The brainchild of comedians Harriet Dyer and Scott Gibson, That’s Not a Lizard, That’s My Grandmother! is unlike any other show at the Fringe. In fact, it’s not much of a show at all—but that’s the best thing about it. From the way Gibson stumbles across the stage to operate the lights (why doesn’t he sit on the stool closest to the desk, rather than climbing over Dyer?) to how Dyer and Gibson arrive without much bombast, start chatting, and only seem to acknowledge that a show is taking place ten minutes in, this is an unpolished hour that includes some awkward pauses, unresolved tangents and—at least in this particular case—an interruption to set up an extra fan.
Exactly what the Fringe needs.
But it’s brilliant. Dyer and Gibson are a perfect pairing. It’s clear that the two are genuine friends and love each other’s company, and the audience is warmly invited to share in an hour that fizzes and ricochets, Dyer (Cornwall & Devon Disco Champion three years running) and her endless array of anecdotes grounded by Gibson’s disbelief and assured stage manner. There are segments to the show, such as a ‘Fact of the Day’ and a quiz involving a member of the audience who, in lieu of a buzzer, is asked to imitate a peacock before answering the questions. The boundaries of these segments are blurred, as the ebb and flow of conversation has Dyer veer from a story about a cat with no face to Gibson opining on the peerless merits of Scottish water.
Yet as the show continues, you begin to realise: this is the point. Segments are underprepared and discarded with ease; members of the audience are encouraged to ask questions and be inquisitive, and in several instances bring the performers back on track. This is a show brimming with “Oh my God, speaking of…” and “Anyway…” and “Wait, you never finished telling the story about the cat with no face.” Gibson turns the lights back up, and Dyer leaves the stage to show off a picture of her at a Disco dancing competition on her phone; she candidly discusses her struggles with mental health; Gibson mishears "the West Indies" as "Preston", sending Dyer into a fit of giggles. You are with friends.
The Edinburgh Fringe is an institution. Thousands of aspiring comedians, actors, and performers of all stripes—amateur or professional—see the Fringe as a golden ticket, and with the emotional and financial cost of putting on a show it had better be the most golden ticket going. Gibson is frank that the hunt for punters and that elusive four- or five-star review can be destructive forces. So, rather than polishing that opening until it gleams like the sun, or staying up all night making sure the show-ending quiz is as funny as possible, it makes sense to release yourself from these stresses and get back to what makes comedy special: the moments of connection you have with strangers in a dark, often hot, room.
That’s Not a Lizard, That’s My Grandmother! isn’t much of a show. But it’s exactly what the Fringe needs. And with a Pay What You Feel option, it’s well worth taking a break from the endlessly beating drum of Fringe frenzy and checking in with some friends—and, if selected for the quiz, you could even win a pair of children’s flippers.