Those of us who live in Edinburgh (i.e. me) are two weeks into the Edinburgh Fringe, a rather massive arts festival that annually bankrupts countless comedians, actors and spoken word artists.

Traditionally during the festival I pay for a couple of shows (in previous years this has included Cannibal! The Musical, Re Animator the Musical, and a live action version of the old kids TV series Knightmare) and spend the rest of my time on the Free Fringe.  Some people are arsey about the Free Fringe (see: woman who handed me a flyer last week with the line ‘you don’t want to go to the Free Fringe, it’s awful’ minutes after I left one of the best free shows I’ve ever seen), and to be fair the quality is very mixed – but there are some gems in there.  I found some great stuff in 2008 when I first moved to Edinburgh as a jobless graduate, and in the years that followed it became a bit of a habit.

Having said that, I’d never really thought to look at the Spoken Word section of the programme before 2014.  To be honest, I’m not sure I even knew there was a Spoken Word Section – I thought it went comedy, theatre, cabaret. In my defense, the Fringe programme is the most unwieldy publication in the world, and hey, I’ve found it this year! So here are five free things that have caught my literary eye, mostly from the main brochure but one from elsewhere.

knifeKnife Whimsy
Andrew Blair and Ross McCleary are two rather sardonic writers who are about to take you on a journey of growing pains, from unemployment to crappy first jobs and beyond. They are funny enough on their own, but for their Fringe show they have also employed the technique of getting a different guest poet to do a set every night, meaning every show is slightly different. So far I have been four times, and plan to go again on Saturday – which unfortunately is the last performance.  Essentially what I’m saying is, at the time of writing there are only TWO SHOWS LEFT.  Get on it or forever be kicking yourself.

Be Kind to Yourself
This is a show by stand up poet Tim Clare about living with anxiety and other things.  I saw him in the literature tent at Latitude Festival a few years ago (yes I do know how wanky that sounds, but I basically don’t care) and he was great, so  I plan to see him again. Maybe you should too, although to give you fair warning some friends went in the other night and it was standing room only because he’s so darn good.

Poetry and Politics
Although I plan to try, I almost certainly won’t get in to Rally and Broad at Jura Unbound because it’s the last night of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Spiegeltent will be bursting at the seams. However, I feel like I might be in with a chance of seeing them at the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament this Sunday August 17th as they explore Scotland’s political past, present and future through the medium of poetry.

Sophie Wu is minging, she looks like she’s dead
This isn’t strictly spoken word, but my pal who has seen it described it as comic storytelling which feels close enough. Basically Sophie Wu, who you may remember as Heather in Fresh Meat and Jay in The Fades, does a an hour of comedy based on her teenage diaries.  I had teenage diaries. I think I will go to this.

Richard Tyrone Jones: Crap Time Lord
Bit of a niche one perhaps, but whevs. I live with one of the internet’s favourite Doctor Who commentators, and (through him, amazingly) have made number of excellent friends with a wealth of knowledge and a lot of affection for the doctor.  As a result, I find myself fascinated and often charmed by the way Doctor Who affects people’s lives.  I have also heard good things about RTJ’s other Free Fringe show What the F*ck is This?, which leads me to think this one is probably worth a look.

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