Thursday, 11 August 2011

Fringe Benefit.

So, dear friends, tonight will be the last night of Curse Sir Walter Raleigh. The Edinburgh Festival has only started and already I'm finished. It's at this time, at the end of my little run, that I have to ask myself "Why did I come here and what the hell did I get out of it?" Those are good questions. But they were questions that I had already answered six weeks before coming here.

Curse Sir Walter Raleigh is a show I didn't want to do. In fact, I have no interest in doing a solo show. I like working with other people. It's less lonely and there's less pressure. If we succeed in a show then HOORAY, we ALL succeed in a show. If we fail in a show then HA HA HA HA HA, we died on our arses together. Look, I'm 43 tomorrow and I might never do another Edinburgh Festival. Can I bow out of Edinburgh forever without doing a solo show? I could, but I know what I'm like. In the coming months and years I'll just bully myself into regretting not doing a show on my own. "You're not as good as a real comedian, Michael", I'll say to Michael Legge. "Look at you hiding behind Robin Ince. Are you so scared that the world will see how a deformed, ancient, psoriasis freak like you could never compete against the might of Daniel Sloss and whatever new comedian currently celebrating their 5th birthday?" And, in a way, that's true. Most of the big, hip, young comedians have actually been up here for the last few years earning their following and now they have a huge PR machine building on the foundations that they made themselves. If you actually look at what you're competing with, why would anyone come up here? You won't have a chance. You won't get seen. You won't be nominated for an award. The press won't be interested. You won't get in at one of the main venues because you're a nobody. There won't be any space for your poster because all the posters up this year were put up in September of last year plus you won't get a Brooke's bar pass. There is NO POINT AT ALL in coming up here. Unless of course you consider the good work you do to be of value.

That trivial thing, creating something that you like, might just get you through an entire run of the festival. You won't get an award and you'll have to listen to other people either complaining that they haven't been nominated or people bragging that they have been nominated, but I still think that it's actually worth doing something you like instead of trying to win an award by doing a show you think is the kind of show that wins awards. My show is small. It's just based on a few experiences I've had with rude people. I'm not sure many people have had a nervous breakdown on a train and threatened a child by trying to throw their shoe out the window but it's that kind of small thing that means it's not like the other shows. In a way, I just think that's enough. The subject of the show is the growing acceptance of bad manners in daily life. So it's a show that's small, has a story about a shoe that means it's not like other shows and it's about something that lots of people feel strongly about. What I'm saying is, I'm actually proud of myself. If I have one regret it's that I'm not doing the show for the entire month and the reason I'm only doing it for 8 days is because I was scared of the competition instead of being overjoyed at making something I like. The first night I had 8 people in. 4 of them were friends. It was a disaster but it turned out to be a very delightful disaster because, as it turns out, it doesn't matter how many people see this show, I just like performing it. The numbers have grown every night and I really don't know why other than maybe a few people have said "You should see this show. A man has a nervous breakdown on a train, shouts at kids and seems very happy to retell the story on stage". There are no posters for this show, I know this because when I arrived I was told that my posters hadn't been put up but "Here's a pile of them. Can you put them up yourself?" plus I haven't seen any flyering. I'm not for one second saying there hasn't been any (my agent says my flyerer is a very lovely person) but I haven't seen any. It's a word of mouth thing. A small show that I really love. Get's talked about by a very small amount of people. The audience grows a bit and last night the room was nicely full. Not sold out but very nice. That's why I came to the festival. And I think that's better than having headaches worrying that you might just not become a star or upsetting yourself by seeing everyone elses magnificent successes. In many ways, people, I am the spirit of the fringe.

Now where's my fucking award?

Tickets for CURSE SIR WALTER RALEIGH at this year's Edinburgh Fringe are now on sale here:

Tickets for POINTLESS ANGER, RIGHTEOUS IRE 2: BACK IN THE HABIT at this year's Edinburgh Fringe are now on sale here:

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Jed said...

I really hope there's a recording of this of some sort, whether it's audio or video. Any chance of getting involved with gofasterstripe and putting something out? I'm sure all the precious little listeners / blog readers who didn't get to see it live would be interested.

Not That Craig Hill said...

Michael you will get your awards in heaven!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just wanted to say I've gradually been listening and reading stuff you've been doing over last couple of months because people with very good comedy taste seemed to love you on Twitter. Today I've decided i've become a fan. Your lucky day, right? Honestly gutted I've missed your solo show though as coming up next week, will try see you & Ince if I have money. Your writing is brilliant though, that's all I can say. Keep blogging. You make a lot of angry sense.

Darren said...

Will you be touring this show, Michael? I'd certainly come and see you if you performed it in Belfast, and I know a few friends who would too!

Jim McMahon said...

I was in the first night, one of the eight, perfect start to the fringe for me.