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Previews time

It’s at this time of the year that Edinburgh previews are in full-swing, and last Monday saw the first ever outing of Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing.

The promoter said that he had about 40 audience booked in, so I was looking forward to a decent-sized crowd. But then I began to appropriately fear the worst when on my way to the gig, I saw that Status Quo were having their film premiere about 200 yards from the preview venue. I then began to appropriately loath the passers-by that had stopped to look, because those 15 people could have been vital audience members.

When I arrived at the venue, my fears were confirmed when the promoter said that the 40 people would not be there. Thanks a bunch, Rick Status and Francis Quo.

Luckily, there were still around 25-30 people there, which was a good turnout for a Monday night in July.

My set went probably as well as I’d like a first preview to go. The first half went well, the second half was much patchier with plenty of stuff I can work on and fine-tune. It confirmed that I don’t actually have an ending for the finale. I am doing a reworked version of the routine I did in last year’s show, which was only probably about 60% complete when I went up to Edinburgh last year and it grew as the Fringe went on into perhaps the best-received part of my set. The ending I used last year was a callback to something I said near the start, which I am not doing this time. So there is one of the challenges.

Simon has encouraged me to freewheel as much as possible, and he will be prompting me to freewheel when I am not doing enough of it. He is right, I think when I try to stick to a ‘script’ too much, I become disinterested with it and so do the audience as a result. When I am playing around and deviating from my prepared material is when I have the most fun, and the audience seem to as well. But then this philosophy does throw the many hours I spend writing out of the window.

I have another preview-ish thing on Wednesday and an actual preview on Saturday, so will be able to work on a few things then.  Then in two weeks time, I will be one of Richard Herring’s two support acts in Brighton and I would hope that I have my Fear and Loathing set in much better shape by then. Otherwise I might get a look of disgust from Richard when I tell him that Lee and Herring have been a massive influence on me since I was 13-years-old.

In other comedy news, the following night, we had our last Ruby Tuesdays of the comedic year. We had a great audience of about 20 in a small room and all the acts were brilliant. I was on MC duties, but as most of the audience had seen me perform many times before, I was in what I thought was the difficult position of not being able to do any of my material. So I had nothing actually prepared and just started talking about stuff and it just worked, with lots of laughter. There may well be a lot of truth to Simon’s freewheeling theory.

It was a pleasure of a gig and a bit of new totally new material I tried in the second half was very well received. Obviously, it takes a few gigs to wear new material in, but the first outing was very encouraging indeed.

At the risk of name-dropping, we have had a really good run of Rubys since changing the format in January, with paid acts such as Tony Law, Hattie Hayridge, Norman Lovett, Gemma Whelan, Ian Symes (paid £4), Grainne Maguire and most recently Jigsaw having really made the night into something special. But the most important thing is that the audience have enjoyed themselves enough to come back several times. We should be back in the autumn and I am looking forward to it.

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