The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.
“Wow, you suck. This is probably the worst audience ever.” With a show that I can only describe as indescribable (mostly because there is no story or plot to follow), Megan Stalter is a chef’s kiss combination of star quality, narcissism, and comic gold. Having made a name for herself with her viral videos on social media (most famously the “Hi, gay!” heard and much repeated ‘round the world) and her memorable performance as Kayla on HBO’s Hacks, the young performer has brought her unique brand of comedy to her debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in An Evening of Mayhem with Megan Stalter.
Like one of the many characters she has created online, Stalter begins the show by refusing to start it. Determined to have the perfect entrance, she restarts her show so many times that I lost count. From fits of rage while yelling at her guitar-playing “ex-wife” to shouting at audience members to find better, more enthusiastic ways to praise her, Stalter’s ego-obsessed stage persona has the audience in a laughing chokehold, and we couldn’t get enough. Halfway through the evening, between a particularly wild burst of cheering and laughter, a man behind me yelled to his friend, “This is absolutely mad…and I love it!” And I think that perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to experience Statler live.
The show refuses to have any narrative line, which only adds to the mayhem of the evening. There's a failed opening musical number, a rehearsal with audience members to give her the “right” kind of intro, a dating show, and a Q&A for a fictional new book. All of which she says is for the filming of a new special (except that one camera isn’t working and the other is stuck facing an audience member and not her). So many of Stalter’s wildest moments are…maybe intentional? Maybe not? And it is in this puzzlement that audiences find some of the biggest laughs of the show.
Frequently, Stalter will find opportunities to leave the stage to
berate talk to audience members. During these moments, no one is safe from Stalter’s attacks, not even the Gilded Ballroom’s technical crew. The whole evening is filled to the brim with Stalter’s quick, silly, and usually inappropriate humor. So much so that it often leaves her giggling at her own jokes. It is clear that not only is the audience on an unpredictable ride, but Stalter is too. One of my particular favorite bits was that anytime she addressed the audience as a whole, she would say things like, "How we feelin' tonight, London?" or "London's in the house tonight!" Stalter's charmingly airheaded and bubbly charisma, along with her clear knack for improvisational humor, make her a true standout within a new generation of comedy.
An Evening of Mayhem with Megan Stalter runs at Gilded Balloon Teviot’s Debate Hall through August 23, and again August 25 through 27. For tickets, click here.