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)|