DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Even before DarkChat existed a visit to a Barb Jungr show has been high on the list of a

number of Edinburghs visit for many a year.  Since the inecption of DARKCHAT in 2007 she

has since been nominated for Best Music and Best Show in 2011 following on from her 2009

nominations for Best Show/ Best Song and Best Moment including a win for Best Music.



We recently caught with Barb whilst touring in New York to talk about her returning to Edinbugh

this year, sadly for us her one night only show is the day before we arrive :



Are you returning to Edinburgh this year and what are your plans?


" I'm doing a "best of Barb Jungr" - which will include a bunch of things - from the Brel through the Nina Simone to the Dylan via The

Men I Love - so I am really looking forward to it. Process wise, I'll be compiling it during the early summer as right now am away and when I get back will be finishing the new CD - which will come out end of September".



When was your 1st Edinburgh festival?


I first appeared in Edinburgh in a Pam Gems play with music - I was the singer - in 1977. It was in a funny theatre above a wax museum in the Old Town and I shared a flat with 12 people sleeping 3 to a room!


Why did you come?


Well, then I came because the band I was in were doing this music for the play.


What did you expect?


I had no expectations at that time, at all. My second time was in 1985 when I appeared with Julian Clary and Steve Edgar at The Comedy Boom and we had a sellout run in a basement below a fish and chip shop and had a total ball, we shared a flat down by the Botanic Garden in the New Town and we were there for 3 weeks. It was glorious!


How did the reality differ from your expectations?


Got to say - always best to have no expectations and just go in thinking about the work - in every place I've ever played, that works as a philosophy


What is the best thing about the festival?


The City of Edinburgh which is mental. This is a city with a huge mountain in the middle of it and a Castle on a Hill. I love it. Edinburgh is one of the verey best cities in the world. During the festival you bump into friends and performers you've known for years. Glorious.


What is the worst thing about the festival?

Don’t have one.


What has changed over the years?


The focus of television which I think has been a corrupting influence and the over importance of comedy over plays and music. But change is part of life and its good for the comedians, so who am I to whinge?  



I also miss the old astanga yoga centre which hasn't as yet to my knowledge reopened in the way it used to operate.  On the plus side the food os much better then it used to be.



Roughly how many shows do you see each festival?


If I'm working, none. When I went up last year and had 6 days before my show I saw 15.


What was your favourite and your worst Edinburgh show to watch?


A Japanese theatre Company in the official festival and I went with Russell Churney and we were both blown into the stratosphere by it and from it I got my love of Yukio Ninegawa's work.  I blank the worst ones!



Who is your Edinburgh favourite overall performer (s)?


It would be Snarling Beastie Theatre Company's Woman Who Cooked Her Husband's Debbie Isitt. A friend and great woman and brilliant writer and performer.


What is your favourite venue?

The Queens Hall


What is your favourite place to eat? 

David Bann's veggie restaurant.


What is your favourite place to drink? 

The coffee shop near the Pleasance -the name escapes me.  

*We think Barb may mean The Elephant House


What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year? 





You can see Barb Jungr for one night only on Friday AUGUST 10th at

The Queen’s Hall/Acoustic Music Centre, accompanied by Simon Wallace.

9pm, 85-89 Clerk Street  Edinburgh EH8 9JG

Bookings: 0131 668 2019



If you want to find out more about Barb Jungr you can do so by going to

www.barbjungr.com or on Twitter where she is @barbjungr


An interview with Barb Jungr


We're keen on science and a fan of Helen


DarkChat first came across Helen Keen as part of a Science comedy show in Cardiff in 2008. We were so impressed by this unusual performer we sought out her Edinburgh show "The Primitive Methodist Guide to Arctic Survival"

the following year (see 2009 reviews).  


She returned (as did we) in 2010 with "It Is Rocket Science" (see 2010 reviews).


We duly interrupted her to find out how this year's new show is progressing.


" I’m going to be performing at the Pleasance Hut (in the Courtyard) at 3.30pm for the entire festival run with a new show called Helen Keen: Robot Woman of Tomorrow.


I …er… haven’t exactly finished writing it yet, so it’s all still very slightly nebulous, but it’s probably going to be about the enduring power of science fiction to give us visions of a newer, better, fairer world – and temping. I was really into reading sci fi until I was about 12 or 13 (before getting steered onto 'proper literature' by my English teachers)  so it’ll be a bit about how I imagined my own brilliant life would be in a future heavily influenced by e.g. Star Trek & The Adventure Game - and the discrepancy between that and my actual adult life which has been heavily influenced by photocopying. But also about how early science fiction writers and inventors imagined the future in the distant past.



I’ve been doing previews at the Brighton Fringe where I tried a mixture of older material and new, so that I have a bit of a safety net while I’m trying things out. I haven’t quite started panicking yet, so I’m at the nice stage where I get to watch & read loads of science fiction and just vaguely think about what it might be good to talk about. In a couple of weeks I’ll start tearing my hair out in clumps and wishing I’d started writing things down a bit earlier.



You can catch Helen at Edinburgh or beforehand at :




Tue 12th Jun 2012 and Tue 10th Jul 2012 Abbey Tavern London


Thu 12th Jul 2012

Edinburgh Festival Preview, Helen Keen, Fran Moulds Pleasance (Islington)


Fri 13th Jul 2012

The Tringe Festival 2012, Laurence Clark, Helen Keen Boxmoor Hall (Hemel Hempstead)


Sun 15th Jul 2012

    Edinburgh Festival Preview, Helen Keen, Richard Herring

    Pleasance (Islington)


For more information visit www.helenkeen.com

or you can follow her on twitter where she is @helen_keen


Your DARKCHAT reviewers (past & present) have wracked what are left of their brains to try & help you survive what is heading your way VERY soon.  This list is far from exhaustive but feel free to take heed of those here (especially the weather-related ones.)



1/ Walk down the Royal Mile on your first day to experience relentless flyering and the seething hordes of tourists - then try and avoid it during the hours of daylight for the sake of your own sanity!



2. Eat one thing every day that hasn’t been deep fried.



3. Take an umbrella – don’t  buy a tartan one from an Edinburgh Pound Shop (unless you’re feeling brave). Be prepared to take shelter from hailstones – Scottish summer weather can be aggressive. And remember cobbles are slippery when wet!



4/ Perfect a Scottish accent (preferably not Glaswegian.)



5/ Apologise to your body in advance.



6/ Run some marathons before the festival if you have the time.

If you are lucky you can often see DARKCHAT reviewers dashing from one venue to another. These are strange creatures as you would think walking would be sufficent in modern society but not us. No if we are not running, jogging or doing rainbow squats to dislodge underwear from the aforementioned first two activities, then we are lifting a pen in one hand whilst holding a glass of wine in the other.



7/ Admit to insanity early.

If you are still lucky to be in possession of this wonderful thing called a mind, you wont be by the end of the Fringe. For anyone planning on going to this festival has to be crazy in the first instance. A week full of laughing at people doing their job is not classed as normal behaviour according to my psychiatrist.



8/ Avoid any zombie based shows.



9/ If there's a show you think you may have trouble getting through....drink a pint of wine as it eases the experience!!



10/ Go and see at least one puppetry show....,just choose wisely.



11/ Eat a Scotch Pie at least once in your stay.



12/ If you wish to stalk your favourite comedian, hanging around The Pleasance Courtyard is the best place. But if you're stalking at night, be mindful of any roadworks....you wouldn't want to fall down any holes.



13/ Be prepared.

Take a Spreadsheet, but not laminated that would just be weird.



14/ Give yourself one foodie delight in a week. Kalpna's is ours. But don't go when we plan to, it's busy enough already.



15/ Pick a showing featuring somone off the television. When that disappoints vow only to support up & coming talent. Not only will it be cheaper but you can spend the rest of your claiming " I spotted Ben Miller back in 1992 doing a show about John Noakes".



16/ Take warm clothing.


17/ Take wet-weather clothing.


18/ Take shorts & sun-cream.


19/ Fuck it, pack everything you own.

DarkChat's tips to surviving the Festival Fringe