The truth about the Fringe

Wilson Dixon's handler Jesse Griffin reveals some little-known facts

Going to Edinburgh for me is like going to Disneyland. There's the castle, lots of time spent standing in queues, the anticipation of the experience being a bit of a roller-coaster, and there's always a chance of ending up sitting in a massive spinning teacup.

The analogy kind of falls away when you realise that Disneyland was dreamt up by a slightly racist man who liked drawing cartoons of mice dancing and singing and fraternising with ducks. In fact, the Edinburgh Fringe (and not many people know this) was founded on almost exactly opposite grounds: that of being slightly un-racist, and a hatred of drawings of mice doing anything human-like or associating with waterfowl.

You will be pleased to know that there have never been any shows on the fringe with cartoon pictures of mice as its main theme, or even as a diverting tangent. This is statistically quite unlikely when you consider that, with more than 2,000 shows a year, there have literally been hundreds of thousands of opportunities to do so. I'm glad no one has taken the opportunity.

What does disappoint me though is that there have been nearly 300 shows over the years with soft toys somewhere on their posters. When are people going to realise that soft toys are for children at bedtime, or to be put in the back windows of cars by strange people?

They have no place lending slightly threatening and/or kooky vibes to what is otherwise an ordinary show. If a show is called Teddy Bears’ Picnic, then no problem, but if a show is called The Krazy Sketch Team Get A Bit Sketchy, and one of the performers is holding a panda bear with a noose around it's neck, then get fucked.

Another little-known fact about the Edinburgh Fringe is that the locals were initially quite into the idea of the festival being staged in their city. Most people think they've always loathed its existence, and attempted to extort as much money as possible out ofFringe-goers, but this is untrue.

For the first three or four years, local Edinburgh people would look forward to August and let their houses out to fringe visitors for reasonable amounts of money. In 1964, however, a landlord mistakenly put an extra zero on the end of the advertised price of their flat for rent and a group of foppish middle-class students doing a revue style show called Touch Me On The Bum Again With That Stick And I'll Give You A Biscuit snapped it up, no questions asked and the precedent was set.

Finally, and possibly least interestingly, it is illegal for anyone doing a show for the first time at the Gilded Balloon to make money out of their season. This somewhat controversial legislation was voted in by the Scottish parliament on September the 12, 2001. With people's attention obviously focussed on other matters, the legislation slipped through seven votes to four and has been a huge success in some quarters.

  • Wilson Dixon’s American Dream is on at the Stand, 16:45

    Published: 12 Aug 2009

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