EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - The good, the bad and the gimps of comedy got into full swing on the first night of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Friday night.
U.S. stand-up and television star Janeane Garofalo got off to a shaky start with reviewers, earning the ire of Scots by talking trash about their fondness for deep fried Mars bars and alcohol, while ribbing them about the performance of England's cricket team.
"Interrogating cricket-apathetic Scots about The Ashes (a cricket series between England and Australia played in England and Wales this year) might have been the nadir, were it not for her labored Conservative baiting," Scotsman reviewer Jay Richardson wrote.
Elsewhere, rising talents Idiots of Ants put on a hilarious show at the Pleasance that raced through gut-aching sketches involving a bachelorette party -- where four women wake up with hangovers and sex changes -- to a cheerfully morbid song about cannibalism for airline crash survivors stranded on a mountain.
Some of the tiny venues, like Pleasance "Hut" played host to troupes, which may be a bit raw, but can still get teensy audiences rocking in their little seats.
"Late Night Gimp Fight" at the Hut delivered some cringing humor but moments of pure hilarity in a show that reveled in bondage and wrestling gags and was littered with references to popular films. The dinosaur impressions from "Jurassic Park" had the crowd roaring, alongside Hitler as a pop music star.
Outside the traditional venues street buskers, revelers, tourists and office workers out for the end of the week drink mixed along Edinburgh's Royal Mile, creating a raucous party atmosphere under the brooding watch of Edinburgh Castle.
Londoner Laura Copsey and her boyfriend Mike Cranny came for the week and found the festival overwhelming at first, for its bewildering array of shows.
"It's like stabbing in the dark," Copsey said.
But they both said they had seen some terrific shows from unknown names.
"I think you take a few punts and hope for the best," Cranny told Reuters as they waited in the open air bar under clear and starry skies for the "Late Night Gimp Fight" to start.
The 63rd Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers serious dance, theater, exhibitions and other artistic inventions alongside the wacky and wonderful comedy that has made the world's largest open-access arts festival a massive launch pad for performers, writers and directors.
Shakespeare and the life story of former poet laureate John Betjeman will share a bill of more than 2,000 shows with such offerings as stage star Denise van Outen's "Basildon Blonde" and a play entitled "The Assassination of Paris Hilton," a scheming gossip fest set in the ladies room of a Hollywood nightclub.
The global recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extraordinary rendition and the class system are all themes that are addressed both in the Fringe's comedy and theatrical offerings that play alongside a raft of children's shows, events, exhibitions, dance and music.
Festival Chief Executive Kath Mainland has said that ticket sales were going well after the successful resolution of box office technical problems which plagued the festival last year.
Editing by Jon Boyle