The only things you can really guarantee in a month at Edinburgh Fringe is that it will rain some point and you’ll find yourself hating drama students, you’ll also get fatigued and probably get ill.
I am writing this on the eve of my fifth straight year doing the full-run. When I write it like it out like that, I tell myself that I should probably have an actual holiday instead of a gruelling August walking the cobbled streets of Auld Reekie (that’s a nickname for Edinburgh I am showing-off knowing).
I don’t know what the next three and a bit weeks are going to hold. Hopefully they will see lots of audience at my show and many laughs, but I know that both of these are far from certain.
Since I wrote my last entry, I have had another two previews. One was in Balham as part of the Free Fringe weekender. When I did it last year, I had a decent time-slot of 6.40pm and had six people in. This year, I was on about three hours earlier so I was expecting a quiet gig. But that’s fine, I’m perfectly happy to perform in front of crowds of two or three.
However, when I got to the venue, the show before me was absolutely packed and I heard that numbers had been strong for everyone else.
I ended up getting around 40 or 50 people in, which was a phenomenal turn-out for mid-afternoon on a Sunday. Top marks to Chris Coltrane for running the weekend and not only getting in masses of punters, but also working himself flat-out over three days to make sure that everything ran amazingly.
My preview itself started very slowly, with material that has served me well for the past few months getting either a muted response, or no response at all. As things went on, the audience got louder in their laughter the more I got them involves.
It was useful having a largely sober crowd, as it makes you work harder and think more carefully about how you can improve the material.
My final preview was at the venue where we ran Ruby’s, with the audience mostly consisting of the same people who used to attend those shows. The show was a bit of a shambles, with my mind being all over the place but it was good fun and the material mostly worked nicely.
The quiz is the main thing that needs the most work. I spent Saturday night back home and went down to collect some thoughts over a pint at Stroud Brewery. This one pint magically turned into five and talking to the bar staff about The Darkness and having to describe who East 17 were. I think I have something resembling a decent quiz now, but haven’t looked at the scrap of paper since leaving the brewery.
I am definitely the most disorganised I have been going into a Fringe, but this is a good thing. Over-polished comedy shows lack soul. Uncertainty is exciting and where magic can happen. It can also lead to horrendous things, but I’m choosing to be optimistic.