Edinburgh Day Seven (for me. The start of the weekend for most Edinburgh denizens.)

My hair has started to heckle me. I’m in the middle of my set at 3D Comedy when my fringe reaches critical length, falling in my face and blinding me in the middle of a joke. I either have to abandon eye-contact with the audience like some sort of floppy-haired emo kid who can’t look anyone in the face… or spend the rest of the set sweeping my hair back in an annoying and distracting manner. Neither option is good for humour. I may have to get some hairgrips, or a bandana, or, if there’s no alternative and the worse really does come to the worse, a haircut.

In the meantime, I settle for balancing my fringe on my forehead which at least has a showbiz / circus-skills feel to it.

I’ve had a pretty lazy day of reading and thinking up until now. This time of introspection had yielded one (1) whole new joke for my set and the reinstatement of an old bit. It turns out the others are also changing their sets and trying things out.

Which keeps the rest of us performers entertained, at least.

We have about twenty people in today but the room seems especially hot and clammy and I note the warm snoozy atmosphere before the show starts.

Aiden, the Riches and I have to put in a terrific effort to wake the audience out of their stupor. And they do wake up over the course of the show. We just have to keep chipping away at their resistance. I actually rather enjoy it because I know it’s going to be hard work and just have to give it some welly.

After the show we meet with Alison in the pub garden and have a couple of beers. Then we go on to Double Dutch for something to eat. Heap goes home early as he want to stay fresh for Sunday’s Amused Moose final. I feel a bit washed out and decide to go back to Halls as well.

Back in my room, I finish reading Stewart Lee’s book. It’s bloody interesting.

It’s called “How I Escaped My Certain Fate – The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian” and is formed of transcripts of the three shows that saw him emerge from retirement as a comic and establish himself as one of the most important and influential voices on the circuit. Between each transcript is a chapter on his career at that point and the experiences which influenced the writing of each show. The whole thing is heavily annotated with notes on comedy in general and how Mr. Lee’s comedy in particular actually works.

So, as I say, it’s bloody interesting. And it’s got me thinking about why I’m doing comedy and what I wanted to achieve from my week at the festival.

Arguably, I should have thought about this before and not at the end of the run. But screw convention. That’s the kind of maverick I am.

(i.e.: A stupid one.)

I didn’t really have time to prepare before I came to Edinburgh and it quickly became apparent that neither me nor the Riches were particularly bothered about making money out of the show or getting reviewed. I haven’t spoken to any influential people or gigged with any bookers who might give me more stage time in future. So what was the point of spending hundreds of pounds to be here? Isn’t it just a huge waste of time?

Actually, that’s quite depressing.

No, the point is that I’ve been doing stand-up for nearly four years, unbelievably enough, and I’ve started to get a bit jaded. The time and expense of travelling miles to do a five-minute spot in front of a few people in a pub starts to overwhelm the sense of excitement and adventure after a while. And I have to find room for bits and bobs of gigging and writing amongst working and commuting and the general requirements of everyday life.

But this week at the festival has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in arty goings-on. I could go and see shows and chat to other performers if I wanted. Or I could stay in and read about comedy all day before going off to do a twenty minute set in the evening. And that’s been quite inspirational. I’ve started thinking about the next step in my humble stumbling toward doing stand-up which is actually ‘good.’

Do I want to have a crack at doing an hour show sometime soon? Can I mix in a bit more pathos with the gags? Whatever I do, one thing’s for sure: I’m going to need to sort my bloody hair out.


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