It's the final week of the Edinburgh festival, when everyone's madness comes to fruition. All the hopes and dreams that lurked at the back of the minds of performers will be dashed against the rocks of the cold indifference of the people that actually choose who will be heralded as award-winners. For some shows, haemorrhaging money on the commercial fringe, their obituaries are already being written, soon to be a distant memory to all but the bank manager who has to pick up the pieces.
It's a stressful time for those performers who, for whatever reason haven't had the requisite 'buzz' surrounding their shows and will be treated to a slow dwindling of numbers despite more and more desperate promotion. It's not really clear what makes a 'good' show, because let's face it, there are few things more subjective than comedy. But the making of a successful show is a more alchemical process. It requires a performer to have built up enough of a cache of goodwill before even having reached the fringe, that the judges and reviewers will even want to see it. Most nominees for the best newcomer gong will have done slots the previous year that were just short enough to not be eligible for the award, but long enough to build industry interest, before they triumphantly 'arrived on the scene a year later. It's a canny practice, necessitated by having to stand out amongst so many shows. Then, once they have got a decent show up here and piqued industry interest, it only takes a few influential opinions to have the rest piling over the precipice, lemming-like.
And then by the end of the week, it's bipolar Edinburgh as usual. Comics are in the bars, either drinking to their own success or drowning their sorrows. But in this industry, the dividing line between the two is the same as whether a joke will be received well or not. Stumble over your words early-on, and you can ruin the entire pay-off of a perfectly good gag.
For my own part, I'm going to bugger off for the day and cycle to the bridge of Forth. I'd appreciate if you all came to my show as I'm not sure I'll have time to give out flyers tomorrow. Thanks.
Here are the details: http://www.comedy.co.uk/fringe/2013/matt_lacey/
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