It is the final day of the Free Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe and I entertain the idea of browsing a few shops that I walk past every day. Not that I am going to buy anything. My suitcase is ridiculously heavy. Ian Fox, my Fringe wife, tells me of a service called “Send My Bag .com. It is a service that sends suitcases and boxes door-to-door all over the world for a relatively small fee. It’s a small fee compared to excess baggage fees at the airport. It sounds great, unfortunately, I have decided to bring with me a pressure cooker and don’t want to give some poor baggage handler a heart attack.
I meet up with some comedians as they take down equipment and posters in their venue on Blair Street. Some of the comedians had been out until 7:00am the night before. If you are just going to drink and are not going to do drugs, there is no reason to stay out past 3:00am because comedians become gremlins after that. Comedians on drugs are no fun to be around unless you are also on drugs with them and even then it’s a crap shoot. On top of that, the end of the whole Fringe is nigh and those that have spent 8 grand or more to be here are determined to squeeze as much forced fun out of the last few days as they can. It is uncomfortable to watch. Young and beautiful first-timers who are feeling particularly vulnerable get hit on by much older people in a pseudo-mentor-that-actually-just-wants-to-put-their-dick-in-you way. It is awful to watch. With all the talk about mental wellness at the festival, we need parachute troopers to swoop into industry bar conversations and inject self-worth and esteem into those that definitely need a boost before they are taken advantage of.
Here is a nice Fringe moment:
There are two shows on our floor. One for kids the other is a bunch of foul-mouthed comedians. One of the comedians is on stage talking about drinking his own piss and a Dad standing outside with a small child still thinks THIS one might be the kid’s show.
I do two ten minute spots and I am so tired the right side of my mouth is refusing to help me enunciate parts of my set. That’s a first. On the way out of the Three Sisters, Ian takes us out a secret exit as the courtyard is full of people watching sports. On my way out, I walk straight into the metal lid of a skip. It hit me just above the brow bone pretty hard. I start to worry about my peripheral vision as I have been walking into stuff a lot lately. Ian points out that yes, I might have vision problems but I could start to fix them by tucking my fringe behind my ear as it is a bit long and tends to hang over my eye. Very good point.
I make a mistake that I haven’t made all year. Two audience members sit in the booth seat at the side of the chairs which means that they are not really watching the show as much as they are watching other people watch the show. Everyone else is having a kick-ass time but those two sit on the side like well-behaved Statler&Waldorfs. I should have told them to move but whatever. Some people are perfectly happy being miserable and who am I to take that away from them? I am sure I am putting way to much thought into this. It was a great show and everybody else loved even the darkest bits that if you don’t like, just mean that you are a very emotionally healthy person and were probably dragged to see me by a friend that needs therapy.
I can’t bear another industry bar night and find myself at the Sweet Venues rap party which has a much less predatory feel to it and feels much more like the last day at a cult’s summer camp. There are songs everybody sings/dances along to and speeches are given that are heart-felt and haphazard. A bowl of purple, monk-made liquor is passed around like communion. I do not partake. I have not caught the Fringe flu yet and I’m not going to let it happen now.
Cabaret sensation Jojo Bellini and I sit, watch and roast the partiers there properly. We made Statler&Waldorf proud as the Prosecco flowed. I took a taxi home at 2:30. My boyfriend called and pronounced me spectacularly drunk. I hung up just after he said, “I am going to have so much fun teasing you in the morning.” I fall asleep wondering how I am going to get lipstick off the pillowcase. “Baby wipes clean everything but I don’t have time to have a child before check out tomorrow zzzzzzzzz.”
What I’ve learned/relearned after doing 63 shows, 24 hour-long shows in 25 days:
1. Change your socks a couple of times a day. You walk more than you know and it is hard enough to sleep away from home without athlete’s foot.
2. Benches are the enemy of comedy.
3. Always have people siting next to each other as much as possible. Even if they protest, assure them they will enjoy the show more and they will eventually learn this is true.
4. Be nice to all the venue staff, tech and flyerers. If you are a dick to any of these, everyone will know within a matter of hours. Especially if you slap someone, you will be the punchline of many a pun as one person was this year.
5. See more shows in the first week while you can still get tickets to amazing stuff.
6. Go see bad shows by good people and you will understand the Scottish mindset a bit more. More often than not, it is a heart-warming and bonding experience with other members of the audience. It’s being involved in a car accident made entirely out of bouncy castles. It’s absolutely bonkers and almost better than a show that is brilliant on purpose.
7. Ignore bad shows by pricks.
8. Posters are important but not as important as excellent flyers.
9. Get a flyerer you can pay them for the work they did that day and will still come back for the next day’s shift. They do exist if you treat them right.
10. Maybe don’t get a flyerer that says he is teaching the crows to say your show name. ( Mine did not do this BTW.)
11. Heat is not necessarily the enemy of comedy. It is the enemy of anything longer than 45 minutes.
12. Don’t watch “funny”TV shows or movies. You’ll just pull the story apart and won’t enjoy it.
13. Read anything that is not a review or show promotion for at least a half an hour a day.
14. Only read reviews of other people’s shows you’ve actually seen to judge the critic and then decide if you want to care what they think of you.
15. Remember this Festival is a game.
16. Decide if you want to play that game or decide to invent your own.
17. Have fun
18. Know what your goals are
19. Know what your show is about and who it is for
20. And FFS, don’t bring a rice cooker.