Edinburgh Fringe 2012
For those looking for a talent on par with an Izzard or Bailey, for old school charm and a very contemporary skill at introducing lively pre-recorded material.
Tim FitzHigham is everything the Victorians didn’t want to be. Unbuttoned, unstayed, a throwback to the irrepressible Georgian dandy who would and could gamble on anything. Where a Victorian would recoil in outrage, FitzHigham is drawn to the lives of such magnificent dissolutes as William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry (1724-1810, so no not Bosie’s pater). Douglas led his generation in the profligacy of his life, he would have contended for gold every time if there had been an Olympic medal for hairbrained wagers. One such was a bet that Douglas could deliver a letter over 50 miles in an hour or less. Without the aid of email, text, phone or telegraph, at a time when even the fastest horse or boat could not have covered such a distance, this was no mean feat.
Recently Tim FitzHigam has made his own attempt to match Douglas’ achivement. Stop the Pigeon is the story of that attempt and its successful resolution. Had Jules Verne named his greatest work Around the World in Eighty Days in the Company of a Gentleman With Only Limited Understanding of Timezones the final sprint of Phileas Fogg to the Reform might have been less dramatic. Stop the Pigeon contains just such a spoiler in its title and whilst this makes the end something of an anti-climax, the man whom Eddie Izzard described as “Unhinged…completely without hinges” ensures that this remains a corker of a show. Tim FitzHigam has graduated as a master craftsman of the Fringe.
Stop the Pigeon would not work in anything but a live setting. There is a deal of pre-recorded material including phone conversations with baffled curators specialising in the royal catapult collection and video of various unsuccessful attempts as well as of the hero of the hour Speckled Jim. It is FitzHigham’s presentation, however, that makes the show so very entertaining.
If he had been a proper Victorian his energy, determination and stamina would have ensured a bevy of high-level aqueducts, colonial capitals, remote deserts etc. would be named in his honour. But he is a Georgian and Edinburgh is annually richer for that. FitzHigham is the first gentleman of Fringe. Engaging, the height of courtesy to his audience – that most unlikely spectacle – a guy with a posh English accent winning the affection of one and all at about the time the effects of an afternoon’s boozing begin to be felt (ours but possibly his too). FitzHigham’s being on hand to thank his audience following the show is Rodney Bewesian in its charm.
If you are looking for a talent on par with an Izzard or Bailey, for old school charm and a very contemporary skill at introducing lively pre-recorded material. If you wish more standups had something to say and were better at saying it, then you could do very much worse than to check out FitzHigham now while his persona is still grounded in Fringe unreality, undrenched by the glare of the mainstream. Georgians tend to look their best by candlelight.