Behind the Scenes of an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show: Part I of XXV

Behind the Scenes of an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show: Part I of XXV


For my ninth year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I'll be doing three programmed shows a day, along with an eclectic mix of spots and slots that I pick up along the way and toss into the promotional juicer, resulting in a dicey dichotomy of swollen houses and a swollen larynx. There are many things that Edinburgh shops invariably and perennially sell out of during the Fringe, and along with the ubiquitous Blu-tac (once that's gone, buyers tend to step down to the eminently inferior white tack, grey TAKK and as a last resort, the twice masticated chuddy purloined from under whatever chair or table they find nearby), throat lozenges are the first to go. Buy your shares in Vocalzone, or, in an ideal world, Bioglan, as their Throat-Clear lozenges (unfortunately available only in Australia) are 'bloody bonzer, mate', and you should 'stick it in yer shark hole!' (As all Australians definitely say.)

The main show for those seeking an unadulterated (which until too recently, I believed to mean 'without adult supervision' - as a precaution, any scissors in the venue must be round edged with red handles, or yellow and green for the southpaws) hit of Chris is Chris Turner: XXV, which is without doubt, one of the finest shows I've ever written. Claims like this will become harder to make and subsequently justify as time trips on, but for now, with only two hour-long shows under my belt and therefore within my repertoire, I feel safe doing so. Under my belt? Why, yes! I've already performed it - many times, in the most isolated city in the world [insert name of city {+?} and then say 'No, I don't mean culturally isolated!']* - Perth, Western Australia.

*these brackets are meant to be here, I didn't skimp on the edit**

This February, with my trusty improv crew Racing Minds, I ventured to Perth (via Christchurch, New Zealand for 10 days at the World Busker's Festival, which was amazing and brilliant and cool and delightful and exciting and all the other words for good that begin with consecutive letters of the alphabet), where I arrived showless and shoeless (if you have set foot on foreign soil, they will literally not let you bring foreign soil into their country, for fear of immigrant worms), with a couple of weeks to go until opening night. I'd intended to get to work on the show in New Zealand, but the looming fear of impending earthquakes and the fact that 400 people a night saw our 'Best of the Festival' mixed-bill show meant that floating new material was riskier than that flimsy world-conquering board game my cousin brought over one Christmas that was very much like another world-conquering board game but definitely wasn't for legal reasons.

Two days before opening night, I thought it would be prudent to at least have something of worth, if not of humour, to trot out on stage, like a fresh-from-the-womb foal (hopefully funny in its stumbles and failed attempts at profundity). Perth CBD's Gordon Street Garage was the perfect place to wring forth the goods, with its bottomless filter coffee and BLAT (the A is Avocado) sandwiches that are so damn fine every porker from Albany to Wooloomooloo (a city that is, in spelling at least, Australia's very own Mississippi) should be shaking in their trotters (which is easy, as their trotters are gelatine, and jelly has an inherent wobble), such is my lust for their crisp, supple pigflesh.

Over the next 48 hours (I went home in between days - GSG's hospitality, though superb, does not extend to allowing customers to bed down betwixt the thick, salty slices of bacon, slathered with smoky tomato relish, daubed around their crackled black edges with soft, creamy and fat avocado...) I trawled through my phone's Notes section, grabbing at anything that made me laugh for a second time, whether tuna, dolphin or driftwood. This is an invaluable test - it acts as a double filter, so that ideas, which have made their way into the section in the first place by having a nugget of humorous interest about them, are subjected to a further sifting, before being finally fine-sifted on the live stage, resulting in a crystal clear comedy bisque.

What I ended up with...

What did I end up with? Was it any good? Find out next time in post II.

**this asterisk is meant to be here, mid-post, rather than at the bottom, where asterisks usually reside. It took a long, hard look at itself and decided to elevate its position. These asterisks are in the gutter, but one day, will be looking at the stars, which, due to the shape and nature of asterisks, they are, and so they too will take a long, hard look at themselves and rise up like its brethren/brother/sibling if you want to be archaic/singular/gender-neutral.


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