The man playing the bagpipes outside Selfridges yesterday was a tourist's dream come true: Tartan kilt, Harris Tweed jacket, big socks and a face like a rouged-up pufferfish. It looked like the pipes were gonna blow back down his throat and inflate his duodenum into a failed balloon animal (If I ever form a double act, I want to call it 'Duodenum').
My intestines have developed their own Pavlovian/Midlothian response to bagpipes as a result of doing the Edinburgh Fringe: EXCITED. But a bit sick. Excited. But "Aargh, don't you know any calming whale songs mate?"
40 million sperm travel to the ovum hoping to be the successful one. And that's also what it's like being a comedian doing a show in Edinburgh. Much like a marathon, some train for ages, others turn up, and others do it in a very sweaty costume.
Like most comedians, I'm a glutton for punishment. And for chips. One year I even lived near the ace Chip shop on Broughton Street that does a separate menu for men and women. The Female one might come with salad and the morning after pill. I bloody love the fact it also has a DJ on Saturdays. It's one of those funny and brilliant things I forget about til I see it again, like walking along Canal Street in Manchester and seeing that someone's crossed out the C and the S so it closer befits being the main gay thoroughfare. Edinburgh also used to have a bus pass campaign and the man's name on the mocked up card was Len de Hand. Every year I'd wonder if you could take such diabolical liberties and make up a surname like that? Is it Dutch? Even during the fringe that has to be the most laboured pun ever.
It's hardly Trainspotting but my chip consumption during the festival goes way up. Putting on a show when 3000 others are also putting on a show makes me need to pack in carbs like a mofo. I worry that my heart won't be as brave as i expected. In 2008 I accidentally slipped on one and skated quite far..and then fell over. C*nts applauded.
On the second day of my show in 2008 I had several reviewers booked in to see the show. My promoters respected the fact I didn't want to know they were coming as it makes me nervous. If ticket sales are low, the thing to do is give away free tickets so the room looks fuller. I was chuffed to see so many faces as stepped from behind the curtain and the show was fine apart from every time I spoke to the crowd. People didn't want to answer my questions and shrugged them off - No,they didn't have computers, no they didn't go on holiday, no they didn't watch tv, no they never went to Starbucks... I jokingly asked if they were the Amish. "No." came the reply from one man "We're all homeless," gesticulating to ninety-nine percent of the room. "But a young guy gave us all tickets to come for free to get out of the rain." To be fair they were lovely and every time I walked under the bridge on Cowgate, one of them tapped me on the knee from their blanket to say hi.
My first year in Edinburgh I flyered for myself (i was doing a 2 hander but the other hand was off wanking himself off about how hilarious his joke about a train company was..dont get me started. I complained so much at the time i seemed to become a legend to all the fab members of We Are Klang). Two girls took a flyer off me but said they wouldn't come unless I told them a joke. I told them it didnt work like that but their attitude was I must be shite, my ego took over and I told them a shortish gag about lesbians. One laughed but the other said "I think you just called us gay. Did you call us gay?" I explained that I didn't but there was nothing wrong with that if they were etc. She called me a 'fucking fuckwank'then threatened to hit me. I just snatched back the flyer and tutted, "Fine. Don't bloody come."
My fave audience member ever was a a free fringe show at an absurd venue where the stage was in front of the kitchen so while i did my solo show she would come in and carry out a leg of lamb from behind me. It was like panto with carcusses. Anyway, at the compilation show, while waiting to go on stage, a drunken punter told me and the compere (Lewis Bryan of London comedy circuit fame) she had accidentally cut off a bit of genital with hedge clippers while trying to look nice for her boyfriend. I couldn't do my set cos I was laughing so much.
God Bless the fringe!