Food for Thought

An EdFringe-worthy introduction: Gillian Cosgriff explains, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

If you ever come to visit, there are two things about Edinburgh you really need to experience: the first is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which normally runs from the first to the last weekends of August; and the second is Edinburgh Hogmanay. The first shows of the Fringe kicked off last week (4th August) and all visitors and residents alike are on the hunt for the best of this year’s festival for ready to be amazed, to laugh and be entertained. It can be a bit of a minefield trying to find the right shows to watch with each venue issuing their own programmes and free Fringe acts publishing separate booklets. It all comes down to spending time poring through programmes and picking the ones with interesting titles or descriptions…or recommendations from those who have already been to such shows.

I’m still navigating my way around the programmes to decide on shows to attend, so when award-winning musical comedian Gillian Cosgriff invited me along to her show This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things about procrastination, drinking, voicemail, humiliation, and one very ugly bag, I was intrigued and went along to the show to find out more about this ugly abg.


Gillian has established herself in her home country of Australia and makes her Edinburgh debut this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has already won the Best Cabaret Award at Melbourne Fringe 2013 and a Green Room Award for Best Original Songs for her second solo show which Edinburgh Fringe visitors can now also see.

I decided to have a quick chat with Gillian about becoming a musician/comedian and why she decided to make the long trip from Melbourne to Edinburgh.

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am a singer/songwriter/comedian/procrastinator from Melbourne, Australia, playing at the Edinburgh Fringe for the FIRST time with my show, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. It’s a musical comedy show with at least one reference to Art Attack. (You guys had Art Attack, right??)

I’m not sure about Scotland, but we definitely watched Art Attack religiously in Hong Kong! How did you get started in performing musical comedy?
Sort of by accident! I studied musical theatre but I had always written my own songs and after graduating I started writing solo cabaret shows. After a couple of years I realised what I was doing was basically stand-up comedy with songs. The world is mostly a ludicrous place that I enjoy making fun of.

Edinburgh is a long way from Melbourne! What made you decide to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe?
The Edinburgh Fringe is HUGE, and also the other side of the world from where I live. I’d always wanted to come here and this year I finally got organised enough to actually do it! Plus, I love sitting on a plane for 30 hours. How could I pass up the chance to perform at the world’s biggest arts festival AND eat 6 different types of mystery airplane meal?

Hmmm, can’t comment on the mystery airplane meals, but Edinburgh is definitely one of the ‘must visit’ cities! What are your plans after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? Are you touring anywhere else?
I’ve been touring this show for a LONG time so after this I’m going on a much needed holiday. If you’d like to come and see that performance of Exhausted Australian Woman Eats All Of The Tapas In Spain, you can watch me and my boyfriend hang out in Barcelona. Otherwise I’ll hopefully be touring Australia early next year and, depending how the next month goes, back at Edinburgh next year.

Having chatted with Gillian before attending the show, I can see her sense of humour shining through and knew I was going to be in for a laugh with This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. The show has already been recommended amongst other blogger friends as a ‘must see’ show and I can definitely agree with that. The description sounds a little confusing to start off with (how can you possibly talk about procrastination, a very ugly bag, alcohol and voicemails all in one comedy show and make it funny?

Not that we’re a difficult crowd to please, but I for one, have a very sarcastic sense of humour and I’ve been to a number of comedy shows at the Fringe over the years which only garnered polite laughter (or a smile) from me. Maybe it’s the Aussie humour (see post about Jamie McDowall and Tom Thum at Edinburgh’s Christmas here), but they never fail to make me laugh.

Gillian cleverly combines stories that everyone can relate to. We’ve all been teenagers at some point in our lives and we all know about those irrational fears that others may find absurd so we keep it a secret. Gillian has a wonderful singing voice and never fails to make guests laugh out loud (like, deep belly shaking laughter), whether it be her stand up comedy jokes or through the lyrics of her songs. She has a wonderful voice that mesmerises you while surprising you with unexpected stories.

If you want to know what the show has to do with to-do lists, smartphones, an ugly bag, the ‘present reflex’ (when you receive a gift that you think is horrible but come up with a really polite response about the practicalities of your gift), a £15 ukulele from Argos, vegans, drunk dialling and a letter to Gillian’s 16-year old self and how this all comes together, you’ll need to see the show. You’ll even get to see the star of the show: the very ugly bag. This show will to give you the euphoric highs (and less of the lows expected in films) from a great show. Who ever thought that reminiscing about your youth or recent activities (like what you had for breakfast – #prematurenostalgia) could be funny? Guaranteed, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things will leave you still smiling as you leave Teviot House.

Thank you for the interview Gillian and wishing you success, with sell out shows, at your debut at Edinburgh Fringe 2016!

Gillian Cosgriff’s debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things runs every night (except Monday 15th) until 28th August. For more information on Gillian’s show and to purchase tickets, visit the Gilded Balloon’s website here.

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