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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Day 17

It was always going to be tough for Monday’s gig to follow Sunday’s, but it was inevitable that it would happen due to the way that days of the week are organised.

Yet it somehow turned out to be an even better gig, at least mathematically. I had fewer people in, with about 30, but I broke my bucket record from the previous day with a colossal haul of £83.

The audience weren’t as lively as the previous night and the laughs couldn’t compare at least in terms of decibels, but they were receptive nonetheless. They became more vocal as the show progressed and said some very nice things afterwards.

In other news, my throat infection has blossomed into a cold and my voice is sounding distinctly deeper. I have a day off today and have cancelled the other gig I was booked for as I think it would be best to rest my voice and get an early-ish night.

This Fringe has gone ridiculously quickly and I have four shows left. It is normally by this point that I am giving it one last push through the final few gigs, looking forward to a rest when it’s all done. But this year, I actually don’t want it to end. My throat and energy levels may disagree, but I would love to be up here to perform for at least another week or so. Still, there is always a chance that my remaining gigs go so badly that I’ll be glad to get on the train; although I have a feeling that this won’t be the case.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Day 16

I woke up yesterday and thought I smelled gas. Then half an hour later, there was a knock on the flat door to ask me to check if any of the hobs were on.

It turns out that one of hobs had been left on in the morning by one of my flatmates. I immediately switched it off and opened all the windows to get some fresh air in.

On the walk into town, I was feeling a little groggy with aches and pains. I didn’t know if it was down to the general strains of the Fringe, or if I was suffering from gas inhalation. I had visions of collapsing on stage and being taken to hospital.

I thought I’d do my show anyway and run the risk, as at least it would give me an interesting story.

Then yesterday’s show turned out to be not only my best of the run by some way, but it may well be sitting at the top as the best gig I have ever done.

It was standing room only and I was incredibly lucky to have such a great audience who wanted to get involved. As the show is so interactive, the more punters chip in, the more fun it is. For whatever reason, previous shows where I’ve had full rooms haven’t gone as well as the ones with a dozen or so empty seats where I’ve more time to play around with the crowd. But this time, everyone wanted to be part of things from the Bristol Improv students (who I ripped into and temporarily disqualified from the quiz for cheating), to the group of six Wiltshire folk standing at the back.

The music round was quite special. In previous shows, people have sung along before but never in quite such a large number and even after the tracks have stopped.

I made my record Edinburgh bucket takings of £78.79. It is going to take something pretty spectacular to top this show, but I now know the standard for how good it can be. Perhaps I should get my flatmates to leave the gas on every day.

In other news, I can confirm that I have fulfilled my Fringe obligation and have officially for the Edinlurgy. I have been coughing up green stuff. My throat only has to last for five more shows. And I have a day off tomorrow, so hopefully a rest will be just the thing I need to sort myself out.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Day 15

The two Ls closely associated with my Edinburgh experience were reunited for the first time this Fringe.

No, I am not referring to Love and Langton, I am referring to Lucozade and Lemsip. In previous Fringes, I have had a dependency on both. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I succumbed to the need for artificial energy and a hot flu remedy.

This is a good thing, because I think my energy levels are better than previous years and my immune system has also managed to hold up thus far. But I can now feel the tiredness creeping up on me and then I hit a wall about 11pm every night when any prospect of going out for the night diminishes by the second. I am also hoping that my mild sore throat is not an early sign of the oncoming Edinlurgy.

Former Fringe performer and current tourist Paul Langton has also been in town for the past couple of days for his brief visit.

He was there to watch yesterday’s show, which was again just a couple of people short of a full room.

The dip in my set happened again with the same bit of material and I don’t think this is helped by me now expecting it to not get a laugh. I decided to give it a load of energy yesterday, which didn’t help because it caused me to forget what it was I was meant to be saying. I am now going to change how I do it and am will try adding something I said the other day that got a laugh. Most of the other segments went down pretty well and I was having a lot of fun riffing with a particularly smutty woman in the front row.

I made £43 in the bucket, which I reckon was a fair assessment of the show. It was decent enough, but I know it can be even better. Being the worker bee Langton is, he totalled up my bucket takings just like old times. It brought back fond memories of only getting about £4.36 one night, which we had to split between us.

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Edinbugh Fringe 2014 – Day 14

With yesterday being a Friday, I was hoping I would get a full room, but there were about ten people seated minutes before the show was due to start.

I went to the bar to see if there were any latecomers and found a few more who were waiting to get served. I ended up starting about five minutes late so I could get everyone in, and had a half-full room of about 20.

Due to starting late, I had to cut the film section from my show, which is often the bit that gets the best reaction. Despite dropping this, it ended up being one of the best shows I have done so far. It is certainly in the top three gigs of the run, along with this past Sunday and one of the other good really ones that I can’t remember specifically.

The audience were really fun and up for getting involved in proceedings. There was a group of three Scottish people on my left near the stage and one of the ladies tried to ding my facts bell. I moved it out of her reach and told her that I was very protective of my bell, which got a pretty big laugh.

I also had some fun abusing my authority by disqualifying a team from the tiebreaker after they protested at my officiating. As a result, they missed out on winning the mystery prize, which was a Toploader album.

From about 20 people, I made £45 in my bucket collection at the end. So not a bad haul at all for a show I really enjoyed.

I now have just seven shows left. This Fringe has gone particularly quickly, which is a sign that it has been a good one. Then again, this next week could always be a disaster and seem like an age.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Day 13

Yesterday’s show was a definite return to form and I was only a few seats away from having a full room.

For the first time ever, I had ten quiz teams who all had pens. The show itself was decent, if it not spectacular as a few things fell flat. It can still be improved further, but I did get my second biggest takings of the run with £52 in my bucket. I think it is accurate to say that the show was £44 better than the previous day.

I have been incredibly lucky to get an audience in double figures every day, but I am not entirely sure if the crowd I am getting in are always necessarily those who will go for my whimsical intelligent-stupidity and all the niche references it entails, or if it is quite the show they were expecting. Nevertheless, they are still a crowd to be won over and it is up to me to do that. A few things that have got big laughs at other gigs have now fallen flat on a number of occasions, so I may have to do some editing or listen back to recordings to determine if I am doing something wrong.

As I am now officially on holiday, I am going to make an effort to see as many shows as I can. I saw Beth Vyse last night, who was bizarre and brilliant. Go and see her.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Day 12

In yesterday’s blog, I made the mistake of saying that ‘the Fringe has been very good so far and it should get even better’.

I obviously displeased the Fringe gods with these words, who inflicted their wrath on me by giving me my worst show so far of this run.

But there is only so much I can blame on fictional celestial beings and I really have to take full responsibility for my own failures. A bad gig seemed appropriate given that it was the midway point in the Fringe and a lull is inevitable.

On Wednesdays, you have to put more time into flyering as they tend to be the quietest days. But I was working remotely until lunchtime and had far too many things I needed to get done, so wasn’t able to put in enough time.

However, I did still manage to get an audience in double figures (12) but didn’t successfully connect with them. My energy was sluggish, my delivery was over the place and most punchlines were met with confused expressions.

What made this all the worse in my mind was that I was convinced that a girl at the back sitting on her own was a reviewer. I have had some really great gigs in this run, but this definitely wasn’t one of them and I would be disappointed if it was the one that was documented for future generations to read about in hologram libraries on distant planets.

To sum up the success of the gig, from 12 people I got about £8 in my bucket collection. I have been averaging £20 to £30 in previous shows even with similar sized crowds.

But it turns out that the girl wasn’t a reviewer at all, so the only record of that gig is now the words that I am publishing here and possibly the video that a German lady was taking of my film scene sketch.  I suggest you alien librarians track down this video as it will help with your archives.

Having got a good sleep last night in an actual bedroom, with the sun (currently) shining and more time for flyering, I am determined that today’s show will be better. There is no way it could be any worse.

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Edinbugh Fringe 2014 – Days 10 and 11

I managed to get a nearly full room for Monday’s show, but it turned out to be my toughest gig of the Fringe.

I had to work really hard to get the audience going and segments that normally go down quite well either received a muted reaction or silence. I battled on against the apathy and managed get several big laughs, but nowhere near as consistently as I would like.

After the gig, when Deech’s pizza arrived in the pub, it immediately slid off the plate and launched molten cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni straight onto my left foot. Deech says this is his current highlight of this year’s Fringe.

I also got that review from Kate Copstick, which was very nice. She said: “Alex Love is great fun, and there is, it must be said, not much squid-based humour around, so his set gave us a rare chance to enjoy it.”

On the whole, the Fringe has been very good so far and it should get even better as I am now officially on holiday and get to sleep in an actual bed for the next ten days after I doing my time on the inflatable mattress.

On a more sombre note, like many people, I was very sad hear about the death of Robin Williams.

He was someone I watched from a very early age in Mork and Mindy and many films from my childhood. He was one of the first people I remember watching who was funny.

For me, my favourite film of his will always be Hook. Far more of his work has received greater critical and commercial acclaim. But for all its flaws, Hook will always have special place in my heart. It helps that it is protected by the powerful bubble of nostalgia, as it was one of the first films I saw in the cinema. But the key theme of not getting so consumed in your working life that you forget who you are and stop having fun is something that we should all keep in mind. Thank you, Robin. I know you couldn’t hold on to those happy thoughts, but I will do my best to keep hold of mine.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Days 8 and 9

On Saturday’s show, I had a full-house at the Kilderkin for the first time since the final Dirty Laundry in 2012.

There wasn’t enough room for everyone to fit in, with people crammed in at the back. Although it was very satisfying, it made doing the quiz much more difficult due to my limited resources in terms of whiteboards and pens.

A couple of punchlines fell flat, but it was a really enjoyable gig and the audience got more involved as the show progressed.

I am having a lot of fun playing the mock-hardline quizmaster and deducting points from people when they say something I disagree with. I am also enjoying playing around with a service bell that I ding at various points during the show when I say a fact, or any time I feel like doing so.

From Saturday’s show, I made a total of £63 in the collection at the end, which is my record so far for gig takings this year. It still seems strange not to split the bucket with anyone, but I am getting used to it being mine. All mine.

On Sunday, I did a spot at Nigel Lovell’s Worst Show on the Fringe. This is an exclusive show for only performers who have had one-star reviews to perform at. Thanks go to James Hampson from ThreeWeeks for qualifying me for this in 2011. Nigel did a great job of warming up the crowd and packing the room with about 70 people, which included the infamous comedy critic Kate Copstick.

A year or two ago, knowing that I had someone reviewing the show I was doing, particularly such an established scribe, would have knocked me off my game. But I have now reached a point where I don’t let that affect me. Obviously I would like people to say nice things about me that I can use to promote my act, but I have learnt to not let criticism get to me. If you perform in public, people will say things about you and people can say what they want about me.

I ended up having a gig I was pretty pleased with and even saw Copstick laughing quite hard at my giant squid material. I don’t yet know what she has written about me, or even if she will write anything about me at all. But there would be a certain irony in doing a show only because I got a one-star review and then getting a decent quote from a respected comedy critic out of it. Time will tell and there is always a chance I’ll get a mauling. Either way, it feels really good to be performing comedy at the moment.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Days 6 and 7

One week, six shows in and for the first time ever at the Fringe, I have nothing to complain about.

There is a very long way to go, but I am really enjoying myself so far this year. I know this doesn’t make for particularly captivating reading, as my miseries and mishaps are what you people want. But worry not, despair is only ever one bad gig away.

In spite of the wet weather and not having enough time for flyering as I have dedicated in previous years, I have been really lucky in getting audiences in double figures every day. This might not seem like anything to be pleased with for those not ‘in the know’, but given my venue location and the struggles I had at getting a crowd last year, this makes me very happy. The punters have also all been really receptive and keen to get involved with the show.

Having an hour to play around with is something I am getting a particular amount of enjoyment from. Every show has been different so far and I am able to spend more time on certain things some days than others.

My show is not perfect and can still be improved, and I would like to have several full rooms with loads of money in my bucket. I may have fashioned myself a delusional cocoon, but if the rest of the Fringe goes as well as the first week has then I will be delighted.

Before I came up here this year, I was going to try and get as many guest spots at other gigs under my belt as possible. But having done four in the past week, I have realised that I would much rather just focus on my show and go and watch other people perform. I will still do the rest of the additional gigs I am booked for and probably won’t turn much down that is offered my way if I’m needed to help out, but I’m not going to make much of an effort to find other gigs. Once I have finished my show, I want to have a few pints and unwind without having to worry about going to perform anywhere else.

One week in and this Fringe is all going a little too well… something must surely go wrong somewhere.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – Days 4 and 5

After a designated day off my show, it was back on it with Black Wednesday – a day that all performers dread at the Fringe.

It has this name because it is after the two-for-one ticket offer ends on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Fringe. Wednesdays are usually the most difficult days to find an audience, because every other day of the week can be assimilated into a long weekend.

However, this thinking was once again proved wrong and the two shows on either side of me at the Kilderkin had full rooms.

I didn’t fare quite so well, but still managed about 15 people. This is still a decent turnout on the Free Fringe, especially compared with the struggles I went through last year.

The show was really good fun, getting stronger laughs as it progressed. I still need to get the material at the start stronger, or possibly move it to the middle.

A married couple at the front proved particularly good value. The husband told me that he had won several pub quizzes, but his wife hadn’t won any as he wouldn’t let her on his team. I played around with this and put them in separate teams, helping her to win the overall quiz.

Someone also said that there was a squid dance that is performed in Japan, so I got him up on stage to show people how it went.

When I was walking home last night, I thought I saw some people I recognised going into a flat on the road I’m staying. They turned out to be three of my audience from my show, who then invited me in for an aftershow party. It was the first time I had ever been invited into an audience member’s house after a gig, so that is something I can add to the list.

Four days in, my Fringe has been wildly unpredictable and all the more enjoyable because of it.