The Edinburgh Festival is once again over. This is an exhausting month for comics as we gig every night and perform for an hour a night - rather than our normal 15-20 minutes - slackers that we are. This year I decided to do the whole thing eight months pregnant and do a late show at night too. Along with the pre-existing children it to look after it was quite a slog. Moron.
I wasn't drinking the volume of alcohol I normally do at the festival. I will never tire of a free bar and I feel it is my duty to "stick it to the man" by drinking it dry. There are many free bar parties at the Edinburgh festival and I generally attend them all. As a result of this abstinence I was decidedly fresher, if suffering a little from prego brain where you get halfway through a sentence and your mind decides to leave you to "go it alone". That's never helpful. Especially when there is an hour of material that needs to be remembered. I like to think that the lack of alcohol balanced that out nicely though. People kept asking me if I had any cravings. Are you kidding? At the eight-month mark of my previous two pregnancies it was tequila and lots of it. This was no different. I would look on in envy as I chatted to comedians in the venue bars who were telling me the same story for the fourth time. Ah to be hammered.
The Festival does weird things to comics. We are all fairly self-centred but the Fringe can turn us mad. It is difficult to imagine a world outside Edinburgh when you are trapped inside that bubble. Reviews, audiences and awards take on an importance that is ridiculous and you have to consciously distance yourself from it. I don't read reviews during the month of August. There are a variety of reasons for this. I don't want to be influenced by someone who's opinion I may not respect and I certainly don't want to be plunged into a depression by someone who is trying to prove their comedy credentials over giving a fair review. A star system is ludicrous. The only other job that employs that method of merit is McDonalds. Do I want to be aligned with a burger flipper? I think not. There cannot be enough comedy critics to see the vast number of shows on at the festival so who is doing these reviews? They range from comedy bookers to random fans but there they are, waving their stars (or lack of) in the air. One of mine banged on about what a problem it was for the reviewer that there were teenagers in the audience. Seriously? And that says what about my writing and performing skill?
The level of madness achievable for a performer is directly proportional to the level of responsibility. For an actor, if it goes wrong, you can blame the writer, the director or the audience. For a comic it's all you. You write it and perform it. If it goes well, you rock. If it goes badly, then you are shit. No one else. The high level of danger is compensated by the enormous high when you walk off feeling like a god because everyone in that audience had a good time. Amazing. You did that.
The Edinburgh Festival perplexes me. It's almost like being in an abusive relationship. I swear I'll never go back but I do, I love it and loathe it in equal measures and I wish it would end and then I'm devastated when it does. I also wonder where all the money goes. Performers spend a fortune to be there, punters spend a fortune on tickets and booze and everyone leaves completely skint. Who is making the money? It's the most heavily sponsored arts festival in the world. Edinburgh University Settlement who house The Pleasance, Pleasance Dome and Gilded Balloon for the month of August has just gone into receivership so they must have some financial issues. Where is it going?
I like the idea of some massive bond villain sitting atop a pile of cash stroking his weird bald cat going: "No. No. No. The money used to be in arms and oil. Now it's in laughter".
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