What, America isn't edgy enough? Sufficiently far out on the margins? Pushing the boundaries? Fringe-y enough? Check it out: we sent Jake Martin, SJ, one of our Culture writers to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for this report on the increasingly popular "comedy heavy" arts festival. Well, actually, we didn't "send" him, if by that you mean actually paying for the Jesuit scholastic's travel expenses, but we did commission him to write this fun piece for us, which begins as follows:
Her profile to the audience, Charlyne Yi begins to sing a ballad about her recent breakup. In the blink of an eye she turns one hundred and eighty degrees to reveal her counter profile, now dressed as the lamented boyfriend; Yi is, quite literally split down the middle. It was then, as she offered his side of the story in a unique one-person duet, that I realized that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, or New York for that matter, and most certainly not Hollywood. I was at the Fringe.
Only in Edinburgh, more specifically, only at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, could a performer of such eccentric talent as Yi be able to showcase herself as the fundamentally awkward, childlike and kindhearted comedian that she is. Edinburgh is in many ways the anti-Hollywood, as it is one of the few venues where artists of great and no importance may explore, develop and create without worrying about things like plastic surgery, box office andQ ratings. Rarely has a moniker been more telling than that of the Fringe, as what takes place in Edinburgh is very much art on the margins.
The Fringe can trace its roots back to 1947 when a handful of performers arrived in Edinburgh uninvited, in the hopes of appearing at the recently inaugurated International Arts Festival. They did not make the bill, but decided to perform anyway and thus began the tradition of rogue performers infiltrating the festival. This guerilla approach continued until 1959 when the Fringe became its own entity.