The Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Background information when reading The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

A Novel

by Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson X
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2021, 416 pages

    Mar 2022, 416 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article relates to The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Print Review

Street performer at Edinburgh Festival Fringe In Julietta Henderson's The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, the title character is a 12-year-old boy who wants to perform his stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Also known as "the Edinburgh Fringe" or simply "the Fringe," this event started out as an unofficial offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. It soon became a festival in its own right and is now the largest arts festival in the world.

When the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama began in 1947, it stirred up controversy due to its substantial spending on fine arts during a period of economic strife. Britain was still struggling after World War II, and many thought the festival was out of touch with the times. Furthermore, the organizers had barred Scottish drama from being featured on the program, as they considered it to not meet the high standards of the event. In response, eight theater groups decided to set up their own performance spaces and take advantage of the festival crowds, operating on the "fringe" of the official festival. The Fringe continued alongside the International Festival in subsequent years while growing in cultural relevance and popularity.

1958 saw the formation of the Festival Fringe Society, an organization intended to support and promote the Fringe. The Society centralized the event somewhat, establishing a main box office and program, and remains behind the festival today. The organization has maintained the original spirit of the Fringe by keeping it open-access and free of directorial authority, with a policy of giving anyone who can secure a venue the opportunity to perform. This provides up-and-coming artists and entertainers with the chance to gain a wider audience.

The Edinburgh Fringe takes place over three weeks during the month of August. Today it operates out of over 300 venues all over the city. Prices for shows vary. The Free Fringe, a model started in 1996 that gathers a program of free performances, allows festival-goers the choice of attending shows at no cost and making optional donations.

As the early Fringe was based in drama, it isn't surprising that the event has helped many playwrights find success, including Tom Stoppard, whose now-famous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead gained a wide audience due in part to a positive review of a Fringe performance by Ronald Bryden in The Observer. The festival today welcomes a variety of performance types, including dance, opera, cabaret, street shows and exhibitions, and it has become known in recent years for its significance in the world of stand-up comedy. The Fringe has kickstarted or helped boost the careers of many actors and comedians who are now household names, including Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, Graham Norton and Trevor Noah.

Since its origins with the Edinburgh Fringe, "fringe" has been adopted as a general term for alternative theater and open-access performance events. Cities all over the world have organized their own fringe festivals, with just a few examples being the Toronto Fringe Festival, the Chicago Fringe Festival and the Dublin Fringe Festival. The U.S. Association of Fringe Festivals provides resources for organizing and accessing fringe events across the United States.

High Street performance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2010, courtesy of Festival Fringe Society (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Filed under Music and the Arts

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman. It originally ran in May 2021 and has been updated for the March 2022 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The Book Woman's Daughter
    by Kim Michele Richardson
    Kim Michele Richardson's The Book Woman's Daughter follows Honey Lovett, 16-year-old daughter of ...
  • Book Jacket: Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    by Clare Pooley
    For the many years that I've been reading, one realization has always come to mind for me after ...
  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    One's Company
    by Ashley Hutson

    For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh this fearless debut chronicles one woman's escape into a world of obsessive imagination.

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.



Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.