I very nearly didn’t go to Edinburgh Fringe in 2012. I’d applied in plenty of time for a venue, but didn’t hear anything back until very late in the day. I was offered something ridiculous like two weeks in one room, and a week in another venue with a different timeslot. I replied straight after getting the email, only to be told that the slot had been taken. I think I was offered something else that wasn’t really workable.
For the next few weeks, I was actually looking into running my own Fringe venue. I’d found somewhere, it was sort of confirmed with the manager; I’d set up a Facebook group, recruited various other comedians, started putting together a rough plan for show timeslots, and even had a logo designed. But it didn’t quite work out. Alas, The Rebel Fringe was never meant to be.
By now, it was early April and the early bird deadline for a discount on the brochure fee was long gone. We were faced with the decision to either admit defeat and not do Edinburgh that year, or apply to the Free Fringe and hope that our very brief association with their bitter rivals wouldn’t count against us.
I’d heard from someone that it can help your application if you suggest a venue, so I suggested somewhere I’d done a ten-minute spot the previous year. I was offered a slot at 11pm for the full-run. And the venue was the Kilderkin, which would be my home for five Fringes and see my solo show reach heights that I didn’t think were possible. Plus lows, but more on them in a later entry.
Unlike in 2011, I had a full-time job. I’d planned to leave the company before the festival but was then told that I could work remotely. Unfortunately, as I had already been working on the basis that I was leaving before the festival, I did not have much holiday allowance left. This meant that I had to work full-time for the first two weeks of the Fringe. I’d finish my show just after midnight, take the room apart, have a pint of old man beer McEwan’s and sometimes a pizza. Then I’d walk back to the flat to get some sleep before waking up just before 9am, then commuting by switching on my laptop from my bed.
It was slightly frustrating being in Edinburgh, but being able to see very little of the Fringe until I’d finished work for the day. But having a full-time job is what made it possible to do Edinburgh Fringe every year. Plus I got my full salary at the end of the month. I would get better with my holiday rationing. And it wasn’t until before the Fringe last year that I finally left the company after 7.5 years, which was significantly longer than the original plan.
One of my highlights of the 2012 was going to a recording of Richard Herring’s podcast where he had the wrestler Mick Foley as a guest. It was two of my heroes from when I was a teenager, from totally different performance backgrounds and no obvious links, united on stage. That’s just one example of the weird and wonderful magic that Edinburgh Fringe can provide.
We had a nice flat about half-way down Leith Walk. Moz was meant to be sharing a flat with us, but dropped out a few months before as he decided not to do the festival. His replacement was Deech, who I’d originally met in 2005. Me and him would go on to be flatmates for four Fringes in total, annoying each other frequently and almost always deliberately.
My show this year was Love and Langton’s Dirty Laundry. Our posters and flyers had a picture of us hung on a washing line, which got people’s attention. We weren’t in the main brochure, just having to rely on the Free Fringe guide and flyering for a couple of hours to get an audience. But we got a crowd every night. And our smallest crowd was seven, which I’ve since got far lower in that room. Some nights, we even had a full room. The main lesson: if no-one knows your name, you need a strong theme to get your audience.
I’ve recently recorded a podcast with Langton about our Edinburgh Fringe runs in 2011 and 2012, to be published at an unknown date. Until he reminded me, I’d forgotten just how determined I was to perform to any kind of audience in those days. Whatever size the crowd was, I was resolute in giving them a show. If Paul was reluctant, then that just strengthened my resolve. It was quite a contrast from the jaded diva I’d become when I was doing a solo show in that same room in 2018. Some days, I was strongly hoping no-one to show up as I needed to have some time away from the show in order to work on it.
Dirty Laundry was much better than A Mixed Bag. We were a year more experienced, had figured out how to do shows better and the material was stronger. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we were better comics at the end of it and that was always the main aim for both of us.
Sadly, it was the end of the road for Love and Langton. Paul got Yoko’d and that was the last run of shows he would do in Edinburgh, although I still haven’t entirely given up persuading him to do one more.