This year has seen the worst Edinburgh Fringe since 2007. It’s great that there are so few badly designed posters (practically none), there are no shuffling crowds to avoid and I’ve yet to get hassled by an over-happy foetus on stilts passive-aggressively threatening me with news of his play, but it’s still terrible. This year’s theme of the Fringe seems to be just existing. Walking around, doing nothing and just barely keeping things together. Why they decided to hold it in Lewisham is also a mystery.
The arrogance of being a relatively unsuccessful comedian and not doing the Edinburgh Fringe is atrocious. How fucking dare I not do the Fringe? Who the hell do I think I am? Last year was fun and the show did well so OBVIOUSLY I didn’t want a repeat of that and decided not to go. WHY? I lied to myself by saying I was going to work on something else. Something else? What else have I got? What else have any of us got? Nothing. I am not on Live at the Apollo and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not the host of The Graham Norton Show and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not “THE STAR OF” Mock The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats or Garden Rescue and yet I decided not to do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve not even been on Question Time. Name one comedian who hasn’t been on Question Time besides me? You can’t. And yet I decided to not do the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve not even had an online misogynistic/racist breakdown or openly pretended that I’m transitioning just to get some attention and YET I decided to not do the Edinburgh Fringe. The gall. The arrogance. The utter egomania. And yet here I am, complaining about not going to the Edinburgh Fringe and being just as vain and pompous as any who are there and posting of near sell outs and how the internet was in to review them. I am pathetic.
And it’s not like the stand-up circuit is a lucrative alternative anymore. I’m lucky to get the gigs I do during any month, never mind August, but there’s no way I’m making a fortune by avoiding Edinburgh while all the real comedians are being one-starred to death at the Fringe. It’s hard on the circuit now. Hell, it’s hard for anyone. There’s not a single person I know outside comedy that doesn’t have two jobs to make ends meet and yet, here I am, fucking what little career I have left in a bin because I just felt like not doing Edinburgh! Years ago, I would mock my friends for having proper jobs. But not now. At least they’re doing something and going somewhere. Years go by and they get promoted while I avoid the ladder completely by poo-pooing Edinburgh. My friend Paul is a home security expert. He started his job around the same time I started mine and I remember thinking “People will always need laughter. Are locks really that important?” Turns out that door locks are the Michael McIntyre DVD of the home security world and, as a result, Paul is now successful enough to own a house, a car and a child. He’s even convinced me to think about getting a door lock. But, even he doesn’t rest on his laurels. Times are tough and, to make ends meet, Paul is also a bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK. My friend Karl quit stand-up comedy to be a fitness instructor 10 years ago. At the time I thought “I can’t think of anything worse” but now he owns 6 very successful gyms and earns a fortune. Not that that’s enough for Karl. He knows how easy money comes and goes so he has a second job as a bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK. When I left school, my friend John told me he wanted to join the church. I laughed in his stupid, religious face but I don’t laugh anymore because John is now a deacon employed by the Church of England and gets a free house and a car! Not only that, Deacon John has a second job as bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK (not Sundays). My other friend John quit his band 25 years ago and I thought he was an idiot but now he makes about £20 million a year by being a silent partner in an operation by his former bandmates to sully his name by doing terrible musicals and feeding off the last remaining bits of flesh of their dead lead singer but even he knows that to make ends meet you’ve got little choice but to be a bass player in a Queen tribute band. Which he is. My mate… I dunno… let’s call him Kenny. Yeah, Kenny works as a guitarist in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the UK earning thousands every night but, look at Broken Britain, look at the times we live in. Even Kenny has a second job as bass player in a Queen tribute band playing 5-6 nights a week in provincial theatres around the Uk and I sit here, like Emperor Cunt doing fuck all squared and thinking that NOT going to the Edinburgh Fringe was a good idea. I’m a fucking idiot. I hate this. I hate it all. Please give me an hour at a dripping free fringe venue that’s in the middle of a fight with another free fringe venue. Anything. I just want to smell Edinburgh. I want to taste it. I want to taste its pain and its frustration and its disappointment. I want to cancel a show and burst into tears and meet someone who just sold out “again” and find out my accommodation doesn’t actually exist because at least while I was dying in Scotland, I’d be living. But NO. I decided to just choose a month long coma. Like a coward.
And then, in Manchester on Friday night (technically the first night of the Edinburgh Fringe), I died on stage for so long and to a maze of such grey silence. I could have been at the Fringe, performing every day and get better as a comedian. Every day, working on my act and my skills. But I said no. To those who said yes, I salute you. Have a great month no matter what. You’ll be on my mind always while I figure out what I thought August without the Fringe might be. I’d get another job but I can’t even play bass.