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Some Things for the Weekend

City shines ahead of festivities

Vlad headIt’s official, Christmas has started.  Last weekend saw the launch of the Edinburgh’s Christmas festival and the turning on of the seasonal lights.

Despite my rant of a few weeks ago about the early start to the festivities, there is no denying Edinburgh does Christmas exceedingly well, with twin sites in Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square, the latter now incorporating the return of The Speigeltent to the city.

Last Sunday, thousands of people flocked to George Street to see Susan Boyle turning on the festive illuminations, thereby giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “the lights are on but there’s nobody home”.

The festival now attracts visitors from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK.  As a result, this week’s listings are unapologetically Edinburgh-centric, with a nod to a few events happening elsewhere over the weekend.

Comedy
SCOTTISH COMEDIAN OF THE YEAR GRAND FINAL
Speigeltent, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh   Saturday 28th November  9.30

Now in its tenth year, the final of the Scottish Comedian of the Year competition takes place for the first time in Edinburgh.  Eight up-and-coming Scottish stand-ups battle it out for the title in a show hosted by Radio’s Des Clarke.  Previous winners such as Mark Nelson, Bruce Fummey and Scott Agnew have gone to great careers in comedy.  Others have faded into obscurity.

Cinema
BRIDGE OF SPIES
On General Release frpm Friday 27th November

Despite its release date, Steven Sielberg’s based-on-fact spy thriller is refreshingly un-Christmassy in tone.  However, starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, it is bound to one of the season’s major blockbusters.

Literary Event
ABEL: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND BRIDGE OF SPIES
Waterstone’s, George Street, Edinburgh   Monday 30th November 6.30

To coincide with the release of Bridge of Spies, Biteback Publishing is bringing out a new edition of Edinburgh-based writer Vin Arthey’s spy biography, which tells the true story behind the film. The book is to be launched at Waterstone’s in Edinburgh on St Andrew’s Night, in an interview-style presentation, hosted by Stranger Than Fiction’s Colin Salter.

Music
SOUNDHOUSE AT THE TRAVERSE FEATURING THE WYIOS
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh    Monday 30th November  8 pm

This three-piece band from the US features guitar, bass and washboard, and are recommended by Seasick Steve, no less.  If you fancy celebrating St Andrew’s Day with a night of stylish, good-time, foot-stomping razzmatazz rock, this is the gig for you.

Comedy
BILL BAILEY: LIMBOLAND
The Playhouse, Edinburgh   Monday 30th November  8 pm

Bill Bailey brings his own unique blend of comic brilliance and virtuoso musicianship of to Edinburgh as part of a worldwide tour.  I recommended this show last month when he was playing at the SECC in Glasgow.  I make no apologies for recommending it again.  There are some people who ponder as to whether Bill Bailey is a comedian who does music or a musician who does comedy.  The simple fact is that the man is a genius in both genres.

Comedy
DANIEL SLOSS: “DARK”
Lemon Tree, Aberdeen   Friday 27th November 8 pm
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness   Saturday 28th 8 pm

As a 15-year-old Daniel Sloss did his school work experience block shadowing Frankie Boyle for a week during his run at the Edinburgh Fringe.  That was at least a decade ago now, and while he has developed his own unique comedy style, the influence of those early days is still apparent.  Now a major stand-up with an international profile, Sloss has been doing a whirlwind pan-European tour.  He and his support act Kai Hamphries were on the same Gatwick flight as me, en route to a show in Brighton, and had recently returned from Reykjavik.  This weekend they’re in Aberdeen and Inverness.  So, not it’s all glamour then, Daniel ?

Comedy
OBAN WINTER FESTIVAL COMEDY GALA
Corran Halls, Oban   Friday 27th November  8 pm

It’s seldom I plug shows that I’m involved with, but will make an exception this week.  The Oban Comedy Club used to run one of the liveliest gigs on the Scottish circuit until a few years ago when they stopped promoting due to a variety of reasons.  They are back this Friday, putting on a comedy night as part of the town’s annual Winter Festival. The line-up includes myself, Mark Nelson and Keir McAllister, and his hosted by Scott Gibson.  Promises to be a lot of fun.

Comedy
STU AND GARRY
Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, Sunday 29th November  1.30 pm

Another show I make no apologies for including in this column again, as it’s on every week, and every week it is guaranteed to provide top-class afternoon entertainment. Stu Murphy and Garry Dobson are the finest exponents of improvised comedy in Scotland, and perform a free lunchtime show every Sunday at the Stand in Edinburgh.  Just around the corner from the ice rink in St Andrew Square, why not pop in for some pre-skating laughs or an après-skating drink or two ?

Vladimir McTavish’s live DVD, recorded at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh will be on sale before Christmas

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