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The Festival Cafe - day five

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Karen Miller Karen Miller | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

The Festival Cafe runners share their experiences of day five of the show from the Edinburgh Festivals...

Lalita Augustine

Welcome to the last day of our first week at the Fringe! Today's show was an eclectic mix of guests with Iranian/Persian British stand-up comedian, Omid Djalili, comedy singing group and satirical cabaret act, Fascinating Aida, comedy FOUR piece The Three Englishmen and the actor Clive Mantle, with his Tommy Cooper tribute act.

Janice Forsyth with Friday's Festival Cafe guests.

I was looking after the Three Englishmen and at times it was pretty hard to keep an eye on all of them as they kept scattering off in different directions. The guys - Ben Cottam, Nick Hall, Jack Hartnell and Tom Hensby, have brought the London based sketch show up to Edinburgh again this year after the success of their production last year.

Janice Forsyth with the Three Englishmen on the Festival Cafe

I spoke to Nick about how the festival had gone for them so far. He said that they had accumulated a loyal fan base from last year and a lot of people who saw last year's show have returned. They were in high spirits for today's performance and were even going flyering after the Festival Café.

Today's live show was great and went off without a hitch. The Three Englishmen and Fascinating Aida performed their most catchy songs and everyone later on in the green room was caught humming Fascinating Aida's "Cheap Flights". It was very catchy mind you.

There was a poignant chat with Clive Mantle about Tommy Cooper. It has been 27 years since he passed away now. I can't believe it's been that long and also how much Clive looks like him in costume, it's uncanny.

There were laughs aplenty though from the songs and also from Omid Djalili and the audience seemed to enjoy the show very much. You can listen to all the best bits of the past week's shows with hosts Clare English and Janice Forsyth.

We runners are off for a well deserved weekend now but we will be back to work first thing on Monday morning! Catch you all later.

Jo Smithers

Ah, the late great Tommy Cooper. If only there was a way of experiencing Tommy's great one liners while also getting a feel for the back story. He was such an iconic performer. It would take a big man to fill those size thirteens. Who would be brave enough to take-

-So, I went into a French restaurant and asked the waiter, 'Have you got frog's legs?' He said, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Well hop into the kitchen and get me a cheese sandwich.'

Eh, excuse me I seem to be getting interrupted here. As I was saying, it would take a brave man to attempt to do a tribute ac-

-I said to the waiter, I said 'This chicken I've got is cold'.
He said 'I should think so. It's been dead for two weeks'.
'Not only that', I said, 'It's got one leg shorter than the other'.
He said 'What do you want to do, eat it or dance with it?'


Okay I see what's going on here, Clive Mantle. Not satisfied with interrupting today's Festival Café in the guise of Tommy Cooper you are now inveigling your way into my blog. Of course I was going to mention your show - Jus' Like That. I was just pulling your leg-

-I had a meal last night, I ordered everything in French, surprised everybody, It was a Chinese restaurant.

Okay, enough already. I hear you shout/type/mutter I will drop the ruse. Of course Clive Mantle is not interrupting my blog; it is just a ploy I have dreamt up in order to get some Cooperisms in.

Clive Mantle performing as Tommy Cooper on the Festival Cafe.

But Clive Mantle is uncannily like Tommy Cooper. He has the tics, the jokes, the fez and the size thirteens. His show 'Jus like That' is on at Assembly Hall at 5:30. If today's show is anything to go by it will be an absolute treat for any Cooper fans and a revelation for any novices.

Today's show was a comedic treasure trove of delights. The guests were as sparkly as the sun, (clearly the festival Gods read our blog and realised we will not be beaten) and Janice Forsyth was pulling out gems of stories and jokes from our guests on the sofa, Omid Djalili and Clive Mantle, while the Three Englishmen and Fascinating Aida entertained in song. (I normally reserve the right to hate anyone who is fair of voice, those who can sing and be funny simultaneously I detest.)

What a great way to end the week, I can't wait for Monday's show. The line up looks superb including the amazing Diana Quick, actors from the acclaimed Bette and Joan: the final curtain, Soprano Andrea Baker and the cast and director from I Hope My Heart Goes First. Wowzers!

Andy Mallon

It's the final show of the week and so far, so good! There have been no major catastrophes, everything ran smoothly, our guests have been engaging and our audience have enjoyed themselves - according to all of the clapping and cheering anyway! To top off an excellent week at Potterrow, Janice was joined by the hilarious comedian and actor Omid Djalili, actor turned Tommy Cooper impersonator Clive Mantle, comedy quartet The Three Englishmen (yes quartet!), and comedy cabaret act Fascinating Aida.

Clive Mantle and Omid Djalili on the Festival Cafe.

Having recently seen Omid in the great film The Infidel, I was delighted when producer Bronwen asked me to look after Omid for the day. He's currently in Edinburgh doing his first stand-up show in three and a half years and he's testing out material for his UK tour on his Edinburgh audience. In the taxi on the way to the venue Omid told me that he hadn't planned to do any media appearances as he was so busy with writing and re-writing his show. However when he got the call from Janice he couldn't say no - he's quite the fan. We are a lucky bunch as, in my opinion, he's one of the top guests we've had this week! He interacted well with the rest of the guests and was equally comfortable giving advice to The Three Englishmen, casually chatting to Tommy Cooper (or should I say Clive - his outfit was so convincing) and listening to the Fascinating Aida ladies performing!

We're all going to have a bit of a rest over the weekend, but by Monday we'll be raring to go and will be ready with another excellent forty five minutes of radio to entertain you! On the show we've got actress Diana Quick, best known for her role in Brideshead Revisited, who will be talking about her show "Midnight Your Time," mezzo soprano Andrea Baker talking about "Sing Sistah Sing." We're also joined by the cast of "Bette and Joan: The Final Curtain" which focuses on the relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and "I Hope My Heart Goes First"

Another jam-packed show to start another jam-packed week! I hope you've enjoyed reading our blogs this week and if you've missed any of the shows you can catch up via the BBC Radio Scotland website.

Annabel Cooper

Phew. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? Five days down and four full hours of jam-packed shows from the Festival Café are in the bag. And in order to get some perspective on last week's shows, let's imagine for a second what would happen if we were to actually try and stuff all the content of the last five days into a receptacle of sorts. This hulking beast of a trunk would need to be at least the size of an articulated lorry and even then it would still be bursting at the seams with the 50 individual performers (give or take a few), three classical guitars, a couple of keyboards, a Fez, a Kora (Sengalese stringed instrument), two pairs of striped pajamas (sic), a couple of wigs, seven cubic yards of sequined silver lame, several pairs of fake eyelashes, a full brass band and a Fitzrovian box of radio effects including a machete and a cabbage! Phew, imagine going on the road with THAT. But what a show it would be! I can see it now: 'The Incredible Festival Café Travelling Circus'...

And what about those 50-odd performers? We've laughed at their jokes, tapped our feet to their beat, sang along to their songs, marvelled at their talent and furrowed our brows at their intellectual insights. We've heard (and the lucky ones in the audience have seen) Henry Rollins and John Byrne putting the world to rights, overheard today's guests 'The Three Englishmen' getting career advice from Omid Djiallili ('don't swear on BBC 1') and heard 'Fascinating Aida' compose a custom made jingle right before our ears.

It's hard to pick a highlight (someone has to do it - remember to listen to the best of show on Sunday) but for me, it has to be the moment on Wednesday when Drag-Opera singer Le Gateau Chocolat, in all his sequined silver lame-clad glory, sidled up to a very uncomfortable looking former punk wild-man Henry Rollins on the sofa, and instantly won him over with his charm and intellect. This snapshot really sums up what an incredible variety show the Festival Café is and the stupendously broad range of talent it showcases for two weeks of the year. I don't know about you but I can't wait to do it all over again next week.

Now, Mr Zycinski, about that travelling circus idea...

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