We made it!Read More
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.
It is the next to the last day at the Fringe so I drag my ass out of bed and make my way to the Grassmarket weekend market and enjoy posh people’s yard sales. There is a lot of breakable stuff and costume jewelry my grandmother would have loved to own but would never have put on.
I saw an incredibly expensive dream catcher and it reminded me of the one we had in the house growing up. My mother collected Native American art and there was so much of it in the house people thought we were part Native American. Looking back, I think her being an orphan, she really identified with the displacement they have experienced. The Trail of Tears played a significant theme in the decor now that I think about it. I don’t know why that’s never occurred to me before. Ugh, that’s grim. At least she was a fan of Southwest pastels which made our home look like the set of the Golden Girls if it was filmed in Nevada.
Anyway, there seem to be new people in town and they look less tired. The end is in sight but as I overheard a woman at the next table say “Edinburgh’s never really over. It just keeps going.” She’s right. It can be a hamster wheel.
The weather is unseasonably hot for this part of the world and I should have cut the show down a bit when I saw people really struggling not to pass out but I wanted to see if I could power it through and make it work anyway. I think they would have appreciated more oxygen but everyone seemed very happy with the show and the venue staff said they were hearing great comments outside the room.
I really like this point of the fringe where I have memorized the show to the point that I can just really get into it. I even added a new bit and it fits like a glove. It’s nice to “live in the show”. I don’t know how else to put it.
I see a video of myself doing stand up on the Twisted Mirror TV App and think, “I have got to get a lip brush to apply red lip stick with. I look insane.”
I see the most pierced woman in the world on the Royal Mile. Her name is Elaine which means she was born to have over 6,000 piercings or go into accounting.
I do the finale of Imaginary Porno Charades and did a pretty good “Peter Pants” and threaten to beat a team member with a stool to get them to guess “The Jeremy Kyle Cock Show” but fail with that one.
Naked people ran through the show as tends to happen at some point towards the end of the Fringe. It’s happened so often with this one streaker that I can tell they’ve been hitting the gym over the past couple of years and think, “ Good for them. It’s nice to see people taking care of themselves at the Fringe for a change.”
After eating a pound of warm cheese, I make my way to an industry bar. People are not so much starting to unwind as much as unravel. People are pushy making their way to the bar and making the most out of the last few hours of the most social time of the year. I run into Yuriko and I am so proud of the both of us for having fun this year. Yay us.
A little after three, I get a taxi home and have a lovely chat with the driver about the festival.
He doesn’t go to any shows. He is too busy but go to a sport thing to unwind ( the mixture of Edinburgh accent and unfamiliar team names make it impossible for me to decipher what sport he is actually talking about. )
When he asked me, “ What do you do for fun during the festival?” I said, “ Listen to podcasts about Jerry Epstein, the Opioid Crisis and for-profit prisons in America to remind me that in the grand scheme of things, the festival doesn’t really matter.
The taxi-driver said, “ Well, as long as you enjoy it...”
Not checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
As the Festival is winding down and Monday is a bank holiday, I muster the strength to deposit the now obviously ridiculous and stupid amount of cash I’ve been carrying around all festival. I haven’t been consistent in writing down how much money I made from the bucket this year. The buckets have been good but I don’t want to measure my show in an oven monetarily. It’s nice and embarrassing to realize I’ve been carrying around over 300 pounds in cash. I have been using a card reader as well and it was nice to look at my bank balance and know I’ll be comfortable this Fall. I’ve made a profit this Fringe, second time in a row. It is much easier to make a profit when you’re not flying in from Japan, I’ve learned. I had a chat with my boyfriend about my turning down the paid Fringe offer earlier this year. I was wondering for a minute if I had made a mistake not trying to gather a big 4 stamp. He reminded me I would have hated bleeding money for a month and the payoff was less than guaranteed. He’s right. I would have hated it.
I still have 90 posters that I haven’t put up and I am wondering if I should hire someone to put them up next year. Every year I think that and then I also think, “The money is better spent on flyering. If the poster image is ridiculously entertaining, I just might.
The bank is on the other side of town and I rush to my first spot of the day. I arrive backstage 2 minutes before I go on stage and that was really fun. The adrenaline of running to the gig extended to the stage and woke up a very hungover crowd.
The show tonight goes well. I give myself some more time to talk to the audience that usual and it goes well. Comedian Aaron Twitchen told me I’m like a drag queen that can write actual jokes. That sounds about right. There is one joke in my show that I love. The punchline is fine but I feel like there is a better one just around the corner. Hopefully, it will occur to me by Sunday. To be honest, it’s probably one of the reasons I am not bored with the show yet.
Afterwards I do porno charades and Feel like I am finally getting the hang of this game and am getting better at jumping in on the shit talk and banter.
One of the team captains “stole the wife” of the other.
I said “ If’s fine because she was inflatable anyway.”
Team Captain “Aye, that’s why she went down on me.”
Me “Because you’re a prick.”
Fist bumps galore. God I love being a dick with like-minded people.
Three Prosecco later Aaron Twitchen and I are are in an industry bar as we both believe Fringe flu comes from drinking outside in the cold. Seriously, unless you are ice fishing, what is the fucking point?! And if you are Ice fishing, what is the fucking point?! Ok. I’m drunk and I know that because I suddenly have a self-esteem and am about to tell everyone exactly what I think of them. Time to go home.
Night night! Lights out at 3:14 am.
If you look closely, you can see a broken cash register in the grass…one of Edinburgh’s many hidden gems.Read More
The boyfriend has flown back home and it is starting to feel like the last week of the Fringe. People on the streets look tired and their brains are fried. Wednesdays are the hardest days at the Fringe because even if you are on holiday for a week, you don’t go out to watch a show on Wednesday. You are recovering from whatever it is you did to yourself on Monday and Tuesday. You might go out on Thursday but even on vacation, you are still looking forward to the weekend. It is just hardwired in the brain. If you are a local not on vacation, you don’t go to a show on a Wednesday unless you are a diehard fan or you hate your life. That’s my theory in a paragraph.
I’ve got a breakfast meeting at Starbucks with people from the Ouch BBC podcast. They came to the show the night before. I suspect they wanted to make sure I could get through an entire conversation without using the word “cunt”. It was a struggle but unlike all my applications to the BBC 4 Radio Comedy Award, I manage to not drop the c-bomb the entire conversation.
I sit in the cafe for three more hours and do my best to not move a muscle. I have been walking so much that the side of my big toes are bruised. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
In the afternoon, I go to the BBC tent to record the podcast with two other comedians doing the festival with other physical disabilities, Jon Long and Aidan Green. The green room has clear boxes of perfectly-cut triangle sandwiches that look like the start of an OCD infinity mirror. I’d like one but no one has opened the boxes yet and I don’t want to be that asshole because it looks too perfect. It’s fine, I’ll get one later. Plus, I‘ve been given a white and red stripe bracelet that lets people know I am with the BBC or that I have started working at TGI Fridays. (It’s also on my good hand to which means I have no idea how I will take it off.)
We talk a lot about growing up with a disability and I have always thought having a really supportive group of friends and loved ones is really important. I moved around a lot as a kid and changed schools relatively often. We always lived in the Kansas City area but far enough away that I had to change school districts a lot. When asked why we moved so much, it was really hard to answer. I had never given it much thought. After thinking about it now, I believe my parents were just very bad with confrontation. They would have a tiff with a neighbor that would eventually become an all out war. I remember one neighbor’s dog kept killing our dogs and another neighbor got upset when our dog killed one of their cock-fighting chickens. Of course I remember this AFTER the podcast. It’s fine, the BBC probably wouldn’t have let me say “cock”.
I fall over a man in a wheelchair near the Royal Mile. By far, this is the best fall I’ve ever had at the Fringe because it happened so slowly. Slow falls, once you’ve hade enough of them are great because you become Neo in the Matrix and can maneuver your body in a way that makes it hurt less. The fall was my fault anyway, that’s what I get for trying to dodge a flyerer.
I had an audience of one and I wasn’t angry she wasn’t more people. I found out she was a Midwesterner from Chicago in the UK for the first time. We chatted a bit about travel and then I told her to go to someone else’s show. An educated black American lady did not fly across the pond to see me. She had just taken a flyer. I told her to go see Jessica Fostekew’s extra show at the Monkey Barrel or any other show there. I’m playing the long game at the festival.
My flyerer Is upset more people didn’t come and promises to work “extra hard” tomorrow. What a sweetheart. I knew I chose a good egg. He is probably the best flyerer I’ve ever had at the Fringe.
Now that I don’t have a show, I have time to drop off my wet hiking towels at home before watching the best drag show I’ve seen at the Fringe this year, Divet. Yuriko Kotani and I are drag show buddies and we both agree it is the best drag show we’ve seen and we’ve gone to see Rupaul’s Drag Race Contestants. It was the perfect show for a Wednesday. Parodies of music divas and some of the best dancing you could hope for. I wanted to take pictures but was too captivated to pull out my camera. Do yourself a favor and follow Jero on Instagram who was also on the Finnish tour of Kinky Boots.
Afterwards we get drinks at the industry bar and talk about our plans for September. Start writing next years show, natch.
Alright, the boyfriend came a few days ago and gloriously shook up my daily Fringe routine. After Brunch at Belushi’s, we head to Bob’s Bus a venue and a bar with sofas. My boyfriend’s walker is outside and acts as a sign to all that pass by that the mischief maker is in.
Edinburgh is physical brutal on everyone but the hills and cobblestone are particularly vicious for those with a walker or wheelchair. The other day I saw an able-bodied person zip past me on a Segway three times and I just wanted to deck him.
We stay in the bus for a few hours and watch comedian Chris Betts’ solo comedy hour upstairs on the bus. It’s a great show with some convincing reasons to take up smoking.
I go and meet up with my superb flyerer a couple of hours before the show. It’s a grueling job and the people that do it deserve a pat on the back and the knowledge that what they do is very much appreciated.
Italian comedian and longtime friend Stefano Rapone comes to the show and for a Sunday, it is a downright raucous and fun audience that picked up on even the subtlest jokes and segues. I get to push them further than most of my audiences. Not that the show is pretty much imprinted on my brain, I feel more relaxed and able to play a bit more.
The boyfriend, Stefano and I go get a bite to eat after as we talk about the shows we are going to see and what we have seen. I go and do a spot at a midnight show that is less of a show and more of a cult which is how the host describes it and it fits. The spot went fine but I was still buzzing from my earlier much higher energy audience. Who cares? Mmy boyfriend is in town! It’s time for pickle tickles and bed, an excellent way to end a fringe day.
The next day is date day. I am super excited because I’ve gotten my boyfriend to agree to come with me to a play I’m sure we will both love. Every year for my birthday I make him take me to a musical and then TGI Friday’s because he hates them both and the fact that he does it anyway shows me just how much he loves me.
My boyfriend is a Shakespeare nerd and I’ve gone to see proper Shakespeare theatre with him before but even the best performances are taxing. Listening To traditional Shakespeare for more than an hour is like listening in on an intense corporate takeover meeting in a second language. You know it’s important you follow what’s going on but your vocabulary just isn’t what it needs to be for a lot of it.
This show sounds perfect for us. One of my favorite comedians doing a one-man Shakespeare play in layman’s terms in an hour. I even check to make sure the venue is accessible and it is. My boyfriend is only excited by the opportunity to tease me for liking this comedian and if it means he’ll come with, I’m fine with it. I’m also excited to watch this play because the last time I had to read it, it was taught by a substitute teacher that later I found out is now in jail for being a pedophile. It would be nice to remember this particular Shakespeare play as something other than “something a pedophile taught me in school”.
It is a really great performance. It made the play accessible and really fun. My boyfriend and I later both reckon it will do well in schools. As soon as the performance ends, my boyfriend says” Well, that was pointless. Why wouldn’t you just watch the real thing?” I should have known he would feel that way especially since he quoted whole chunks of the original as we made our way to the venue. What a nerd.
I had a lovely and lively show and afterwards took a friend to see one of my favorite shows of the Fringe, Karaoke Saved My Life. I enjoy going and egging other people on to get up on stage and sing something out of their range. There are a lot of people with great voices in the audience and are most likely in shows at the Fringe themselves. Those people are fun but not the funnest. The funnest are the one’s that belt it out as best they can with no technical ability but are all heart. The second best are the ones that suddenly discover for the first time they have a beautiful voice. It’s like watching a chick hatch from an egg.
Not checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I am up and out of the flat by noon and am pretty proud of myself. The Rose McGowan show is on the Mound a venue I always forget exists because it it huge and removed from the hubbub of the more pedestrian George Square. I suppose it is the place an act should aim to one day play but it always seems elusive and lonely to me as a building.
I genuinely didn’t know what to expect and if I am completely honest, I still don’t know what I saw. It was a sort of high-tech listening party of an album McGowan had recorded that “used all of the sound tricks Hollywood used to manipulate us” for good and healing instead of evil. There is a slide show at the very beginning explaining her background and promoted her book “Brave”. Having just paid 22 pounds for a ticket, I didn’t like being advertised her book as soon as the show started and felt my arms cross. I was just about to say “ Fuck this.” And then she walked on stage in a sort of ethereal, angelic yogi and shapeless princess Leia dress pant. She can command an audience and just when you think she might be mentally checked out there she lets you know she is sharp as a tack and in on the joke.
She asks the audience to close their eyes a lot and walks us through visualizations. There is a lot of artsy stuff going on on the screen behind her and I want to see it. She has a habit of telling people to close their eyes but not telling them when to open them. At one point, she asks us to keep our eyes closed for the duration of a particular song. I oblige but when the song ends she informs us that if we had opened our eyes, we would have seen the artwork she had made out of video of her that was put up on porn hub. I get her point but I would have liked to have seen that.
After the show, she says she will be signing books after the show. I have a place to be but decide to pick up a book anyway. I ask a Chinese student waiting in line what she thought of the show and she said she had come because, “I like the show Charmed.” and then said “ I think someone hurt her.”
One of the songs made the Chinese student think of a word she needed to look up in google translate “intracranial orgasm”. I think that pretty much sums up the show for me. Something I have never heard of, expected to see and not the easiest to explain. I am glad I went, it did take me out of the Fringe bubble and I did leave feeling refreshed. So that was nice.
My show went well and was a typical Sunday show in that everyone is lower energy than Friday and Saturday crowds but definitely have longer attention spans. A heavily-medicated person fell asleep in the show which is just as well. A fellow comedian and I talk after the show about how every female comedian she knows has a stalker and how blasé we all are about them. At least mine is too sleepy to do anything.
Boyfriend is in town tomorrow and these dogs are barking so early to bed for me.
I have tried and failed to watch three shows. One’s run is already finished, one was too far away to get to in time and the last one was sold out. I made like I was playing baseball and took the bench at Starbucks. I have never been one to plan my fringe ahead of time. I always plan on reading the broscure when it comes in but is is a dull read-through, a three-hundred plus page thesaurus of , “brilliant must-see show”. The boring photos in the programme are either due to the fact that they are famous in the UK or that they have no idea what they are doing at the Fringe and their image is giving you a pretty good clue as to what to expect.
I decide to buy tickets to the Rose McGowan show for the next day because I loved listening to her cut through the bullshit and rip Hollywood apart on a podcast that didn’t know quite how to handle someone so unwilling to play the game anymore. I don’t know anything about it and am prepared for anything.
The show is rammed tonight and everyone is game for the show although some have clearly had too much to drink and it gets a bit rowdy. I tend to attract hecklers probably because I don’t hate them and relish to opportunity to say something mean to someone that really deserves it. I can put someone in their place every now and it’s nice to exercise that muscle. A comedian friend wanted to come into my show but it was just too packed and I have no problems with making drunk punters sit in a sauna of a room but I would hate to do that to someone I would actually see again.
The show goes well even though I know parts of the show so well at points that I could almost be going too fast like a Southern auctioneer in my race to finish the show before the heat finishes my audience.
I go to the Disney Dance party. There is, sad to say, very little Disney in it. I was expecting to do sing-a-longs and instead tried to jump up and down to Green Day for an hour. The bright side is four of the people at my show earlier were also at this party and it was nice to drink and try to dance with them.
I then braved the industy bar and ran into my new Fitbit buddy, Caroline Mabey.. I’d say we navigated the networking waters pretty well and I headed home at approximately 2:45 am. (I have realized that I hate everyone after 3:00am and it is best to just to go home before the less-likable me comes out.) On my way home, I eat street-vendor bratwurst and I know this is a sign I am drunk because it smells like heaven.
Night night.Er.r uhh..good morning
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I’ve gotten more sleep than I have in a long time and I still feel a bit shattered. I have no food in thee house as I have given up on cooking at home a few days ago. I am proud of myself for managing to cook a handful of meals but I just can't be bothered anymore.
I spot a review on a poster that is from a site that is infamous for giving five star reviews if you pay for them. This poor bastard only got four from them so it must be a terrible show. How anyone that has done the festival before doesn't know what utter contempt this particular “reviewer” is held in is beyond me. It suggests they need better friends.
The Scotsman newspaper, junk food and tote used to be unavoidable at every corner. Now they are like four-leaf clovers only available before 10:00am at the top of Arthur’s Seat. One of the guys I do the compilation show with pick one up for me and I devour the junk food at the bottom as my breakfast minutes before I go onstage at Funny Cluckers.
Ian Fox and I have a leisurely lunch and chat about show posters on the Grassmarket at a restaurant know not to be a tourist trap, meaning it is crawling with other performers at the Fringe. An American improv group with no invitation or attempt at engagement, places their flyers with a four-star review from a reputable source in front of us and every one else in the restaurant. I say loud enough for them to hear, “ It’s so nice when people let you know which show to avoid at all costs.” I get it. Doing a show at the Fringe can make people forget how to interact with human beings but I refuse to reward the perfect storm of cuntyness it creates.
One of my best friends from Japan, Anisa, comes to the show tonight and we have the perfect number of people in the room to make it as comfortable as possible while still giving people the anonymity needed to enjoy dark humor. I have added a few jokes to the show to keep it interesting for me. The anticipation created when adding something new and the possibly it may not work gives an otherwise memorized show a bit more of an adventurous feel, at least from my point of view. The gamble pays off.
There has been a drop out at the show SPANK and I’ve been asked to fill in. I love this show so much. It is the perfect blend of irreverence and fun. The act on before me was a little low energy and so when I went on stage, for whatever reason, a small number of people expected more of the same and booed me. I always enjoy an opportunity to flip off an audience and I did it well. I eventually won the doubters over, even the woman that was upset I made fun of Wales. Besides, if the Welsh don’t want me to make fun of them, they should get better internet. I never said anything about their third eye or six toes. I don't have any idea why she was so upset.
I make plans to go with Anisa’s friend to a Disney party tonight. I have no idea what to expect.
I had so many grand plans for yesterday. I was going to go to a ballet at 1:00 and got there 3 minutes too late. They allowed late comers but you don’t get the full effect. So I go get breakfast at a cafe near the Meadows instead.
A friend of mine that used to live in Japan and now lives in Glasgow, David, gets in touch and wants to meet up after his meeting while he’s in Edinburgh. The meeting is 3 hours longer than he expected so I wander around Edinburgh’s many many Harry Potter shops. There are about 6 or 7 of them in the center of town, there was only one or two of them last year. I am only surprised by how long it took this city to cash in on the Harry Potter train since JK Rowling lives and wrote a lot of it here. I love the Harry Potter stuff. It’s a nice little world to escape to every now and again. They even sell the bottled butter beer that made my boyfriend and I instantly sick. There are a few shops that sell totes and mugs with Harry Potter in Edinburgh inspired and very busy fan art that is fun to look at. After three hours of wandering, my friend and finally meet and catch up quickly about an hour before my show.
The show is full and the room is very warm. A lot of people in the audience do not know what they are in for and have “only come down for the comedy” There are three uni students and a teacher in the audience who’s ex-pupil was sitting in front of her. Thank god they weren’t on a date. We have a fun time getting the giggles.
David has seen me do comedy in Japan years ago and we talked about how the material has changed and how since it has been almost four years since leaving Japan, my Japanese material is less and less relevant. It always bothered me that my Japan stories made me sound middle class. It is hard to explain to audiences that teaching English in Japan is probably one of the only well-paying jobs for Liberal Arts degree graduates that makes paying back your American student loans a possibility. I managed to pay my loan off in a little over ten years by living in essentially a hostel for a large amount of that time but I have yet to meet any peers that stayed in America that were able to do the same. I am a unicorn in that respect. In any case, it is nice to have someone that has seen you at an earlier stage in your career see you grow.
I do the Imaginary Porno Charades after and learn that waterports is a sex act. That is what I like about this show. I learn something new every time. It’s like if sex were a menu and there is this whole list of options I didn’t know were available because the pages were stuck together with jizz.
I have wine with a a very funny comedian and her mother. We talk a lot about the idea that some people have. “ You have to be poor to be an artist.” I disagree, in my opinion, a lot of people think, “ In order to be an artist, you have to be screwed over.” It is a more active approach with the same result. We also talked about the morality of recommending a bad show. I think it is great as long as you are not recommending it to a reviewer. There are so many smart and brilliant shows at the fringe that a show that is accidentally brilliant is a real pearl that should be shared with those that can appreciate it’s brilliance.
I stay in the flat as long as I possibly can and get out the door at 2:15. My room smells musty as I have done the laundry and have hung clothes on every available surface that is not nice furniture, as the landlady requested. Not realizing this whole time there is a drying rack in the hallway closet. The ladylady suggests I use it as the musty smell has wafted into the hallway a bit.
How was I supposed to know it was in the hall closet? I don’t go through people’s hallway closets, who knows what kind of weird shit I’d find in there. If I found bodies in there my first thought would be, “I don’t want to move mid-festival. I’ve got enough to worry about.”
There are new people in the flat, a mother and daughter doing a children’s show. They are amazed I do a show every night at 9:05. When I tell them I am doing another show at one in the morning, their jaw drops. I really hope they don’t come to my show.
Being a Saturday night, the crowds are just as I suspect, more tired than Friday as they are still recovering from Friday night shenanigans. The energy is more frazzled and attention spans are as short as can be. I warn my audience as it fills up that it is going to get hellishly hot as I pass around towels and fans. Three women stand at the door who want to be in the room simply because it is full. I ask them to leave, saying I am doing them a favor and they are slow on the uptake. It was a great show although 4 had to leave mid-show as they were just about to faint. Them leaving gave everyone else a bit more breathing room and energy. A couple of the punters said they came to the show because they were told it was a claustrophobically dark comedy show. I think that is a great way to describe the experience. The show in that room is like someone made an escape room out of an Auschwitz oven.
I do a spot at SPANK for the first time tonight. It’s a late night comedy show that is just silly fun. In the middle, a comedian or anyone that wants to promote something will get a minute on stage to promote it if they get naked. Tonight, I do not get naked but a rather sweet punter did on stage just to tell the audience how much he loved his partner. It was very sweet. There is also a lovely guy doing a show at the same venue space at an earlier time called “How Karaoke Changed My Life” and he gets a shoutout without having to getting naked because everyone loves him so much. I want to go to this show because apparently he just sings whatever song the audience wants to sing with them. It’s too bad the show isn’t called “Karaoke Without Cunts.” I hope he can get more people into his show.
On my way back home, a very drunk man asks me if I sell weed because I happened to be hunched over trying to zip my messenger bag closed in the rain. I unfortunately do not sell weed and tell him so. I wish I did, then I could afford to do the festival properly.
I call my boyfriend and in my drunk on three beers, two-octave higher than usual voice tell him I love him and stumble home at 2:30am.
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I am up and out of the house by 9:30am in the summer rain rushing to get to the recording to “Anything but Coldplay” radio show at BBC’s Fringe Central. It is fun and reminds me of how little music I listen to anymore. Tina Turner Tea Lady is a guest and a festival staple, quintessential British character comedy. I love acts like that. I know being a foreigner, I’ll never totally get all of the references but I enjoy reaching for them. It’s like mentally reaching for a cookie on the top shelf, once you get it, you feel like you’ve earned it.
I’m guest spotting on a total of three shows today. The under twenty-fives seem to be out in full force, probably because school starts up next week. I do a spot at a show where everyone is supposed to do their most offensive material. This is tricky as “offensive” is a broad term. Am I supposed to do material with offensive language, have an offensive point of view or just offend everyone? I am not sure so I do all three. The weird thing about the set is I do a few jokes that are not offensive during my set just to cleanse the palate, like a sip of water between box wine tastings and I can sense people thinking, “Wait, that’s not offensive. She’s cheating.” It is a fun but weird vibe to the show.
I then go home for a much needed sumo nap. A sumo nap is when you take a nap after a meal. It’s part of a sumo’s training and helps them gain weight. I feel like a million bucks when I wake up and decide I have enough energy to flyer. I genuinely enjoy it now. I think I am good at pitching the show now and don’t feel rejected when people don’t want a flyer or the show just isn’t for them. I ask a group of three women if they have a dark sense of humor. “Absolutely not.” They say. “ You all must be very healthy then. Carry on..” I reply and we all have a good laugh. If you play it right, even rejection is fun.
We have a full house and they are sort of excited by the idea of being in a completely inappropriate room for comedy or breathing. I chuck hiker’s towels at them as well as hand fans and ice throughout the show. I cut out anything that requires a second or more of concentration or is Edinburgh fringy because this is a club crowd. A woman in the front is clearly on something other than alcohol but is a great sport and well-behaved. Having parents that did a lot of drugs in their day has taught me how to handle these sensitive souls.
Afterwards, I guest spot on Imaginary Porno Charades and discover I am actually pretty good at the charming and getting better at staying in the moment for the guessing. Because I spent so much time in Japan, I get “bukkake” within seconds to the shocked delight of the audience but my team fails to guess “the Bukkake Kid “ and guesses “The Bukkake Baby “ instead which starts a fight as to which is more wrong, a baby or a kid. My team captain argues a baby is better because they cannot remember anything. I say that is how it starts but I am not an authority. Somebody should ask Epstein, he would know better. I mention to my boyfriend later on, “You know, bukkake just sort of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?”
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I was up and out of the house by 10:45, the earliest I’ve been out and about for a few days. I’ve got me a dental appointment and I brace myself for a scolding. Nine years ago, I had quite a few problems with my teeth and once they were fixed, I vowed to myself that I would floss everyday and never let that happen again. It is a common problem for people born with good teeth they say. When I was a child, dentists complimented me for my good teeth when I hadn’t done anything other than brushing them not particularly well. I was given the impression that I had superhuman teeth that would take care of themselves forever. Flossing was particularly hard for me as a one-hander but as a teen I figured out I could tie one side of the string to my right thumb and maneuver with my left hand. I devised this method this out once dentists insisted I start finding a way to floss or I was going to have a lot of problems in the future.
The dentist I see is a lovely woman who laughed a lot and said a filling had come out and just needed to be replaced. The temporary filling she put in for me set me back 7 pounds and I scolded myself for waiting a whole week to go to the dentist in the first place. It’s the American in me that is afraid a medical visit is going to cost me more money than I’ve ever made to fix something. I should know better than this but I find it a part of my process that is hard to shake. I’ve also thankfully found out sharing teeth problems is a bonding experience among performers, especially among street performers that breath fire. That shit will fuck up your teeth in no time.
I brace myself for a slow day because it is Wednesday, not a day people typically go out to see a show unless they are full-on festival goers. I’ve mentally prepared for the possibility that no one is coming to show. That happens sometimes and it is no big deal if it does. It’s not like I am in a paid venue. I had the opportunity to be in a paid venue this year and I turned it down knowing that with Brexit looming, I needed to penny pinch a bit. Sure there are all sorts of rubber stamps I might have been able to get by being with a paid venue and spending two thousand pounds more than I would otherwise. However, the fact that I would be filling in for someone who dropped out at the last minute meant I would most likely get the rawest part of the deal as well. If I am going to gamble my money, it is going to be at the poker table, not the slot machines.
We have an audience of 7! Good times! My good friend and fellow American comic Michael Noel comes with his Boston mates as well as a lovely Scottish guy on a mission to see 6-7 shows a day and saw my show on the Festival app. My flyerer comes so he can see what he is selling and we all have a grand ol’ time in that oven. We finish the show at 45 minutes just as the oven starts to blaze. I am relaxing into the material more as I scrap the bit resembling an “Edinburgh show” and focus on crafting it into a bit I could do in a club if I wanted to.
Michael, his friends and I go to the City Restaurant for dinner and when a group of teenage girls next to us are served a syrupy mudslide of cocktails. One screeches, “ That is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!” One of Michael’s friends and I make eye contact and then look over at the girl as we cackle at the teenage excitement over alcohol. You’d think she just got her letter from Hogwarts.
This daily blog will not be checked for punctuation or spelling, just like Chortle.
I wake up after dreaming of watching an British High school American football practice to find some sort of military training/sing-songy shouting from a group of men on the street outside my flat that have obviously influenced my dreaming. I honestly don’t know why I woke up. American football is so boring. In school, I rather liked watching the faculty and teachers lose their shit watching a game than the actual game. They would get all red in the face and most of the time, scream like they were just given an unfair parking ticket while out puncturing other people’s tires. They cared so much and I never could understand why they would get so upset about it. There never seemed to be any real joy in watching the game for them, only stress. I now realize it as Midwestern earnestness. The idea that you don’t truly love something unless it makes you miserable.
It is the Fringe’s first Monday and I expected a small crowd. This is usually the best Monday at the Fringe. Everyone is still on vacation and aren’t yet sick of the people they are on vacation with.
I do a few 12 minute spots at shows that have full houses and air-conditioning. Good times. I also think I see silent disco goer get pick-pocketed. Ah, poetic justice. I can’t be sure but what made me suspicious was the kid that came out from the silent disco crowd looking to see how much cash was in a pretty nice wallet. He then took some cash out and stood in line at the burger stall. This I find highly suspicious because I have never seen a Millennial with such a nice wallet pay for anything in cash.
I have a thankfully small audience of 6. There is ice in bags all over the room. I have handed out hiker towels and we’re off.
It takes a minute to be your own warm-up act especially when your audience don’t know who you are or what exactly they are in for. The Fringe has everything and I mean everything. The other afternoon I was flyered for a show about a mother and daughter that do performance art involving Japanese erotic rope binding and suspension from ceilings, all based on a true story as well according to the flyer. I read the flyer and think, “I am glad I don’t have to emcee that show. “
The show goes well but towards the end a few people start to succumb to the heat so I cut a few jokes and the show short out of mercy. Bob Slayer told me I could build my own air conditioner with a Styrofoam box and a fan and that I can learn to make on the internet. I vaguely remember other comics doing something similar in years past and wonder why this isn’t on a “Welcome to the Fringe! Here are directions on how to build your own air conditioner!” given with your members card and lanyard.
Early to bed tonight as we have a dental visit in the morning. Boo-yeah.
This daily blog will not be proofread or spelling or punctuation, just like Chortle.
Holy shit. The room is still too hot. As it turns out changing the temperature from 40 degrees Celsius to 38 does not a comfortable room make.
The 20 multi-color cooling towels hikers use and the primary-color hand fans that I bought seemed to help a bit while also making the audience look like members of a Southern gay Pentecostal Church. It was Sunday after all.
I asked the venue a day before if I could have three buckets of ice to deposit throughout the room. They agree to let me do that. On the day, they give me one big bucket which is probably more than the three small buckets put together but is not what I need. I need to distribute ice throughout this small room for it to work. Because the bar is busy and I never know how many buckets will be available, I think I am going to have to go out and buy a bunch of buckets. I place the big bucket in front of the fan.
The hiking towels need to be dunked in water, rung out and snapped for the fabric’s cooling to I activate so I am outside my venue dunking and twisting towels in a water-filled champagne bucket. I look like a pioneer woman doing laundry.
I have 20 towels but only six or seven take the towels. “ What are these? Your panties?!” one punter says in the back just before the start of the show and when there is still air in the room. 5 minutes later, as breathable air becomes less and less available, people started requesting the towels. “Can you throw me one?” Yes. Yes I can.
Two lovely people who had seen me do a short spot came after I specifically told them not to. I had done some of my best bits from my show in my short spot so why bother ? They are lovely locals and are among the few that seemed relatively impervious to the heat while everyone around them is melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.
The room is full and the show starts out great. People are laughing and fanning, fanning and laughing but with each burst of laughter the room gets ever so slightly warmer than it was before.
As the show goes on, people are struggling with the heat and losing. At one point, there is so little room in the air, people are a little giddy like a sea diver that has come up to the surface a little too quickly or a masturbator about to die from erotic asphyxiation. It feels like a tough mudder for paraplegics and then three people about to faint, leave. God love ‘em. They did their best to make it to the end.
My bucket speech is still shit but I have bigger fish to freeze. I have two choices. I can take my audience outside somewhere where I will bit the head of of any flyerer that would dare to poach them or I can limit my audience to half its capacity while taking the same measures I have to keep it cool. Today, I am going to try to let my flyerer do all the flyering for me (Though I am quite proud of the fact I am pretty good at getting people that would enjoy my show in. Several years of flyering wrong and reading Seth Godin’s books on marketing have taught me a lot.)
Oh, and I have to go to the dentist. Good times!
This daily blog will not be proofread for spelling or punctuation, just like Chortle.
Show day three and it is the first Saturday of the Fringe. The holiday makers have settled into their hotels and are walking around town bewildered with backpacks looking like freshman at their first day at uni.
Since I overdid my walking the day before, I do my best to stay in the flat as long as possible to give my legs a rest. I have very mild cerebral palsy that affects the right side of my body. Naked, I look like my dominant left side of my body has been beating up the comparatively scrawny right side for its lunch money for a few decades. My left side has been working overtime and I don’t want to piss it of this early in the fringe. I don’t leave the flat till 2:00.
I go a do a spot at Funny Cluckers at the Three Sisters. It is Ian Fox’s compilation show of adult humor and Saturday’s audience was full but very sober. No boozy brunch for these people. They were nice and got onboard with the show eventually.
Afterwards, I walk to the Meadows park listening to a podcast with my headphones on about how women shouldn’t walk around with headphones on because they could get attacked and raped. I took one headphone out of my ear mid-podcast.
My temporary solution to turn my nightly sauna into a comedy room before my more permanent solution arrives from Amazon is putting bags of ice throughout the room. Low and behold it works! Especially since someone put in a fan. A bucket of ice in front of a fan did manage to bring the temperature in the room down from a boil to a simmer.
We had a full house last night. So full that I had to stand on the sofa to be seen by everyone, even in that tiny room.
The show is going well. I am tweaking bits here and there but generally the show is in good shape. I am rushing the show a bit still since the room is so hot. I am doing my best to give the audience no time to even think about how hot it is. I sound like an audiobook being read at 1.5x speed.
I am still shit at the bucket speech but that should improve in time. I used to think I was a good salesman as a kids because I sold a lot of candy bars for school fundraisers. Looking back I realize a disabled little girl hawking chocolate bars door-to-door by herself is hard to say not to. A disabled adult that just made you sit in a sauna for an hour…well, didn’t they just prove in sweat how much they liked your show? Why should they give you a tenner? My solution which should arrive today or tomorrow will hopefully help.
Afterwards, I ran into Chris Betts, a very funny Canadian walking out of one of the Monkey Barrel extension rooms. He was on his way to see Glen Wool work on new material and I tagged along. Wool was amazing as usual. I’ve seen Glen Wool live a few times and we did the same gig once last year. He is a nice guy whose leather vest and saunter always makes me think of the Bounty Hunter in Raising Arizona, especially now that he has a baby. During the show I wonder if he will get a pair of bronzed baby shoes and attach it to his belt.
On my way home, I run into a friend that 8 years ago, at the fringe, introduced me to my now boyfriend and has said my favorite sentence of the Fringe ever. “I can’t flyer for you now Spring. I have to crochet a scarf.”
This daily blog will not be checked for spelling or punctuation, just like Chortle.
I don’t know why I contemplated joining a steam room with some other performers when it turns out I am performing in a sauna every night.
Every comedian complains about how chilly Scotland is in August and how roasting it is in the venues. It is often uncomfortably hot but my room is ridiculous this year. Everyone who went in to the show with curly hair came out with damp straight hair. The only ones not fazed by the heat were the Scottish punters that could somehow pretend they were on a tropical island that smelled like a cave people dance in.
I am happy that everyone in the audience is facing in the right direction. I’ve learned you need punters not to be able to look at other punters faces when watching dark comedy or they will start to wonder what other people think of them. That said, my room is too hot to think in. I am rushing the show every so slightly in order to distract them from how hot it is. In a way I feel like a child in the back seat of the car desperately trying to entertain the family on the summer vacation drive across the US in a car with no air conditioning and the windows rolled up and oxygen becomes less and less available. I thought one punter hated it but it turns out he was just trying not to faint. I am working on a solution.
A lovely couple from Nottingham that had seen me at the Glee Club few weeks ago came as well as a punter with a massive guitar who came a few minutes late. I did not let in a woman who asked to come in after a half hour had passed. I am considering not letting in any latecomers at all, it’s not like I am in an auditorium where punters can quietly sit in the back unnoticed. It feels more like someone asking if they can join a dinner party in progress while the host is telling a story everyone is into. We all get pulled out of the story as we all move over to make room. It is not ideal.
I go to an industry bar hoping to run into someone I know to spitball possible solutions. Everyone suggests getting a fan but there is zero cool air coming in that it will just exacerbate the situation and it just makes me think of Ebola. I will try some ideas I have tonight as my big solution from Amazon is coming tomorrow. We will see how that goes.
I then lost my phone. I retraced my steps from the industry bar back to the venue and had no luck finding it there. I then remember googling “How to cool a hot room” and getting the answer, “Sleep like an Egyptian” (Apparently, that is a thing) near the industry bar. It seems my phone had fallen out on the couch I was sitting on when I realized it was gone and was just behind me the whole time I was looking for it. Someone turned it in at the bar.
I go home having made my Fitbit very happy and crash into bed.
This daily blog will not be proofread for spelling or punctuation, just like Chortle.
It was the day before the official start of the Fringe so I spent three hours going over my show after a breakfast of croissants, nuts and adrenaline.
After skipping the gym, I have hot chocolate with my festival wife of several years and runner of the show Funny Cluckers, Ian Fox. We talked a lot about illogical fallacies and Fitbits. Apparently, you can “make friends” with other people who have Fitbits and compete via the app in terms of how many steps you take a day. You can press a button to cheer them on or another to taunt them. Taunt is a perfect word for socially acceptable bullying in Silicon Valley, I suppose. I look forward to leaning on that button in the future.
Ian and I go to do a tech run, find my flyers and my posters at my venue Cabaret Voltaire and I am proud to report that mine are some of the most legible out there on the street. So much so, within seconds of looking at it, Ian points out that the quote about me on the back of my flyer from the extraordinary Tony Slattery, one of the original members of “Who’s Line is it Anyway” is printed as a quote from “Tom Slattery” instead. A quick google search reveals that Tom Slattery is the English translator for Final Fantasy video games. It’s a stupid mistake on my part but who cares? At least it’s not a quote from my mom.
I then went and saw one of my favorite comedians that works on his feet, do a preview. I sort of wish I was the kind of comic that could “just work it out on stage” . I have done so with bits and pieces, but never whole chunks. I really enjoyed the preview and with any luck schedule-wise, I’ll watch the finished product at the end of the month. It is probably silly, but I enjoy having heroes at the Fringe, it adds to the magic of it all and makes the “job” more fun. I don’t want to be like my friends that work at Disneyland or Universal Studios and can no longer enjoy it the way they used to.
I had forgotten to eat most of the day and have to be careful to not let that happen. I then went to the Free Festival launch at the Three Sisters on Cowgate where there is free food. I recommend to a fellow comic who is at the Fringe for the first time to buy a bag of crystalized ginger at the health food store for when his throat will inevitably get sore. He was skeptical so I tapped the shoulder of another comic I told to do the same last year. This other comic sang the praises of crystalized ginger and hooked up my friend with a weed dealer so he could experience the healing powers of ginger for himself as soon as possible.
I then went home and called my boyfriend who teased me for still having heroes in comedy. He didn’t use the words” having heroes” he said, “ having a crush” but whatever.
This blog will not be checked for spelling or punctuation just like Chortle.
It’s that time of the year again. The Edinburgh Fringe is starting in a few days and I’ve just renewed my Squarespace webpage subscription and am thinking “I should be getting more out of this website that I never look at or update. How can I get more people to look at it without updating it?! I know! I’ll just pretend it is 2004 and start a blog!”
I’ve been doing the Edinburgh fringe since 2010 and the one thing it has taught me is that every year when I finish I think to myself, ” I have experienced every challenge Edinburgh can throw at someone doing a free show. You can’t surprise me anymore!” The next year, I am promptly surprised and baffled as soon as the flat keys are handed to me.
This year I have already surprised myself by putting the wrong start date on the posters and flyers. The start date is supposed to be 1-25 of August but I have written 2-26th of August! So smart of me to get my first fuck-up out of the way even before I get on the train. My spirit animal, Sarah Conner, would not be proud.
Because this will be a daily blog and I am typing with one hand, I will not be proofreading for spelling or punctuation so forgive me like you do Chortle. And now I’m off to carry out my favorite financial mistake of the year…