Festival Diary: Opera singer’s star turn at Craig Hill's stand-up show

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Audience treated to surprise aria

Craig Hill first found success when he won a talent contest as a 10-year-old impersonating Cleo Laine and has long been lampooning singers in his stand-up shows.

But the Lanarkshire comic could not believe his ears when a world-class opera singer ended up on stage with him at the Fringe.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hill discovered he had a performer with New York’s Metropolitan Opera company in his show at Just the Tonic’s Nucleus venue during the usual interrogation of his audience, who were treated to a blast of an Italian aria.

Fringe favourite Craig Hill. Picture: Steve UllathorneFringe favourite Craig Hill. Picture: Steve Ullathorne
Fringe favourite Craig Hill. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Our source says: “Craig was expecting just to duet with her until she opened her mouth and heard her extraordinary soprano voice blowing the roof off the converted church venue. ‘I Know Him So Well’ just wasn't going to cut it.”

With fierce competition for audiences and attention tt’s no surprise that Fringe performers and companies are making the most of celebrity endorsements, although some are undoubtedly more impressive than others.

The best I've seen so far is a lengthy letter shared by Edinburgh Youth Theatre ahead of their final performance of Singin’ in the Rain at the Space venue on the Royal Mile.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hollywood legend Gene Kelly, the star of the classic musical, passed away in 1996, but his wife Patricia, who created her own one-woman show about the legendary performer, was in touch with the company.

Ricky Gervais has recommended catching stand-up Matt Bragg at this year's Fringe.Ricky Gervais has recommended catching stand-up Matt Bragg at this year's Fringe.
Ricky Gervais has recommended catching stand-up Matt Bragg at this year's Fringe.

She wrote: “I’ve heard many wonderful things about your production and wanted to reach out to you on your final day of performances to say ‘congratulations’ for a job well done!

“Gene always said that the purpose of Singing in the Rain was to bring joy. I know that you have done that for all your audiences. No matter what Gene did, he always strove for excellence. He demanded a lot from the people around him, but also demanded the same high standard for himself.”

Sharing the letter on social media, the company said: “To take the time to acknowledge the young performers' hard work and relate it to the hard work that Gene Kelly put in is just so incredibly touching. We’re so proud of our cast. Making hard things look easy is difficult!”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Comics have been happily recommending each other’s Fringe shows this year – including some of those who are not even performing in Edinburgh themselves.

That applies to Ricky Gervais, who scored his first success as a stand-up with a show at the Cafe Royal in 2001, just after The Office was launched on TV to initially low ratings.

He told his 15-million strong Twitter following that he had had “only one recommendation” for the Fringe – little-known Matt Bragg, who is performing new material in three different shows, but has toured with Gervais as his warm-up act.

Gervais, who famously performed at Edinburgh Castle during the Fringe after he had shot to fame, had this to say about Bragg: “He just tells jokes and funny stories. Even his haircut is amusing. It won’t change your word view, he won’t cry about his childhood and you won’t feel sad. You’ll laugh and feel good.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.