Being encouraged to climb a fibre-glass cow at quarter to four in the morning with two girls from Lancaster and an accountant named Henry is exactly the sort of thing I promised myself to avoid during the Edinburgh Festival this year. But there on top of a fibre-glass cow I found myself just a few nights ago. Salubrious with joy I was too. We must remember to enjoy ourselves. I'm spending most of the day publicizing the gig, worrying about the gig, and watching the clock for the gig ahead until it's well out of the way. It finishes at around half past eleven and by the time I've said my thankyous-for-coming and so on in the bar afterwards it's the only time of the day I truly have to myself. We have to unwind. And if that involves climbing fibre-glass cows from time to time then so be it. This Fringe has been a lot of fun.
Down at the shared flat here in Holyrood at the end of week three, all is well amidst the stiffening tea-towels and the tabletops stained with the rings of coffee cups. Kris Howe, the musical accompanist to my stage character Wilfredo, really is a godsend. Cooking. driving. Spouting wise words of wisdom. Really. We're like Dudley Moore and John Gielgud in Arthur. As for our producer, Trudi, she's been all smiles these last few days which is out of character and therefore oddly unnerving but it's encouraging all the same. Though she's taken to sleeptalking loudly on subjects ranging from young men with beards right the way through to lampposts and jaffa cakes. Not a word of a lie. We can hear her through the walls. I blame the midnight feasts of wine and cheese. God only knows what I talk in my sleep about. The gig, probably. As long as we're here, it's the only thing on my mind.
The shortlist for the Fosters Comedy Award has been announced and Doctor Brown is among the main contenders which is right and proper. He's inventive and funny and gentle as all true clowns tend to be. I was very surprised not to see the magnificent Eddie Pepitone making the list though. New Yorker Eddie - a.k.a. the Bitter Buddha - has been the surprise hit of the Fringe over at our venue, Just the Tonic, with his now legendary routines about failed commercial auditions, heckling his inner-self and the inadequacies of humanity. Few comedians do angst as well as Eddie does angst and I think he has deserved all the superlatives and attention he's had this year.
His fellow American Rick Shapiro, on the other hand, is being somewhat unfairly and misleadingly discarded by critics as "tragic" and "decrepit". But for me, his comeback performance in Rebirth, which follows a period of hospitalization after a heart attack and a period of amnesia, is a privilege to behold. I'm not a critic. But I am a fellow comedy performer and an occasional punter who (unlike the critic) has paid - happily - to see and experience Shapiro. Twice. He jazzes about paeodophile priests, heroin, and broken America. He riffs about his period in hospital, his frustrations, his anger. He's still healing, and he has moments where he loses his stream of thought, but I don't care. He's described his own show - accurately - as "like a Francis Bacon painting, where all the images fly". I never saw him perform before this, and although he's brittle and still on the mend, he's giving us his truth and that's what captivates me. I want truth. I'm crying out to hear it. I need it like oxygen. As I write this, he has two shows left. See him.
It's now nearly five in the morning and I'm very, very tired. What fortunate people you are to have me writing for you, tapping away laboriously at this hour of the day. That really is dedication. From the bed where I write, I can see the night sky fading through the blinds. It's still a beautiful world. My laptop is telling me I only have 2% of battery power left. The charger is all the way over on the other side of the room but for all I care it might as well be on Pluto. It is time to sleep.
Matt Roper appears nightly in The Wonderful World of Wilfredo at the Tron (Just the Tonic). 10.20pm until 26th August.
Follow Matt Roper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrmattroper