Before going up this year to the Fringe, I made a semi-serious list of goals. Let’s have a look at them and see how many I managed
1: Try and make every show a good one
- Every Cheerful Shambles I tried to make good. By 3 days in, trying to get up every day at 10am to flyer for 2 hours for the Free Tea Show wasn’t going to happen, especially with how many drunken late nights I had, and how hard it was to get people in. We had some great ones and some stinkers.
2: Do as many gigs as possible in trying to make myself the best comic I can be
- I did a bunch in the first two weeks, averaging 4 a day. Some were brilliant, some were rubbish. I’m not sure I made myself the best comedian I can by getting booed at Jay Handley’s late gig for my impassioned defence of modern paedophile’s work ethic. I basically thought the audience were dicks and tried to sabotage my own ending.
3: Eat at least one piece of fruit at least once a week
- If we’re not counting orange juice, I magnificently failed at this. I had some veg though.
4: Keep it loose and experimental. Play around onstage more. People always say that’s the best bit
- I tended to play around more at Free Tea, mostly because I got bored of my material. I tended to play around less with the solo show as I realised after two performances that the show was much too dark for it’s 4:20pm slot. Cue a rewrite, and jettisoning of a load of material I couldn’t use, so I felt I needed to stick to the script. Some of the bits I enjoyed most were me and Aaron dimming the house lights and bringing up the stage lights from opposite ends of the room at Free tea and doing it wrong, then making that part of the show. People thought it was deliberate. It wasn’t.
5: Don’t go to Brooke’s bar
- Brooke’s bar, for the unaware, is the industry-only private bar at the Pleasance, and is quite often a hive of bellends. I managed to avoid this throughout the run (by not being invited). After missing my train on the sunday, my flatmate (and wonderful human) Abi invited me along for her production company’s goodbye drinks. It was alright.
6: If I do, don’t look over everyone’s shoulders cos someone from a sitcom is playing darts.
- I didn’t. I had a nice chat with Johnny and the Baptists about kids comedy and with one of the Beta Males about comic books. I saw no proper celebrities that I haven’t met before.
7: Have a bareknuckle fight with Liam Pickford, shirtless, on cowgate at 3AM in the last week. It will be cathartic for all
- Liam Pickford went home halfway through as he had worn his stomach lining through by existing on lard and working class bitterness alone. Instead, Paul Duncan McGarrity found me being slightly introspective at our kitchen table (following a disappointing dinner with a girl), so he had a wrestling match with me in the hall. He eventually won via an armbar, but complained for 4 days afterwards that I’d knackered his spine throwing him at the skirting board, so I guess i won the war, or the moral victory, or something.
8: Try not to get infuriated by how much everything costs. A mediocre burger is £8 and we all have to deal with that
- I was charged, on seperate occasions, £1:90 and £3:00 for a pint of lime and soda, something I had previously thought was a cheap option. I also had a tremendously disappointing dinner at Elephant Cafe (where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter), which included waiting 20 minutes for a table and then having Haggis Neeps and Tatties where the tatties were dry and gritty. So, fail on that one.
9: On my day off, actually get out of the city
- Instead I watched 3 shows that clashed with mine (or prime flyering hours): Nat Luurtsema, Gein’s Family Giftshop and Phil Ellis. I then bought a hammer, nails and a blackout curtain and went back to my flat to make sure I could get some sleep (how the usual resident copes with a thin rattan blind that doesn’t reach the edges is beyond me). I then had 1 beer and fell asleep in front of the football for 15 straight hours.
10: Try not to let anyone doing clowning, physical theatre, improv or cabaret know how little you think of their much lesser artforms.
- I changed one of the jokes I do at student gigs about wacky students to be about improv kids and did it every day, so… nope. I also mocked Paul Duncan McGarrity and Aaron Twitchen for doing it, because it is so massively easy.
11: See at least 2 plays. Sad ones, where teenage girls die on a backstreet abortionist’s table in 1930′s warsaw or where starving russian jews sing sad songs in a cellar before the mensheviks kill them. It’ll be good for you
- Closest thing I saw to a play was a 3 minute improvised bit Red Redmond did onstage about a friend called Babs going to computer college when she could be a farmer. At the same gig, Red ended up in his pants and Richard Massarra got completely naked. I really can’t remember why.
- I was going to see one because a woman gave me a transfer (fake tattoo) on my bicep to advertise her play, but then I hid it with my sleeve and didn’t go to her play. I did mean to. I also wanted to go see a play that was being done by some pretty girls I kept flirting with whilst flyering everyday, until I found out it was about the London underground. Screw that.
12: If I am attracted to an Australian barmaid, ask her out early in the festival rather than on the last night at 3 am when she has to work til 5 am, as she will move back to Australia and you will never see her again, apart from occasional photos of her in a bikini on facebook and that honestly makes it worse (Stupid cowardly 2011 me).
- Happily, it never came up. I did have a rubbish time with chatting up women, but frankly that is nothing out of the ordinary. One of the women who watched my show promised to find me a wife. Weirdly, she did this on the street in front of many of her friends, without context, whilst poking me gently in the stomach with her balled up fist.
13: Don’t read any reviews
- I read loads. Just not many of them were mine. I read instead 2 star reviews of my friends’ shows, because you can set a watch by my schadenfreude. I also enjoyed a 1 star clinical takedown of an act I don’t like.
14: Don’t get angry that there are no reviews for you to avoid because you’re not “London-based”
- I had one 4 star review for Cheerful Shambles, which I got a week before the fringe and the website still hasn’t published (the writer sent it to me to fact check). I also got a 5 star review for Free Tea from a lovely man from a local radio station. When we checked, he had given 4 other shows he saw that day 5 stars. Clearly he was just glad to be out of the house. I also had a reveiwer in on the day my Ex, who I wrote half the show about, was in the audience. She insisted on telling people who she was on the way out, and which bits were true.
15: Try not to blame London for everything that’s wrong with comedy, even though it is.
- Why lie? It is.
16: Don’t drink every day (even though that is the best bit)
- I did 2 days on drinking, one day off for the first 6 days, then noticed my donations buckets were markedly lower (33% on average) on days I didn’t drink. Which was amazing as it was my first pint of the day and I had maybe 4 sips over the course of an hour. Must be psychological. So I decided to drink every day and the donations went all over the place, so there was no correlation, but I like getting smashed. It’s fun. On our last free Tea Show the barmaid gave me and Aaron rum in our tea as we were both still hammered from the night before.
Overall, I had a blast. I was very happy with 90% of the solo shows and we had some great Free Tea ones. I saw some kick ass shows by other people. I especially liked drinking with friends I don’t get to see very often and with people I’d not met before such as Jack Campbell and Robbie Ormrod (although I had walked out of Jack Campbell’s two hander the year before whilst hungover as it was “observational comedy about a place that wasn’t that place”. It was very pleasant to see how much he’d improved). I will be back next year, and I’m currently working on ideas for the show (either the Bible, alcohol or bad thoughts, or maybe something that hasn’t yet happened).
Now, book me for some gigs. I forgot to book up september properly.
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