiences and participants will travel from around the globe for both of them and they’ll all be feeling that lovely sense of security. Some of them from countries I’ve never even heard of – something called America? – and for most of the people taking part this will be the culmination of months, even years, of hard work. Basically, we’re all puttin’ on a show!

Which am I looking forward to the most? Well, as much as I love lycra on fit people – on anyone outside of that category it’s more unforgiving than a Festival reviewer – my heart is in and beating heavily for the Fringe of course. It’s the time of year when my beautiful home city comes alive with exotic, and frequently bizarre, characters and events. Only yesterday I saw my first four matching Lederhosen on Broughton Street and thought: “Here we go!”

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Where else in the world can you witness a thong-wearing fire juggler performing next to half a dozen students dressed in bed sheets trying to get bemused tourists to come to see their “modern” take on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar? Where else do you hear high-pitched, inappropriate levels of enthusiasm that would label you mad in any other city? Who needs pole vaulters when we have stilt walkers? As long as there’s a Pole, right? Who needs marathons when we have 24-hour shows? Who needs Snickers when we’ve got sniggers? Who needs the wide open spaces of the Olympic Stadium when you can pay to be shut in a swelteringly hot broom cupboard with 50 other people on the verge of collapse but still loving the fact that you are witnessing an incredible new comedian’s first steps on the comedy ladder?

I’d rather toss my javelin into unknown fascinating world of “take a chance” theatre than across a field. What’s not to love?

I see the Olympics as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of sports. But how lacking in stamina are that sports lot? They can only manage this once every four years while we manage to make this mind-blowing festival of the arts happen annually.

I’m not saying you should forget Team GB totally. Wave a flag by all means, record the women’s beach volleyball if you must. Admittedly, we may not have the capacity to compete with a huge opening ceremony encompassing everything that is uniquely wonderful about the UK, but the Fringe is a part of us in a way that the Olympics will never be. Don’t ever forget that – two weeks of beautifully-honed athletic bodies squeezed into figure-hugging lycra and Speedos aside – it’s taking me a while to come back from this image – Team ED is actually much more fun and far more stimulating for all of us.

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We can actually be a part of it, not just witness it through a TV screen, and that’s what really floats my boat. It comes to us – we don’t even have to get on a train.

Raining champs

TALKING of the Olympics, I’m overjoyed to say that we’ve already won a silver medal for something that seems to be uniquely Scottish – the weather. Between April and June it was the second wettest since records began in 1910. Maybe we’ll go for a sodden gold next year.

I mean, I like a laugh but this year weather-wise has been one big joke. It’s got to the point where if the sun comes out, Facebookers go mental with naïve enthusiasm that the summer’s here and I actually phone friends to celebrate.

Mad on her

ONE parade it didn’t rain on thankfully was Madge at Murrayfield. The gays were beside themselves with excitement. I haven’t seen that level of euphoria since CC Blooms had its surprisingly successful makeover. There were windows at the back all along that let in light on everything. Who knew? And you can eat there now.

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People were actually having Madonna breakfasts and cocktails. I had a lovely Madonna lunch at Pizza Express Yourself. Like a Virgin Mary followed by Lucky Starfish in a Holidays sauce topped off with American Pie – yum!

Proper gays went early and got right down the front. They even saw Madonna rehearsing where apparently her hands gave away her 53 years but her face still looked smashing.

She’s the L’Oreal of popstars! From the moment she set foot on that stage to the moment she got in her car to go back to her B&B in Corstorphine that girl went wild. She’s like an advert for looking after yourself. How do you look and dance like that in your 50s?

And this show was tighter than Madonna’s butt! Every single moment was choreographed, rehearsed, performed and planned to perfection. Say what you like but that girl works damn hard and so do her dancers. This was spectacular. I’m Mad on her.

Craig Hill is appearing in Jock’s Trap at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, 7.30pm, August 2-27