We've all had them hairdressers who give you constant patter and banter whilst you're trapped in their chair, but Giovanni Monica - a professional barber from Wiltshire - decided a few years ago to take his love of laughter just that little bit further, pursuing a sideline as a stand-up comic.
Having done gigs in Bristol as an escape from the salon, he's here in Edinburgh to take in and contribute to the buzz, so you may see him around town doing some street-based stand-up. He looked at the possibility of turning an existing barber-shop into a formal Fringe venue but the costs involved were too much for the few days he's here, so for the next few evenings he's 'borrowing' York Place Barbers (opposite the Stand Comedy Club as it happens) from his friend Norrie Jones, to combine good haircuts with some cracking gags.
Maybe it's a reaction to TV's endless reality shows, but there also seems to be an increasing movement towards comedy being delivered in real-life settings too. For example in 'Fawlty Towers: the Dining Experience' at B'est this year they've taken over a real restaurant for the Fringe to perform comedy in character around you as you eat your meal. This kind of thing only works if the underlying reality gets it right (I'm assured that the Fawlty meal itself was actually good fare), and having watched Giovanni serve up a couple of cracking haircuts, I can vouch for his skills as a barber.
For the rest of it, you're going to get some standard barber-shop gags along the way, but it's more of a one-to-one comedy session as you're sat in his chair getting a haircut he'll talk to you about what kind of day you've had, what you're up to in life, and just riff along with whatever comes into his head to make you laugh. It's not formally part of the festival, and it's not really set-up for a conventional audience (other than those waiting in line to get their hair cut), but the joy of watching him at work on other punters is definitely part of the experience.
He's here until Thursday 14th August, and is operating once the barber shop closes for usual business at the end of the day. There'll be a sign going up in the window from 7pm, and he'll carry on for as long as the customers come. Happy to cut hair for both men and women, it's perhaps the ideal opportunity for an unexpected laugh if you find yourself with messy hair and an hour to kill between shows. He charges just the regular salon prices (men's cut was £8 to give you an idea), with nothing added for the comedy.
This is what Edinburgh in August should be like little unexpected finds away from the safety of the mega-venues charging £20+ a time for big-name comics in huge halls. I've resisted it all the way, but here come the puns get back to your comedy roots for a real 'fringe' experience and get down to York Place for a unique and quirky performance at the cutting edge of comedy.