Fringe Diaries #3: Silky
This is not funny.
It’s half one in the early hours of Saturday 12th August. This is my first solo Edinburgh Fringe after nearly eighteen years as a comedian, and it’s an alien experience, with as different a frame of reference as I’d feared.
In guarding against being ill-prepared, I racked up 51 gigs in the preceding calendar month, though I did luxuriate in one night off. Apart from interrupting his Olympic completism for a couple of minutes of conversation with Andy, I haven’t seen my housemates since unpacking my life into the boxroom/Panic Room in the middle of their flat ten days ago, like cosy, human Tetris. I suspect I’m in one of the better films of M. Night Shyamalan.
I am lonely, missing my girlfriend as badly as the last time we spent this long apart (an August slew of forces gigs in the Falklands some four years ago) and as at sea as it’s possible for a grown man with savings, some sense and a shade of self-awareness to feel. Eleanor Rigby with jokes. I can’t remember having had this many meals on my own. Comedy!
My daily show is supplemented by a succession of showcases, expansion gigs to broaden the reach of my flyers and free badges; people will come to see you if they’ve seen you, I was told. Without exception the shows I’ve done have had audiences: wonderful, playable audiences, who’ve been kind enough to spend their time taking a punt on unknown comedians, and my own daily show has seen some of them give me repeat business.
That’s the point of Edinburgh, as far as I can discern it; everyone in the venue has chosen for whatever reason (be it comps, two-for-one discounts, recommendations, having seen me elsewhere or through sheer ill-fortune) to come and see me, and I’ll do my utmost to make them laugh in return. This is what drove me here, and what will keep me together.
Comedians are a luxury, and an affordable luxury: no child goes mewling hungry to feed the comedy DVD habit of their parents. Some comedians will not reach the audience they deserve, and some will be over-exposed again, but there’s never been fairness or parity in any walk of life. Just keep doing the good work, know that you’re better than some, worse than others, better off than some, worse off than others, and if you’re in it for the right reasons, anything over and above having the chance to do something you love is a bonus, isn’t it?
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. Nothing less will repay the time.
A last thought: if you want to be on telly, and aren’t on telly, whining about why X is on telly is the surest, most direct way to replace X on telly. Make sure you whine to as broad a range of people as possible. They will love listening to you talking about you. Also try cocaine. This will propel you star ward with greater impetus…
‘Silky – Nut Allegory’ is at The Stand (2), 2.20pm, until 26th August. For tickets, see: thestand.co.uk.