First of all, yes I am writing this during the post-fringe Back-In-Holland emotional crash that always accompanies leaving the Edinburgh Fringe (and my leaving Britain in general). So it's a couple of days out of date. But you're just going to have to deal with that. Currently, I'm feeling slightly better than I did yesterday and the day before. It may be a Holland thing, but it tends to happen. I currently feel a bit better. So much better, even, that I wrote this mutha. Don't take it in all at once.
I cut my teching of Paco's show short to watch The Lumberjacks perform at the Assembly Rooms with my friend mister Alexander Bennett (great stand-up and character actor). I was there in time. Especially since there was a slightly scary lady at the Counting House I had no interest in dealing with any further, so I skedaddled. The Lumberjacks' performance (for which I had tickets due to underhand comp-dealing with one of the three Canadians performing after Brendon Burns's show) was however slightly ruined for me, having to sit next to the loudest person in the world. It was actually not that she was loud per se, but it was something in the amplitude of her laugh that was utterly painful for me to sit next to. I was in agony, shielding myself as well as I could from the producer of those sounds. Myself and Alexander did enjoy the night (including a surprise appearance from Tony Law who was wonderfully devisive in the big room he found himself in) as much as we could physically stand. After the show, I was near tears, some people approached Alexander and me, jocularly asking whether I was allright, with the smug superiority of random sitting arrangements. I might have tinnitus now. At least I know who to sue if I do. Alexander and I said our goodbyes and I made my way back home.
I had an early appointment with my friend Jane, for breakfast at the Edinburgh Larder and the final interview for the podcast. Unfortunately, I slept straight through our 10 AM meet-up and awoke only when she phoned me to check whether I was still alive. I was, so I rushed a shower and ran down to Blackfriar's Street. There wasn't enough time to do the interview then, for she had got us tickets to see Tam o' Shanter, the Robert Burns musical 'Extravaganza'. I'd met one of the actors in the show in the queue for Daniel Kitson several days previously and noted my interest to Jane. She then bought us two tickets at Assembly at the Mound (so many Assemblies this Fringe! And I never even went to George Square, other than to tut at the gaudiness of it all). Back on topic: Tam o' Shanter was the first musical I've enjoyed in ages. Scratch that, this was the first musical I think I've ever enjoyed. Even though all of it was in Scots, about a poet's works I know next to nothing about, concerning things I have scant knowledge of at the best of times (including the mess that was the Jacobite rebellion and issues of Scottish identity I still have to explore more deeply), I really enjoyed it. The acting was closer to comedy acting than Musical theatre, making it a less top-heavy experience, with some brilliant singing and a great sense of occasion and fun (and that at noon! At the Edinburgh Fringe!).
After that show, Jane and myself recorded the final interview for FringeReview to publicise her show Arguments and Nosebleeds on the steps of the University of Edinburgh Divinity offices. I argued that Divinity was a priori useless and stupid, so no-one in their right mind would care if we'd block the door for a bit. It was a fun interview, including some point blank poetry from Jane, which was brilliantly sporting of her. I saw a tiny flicker of 'I should take you round the back and shoot you for this' in her eyes. Completely deserved, naturally. But she did very well. Listen to episode 8 and you'll find out for yourself!
The first of two early rises for me, I had to be out, up and running by 10 to get to Paco's ridiculously scheduled 11AM extra performances of his show at the Counting House. I wasn't even that late, though only 13 people showed up, which enabled Paco to do his show without amplification. That meant I could go into the audience and have a bit of a lie down. I've been hit with the curse of the techie in that I could probably perform his show about being German easily myself, with the one caveat that I'm actually not German. Probably not a good idea. I won't, I won't. Don't worry.
After that, I'd got a ticket for an extra show David o'Doherty was doing at Pleasance One. I'd been trying to see him for 3 years without success. This time I did get in, and I loved it. The show was mainly about the breakup of a relationship and his subsequent breakdown into Domino's Pizza and playing Frisbee Dog on his own, in the middle of the night, in his pants. He surprised me, by often sailing close to the sadness that may not have been as 'done and dealt with' as Felicity Ward told me hers had been for her show The Hedgehog Dilemma. O'Doherty was still supremely funny, especially when he was not playing his tiny Yamaha keyboard, but doing stand-up in the technically speaking more mainstream version of 'standing up holding a microphone in one of your hands'.
I had my first gig in a while today, a spot at Davy Mitchell's Stand-Up Sit-Down gig at Anderson's, in the New Town. I had prepared and everything. I'd sat in a Costa for a number of hours to calm my nerves with what was only my second Cinnamon Latte of the Fringe.
The gig itself went OK, seeing as I had to go on early to still make it to Paco's evening show. There were some titters here and there from the small audience, but nothing more. I probably was too rushed and didn't really make a connection to the audience. Then I had to leave, with Davy saying he looked forward to seeing me again tomorrow. I did get my new facebook profile picture taken then. So not all for nought. However, I had no time to revert the adrenaline of being on stage in front of some people who didn't really care that I was there- into anything helpful, so I just ran my face off until halfway up the Grassmarket, where I realised that I'd have at least another 15 minutes until I had to be at The Counting House. The staff there were more vigilant than I'd ever seen them, so I felt I couldn't really do my job, but afterwards realised I'd probably had been hyperactive myself, so didn't make such a cool and collected impression on them as I thought I'd had.
The second early morning proved more winning, since we had more than double the audience of yesterday's morning gig. Boom! Which was good. It was a nice atmosphere and -again- a lovely gig.
I teched Arguments and Nosebleeds today, once more since I had done exactly that 5 times at last year's fringe and twice at the fringe the year before. The Gothic Room in the Free Sisters was pretty full, especially for a midday poetry gig. I say teched, I just fiddled about with the lights and mic for a bit until Robin said it was fine. The show itself was lots of fun, Jane was very good, and so was Chris (who was closing after their first special guest had pulled out). Cat, the special guest they found on the trot was actually on her way back to London, nearly on a train when Jane and Chris found her and got her to guest on their show. I filmed her Neil Armstrong poem, and also the rest of her set- on her phone. So the wonky camera-work you're seeing, that's my handiwork right there.
I thought I'd have a bit more time to myself today, before my second gig, I didn't. I ran to Anderson's and again, hid in the corridor. The book I was reading at the time was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This would of course never defend me from endless accusations of my infinite ponciness.
Jane was at this gig, but two thirds of yesterday's audience. I could only really step off of the small stage and just chat to the individual audience members, which I learned is really the only thing you can do in that situation. I also seem to have ended up on the table that an elderly couple were sitting behind, singing 'Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus' with the table nearly tipping over. That was a good gig.
Paco's final show was massively full, as always. It was so much fun working for him for a month. It gave an impetus to my day and I'd learned a lot from him. That was something I didn't tell him that night, because straight after the show, Jane and I had some lovely dinner at the Bistro opposite the Counting House.
My first actual day off in a very busy Festival month started with me sleeping like a beast, for 13 hours. This was undeniably a very enjoyable part of the day.
I saw Simon Munnery for the second year in a row, doing his show Fylm-Makker with the lovely Lizzy Mace, off of Mace and Burton (known to everyone who's listening to the podcast). I'd seen comedians working with ST video before, notably Kommil Foo in a very early stage of their show Wolf, but Munnery was way better. Non-stop funny, the best I think he's been since the days of The League Against Tedium. The 101ers song from last year also made an appearance, but now I could actually understand the lyrics (always important in comedy songs).
The second show I saw today was Sammy J and Randy's The Inheritance, which was to the same amazing standard as last year's Rickett's Lane. And I should know, they used one of my quotes in the Brett Vincent flyer-booklet-thing (not on the poster, unfortunately. But still, hey? Dare to dream). I could be a reviewer if I wanted to... Second thought no, thank you.
I then had a lovely pizza with Paco down the Canon's Gait, a final get-together with the One-Eyed-Men in their flat in the West End and I had my first proper gander around Brook's Bar at the Pleasance Dome. It was mostly press people, but I did meet some friends I hadn't seen for a while, like Joe Wells (who seems to be doing very well for himself. Go him! … Nope, no vestigal jealousy this time) and had a chat with them. I didn't stay long, because I'm a twat after 11.30 and have to go to bed like a child or an old man. Something between the two but still childish and smelly.
The Fringe seemed to be pretty much over today. So I was happy to lounge about for a bit, do some cleaning in the flat and then leave for my gig at the Stand in Glasgow. A few days previously, I'd wandered into the Stand offices in Edinburgh and told them I was leaving the country, so I was curious whether they'd start doing their new act night again? I was told that they did, but in Edinburgh not until the next Monday. But they did have a reserves list for Newcastle on Wednesday and Glasgow on Tuesday. I opted for the Glasgow one, because of cheaper train tickets Off Peak Return. And whaddaya know, on Sunday I was phoned with the message that someone had pulled out and that I could do 10 at the Glasgow Stand! Booyah!
This required some train travel. I, of course, was offensively early and had all the time in the world to reacquaint myself with the wonderful notion of British based rail travel. The sights, the smells, the somehow inescapable sense of melancholy that seeps through every train station in Britain (with the exception of the big ones in London like Victoria, King's Cross and Euston). When living in Brighton, I always loved getting on the train to gigs (almost as much as I loved coming back from gigs, triumphant). The view would almost always be beautiful in some way. At least there'd be something to look at, which is more than you can say about any train journey at all in Holland, which is just plain empty. I was charmed by the station names being in Gaelich as well as English as we trotted through the Borders.
As I got to Glasgow Central, Jane was there to meet me, and we walked up Sauchiehall St, as we'd done more than a year previously, down to the Stand. The room was sold out, which was more than I'd bargained for. 300 people in a small room (I was lucky to get Jane in) just for some new acts or older acts doing new stuff. I was to do 10. I was nervous as fuck. The compère seemed very chilled out though: 'You'd have to be fucking shite to die in this room, they're just a lovely crowd.' At those moments, I become convinced of my innate shite-ness. I was to close the first half. Three guys went on before me, one very brave soul doing his first ever gig. I congratulated him, after which, for no apparent reason, the tension left my shoulders. I could breathe normally again. I was in gig-mode. No need for all the physical and vocal warm-ups that made me look like a twat in the green room. I was called on, did about 9½ in which I pretty much improvised my new first 2 minutes to every single show I'm doing in Scotland or Ireland ever again, did some very niche, literary stand-up about death and sex, took out Dr. Johnson, said 'It's Dr. Johnson', got no reaction, shrugged, put Dr. Johnson back into my bag and got a laugh, only realising the penile pun half an hour after my gig was over. Everything worked, I got off sparkling. One of the best gigs I've ever done in the best room I've ever done one in. Amazing. Very proud and very grateful to the Stand for allowing me this brilliant end to my month in Scotland. After the two girls I'd met up with in the station who'd been at my gig had left (no funny business there) I sat back, and just realised how happy I was with the job I was doing, and realised that I'd just had to stick with it, until either I broke it or it broke me. In short, me and stand-up are definitely In a Relationship. Good times.
After some cleaning, I saw off James and Luke to their train ride back to London (I somehow missed a lot of the others due to being asleep or just not running into them). I climbed Arthur's Seat today as well, after rain showers seemed to make it pretty much impossible for most of the day. Also, I made some pretty spicy pasta about which I have a story to tell (come to my gig on September 12th to hear).
I packed (again), repacked until I was absolutely sure I could fit in all the books I'd bought up here into my bag so I would only have hand baggage. I waited in Starbucks for a few hours, reading, drinking coffee and retrying their strawberry/cream frappuchinno myself and Josh had enjoyed two weeks previously (how time flies). I met up with Alice from Witness Theatre (know your podcasts, guys) before I'd took the bus to the airport. Which pretty much concludes my blog-series about Edinburgh 2012. I'd like to thank Zoe Fell, James Hamilton, Jess Duxbury, Jane Overton, Erhard Hübener, Diane Fitton, Davy Mitchell, The Stand, Paul Levy, All of Casual Violence, The One-Eyed Men, Alexander Bennett, Josh Crisp, Jamie Hunt, Lana Harper and all of the people we interviewed/whose shows I saw or came to see me. Keep your eyes peeled for more written work of mine or gigs near you.