Day one of my eighty-shows-in-thirty-five-days laughstravaganza began in my mate Steve's pub in Luton last Thursday night. As usual the audience were great fun. As usual I shouted "Bumming" a lot. As usual it didn't end when it should have done or in a fashion that could be expected - namely, that opening act Anna Keirle would disappear around 3am and headline act Sully O'Sullivan would be found around 4am painting the car park with the contents of his intestines. As usual, I'm blaming Steve has his propensity for feeding guests a bewildering array of shots from around the world to accompany their drinks of choice. Either way, it was a 5am finish.
I was out of there not long after midday as I had things to do. I left Sully And Anna there under instructions to be at mine for 6pm for fish and chips (it being Friday). My business was got about. They did indeed arrive by 6pm, in body at least but were clearly broken of spirit. Anna in particular looked what I can only describe as vulnerable and described herself as "Over-rummed". That night's gig in Hitchin was remarkable only insomuch that neither of my guest comedians ventured an alcoholic drink at all. After the show we went to The Vic where I joyously quaffed a guest ale called "St. Peter" as they sipped mineral water and went no further than a ginger beer. Bizarrely, they did however insist on kebabs afterwards. Kebabs are not a foodstuff I have ever considered whilst sober.
Fortunately they returned to form on Saturday for the monthly gig in Letchworth which I have to say was an absolute joy and possibly the highlight of the weekend. The apres-party for this one was TheArena Tavern and a good number of the audience again joined us for a not insignificant amount of "Goat's Gash" (Our comedy shot of choice). We left there when they closed and not before, obviously. Six of us retired Chez Paul and I cracked open the Cannabis Absinthe to celebrate. I can confirm that it is - and remains - cheeky.
It would have been better if I had done none of the above as on Sunday I had to drive to Edinburgh to begin my three week run at the festival. Better preparation would have been a high fibre diet, plenty of rest and quite honestly, rehearsal. That I used the prior seventy two hours largely for hedonism comes as no real surprise, but anyway. Anna and Sully departed well after lunchtime and I wasn't in the car until gone 3pm, enjoyed a late lunch procured at Baldock Services but eaten in transit and arrived in Scotland's bejeweled capital around six hours later. Obviously it was throwing it down with rain. It nearly always is. If I only had three words to describe Scotland in general the three words I would use would be "Dark and wet". I found the accommodation I was sharing and hung about long enough to meet up with both of my female flatmates before driving in to town to check out the venue for my afternoon show, "Tweeting Beauty". it was brilliant. The show is in The Banshee Labyrinth Music Room, a tiny little basement bar with a stage at one end, a sound desk at the other and seating for about thirty people. I would have skipped home but thought it was better to drive.
I hardly slept. You'd have thought I'd have been out like a light. I gave up trying and got up to get all my kit ready for the day, had beans on toast and got a cab in to town about 2pm, ready for my first show - a ten minute opener for Simon Lilley as part of his "Asparagus Wee And Other Stories" show. A nice sized audience in a nice room were nice. I got to my venue (About three doors up), picked up some flyers and began leafleting in earnest. I gave up about five minutes later. Flyering really is depressing. I justified this by deciding that I didn't really want many people in to the first show anyway. Sadly - they insisted on turning up anyway and I got pretty much a full house, which put a bit more pressure on than I really wanted. I all I can say is that I got away with it. The show is not the finished article by any means but they all laughed in the right places, I got a few extra lines out if it for future shows and nobody left before the end. Phew.
Then it was really just a matter of heading up to the other venue that I expected to be far further away than it was - yet another result. I had set myself an "8.30pm" rule on beer consumption but reneged on the deal with myself my cunningly adding a "1" to the eight and invoking the 24-hour clock, thus making it the 18.30 rule, which I then broke by about forty five minutes. Well - they'd got that magic Guinness in the bar that gets creamy via electrolytes - how could I refuse? I did practically no flyering for the show, the gig is on a back street that two of the comedians had trouble finding, it's not in a good part of town for comedy and, lo and behold, it was packed. For the first show I had Susan Murray (flatmate), Danny Ward (Who shares an agent with me) and Howard Read (Who lives in the same town as me). It was a good decision. They were all great.
Susan and I went for a curry in a place recommended by comedian Jon Moloney. His recommendations are as good as his jokes. It was excellent. She went home to sleep hopefully for the first time in a week (The Fringe is a good recipe for insomnia) and I walked to The Pleasance to catch Danny Ward's "AAA" show that features himself, Matt Price and another bloke. It was another full show. Post-gig I met up with David Whitney and his significantly better half. We hot-footed it to the Library Bar of The Gilded Balloon and drank like monkeys. The drinking was interrupted by conversations with an array of comedy types including a bird called Jess that I'd never met before and the lovely Carey Marx, that I have. I demanded we leave around 3am. Whitney plus one had been left homeless by an evil genius. I call him that because I let them stay in my room instead, giving up my bed for them as I slept on the floor on cushions from the sofa. OR RATHER I DIDN'T BECAUSE DAVID WHITNEY SNORED, GASPED WHEEZED AND HUFFED ALL NIGHT TO MY UTTER DISTRACTION AND NOW I HATE HIM MY DAY HAD BEEN NIGH ON PERFECT AND NOW I HATE HIM HATE HIM HATE HIM.
I HATE HIM.