Tuesday, 9 August 2016

"Monday, Tuesday, Happy Days..."

The last two days at the Fringe have been interesting.

Monday’s show was the first of a two-day 2for1 deal on tickets, which contributed to creating possibly the biggest audience I’d had up to that point – who were eerily silent, compared to the lesser numbers I’d played to before. It felt a little ominous and unsettling, as there’d been a definite growth in response across the first four shows, which felt as if it had suddenly hit a standstill.

This wasn’t necessarily strictly the case. It’s worth remembering it was midday on a Monday morning, which is not the best time to watch comedy, plus the 2for1 deal might draw in people who wouldn’t come otherwise, and weren’t into the style of it; on the flip-side, it may have been me, though my tech Fraser assured me it wasn’t (saying he didn’t think I could have done any more to make it work).

As the show went on, all I had in my head was the fact I was about to do a gig immediately afterwards at Just the Tonic’s Afternoon Delight; “What if that went badly too,” my inner-monologue said to itself, instantly taking the blame for the muted response, like any performer’s inner-monologue would.

My first time solo on an Edinburgh blackboard; the eagle has landed.
Thankfully, the gig afterwards was lovely. I had a moment of panic before it began, when I saw how many kids were filing into the audience. I’d been pre-warned it was a clean show with a PG rating, but I hadn’t anticipated just how young some of the crowd would be. Could I talk about dead dogs? Would my mid-set no-swearing filter pick up and replace every cuss?

The dressing room for Afternoon Delights.

The entrance to the stage.

My panic was replaced with relief when the emcee kicked the show off with material with just a slight hint of edge that the parents laughed at without shielding their children’s ears. Then, one of the other comics told a story about a vet which mentioned pets dying, which gave me the go-ahead for my dead dog story. I had the joke book I sometimes use as a kick-off point for short spots in my back pocket (which my wife had sent up with my idea-filled notebooks, arriving that very day), and kept umming and aahing over whether to use it or not. In the end, I decided against it, which was the right choice. I got a good reaction, and had a moment mid-set when I thought, “It's finally happening. I’m doing a solo stand-up set at a show outside of my own for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe, and no-one is chucking me out”. It was a lovely moment for building my confidence.

Lynn Ruth Miller, emceeing the show (08.08.16)
Today’s show, thankfully, was nice too. I had about twenty in, who were receptive, if still a little quiet. I was confronted predominantly by smiles, which is the right way up for a punter’s mouth to be. My favourite moment was when an audience member decided to start opening a packet of oatcakes in the middle of a story; a noise that gradually lured the rest of audience (and eventually me) in. She couldn’t open them so I offered to try, and did it in one go; a small triumph for my masculinity.

As I was packing up, a woman popped her head around the door and thrust a twenty pound note in my hand. 
"We didn't have time to pay before the show, so we thought we'd give you this." 

What a lovely thing to do.

A small sticking point was my voice, which got gradually more tired as the show went on. I’ve got a low-level itching in my chest that suggests illness to come; it’s time for my antibodies to kick in. I also nearly pulled a muscle in my arm whilst thrashing about; I may need to add a physical warm-up to my pre-show routine. Call me Mr Motivator.  

My room before today's show (09.08.16)

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