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Taking Part on the Fringe

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I'm not going to be able to take part, alas, in the dance marathon show at the Traverse, but I did join in yesterday evening at Doris Day Can F*** Off at Zoo Southside.

This proved a surprise gem, and not just as an antidote to the other Doris Day show in town, A Sentimental Journey. As I say in my review, Greg McLaren's solo mash-up show, with a few snatches of Doris, is more of a semi-mental journey.

And he gets us to sing back to him, picking out individual members of the audience in the nicest possible way, right at the start, in the little cabaret lounge in the venue.

Of  course, you always hope it's not you. But, yes, me "in the stripey shirt" got nicked, I mean picked, and was instructed to sing my name "as if waking the forest."

This I did by forming a trumpet with my hand and toot-tooting my name polysyllabically with a hunting horn diapaison. And yes, folks, I received a round of applause.

But then I had an easier task than the next victim, a nice middle-class lady invited to do the same, but as if "trapped in the knotty bark of eternity." She responded with Wagnerian bluntness and valour and gained an even bigger round than I had, and deservedly so, too, the bitch.

This all reminded me of my scariest "joining in" debut on the fringe many moons ago, which coincided with the festival debut of Johnny Vegas, who was still doing his comedy routine with a potter's wheel.

He got us all to sing along with him on "King of the Road" ("Ain't got no cigarettes, etc") and stopped when he thought no-one was joining in.

I felt safe as I was sat in the outer darkenss with Nica Burns, the producer. But I think it was a set-up. How could he possibly see back there that I wasn't joining in (I wasn't)?

"There's some c*** with a notebook in the back row not joining in? Shall we ask him to?" So I had to stand up, alone in a spotlight, and sing and click my fingers at the same time. I was not asked for an encore. Cheers, Johnny.

Mind you, I think the theatre of embarrassment is as valid as any other form of theatre. I was intrigued to see a party of wrinklies at Zoo Southside, two of them in wheelchairs, not enjoying the show at all. They'd obviously come for Doris Day, but surely the title might have given them a clue?

Anyway, after half an hour of Greg McLaren's musical meanderings, they'd had enough and turned on their heels (and wheels) and left, rather embarrassingly as the exit created  a huge whole in the middle of the cabaret room.

No-one blamed them or felt sorry for them. But we happy remaining few were galvanised further into enjoying what is one of the freshest, funniest and most surprising little shows I've seen so far this year.


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