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Edinburgh Fringe Archives: 2013

As far as my years performing comedy go, 2013 was quite possibly my favourite. I was doing lots of gigs, writing regularly, and experimenting with ideas. But it was running and often MCing two monthly gigs that really improved everything else.

Knowing that I had those opportunities to try stuff out and mess around, while watching top headliners in small rooms, gave everything else I did a massive boost. Comedy was a lot of fun. I even broke my competition hex and made it through to the final of the biggest competition… in the market town of Droitwich in Worcestershire. It’s Rik Mayall’s hometown, so is therefore the only comedy competition that matters. Or mattered, as I don’t think it runs anymore; thus making it all the more exclusive.

It wasn’t all glory. I had some stinkers too, although they would ricochet off me thanks to all the good stuff that was going on.

However, it was not one of my favourite Edinburghs. In fact, it was one of my toughest. I was adamant about returning to the Kilderkin. I adored the pub and liked the room, plus I’d heard from a reliable source that one of the barmaids had taken a shine to me in 2012. In fact, this latter reason might well have been my main motive for returning there. I’ll skip to the end here: when I arrived, I found out she no longer worked there and pretty much the entire bar staff I knew had gone. And my plans would start to unravel from there.

I’d been offered a shiny 6pm timeslot and the show would be called Love and Langton’s Fear and Loathing. Yet it didn’t quite work out this way.

In possibly February, Langton asked to meet up for a pint and a chat. As he’d recently got engaged, I was all set to tell him: “Yes, I will be your best man.” But he had something else to say: he would not be doing Edinburgh that year.

There was a last hurrah for Love and Langton though. We did two dates at Brighton Fringe that year and it was rubbish.

Anyway, after Langton dropped out, I spent the next couple of weeks trying to convince the Free Fringe organisers that I should be allowed to do a solo show in the same slot, despite the fact that I didn’t really have any ideas for it. This was denied. They obviously had no idea what was at stake.

I was given a few days to find a replacement for the two-hander slot I’d been allocated. And that came in the form of Simon Lilley. I’d done a couple of gigs with him and he was a funny man.

Simon was doing a solo show earlier in the afternoon, which was his main priority and that was totally fair enough. Five years later, I would come to appreciate just how draining it was to do two shows a day.

I’d seen that from the earlier shows at the Kilderkin that it was easier to get a crowd there at that time, as there are still people walking past there in the early evening. If we can get a crowd every night at 11pm, then a 6pm slot should be no problem. I didn’t think I’d even have to do much flyering. How mistaken I was.

It turned out to be a struggle to get people along even after flyering for a couple of hours. And we had to pull a few shows due to having no audience. Simon was having a tough run in his solo show and I could tell he was relieved some days when ours was pulled as it gave him a chance to rest a bit. I can relate to this much better after 2018.

Just as an example of how desperate things had become for wanting an audience, Simon had managed to persuade four Spanish students to come in and watch the show while they waited for their pizza. The one who spoke the best English was whispering translations to our material to bored looking faces. As soon as the pizzas were ready, they were off in a flash. This left a couple on the front row who may very well have been swingers judging from what they were saying. They invited me to one of their parties; but alas, we didn’t exchange contact details.

This is not to say that the run was a total disaster. We had some good shows and I was mostly enjoying performing when we had an audience. Nevertheless, I did find the the stop-startness of it all frustrating. I wanted to perform every day and wasn’t always able to. The bottom line to it all is: the theme of fear and loathing simply wasn’t strong enough. It made me start thinking harder about themes for the next year.

Two things that did feature in my 2013 set were The Darkness and giant squid, which would form the basis of How To Win A Pub Quiz.

For accommodation, I was staying at the same flat as 2011. Only, Moz was out and Deech was in. Probably the highlight was finding a pair of Deech’s in my bag after I left and for the next year, I would play a game where I would take them to various landmarks and Deech would have to guess where his pants where. If you’d like to see this, do a search on Twitter for #whereareDeechspants.

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