The first Jakarta International Fringe Festival is over and what a week it was! Bill Bailey was in town with 15 other top international comedians from all over the world and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. As you can probably imagine, drinking beer with 16 of the funniest people in the world is almost impossible – there is either no time to drink because you are laughing too much, or they hit you with a joke in mid gulp and cause beer to come out of your nose. Thanks to Jakarta Expat and to everyone who supported the Fringe and attended the shows. We couldn’t have done it without you!
What is a “Fringe Festival”? The answer to that question varies depending on who you ask and a hairdresser will definitely have a very different opinion to a comedian. The term “Fringe” was first used by playwright Robert Kemp in his article for the Edinburgh Evening News published during the second Edinburgh International Festival in August 1948. He wrote “Round the fringe of the official festival drama there seems to be more private enterprise than before… I’m afraid some of us are not going to be often at home during the evenings”. He was describing the independent theatre groups that had arrived uninvited at the Edinburgh International Festival for the second year running to perform in venues outside – or “round the fringe” – of the city of Edinburgh and not under the auspices of the official festival. They were a sort of band of renegade performers thumbing their noses at “the establishment”. Over the years the “Edinburgh Festival Fringe” became as popular as the official Edinburgh International Festival and today it is one of 12 official festivals that take place simultaneously in the city of Edinburgh every year for three weeks during the month of August. You could say the Edinburgh International Festival has become a ”festival of festivals” and in fact the official title of the organisation behind the event has recently been changed to the plural – “The Edinburgh Festivals” – to reflect that.
As the decades went by the technically correct but grammatically awkward title “The Edinburgh Festival Fringe” got simplified in use by the masses to the easier and seemingly more logical “The Edinburgh Fringe Festival” and as a result “Fringe” became accepted as a type of festival in its own right rather than a part of another festival. The term “Fringe” has since been adopted and adapted by festival organisers around the world until today it is used to describe almost any festival that incorporates multiple art forms, usually with an accent on comedy. The Jakarta International Fringe Festival, or “JakFringe”, follows this trend and in November every year from now on we will present a wide range of local and international performances and exhibitions covering everything from comedy through to fine art, poetry and photography.
Fringe festivals usually include a large comedy component and JakFringe is no exception. The enormous rise in the popularity of stand up comedy in Indonesia over the last two years has made it much easier that it would previously have been to fill our stages with extraordinarily talented local comedians, and for the first time in Indonesian history we flew in some of the world’s leading international comedy stars to perform alongside them. Bill Bailey, who always figures high on any list of the greatest comedians of all time, blew away the audiences for his two shows with his unique musical comedy repertoire and every one of our visitors from overseas delivered superb performances. Bill has been to Indonesia many times to make documentaries for TV, he speaks some Indonesian and he does a lot of work here with International Animal Rescue.
Three international awards were presented to the visiting comedians. Most Popular Performer went to the US comedy legend Emo Philips, The Golden Durian Award for Best All Round Comedy Performance went to New Zealand’s Brendhan Lovegrove, and the Jakarta Comedy Club Award for Best Cross-over Performance went to Australian comedy favourite Sammy J. See you all next year at the Fringe!