We are tucked up in a quiet little bar in Leith, both my friend and I having chosen to live outside of the city centre of Edinburgh for this years Fringe Festival . This is for both financial and sanity reasons. The Festival is a pressure cooker for skint and emotionally exhausted performers, bringing out the very best and worst in your comedy colleagues. It costs a huge amount of money to put on a show, and every empty seat is an empty cell on a personal spreadsheet of bad choices. Even a sell out run leaves most performers with a bill. Add to this- if you are having a bad day you have to walk past posters of former paramours riddled with Five stars. 'Five stars!' you think to yourself, 'i'd give him that for speed'.
In short ,It is not always the most supportive environment. No one has time for each other because they are running off to their eighth, TV/Radio/Gig-It's- all- going- amazing -interview. Some of your closest friends can turn out to be dicks for a month. You yourself can morph into one on occasion, but of course not Lucy and I (wink)
Last year we were both doing our debut solo stand up comedy hours. The hunger games for needy performers. It is when you are eligible for an award as 'best newcomer', It is a competition that you did not enter and did not want to be in. Lucy and I would hug in the streets as we bumped into each other flyering, sit in on on each others shows when numbers were down and feed each other chocolate and kind words.
I call Lucy Frederick one of comedy's best kept secrets, much to her dismay- so naturally funny, and gifted, but sadly afflicted with that very British habit of not putting herself forward. However, it appears that now she may have no choice but to do so. She has written a show about some very personal grief and anger and early doors some very terrifying critics have come in and...loved it. It looks like she may have a hit on her hands. And me and her friends are cheering her forward to capitalise on the momentum. That is half the battle in comedy, having the confidence to say, 'yeah I am good enough' When the industry would rather edit you out.
That is why women in comedy are for the most part, incredibly supportive, we look after each other's babies when there are auditions. We pass on contacts and advise on work. We take each other aside and give the other a pep talk when one of us has been the victim of some outrageous sexism. We are definitely all in it together, and the further I go along and the harder I work, the more I realise this.
I went to go and watch a fellow comic called Tiff Stevenson recently at the Comedy Store just before Edinburgh. She has been in the game for about fifteen years and is now breaking through more and more on to TV. I was sitting next to some really burly northern men, I chatted to them in the interval and asked them who they were enjoying, slightly expecting the normal barrage of sexism, and preparing myself for logical and measured retorts, but what i got was this. 'Oh we like the girl, she really stands out' and perhaps that is the good thing about sexism in comedy. It just makes you work harder and be more outstanding. Which is definitely the feeling I have as I hug Lucy and say goodbye. Fingers crossed for a good fringe for all.
Lucy Frederick ticket info here
Tiff Stevenson ticket info here
Amy Howerska Ticket info here